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THE WELSH MEMBERS.

CARDIFF.

SECOND EDITION.

COMMENCEMENT OF THE IRISH…

THE SWANSEA MURDERS.

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THE SWANSEA MURDERS. I PRINCIPALITY OPFI.CB, CARDIFF, JULY 25, 1848. To the Bight lion. Sir George Grey, Bart., M.P., Secretary of State for the Home Department. SIR-There are now in the county gaol of Glamorgan, two pri- soners'lying under sentence of death, for the murder of John Wil- liams, near Swaiisclt, on the 8th of May last. A memorial to you as Secretary of State, praying for commuta- tion of sentence, has been very numerously signed in this town. To that memorial I have felt it my duty to append my name, and I now beg to lay before you very briefly, and as clearly as I may be able, the grounds upon which I have done so. 1. You are well aware that there is in this kingdom.; a-growing- dislike to capital punishments. That dislike, to a great degree, has been created by the well-known fact, that in many instances, inno- cent persons have suffered the extreme penalty of death. There is, therefore, a desire to avoid, if possible, a contingency so dreadful in all cases where the evidence is not direct and clear, and above suspicion. 2. That in this case, so far as Michael Leary is concerned, there is no evidence to show that he used any deadly weapons on the night of the murder. The unfortunate man, John Williams, died from the effects of a wound inflicted by some sharp instrument, and according to medical evidence, there was no other indication to account for the cause of death. In regard to Thomas Martin, the evidence against him, as given by Patrick Leary, was clear and' distinct. But I venture to submit that the evidence of this wit- ness is such, that it cannot be depended upon to the extent of taking away the man's life, because (a) It is natural that Patrick Leary should be anxious not to implicate his brother Michael, and it is not improbable, that he, being a Cork man, would be less careful of Martin, who is a native of the county of Tipperary. (b) The evidence given by Patrick Leary is in many points entirely unsupported, and in other instances, directly contradicted by other andmore unexceptionable witnesses. To some of these important discrepancies I beg to call your attention (1.) The statement that Martin took up a stone on the road from Llychwr to the Marquis' Arms, and sharpened his knife upon it, is entirely unsupported. The handle of the knife he stated to be black and white, discoloured by dirt; the blade was about four inches in length, and its point round. Now we must remember that ho had never seen the knife before, it was then late in the flight-the night was misty—and the moon had gone down about eleven o'clock, in all probability just before this alleged sharpening had taken place. Taking all these circumstances into consideration there is every reason to doubt the truth of this statement. (2.) The account given by Patrick Leary of the origin of the fatal quarrel at the cw/nc bach is not only entirely unsupported, but directly contradicted.. According to him, he and Edward Morgan collared each other in the house, and then went out singly to scuffle, when he fell, and called on the boys (meaning the Irish) to come out and save him—gets up from the ground—does not know what became of his antagonist Morgan-five or six Welshmen come .out from the house and stand quietly by without doing him the least injury, when Martin rushes out with an open knife in his left hand, which he plunges into the breast of John Williams, who falls down dead on the spot. This evidence is contradicted by Wm. Norris, who says that all the parties, Welsh and Irish, went out at once as thick and as quick as they could," when a general scuffle commenced and by William Davies, the keeper of the acrio baclt, who states that they went out in "a troop together;" directly afterwards Edward Mor- gan came in, saying that the Irish used knives, and in less than three minutes the cry of murder was raised. Now, I submit to your consideration, that it is far more probable that John Williams was murdered under the circumstances described by Norris and Davies, than as stated by Patrick Leary. If it happened as described by him, surely some individual, from among the five or six Welshmen, who were standing by at the time, could have borne similar testi- mony but there is none, and this being the case, it appears to me that "Leary's account of the fatal transaction is, at best, exceedingly doubtful and unsatisfactory. (3.) The account given by Patrick Leary, of the manner in which the Irish left the spot, is contradicted by William Norris. Leary states that he and Martin ran away before the other three, and that Martin ran against the Cwmbwrla-gate, after which he said, I am the boy that let the wind out of some of them." Now if this state- ment does not rest on some probability, Martin is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Wm. Norris says, that they all left the same time, when Patrick Leary and Martin were in the advance, but that Martin soon fell, and that he (Norris) passed him before he got up, and that Martin did not overtake him. Such being the case, the alleged statement could not have been made. I believe, also, that Norris has privately admitted that it was he who ran against the gate. (4.) The account given by Patrick Leary of his own knife, is very confused and suspicious. A knife was seen with his wife on the morning after the murder, and this knife she refused to give him to go away. He had the knife the week before, but denies having it on the night of the murder, and says that he had lost it on Satur- day when in a state of drunkenness. (5.) The precipitate Hight of Leary is incompatible with his entire innocence: Instead of going to his work on the following morning, he fled, and induced the two Norrises to accompany him, and make the best of their way to Bristol. 3. All the admissions made by Martin are compatible with his innocence of the crime of murder. He did not deny his participa- tion in the quarrel. In fact all the Irish knew and felt that they had risked their lives, and were anxious to go away. All that I contend for is this, that the evidence against Martin is so sur- rounded with suspicious circumstances as to afford reasonable ground for not carrying out the extreme penalty of the law. Allow me to add that there is every reason to hope that the ends of justice would be thus answered. The crime was not committed in a district where such crimes are of frequent occurrence. The Welsh people do not need such awful warning as a public execution against the commission of murder. The prisoner is not a native of Wales, and there can be no national feeling to prompt the memo- rialists to pray for commutation of sentence. I trust that as you have recently recommended the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy in the case of several prisoners, of whose muiderons guilt there was no doubt, you will be pleased to make a similar recom- mendation in a case where the evidence is so very conflicting, and when the identity of the real murderer is very doubtful. I have the honour to be, sir, Your very obedient servant, EVAN JONES.

SWANSEA.

SWANSEA DOCK COMPANY.

COWBRIDGE.:

NEWPORT.