HC Deb 27 March 1899 vol 69 cc503-4

On behalf of the honourable Member for Millhouse, Clifton Hill, I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland, with reference to the Ballydowel murder trial at the Kilkenny Assizes last week, whether the Crown briefs were delivered six days before the trial; whether, seeing that counsel assigned for the defence in similar cases are frequently allowed only one or two days for the consideration of their briefs, will he explain why the Crown applied for an adjournment to the next assizes; and whether, in view of the strong public feeling that the accused men are innocent, he is prepared to consent to their being released on bail?


In this case the investigation before the magistrates, which occupied five days, only terminated on the 18th February, when the accused were returned for trial. The depositions, which were very voluminous, were only received by the Crown Solicitor on the 22nd February; they were submitted to me for instructions immediately, and received back by the Crown Solicitor on the 25th. They were forthwith sent to the printer and only received back from him on the 5th of March. Though the Crown Counsel received their briefs on the 6th March they did not arrive in Kilkenny till Saturday the 11th, and the Assizes commenced on Monday the 13th. It was quite impossible, under the circumstances, to have subsidiary inquiries, directed by counsel, made and the case properly prepared for the trial, and accordingly an application was made to the judge, grounded on an affidavit setting forth the facts, to adjourn the trial till next assizes. The application was granted, the judge remarking that it was a most reasonable one, having regard to the dates and to the character of the case, and to the fact that as the case would involve travelling over a very wide area the Crown should have most ample time to investigate the case. As regards the rest of the Question, I have to state that whether I will direct any application the prisoners may make to the Queen's Bench Division to be admitted to bail, to be opposed or consented to by the Crown, will depend on the evidence disclosed in the depositions already taken, and on the affidavit on which the application will doubtless be grounded. I do not know whether the public feeling is against, or in favour of, the accused men, and if I did know I should consider it most improper either to state the fact publicly or to be influenced by it.