The Brighton Railway Murder.
Since the Wainwright murder in 1876 there has not been a crime that has awakened such a profound sensation, both at home and abroad, as the murder of Mr Gold by Lefroy on the Brighton railway. Every one will recall the circumstances of the tragedy, and how, although suspicion pointed so strongly to the man who recently expiated his offence at Newgate gaol, that man was so cool and collected, and defended himself so plausibly against the charge, that numbers were convinced of his innocence. Whilst in gaol awaiting his trial the prisoner was just as self-possessed as before; he never lost heart, and looked for but one result of his arraignment—acquittal. He ate and drank, we are told, chatted with his gaolers, and amused himself with penning reminisences of life in Australia and in London. He was better acquainted with his case than his captors, and, no doubt supposed that they would find it impossible to sheet home the terrible crime with which he was charged. But with all his wonderful apparent indifference he must have had his equanimity disturbed on that winter’s morning when he stood in the felon’s dock at the Maidstone Court House, face to face with the judge who was to try him, and the jury who were to be the arbiters of his fate. The Court was crowded to suffocation we are told, but it always is on these occasions ; special trains were run from the metropolis to the assizes, a legion of reporters arrived on the scene eager to note every detail of the trial, and catch even the slightest word that should fall from the lips of the man who stood accused of the murder, whilst in the dock Lefroy maintained at first his old assurance, his old indifference ; but as the damning facts against him came out in evidence, as the chain was formed link by link connecting him with the crime, he must have felt that his fate was sealed, and that indeed it could only be a miracle that could save him. Deftly Mr Montagu Williams conducted the defence, plausibly he argued that the prosecution rested wholly on theory and not upon fact, and that there could be nothing inconsistent in the contention that the murder had been committed by a third person, as the prisoner had alleged, and that man, after he had murdered Gold and stunned the prisoner, had found means to effect his escape between Brighton and Prestcn Park. Carefully the Judge summed up, carefully the jury considered their verdict—in which they found the prisoner guilty. Even then the accused’s wonderful self-possession did not entirely forsake him. Gazing firmly at the jury, he said, in a voice that could be heard all over the court, “ Gentlemen of the jury, some day, too late, you will learn you have murdered me.” Even after this he does not seem to have abandoned all hope; he still thought a reprieve possible. But that reprieve never came, and the prisoner died confessing his crime. The machinery of the law is so perfect at the present day, the meshes of the net surrounding the criminal so fine, that it is almost an absolute impossibility for him to escape punishment. The saying that “ murder will out ” was never better exemplified than in our own time, when the machinery, so to speak, for forcing it out is s' l perfect that the chance of a miscarriage of justice is reduced to almost nil.
Permanent link to this item
The Brighton Railway Murder., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 528, 7 January 1882
The Brighton Railway Murder. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 528, 7 January 1882
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.