A CASE OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE IN AUCKLAND
A correspondent writes to the ''Herald": The report of the Kaiwarra murder ca3e, ia which corresponding fragments of an old newspaper hare formed an important part m completing a chat a of evideuoa against tbe accused, recalls to my mind a Bumowhat similar oaae which took plac ) ia Auckland about sixteen years ago. An alarm of fire was raised one night m Shottland etreet, when some matter was found burning nnder tbe grating m the basement of Must and Co 'a premises. The fire was soon extinguished, bnt the young man who raised the alarm, by his subsequent piooaedings, rendered himself liable to suspicion, anl be was arrested for attempted arson. But tbe case did not appear a very strong one against the accused until a Btoaemnson employed m rebuilding the Poßt office picked ap ainongbfc some masonry being worked within the hoarding a bundle of raga and paper that appeared to have bsen saturated with kerosene. This bundle he handed to Detective Jeffrey, then doing duty In Aacklsnd, The deteotive examined the contents of tbe bundle and afterwards made a search on the premleei where the young fellow had resided. He afterwards produced m the Polioe Court a piece of cotton and an old dress from which it had been torn, je farther showed a pieoe of a recent " New Zealand Herald " taken from tbe bundle, and the corresponding remainder of the newspaper, which be found m the j house of the father of the accused, also an old lamp wick and an old lamp m the house without a wiok. This strengthened tbe case considerably, and the acouied *Wai committed for trial accordingly. The motive for the offence was presumed to be for the purpose of raising an alarm, getting the inoiplent fire suppressed, and a reward to himself irom the insurance company for having saved them from a considerable loss. The evldenoe at the trial at the Supreme Court appeared very strong against the accused, and X was a witness myself to the tfTeot that immediately after the fire, and again afterwards he had importuned me, m my capacity of a newspaper reporter, to recommend that a reward should be granted to nim. I But m the defenoe, Mr W. L, Bees, who appeared for the aoouied, called a female servant of the house where the lad dwelt, and she deposed on oath — and her testimony was m no way shaken under the skilful cross-examination of Mr Brookfield, the Urown Prosecutor, that Dateotive Jeffrey had called on her, and asked her to make ap a bundle from the arttolss produced, whloh she bad done, and had handed to a strange man, whom she asserted had called for it at the de ectlve's directions. Taia woman was known to have bean instrumental some time previously m assisting the polioe to obtain a coavlotlon for speolmen stealing, whloh bad been largely curled oa previously at tbe Thames goldfialds. Dateotive Jeffrey was reoalled, and fhtly contradloted the woman's evldenoe, but whether she or the deteotive spoke the truth, the jary found the prisoner "not guilty." In referring to these olroumstanoes, I have no desire to oast any refactions on tbe polioe engaged m tbe late cue ; my only desire Is to mate faots, aad shoff how very carefully olroum•Untlal evidence should be accepted, especially m ouch oases where the life of a fellow-creature Is at stake.
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