HC Deb 21 May 1897 vol 49 cc1025-6

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with respect to the statement of evidence enclosed with the petition in favour of the release of Thomas Collins, a prisoner confined in Maryborough Prison, whether he is aware that Thomas Collins was convicted solely on an approver's evidence, and that Mr. Justice Holmes at the trial characterised the approver as a vile character; and, whether inquiries have been made to the mental and physical condition of Thomas Collins?


The prisoner named in the Question, together with four others, was tried at the Munster Winter Assizes of 1891 on the charge of conspiracy to murder. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years' penal servitude. It is not the fact that Collins was convicted solely on the evidence of an approver; on the contrary there was a considerable volume of independent evidence corroborating the details of the approver's testimony. I am not aware that the learned Judge spoke of him as a vile character, though it is no doubt possible that he did. The convict was recently examined by the Medical Member of the Prisons Board, who reports that mentally he may be described as simple and that physically his health is good.


Surely the right hon. Gentleman must be aware if he looks at the evidence—


Order, order !