HL Deb 31 March 1835 vol 27 cc455-7
The Duke of Wellington

said, that, with reference to the question which had been put to him yesterday by the noble and learned Lord opposite, as to a supposed mistake in the execution of a man, he had now a letter which would enable him to give their Lordships some further information. The case was that of a person named Savage; he had inquired into it, and should now state the result of the inquiry. The noble Duke read a letter which stated that at the trial of Savage, Mr. Justice Torrens sat for Mr. Justice Moore in the Crown Court. Savage was indicted for the murder of his wife committed nine years ago. The murder was committed by the husband in the most barbarous manner, and it was believed that he afterwards carried the body out on his shoulders, and buried it in the river. The felony itself was clearly proved, and indeed never had been brought into question. The prisoner had never since been seen in that part of Ireland where the murder was committed but once, which was about two years ago, when he was met on a mountain by the brother of the wife, who was horrified at seeing him, and who reproached him for the murder. When thus reproached, all he said was, that he regretted he had not killed more of them. He was not seen again till he was apprehended. In the interval he had gone by the name of Pyne. Mr. Justice Torrens had appointed an attorney named Whelan to prepare his defence, and a counsel named Hazard to defend him, and he encouraged the man freely to communicate with them on the subject of identity, which, indeed, was the only question in the case. On that subject the prisoner maintained a dogged silence. The prisoner was sworn to by his two brothers-in-law and by other witnesses. A person named Ronayne was examined for the prisoner, and said that if the prisoner was the man, he was so altered that the witness should not have known him. Mr. Justice Torrens excluded a confession of identity upon some technical grounds, but there was besides sufficient evidence on the point. The prisoner did not bring any other evidence than that already mentioned to show that he was not Savage the murderer. The letter went on to state that there was not the smallest doubt as to the propriety of the conviction, or as to the conduct of Mr. Justice Torrens. The noble Duke expressed his hope that this explanation would be deemed by their Lordships fully satisfactory. There was a paragraph in the letter which he did not read, as it was relative to a private matter connected with the transaction, though he might say that that only made the subject more clear.

Lord Brougham

said, that nothing could be more satisfactory than the noble Duke's statement; and the case turned out as he supposed it would. The facts had been before the jury upon the evidence, and they had formed their opinion upon them. They might be right, or they might be wrong, but they had decided the question, and he did not impeach their verdict. They had the evidence of the two brothers-in-law before them, and all the evidence on the other side was that of Ronayne, who said that if the prisoner was the man, he was very much changed in the time—a circumstance which, with a man who had committed a murder, was very likely to happen. It would give much satisfaction to the people to know that in this case there was no doubt that the real criminal had suffered.

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