HC Deb 05 February 1897 vol 45 cc1423-4
MR. RICHARD M. DANE (Fermanagh, N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Thomas Culligan was recently brought under arrest before a court of petty sessions held at Castlepollard, county Westmeath, presided over by three local justices, charged by the constabulary with the larceny of two calves, also with having the same unlawfully in his possession, and there being no evidence against him, and the owner of the cattle having sworn that the prisoner was a well-known and respectable cattle dealer, and that, having inquired into the matter he believed him to be not guilty of either having stolen them or of having received them knowing them to be stolen, the justices refused to hear the solicitor who represented the accused or the evidence tendered by him, but insisted upon the prisoner giving an undertaking not to take any proceedings against the prosecutor as a condition precedent to refusing informations; and that, upon the prisoner declining to give such, the said justices returned him for trial to quarter sessions at Mullingar, where, after being put to great expense and inconvenience preparing for trial, he was discharged, the county court judge and justices being of opinion there was no case whatsoever against him; whether a resident magistrate will be directed to attend the Castlepollard petty sessions in future; and, whether any means exists of recouping Mr. Culligan the serious expense he has incurred?


The evidence proved against Culligan, was that the cattle had belonged to John Sullivan, that they had been stolen from him, and that a few days afterwards they were found in the possession of Culligan. What Sullivan stated was that he did not believe that Culligan would steal the cattle. The justices did not refuse to hear the solicitor for accused, as alleged, nor is it true that they insisted upon the prisoner giving an undertaking to the effect stated. The jury found that the cattle belonged to Sullivan, but acquitted the accused. The Crown cannot recoup Mr. Culligan the expenses incurred by him in this case. It is the duty of a resident magistrate to attend, so far as his time admits, all petty sessions in his district. The resident magistrate in whose district Castlepollard is situated was on leave of absence when this case was heard at petty sessions, and his locum tenens was employed elsewhere on the occasion.