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At the Supreme Court, Christchurch, on Monday Henry Russell and John Walsh were indicted, the former for having stolen a cheque for Ll 5 from Frederick Redder, and Walsh for receiving the same, knowing it to be stolen. The prisoners, who were undefended, pleaded “not guilty. ” Mr. Duncan having led evidence to prove the case, The prisoner Russell handed up a long statement, which created much amusement, particularly the allusions to his weakness for the fair sex, and his interviews with the various dramatis personas, which were detailed with peculiar minuteness, in regular yellow covered novel style, allusions to his devotedness to the fair sex being scattered throughout the document. In the course of it he compared his treatment by Detective Neil in the case to that of Mary Queen of Scots. At the close of the reading of the first instalment, the prisoner handed up a number of sheets, which Mr. Bloxam went on to read. These contained a tirade of abuse of Detective Neil. Like Mr. Silas Wagg, the prisoner dropped into poetry, and proceeded to pour out his abuse on Detective Neil.

His Honor said that the prisoner was taking advantage of his position to abuse Detective Neil ; still, he would not have it said that the prisoner had been deprived of the slightest portion of right to be heard.

The prisoner handed up a number of prose sheets, which Mr. Bloxam proceeded to read. The document, after a romantic description of a night’s repose by the side of the river Avon, where a fearful dream awoke the prisoner, continued for a number of pages to abuse Detective Neil. At the conclusion of the document the prisoner once more dropped into poetry of a somewhat peculiar construction, and then went on to describe his peregrinations in search of pretty barmaids. After about three-quarters of an hour of reading, His Honor said that the whole document was a pack of irrelevant, idiotic stuff, and that the prisoner was simply taking advantage of the forms of • law to bring before the jury a document which was simply an insult to the understanding of the whole of the jury. However, if the prisoner desired it to be read he (the Judge) would not stop it. The prisoner having read several more pages of most incoherent rubbish, concluded by reminding the jury of the responsibility they had taken with their oath.

His Honor then summed up, and after remarking that the defence was one of the most extraordinary compounds of imbecility, wild rhapsodies, andportionsbordering on blasphemy, he had ever listened to in his life, proceeded to recapitulate the salient features of the case, and concluded by requesting the jury to dismiss from their minds any feeling of indignation which might be aroused by such an extraordinary farrago of idiotic nonsense as that put forward by Hussell as his defence, and simply say on the evidence whether they had any doubt that the prisoners were guilty of the offences with which they were charged. The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty of larceny from the person against Russell, and of receiving against Walsh. Twenty-nine previous convictions against both prisoners were also charged, to which they pleaded guilty. The highest sentence recorded against Russell was six months, ane against Walsh seven years. His Honor said that Russell was simply the most impudent vagabond he had ever met in the course of his forty years’ experience of courts of justice. He would be sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude. Walsh, though deserving quite as heavy a sentence, was an old man—seventy-one years of age—and he should not give him a term which would necessitate his passing his last hours in prison. He would be sentenced to penal servitude lor five yeans.

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Bibliographic details

A YELLOWBACK NOVEL PRISONER., Ashburton Guardian, 8 April 1880

Word Count

A YELLOWBACK NOVEL PRISONER. Ashburton Guardian, 8 April 1880