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We published in our issue of Saturday the text of the memorial to the Minister of Justice^ re the case of Bernard Callan,^ .and the official reply thereto. The memorial was signed by a number: of gentlemen whose names are a guarantee for4he fact that there was good ground for the appeal to the Minister. Among the signatories are ho less than four Justices of the Peace in whose opinion, as magistrates of a good many years' experience, the sentence appealed against was more severe than the circumstances warranted, and also a number of business men regarded in this community as men of sound judgment, who coincide in that view.'-' Then we have all these gentlemen testifying to the fact thas Oallan, so far from being an old offender, - or >in ,any way a dangerous character, is "a respectable, hardworking, industrious young man, who has never previously been before a Court, or in the hands of the police, and who enjoys the respect of the community." Further the. evidence tal>en at the hearing is appealed to in proof that as to. the offence itself, it was by no means of an aggravated sort, the resistance to the police being neither vicious nor long-continued, and noinjury having been done either to the person or uniform of the arresting constable. Now, seeing that we have upon our Statute-book so_Jrumane a measure as " The First Offenders-Apt," under which had Callan as a man hitherto of known good character been charged with any felony of a minoir sort, he would have almost certainly been admitted. to probation by a Supreme Court Judge, does it not seem a marvellous anomaly that for a comparatively trifling offence of the class known as " police offences " he should be compelled to undergo three months' j hard labor ? Again, if the maximum penalty allowed by law should be enforced in such a case as Callan's, then clearly the maximum penalty must be grossly inadequate to the proper punishment of a prisoner guilty of vicious resistance, accompanied by personal injury .to an _arresting constable; A wlole if thi-ee{moh^n|' ha)xUabpr ibje ancient for such" a case "a£ the!'"'latter (and ifiat was evidently the mind of the Legisla-. ture), then there is no avoiding thie conclusion^ that ;it is an excessive penalty in such a case as Callan's. We observe that the reply to the memorialis signed by Captain Hume, Inspector of Prisons (of> course "by direction oi the Minister "), who states that " after making careful enquiry into the ciV cumstances. connected with the case," tHe : *' can see no sufficient

grounds to justify him in recommending His Excellency the Governor to grant any remission of;,the sentence." Now it may be pointed out that the memorial-was/not signed until the 21st May, and, if posted on that day, could not have reached the Minister before the 22nd, while the reply is dated May 28th, so that the -f■careful enquiry" must have been conducted very expeditiously indeed. We should; very much like to know what was the scope of that careful enquiry, and of what person or persons the Minister en-

quired. Is it possible that there was a mere exchange of telegrams between the Minister and Mr §hea Lawlor, the Justice by whom the sentence was imposed? If so, then the inquirjr certainly did not go far enough, and is by no means entitled to be called careful. Perhaps the member for Ashburton will see it his duty to ascertain tliis when the House meets? Meantime the public generally is seriously dissatisfied, it having been unanimously considered that Mr, Lawlor had fallen; into an error of judgment in regard to this particular case, and almost as unanimously expected -that theMinisterwould have promptly remedied \ that error upon the facts being laid before him, and his intervention being asked. Captain Russell, who holds the portfolio of Justice, has certainly not risen in -public estimation as,>,the result of' his treatment of this case. Meantime, so for as the prisoner Callan is concerned, there is nothing for him but to serve, out the full term of his sentence, unless i& public subscription be made and the amount of the fine paid on his behalf. : .

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Bibliographic details

BERNARD CALLAN'S CASE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XIV, Issue 2431, 3 June 1890

Word Count

BERNARD CALLAN'S CASE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XIV, Issue 2431, 3 June 1890

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