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A Long Deferred Acqaittal., Issue 7932, 13 June 1889
A Long Deferred Acqaittal.
The case of John Gardner, the erstwhile Western Australian convict, who ia probably the man referred to In a liable message published in the Melbourne Presa at having received his liberty, is one of those strange and painful histories which form tha groundwork of those real life romances which are above and beyond the powers of fiction. John Gardner began life in London as a chimney sweep while yet a boy, and followed his occupation there till be reached manhood. In 1863 or 1864 he came upon the turning point of his life in the snape of conviction of a horrible domestic murder, an event which would have wrecked the lives of the most of men. He was tried before Lord Chief Justice Cockburn for the murder of his wife and his mother, and being convicted was sentenced to death. According to his repeated statements to a Western Australian gentleman who knows him well, he was convicted on purely eireumstantial evidence, and persisted in asserting his innocence. From that time down he has Bpent the passing years in trying to convince others of his wrongful conviction. This much is certain, that the possibility of doubt of his Siilt, even after trial by a jury in the high ourt of the country, was clear enongh to turn aside the hand of the law, and on the very morning that he was to be executed for the double murder Gardner was reprieved. The London mob which had gathered to see him hanged, an execution being then a public exhibition, was infuriated at his escape. Burning with rage at the crime itself, and at the reprieve of the supposed criminal, the mob crowded round the walls of Newgate Gaol, and loudly demanded the execution of Gardner in fierce and threatening language. The cry was "Bring out the sweep," and it was evident that the mob would soon have murdered Gardner by Lynch law if they had got him. Gardner's sentence was commuted to transportation with penal servitude far the term of his natural life, and a few weeks after the reprieve he was shipped as a convict to Western Australia, turning his back on his native land, where he had spent all his savings in advertising his assertion of innocence, endeavoring to prove his statement, and obtain the remission of his sentence, which, it is telegraphed, has at last been granted to him. After some years' penal service in Western Australia he was let out on ticket of leave on account of his exceedingly good conduct. Ab a convict legally at large he once more took up the task of regaining his position in the world. He resumed his business aB a sweep, and for the last fifteen or sixteen yeais has been well known as a chimney sweep in Perth. Gardner is reputed to be an honest and industrious man. He has reared a family of children and haß a respectable wife, fle is a frequent attendant at the Church of England Cathedral, and throughout all his career in Western Australia has been to all outward appearanees thoroughly religious. Sinee he came out among the public on his release from the penal establishment at Perth his conduct as a citizen has been regarded as unimpeachable. The man must have some sound qualities to maintain him in the terrible position he has occupied, and to bear up against thete years of waiting. This is not an uncommon case, however, among Western Australian convicts, and as far as these colonies are concerned we have the recent experiences of the Mount Rennie and the Buttner cases whieh might be used as an argument against capital punishment. - The causes which have brought about John Gardner's tardy remission are not explicitly stated, and the colonies will wait with keen interest to learn what pieee of evidence has at last come to light to restore this shadowed life to honor and liberty.
A Long Deferred Acqaittal., Issue 7932, 13 June 1889
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