The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1890. THE NEW PLYMOUTH MURDER.
The trial of the Maori, Maid Kai, for the murder of a man named Moloney m . the New Plymouth Recreation Grounds m April last has been attended with some strange revelations. Moloney was found brutally murdered m a quiet part of the public domain, and several articles of his wearing apparel were traced to the possession of Main Kai, who was yesterday sentenced to death lor the committal of the crime. A host of witnesses testified to seeing the prisoner m the vicinity of the recreation ground on the day of the murder, and this fact, combined with the suspicious circumstance that a number of articles of wearing apparel, recognised as the property of deceased, were found m possession of the condemmed man, pointed very clearly to his guilt. For the defence a number of witnesses were called who swore positively to seeing accused on the day of the murder at such times and places as made it impossible for him to be m the Recreation Ground at the time the murder is supposed to have been committed. The preponderance of | evidence, however, was on the side of the prosecution, and the jury returned a-verdict of guilty—a verdict with which the Judge who presided over the trial has thoroughly concurred. Before the sentence of death was passed,; accused added to the extraordinary, nature of the trial by stating, not only that he was innocent of the crime, but that he knew the guilty man, whose name he gave. This man, according to the statement of Malii' Kai, is a Maori and relative, and it was through him that the clothes of the murdered man came into the possession of accused. The statement of prisoner has evoked considerable interest, and the truth or otherwise of his statement is now being closely inquired into, with what result will no doubt be known m the course of a few days. If the facts turn out to be as stated by the condemned man, he has indeed been-the victim of a most unfortunate set ri circumstances, and some forty witnesses brought forward by the police will be placed m a most awkward position m regavd to the evidence given by them. If, on the other hand, the statements of the condemned man are proved to be pure fabrications, the recommendation to mercy by the jury will lose much of its weight when submitted to the Executive, as accused will then have been proved guilty, not only of the murder of one man, but of the attempted murder of an innocent relative. At this distance from the scene, and with only condensed telegrams to go upon, it is hard to form an opinion as to prisoner's guilt or innocence ; but the fact that the judge, notwithstanding the prisoner's statement, expressed concurrence with the jury's verdict, is a strong presumption of the condemned man's guilt, and will weigh heavily against him m the public mind. During the course of the trial, as is usual m such cases, the defence made a strong effort to discredit the police evidence, and the methods by which it had been obtained. In crossexamination it was attempted to be shown that the police had promised to condone a case of suspected incendiarism if a certain witness would give evidence which would assist to rivet the fetters around the condemned Maori. This was a most extraordinary charge to make, and we trust that^ whatever may.be the outcome of the New Plymouth murder, this circumstance of the trial will be probed to the very bottom by the authorities. If it is true, the members of the New Plymouth police concerned m it should be instantly dismissed from the force; if it is not true, m justice to the New Plymouth police, an official investigation should be held, and their characters cleared; not only so, but the witness at whose instigation the charge was made should be prosecuted for perjury. It is most essential that any charge of this serious nature should not be allowed to rest with the conclusion of a trial, as it is imperative that the police evidence m cases involving capital charges should be obtained m the fairest manner, and that no reward, or implied reward, should be held out to give evidence m a certain direction.