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THE FETONE MURDER CASE., Evening Post, Volume LIII, Issue 70, 24 March 1897
THE FETONE MURDER CASE.
♦ STEPHEN BOSHER FOUND GUILTY. AN EXHAUSTIVE SUMMING UP. THE JURY DELIBERATES FOR OVER FOUR HOURS. SENTENCE OF DEATH PASSED. "When we went to press yesterday afternoon Mr. Justice Edwards was just commencing to sum up the evidence given at the trial of Stephen Bosher for the murder of Joseph and Emma Jones at Petone in August last The address was a long and most exhaustive one, its delivery ocoupying four and a-quarter hours. Long before his Honour had finished his address, the gas in the Bweltering Court had to be lit, and the closeness and stuffiness of the atmosphere, the result of the crowded state of the Court, became more and more accentuated. HIS HONOUB'S SUMMING UP. •Among the points noticed by his Honour •while reviewing the evidence in detail were the following : — Godfrey's evidence as to Bosher saying that he had gone to the Joneses' store the previous night and knocked without getting an, answer was a most important piece of unimpeacbed testimony, and its bearing on the^ case would no doubt be fully appreciaied.by the jury. The fact that Bosher laid claim to the foot-print was quite consistent either with the prisoner's innocence or with his guilt. It was, he thought, beyond all question that Bosher was not at the Salvation Barracks at half - past 8. Tannahill's evidence proved beyond all doubt, in, hjs Honour's opinion, that the two meji .were 'not on the verandah. The main point proved in this respect, however, was that Bosher had made a false statement. If the jury could not rely upon the testi- j mony of Mr. M'Gowan as to the time, then his Honour could not conceive upon what they could rely. If it were proved that two swaggers were on the verandah, as was Contended, it could not mako any difference in the prisoner's position. What Mr. Jones, of the Taita, said of the scratch and the tear after all did not come to muoh. The suggestion that, because the two swaggers ■were seen walking along the Hutt road in the morning, they had committed the murder the night before, was most grotesque, and this evidence counted neither one way nor the other. About the date of the murder the prisoner ■was pressed for money, and knew that the consequence of his failing to satisfy Zachariah would be exposure. The suggestion that any other boot might have made the mark was absurd in the view of the other facts about it. He felt hound to say that Miss Recce gave her evidence fairly, honestly, and impartially. It was for the jury to say whether she gave her evidence truly or stood in the box for the purpose of sending the father of her children — an innocent man — to the hangman. Bosher did not take the two Testaments he had already in his house when he went in the morning, as was contended, to get the third book. And he did not tell his wife that he was going for the books, as 'she knew they were already in the house. THE PBISONEB'S STATEMENTS. His Honour concluded his exhaustive review of the whole of the evidence at 5 p.m., having been speaking for three hours. He then pointed out to the jury what he considered had been proved. The murder "was committed between 7.20 and 9.20 p.m. on 27th August. It was almost certain that the crime was committed at about 8.10. His 'Honour then dealt with the various statements of the accused, pointing out the leyeral discrepancies in them. Miss Recce's evidence was either perjury or proof that Bosher's statements were untrue. The evidence that the horse was in the paddock •was fairly conclusive. Either the prisoner had not accounted for his time that night, or had given a fake account of it. To believe that Bosher went to Joneses to buy the chaff the jury would have first to believe that one horse had eaten a sack of chaff since the previous day. But it was quite conceivable if the horse was in the paddock that Bosher bought the chaff te save him going back to his house for chaff. t OTHEB EVIDENCE. lijras for the jury to say whether they considered that the footprint had even a remote chance of being made by any other toot. In view of the cleanliness of the house, if the footprint were made by Bosher on Tuesday, was it likely that that footprint should remain so clearly defined in the scullery for two days ? The theory of the Crown was that the print was caused by the prisoner standing near the scullery door, leaning- forward and listening forfootstepj in 1 - %he street, in order to escape from the house. A most telling piece of evidence, not contested by counsel for the prisoner, •was that of, Bosher's statement to Godfrey— that he had been to the house on the evening tefore after the murder must have been committed. The evidence about the ecraper did not avail against the prisoner. And the evidence about the inife was not the chief bit of testimony against the prisoner. It was conceivable that an innocent, weak-minded man might have hidden the knife. It was plain that the prisoner must have known himself to be in desperate circumstances, as he had put himself within the pale of the criminal law. But whether that was sufficient cause for the murder was not a matter for the jury. There must be monsters in the world to whom cause wa» of no effect, else, this deed had not oeen committed. The final point was, was the prisoner's conduct then and since consistent with innocence or not ? but it was not the duty of the jury to put hypothetical doubts before them. It must be considered that the deed was possible to him, and whether he had or had not made a series of false statements as to his movements, and if he had, whether that circumstance, coupled with the other circumstances, proved that the prisoner was the guilty man. AN IMPEOPEE SUGGESTION. It had been improperly suggested to the jury that there might be an agitation got up at some future time if they found the prisoner guilty. This was a most improper suggestion. Mr. Wilford rose at this point to explain, lut his Honour .warned him into hit seat, and refused to allow him to interrupt. • Continuing his charge to the jury, his Honour said that he did not suggest that this man was guilty— that ras a. matter for the- jury. They must do their duty faithfully> and bring in the verdict consistent ■with their belief. If there was any doubtany reasonable doubt— they should give, as vra» tjttir duty, the prisoner the benefit of it. ' '' JIB. WILFOBD AGAIN. At the conclusion of the address, Mr, "Wflford rose and requested to be allowed to make an explanation in reference to his Honour's remark. After some parley his Honour agreed to hear him, and Mr. Wilford' Said that his remark #ras intended to leajl np to a reference to the Chemia case. Hi^Honour— Mr. Wilford, you have exaggerated the offence by your explanation. 4ifter some further futile efforts on the pars/,of Mr. Wilford to again speak, hit Hoaour ordered the jury to retire. T-hi*,was at 6.20 p.m. - / ,' ' WAITING TOE THE VERDICT. t?ttji the retirement of the jury the crowdm the Court visibly melted, but the sturdy .baud of femininity in the gallery, whose' attendance at the trial has been thi'ojlgb'out most consistent and patient, mottly 'remained and nurreptitiously made their evening meal, fearful of relinquishing
their seats. About an Hour later the Court was again filled to suffocation. Women (somewith babies in their arms) and children of all ages perspired, sweltered, and fanned themselves with handkerchiefs, hate, and Posts, and from the well of the Court the crowd of men overflowed round the dock and jostled the police, while outside the passages were full of expectant idlers. A hum of talk rose into the heated air, and all patiently waited the jury's return. Meanwhile in the jury-room the twelve men debated the life and death of the man charged with the murder. And down below, in the cells, the cause of all the interest sat calmly down to his dinner, made a good meal, and remained quietly before a fire reading a book, with not a tremor of a muscle to tell whether he feared or looked forward to the verdict to come. THE JCBT BETXJBN. . At 11 o'clock there was a sudden stir, the passages were cleared by the police, and it was whispered that the jury had agreed. Mr. Bell and Mr. Wilford came in in wig and gown, the Registrar of the Supreme Court, also gowned, took his place, and the noise quietened down to a sudden hush. The eyes that turned baffled from the yet empty dock sought Mr. Wilford's face, and in its deathly whiteness saw what the verdict was to be. Then the prisoner appeared, firm, set and braced against the verdict. "The Judge took his seat, and the tired-looking jury filed in. THE VEBDICT. '' Gentlemen of the jury, are you agreed upon your verdict ?" asked the Registrar. In a loud firm voice, the Foreman replied, " We are," and immediately afterwards let fall the decision of the twelve — " Guilty." There was a little stir, a few involuntary " Oh's" from the women, and that was all. The prisoner never flinched. THE PBISONEH'S SPEECH. Then came the last question, whether the prisoner had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him. I In a clear voice Bosher replied :— " The only ting that I have got to say is that two or tree witness, before I was arrested, came to me at Petone and said ' If the police trouble you we are here to see that you get justice, and to prove that you were at the Army at 20 minutes past B. This statement was signed by tree or four witness and was told before Miss Recce at my house. These witnesses gave very contrary evidence, and if their evidence was brought forward it would be a difference. It was very curious that if people came to the witness-box and sworn falsely, I tink that it would take any one's life. The witnesses that gave false statement I can just leave thpm to their own conscience and their God. That is all I want to say." THE SENTENCE. The Crier stood up and read the solemn proclamation for silence before the pronouncement of sentence of death : — " All manner of persons are commanded to keep silence whilst the judgment of death is pronounced by the Court on the prisoner at the bar upon pain of fine and imprisonment." In the midst of the deathly hush which fell on all, the Judge assumed the black cap, and in tones that showed how deeply he was moved, uttered the grim, bald, brief sentence which meant the destruction of a life deliberately adjudged forfeit. Then in the silence which followed the Judge waved to the warder to remove the prisoner, and the central figure m the scene — still defiant, still contained — disappeared to the cells belqw. TO THE jrCR"?. His Honour then turned to the J r ™, and briefly addressed them, telling tuem that they had discharged their duty according to their consciences, and that they need not have any fear for the future. Before the jury were discharged, Mr. Bell ; addressed them, and said there was a certain piece of evidence which he could not have brought before the jury. It was the evidence of the purchase of a can of pepper for 5d by the prisoner from Mr. Jones. This was proved by an entry in Mr. Jones's book, which could not have been produced before the jury. The jury was then discharged, and the Court quickly emptied. AFTER THE BENTENCE. The condemned man, after his removal from the Court, displayed no signs of emotion. He seemed rather to be relieved that the long trial was oyer and the trying strain released. He was taken to the condemned cell in the Terrace Gaol, where his ankles were encased in light chains. The execution cannot take place for about three weeks, and the warrant in the meantime must be considered by the Cabinet and signed by the Acting-Governor, Sir James Prendergast.
THE FETONE MURDER CASE., Evening Post, Volume LIII, Issue 70, 24 March 1897
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