THE CHRISTCHURCH RIOTERS.
SENTENCE OF THE PRISONERS. After a three days’ trial, in the course of which a large amount of evidence was led, and the cases against each of the men implicated in the Boxingday riot at Christchurch gone into very fully, the jury before whom the cases were heard in the Christchurch Supreme Court on Tuesday returned a verdict of guilty against the following prisoners : —Michael MJAvey, Thomas Hanley, Patrick Cuddihy, Thomas Magner, Patrick Shanaghan, Thomas Keiley, Michael Rock, Stephen Barrett, John Flaherty, Thomas Wood, and Michael Leary. Edward Murphy was found not guilty, and discharged. His Honor passed sentence as follows : —Prisoners at the bar, had you, after you had time to consider what you have been doing, and how you imperilled the peace of this community—had you pleaded guilty after having time for reflection, I should have thought it my duty to consider that plea of guilty as an indication of submission to the law of the land : and it would have a good effect gby way of public example, and that it would have justified me in passing upon you a sentence much less severe than that which your guilt really deserves. I do not know whether you have, any of you, yet reflected upon the character of the offence you have committed, apart from any prejudice you may have of a national or religious character. But let me tell you that according to the law of this land, and of every other well governed country, you have brought yourselves into this kind of predicament, that if it had not pleased Providence to prevent any of the blows which were struck ending in the death of any one of the persons assailed, you would have been in point of law guilty of murder. If the death of any man had resulted from the promiscuous use of those weapons, every man of you would, in the eye of the law, have been guilty of murder. This is a thing for you to reflect upon, as well as those persons outside who may sympathise with you, and who may be of your way of thinking in religion and politics, and thus share your ideas or temptations to disturb the peace of the community. The evidence given in this case, although no death occurred, would have been amply sufficient to justify a prosecution for malicious wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and then again you and each of you would have been liable to a long period of penal servitude. Had there been reasons for believing that a light sentence might he as likely to prevent a recurrence of this kind of thing as a substantial one, I should have been only too happy to accept them. But I have thrown upon the representatives of the Crown the responsibility of intimating to me their opinions as to the necessity for a substantial punishment. God forbid that I should assist the Government in any way to pass anything like a vindictive punishment upon wrongdoers, but I must take the facts aa I find them before me, d;sclosing a riot of considerable seriousness and an assault of a moat dangerous character. I must therefore make your sentence substantial, as yon have not submitted yourselves to the law by pleading guilty, and the arm of the law must bo stretched forth to put a stop to this kind of thing. I cannot help it if one portion of the public, who may have prejudices in favor of one class of persons as against another, blame me for too great leniency in this case. I shall impose a substantial sentence, but one which, under the circumstances, I do not think by any means severe, I think it right to make a distinction among the prisoners, because it is perfectly certain that in all matters men follow loaders. I think it is exceedingly probable we have not here the most guilty persons ; there are, perhaps, people behind who ave more guilty than the prisoners at the bar. But there were two or three persons who rendered themselves very prominent in the affair. There were about thirty men concerned in the attack, and Stephen Barrett was marked out as being very active. Cuddihy, to&, seemed to be one of the leaders of the party, and he it was who first took the flag and gave directions in the matter. Hanley and McAveyalso appeared to have been active participators in the disturbance, and Barrett was shown to have used expressions indicating that ho was actually fool enough to contemplate that that body of men were going to take possession of this town. It is scarcely possible to understand in a: population like ours, how men could be such positive idiots, even if ten times the number of this body of men, to suppose that they; could for any period of time set at defiance all constituted authority. At the same time men who go
about like that are very dangerous to a community. As I said before, I shall make a distinction in the cases of some of the prisoners. The sentence of the Court is that McAvey, Hanley. Cuddihy, and Barrett, be sentenced to eighteen months and tiie remainder of the prisoners to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labor.
Permanent link to this item
THE CHRISTCHURCH RIOTERS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 48, 15 January 1880
THE CHRISTCHURCH RIOTERS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 48, 15 January 1880
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.