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Conway and Colwyn Bay Joint…

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The Colwyn Bay Bigamy Case


The Colwyn Bay Bigamy Case VERBATIM REPORT OF JUDGE VAUGHAN WILLIAMS' SUMMING UP. ADDRESS TO PRISONER. PRISONER'S LETTERS TO MISS ASHMORE. VERDICT AND SENTENCE. At Carnarvon, before Mi. Justice Vaughan Williams, on Thursday, June 4th, the principal case for trial was the one of David James Morgan, described as of no trade," 39 years of age, and "imperfect education." The two first charges against him were that he married one Pauline Annie Sadleir, his former wife, Sarah Ann Morgan, being then alive that he married one Mary Teresa Ashmore, Sarah Ann Morgan, his lawful wife, to whom he was previously married, being then alive. There were also two charges against him of having made false declarations-certain false entries in the parochial register of marriages for the parish of Bangor. Mr. E. Honoratus Lloyd (instructed by Mr. S. R. Dew, Bangor) prosecuted, and Mr. Herbert Williams (instructed by Mr. Huw Rowlands), Bangor, defended Mr. James Porter (Colwyn Bay and Conway) watched the case on behalf of the'trustees. Mr. Lloyd opened the case for the prosecution, detailing at great length the facts of the case, which have already been published in these columns. Evidence having been called in support of the charge, Mr. Herbert Williams addressed the jury tor the defence, asserting that the prosecution were bound to prove conclusively that the prisoner knew that his former wife was alive when he married Miss Sadlier, else the charge of bigamy fell through. He asserted that the evidence was not sufficiently conclusive to sustain the charge. THE SUMMING UP. His Lordship, addressing the jury, said, Gentlemen, I shall be able to explain the question you have to determine so clearly, that you will have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion in the matter at all. Prisoner is charged with the offence of bigamy. Now, what the statute says which deals with the offence of bigamy is — "Whosoever being married shall marry any other person during the lifetime of the former husband or wife shall be guilty of felony." Well, now, gentlemen, the first question you have to put to yourselves is this,—" Is the prisoner at the bar a married man ? You have heard the evidence, and indeed really it is not in dispute, that this man, the prisoner, was, in the year 1879, married to this Mrs. Marsh, whose son you have seen here to-day in the witness-box. That being so, there is no doubt that prisoner was married in that year. Is that wife still alive ? Well, gentle- men, you have heard the evidence before you to- day. and there is no dispute, really, that Mrs. Marsh is still alive, so that we have it that this much of the statute has been proved,—The prisoner being married, and his wife, to whom he was so married, is still alive to this day. Well, then, has he married again ? Well, gentlemen, there, again, you know there is no dispute. He is a married man he married Miss Sadleir, at Bangor Cathedral, as you have heard in that evidence to-day, and therefore, so far as the words of the statute are concerned, they have been proved against the prisoner. He ts a married man, and, in the lifetime of his wife, has married again. But, gentlemen, the law does allow a man who is really innocent a loop-hole, even under these circumstances. In the first place, if the husband and wife have been living separate, apart floill each other, for seven years or more, then a presumption is raised as to the death of the wife or fiusband, as the case may be. That does not mean that you are to take the husband or the wife as being dead. It only means that it is a prima-facie, a presumption, in the absence of other evidence, that the man or the woman is dead. And that presumption, wh'ch the law acts upon itself at a trial, a man may act upon, if he acts:tipon it honestly. That is to say, if a man has been living apart from his wife for this period of titne-seveii years or more 10-S —then, if he, presuming his wife is dead, marries again, he is not guilty of the offence of bigamy, because that is an offence which really involves a guilty mind and, if a man is placed in such circumstances that he is entitled bylaw to assume the death of his wife, well, then, he can't be convicted of this offence, unless the prosecution show that he in fact knew that his wife was alive. A man cannot—and you will see that that is reasonable-he cannot be allowed to come here and say, by way of defence, I have been separated from my wife for seven years, and therefore I am not guilty of bigamy, and I -pray this defence in my aid," if, in truth and in fact, it can be shown that, though in fact he and his wife had lived apart for seven years or more, that he really was perfectly well aware that his wife was alive. You can quite imagine a possible case where a husband and wife were living apart, and ?t a distance from one another, and they may have had a practice of one writing and the other replying,-the prisoner might be writing and his wife answering, --one letter every year. It would be quite plain in these circumstances,—common sense tells one,—that the law would not allow the prisoner, merely because he had been living apart from his wife for seven years or more, to set up this defence—that the law presumes, after that interval of time, that the wife is dead, because the plain answer would be "You did not believe your wife was dead you knew perfectly well, on the contrary, that your wife was living, and you may not rely on that." But the presumption does do this in favour of the prisoner,-it throws on the prosecution the obligation or duty to show that the husband did know his wife was alive. In dealing with this matter, you must, of course, apply the ordinary rules. With regard to matters which have to be proved against the prisoner, they must be proved and, if not proved, the prisoner is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Now just apply what I have been saying to you is the law on the matter to these facts, and let us see how the facts stand. Now, the prisoner married Mrs. Marsh-Morgan in 1879. We have no very accurate evidence as to when or how they separated. Miss Margaret Ogden was called, and she told us that the prisoner had told her that his wife had died in her chair, after a bout of brandy-drinking I think it was and that he had left her, shortly after they were married, because of her drunken habits. The prisoner, in his own statement, says that he left his wife 16 or 17 years ago. This is what he said to the police- man I thought she was dead I was told so I have not seen her since the day I left her, 17 years ago. The reason I left her, she was a confirmed drunkard. I settled all the money on her, amounting to some hundreds of pounds, before I left her. I didn't want to know anything about her, because of her drunken habits. I have washed my hands of her, because she told me I could go and do what I liked." That is the evidence. The first question you have to ask yourselves is this,—" Has the prisoner and his wife—have they been living apart from each other for all these years?" If you think that they have, and are satisfied that they have not had any communication all this time, then this presumption will arise in favour of the prisoner. But you must deal with this matter as a matter of fact. Let me put this to you. Suppose a husband and wife were married supposing that they quarrelled, —it is possible, you know, that people should quarrel,-atid separate. They might live next-door to each other, or on the opposite side of the street to each other. They would be separated, but in that case there would be no such absence as to raise this presumption. I mention that because you have been told that Mrs. Marsh-Morgan lived all these years at 4, School Street, Broughton, and you have heard where prisoner lived,-at various places round Manchester, I don't think at any time more than eight or nine miles from Manchester. Mr. Herbert Williams: If Your Lordship will forgive me He lived at Belfast for some time. The Judge Mr. Williams is quite right in interrupting me if I am wrong, but I did not understand the evidence in that way. I did not understand her that he had continued at Belfast for any length of time, nor did I understand that he had given up his residence in England. But you have heard the evidence, and pray give your best attention to what Mr. Williams has called your attention to. But it remains undisputed, at all events, that, during the greater part of this time, the prisoner was living in the immediate neighbourhood of Manchester and that at one time the husband was living at Saltord and the wife at Broughton. But assume that you arrive at the conclusion that they were absent from each other, the husband and wife, in the sense that would raise this presumption, then, gentlemen, the next question will be, "Are you satisfied with the evidence that has been tendered by the prose- cution, to show that the husband in fact knew that his wife was alive?" The evidence on this, gentlemen, is not very strong, in some respects. It is positive enough, but it is weakened by the fact that Miss Ogden, apparently, was not a witness who was well-disposed towards the prisoner. She had, it is obvious from the evi- dence, most ample opportunities of knowing all about the prisoner's life, and knowing about the prisoner's knowledge and habits. She says that the prisoner constantly told her,-and she seems to have been constantly asking,—that his wife was dead, but she was not satisfied with that, she said. She really did not know what to think. Apparently, at all events, the terms between Margaret Ogden and prisoner were sucr that the question whether his wife was alive or- dead was one which must have been very constantly before his mind. Apparently, the relations ot Miss Ogden with him were such that she felt justified in bringing the question very constantly to his notice. She says to-day that she told the prisoner that Mr. Marsh told him his wife was living. That was close upon two years ago. And, gentlemen, another observation to be made out, is that, when Miss Margaret Ogden gave evi- dence before the magistrates in respect to this very charge, she does not say that when she is before the magistrates. But, she swears it to-day in the most positive way and if you believe her evidence, well, then, it would be plain that the prisoner, two years ago, knew that his wife was alive. If you arrive at the conclusion that you can depend on her evidence, the presumption goes. But there is also the evidence of Mr. Marsh. That is the person who is vouched as having been the person mentioned by the prisoner himself as the person who told him that his wife was alive. Well, Marsh is called, and swears most positively that he did tell him. It seems the prisoner at that time got into better circum- stances, aid was in a public-house, and that Marsh kept a public-house not tar off and then some people, who knew, I suppose, of the marriage of prisoner to Mrs. Marsh-Morgan, and knew that prisoner used to trequent the house which Marsh had, in the days of one of Marsh's predecessors, for some reason or other tried to persuade prisoner to go to this house again. Prisoner goes to this house again. Whether he went to see Marsh, or whether he went and was surprised to see Marsh there, I don't know. Be it how it may, he seems to have tried to make friends with Marsh, to have described himself as a man of means, who was willing to give Marsh employment. And then, Marsh swears most positively that this man asked whether Marsh's mother was still living, and he (Marsh) told him that she was so living. His question also included where she was living, and he (Marsh) told him it was in the same place. Having regard to the place where prisoner was then living, had lie desired to know, he could easily have ascertained the fact by walking there. It was one of those questions that could have been solved in that way. Gentlemen, don't understand me by that to say that you are to hnd that the prisoner did know, because you may be of opinion that he might have known had he chosen. Th,lt is not the same proposition but when you are dealing with the evidence that he did know, you must not leave out of consideration that u is extremely probable that a man in his position might prefer to arrive at this confirmation rather by asking the question of the son, than by pre- senting himself in person at the place where his wife was living. Then there is the settlement. What the settlement was, I don't know. If it was merely the handing over of money, one might have supposed that might have been handed over without any special settlement. It it was not handed to her, probably there was some reason tor wishing to preserve it tor her life, and then there would be some dealing with him after her death. But nothing of that sort is proved you are left entirely in the dark as to these matters. There is the case for you, gentlemen. It you believe the evidence ot these two witnesses,— Margaret Ogden and Marsh,—why, there is an end of the case based upon the presumption arising from the seven years' absence ot husoand from wife. You must first satisfy yourselves that there was such an absence; then the presumption of death will assist the prisoner, and he will not be guilty unless the prosecution prove that he knew his wife was alive. But, if you believe the evidence of these two witnesses, he did know, and, if he did know it, you must find him guilty. The learned Counsel for the defence, asks you not to believe it. That is not a matter to be surprised at, but you must judge for yourselves. Do you consider these witnesses are coming here, and, by their wilful perjury, trying to get this man put in prison ? The jury retired at 3.22 p.m., to consider their verdict, and, within a short space of time, brought in a verdict of GUILTY. Mr. Lloyd, after some discussion, said that he felt they ought to proceed with the second charge of bigamy. The lady described as Miss Ashmore then gave evidence. She said that she married the prisoner, who, during the courtship, obtained several sums of money and articles of jewellery from her, and left her on the day of the wedding. PRISONER'S LETTERS TO MISS ASHMORE. The following letters were put in as evidence in this case General Post Office, Radcliffe, near Manchester. My dear wife,—I received your letter respect- ing my coming to Dublin. You say coming to Dublin for a while and then leaving you when perhaps you should most want me or need me. My dear girl, my intention is to bring you back to England with me as soon as I am called for a final settlement of monies due. I never intended leaving you their (sic) or leaving you any more. Dear Mary, you say in your letter that you begin to think the money never will come. Well I should not like to have the same mind. If I thought that I should go and drown myself straight away, and my dear girl you can't insult or aggrevate (sit) more by writing that to me. When I think you have seen it in black and white at Colwyn Bay and you seen (s/c) the receipts for LSoo that my sister gave me in her own hand- writing for the furniture their (sic). I should come to Colwyn Bay only smallpox is their (sic). Now my dear, you want to know why I don't trust you with these counsellor's (sic) name's (sic). I never was asked only in the last letter and I did not know it would interest you in any way, but it it will do you any good you can have the name Clarke, Q.C. Well, now you have it. The money is right enough only I Hampson led me astray a little in a few things, but it will take some time for me to write all to you what I know, but when I see you it will take but a short time to explain matters and then you will have the purport right through Now dear you want to know why don't they pay me the interest of the money, well, as you don't understand the law of the country I will have to explain it to you. When monies stand in Court of Chancery (namely) (sic) Bank of England in the name of Queen Victoria they pay no interest on such monies, but allows to (sic) accumilate (sic) till all is settled at Bank interest l/4 per cent. or whatever the state of the market is, but only at ry4 per cent. because you draw in a minute's (sic) notice and that is the reason of the percentage so small. However I will give you all information when I hope to see you next Saturday. Now dear you want to know where would I like to stop in Dublin. I think (Black Cock) (sic) a very nice place, some few weeks their (sic). And when we meet let all old sores be forgotten and live for happiness but if you want to know my secrets and everything else, if you can afford to send for me to Dublin and keep me for a fortnight, I will consent to come and give you all particulars in every respect, and not only that it will make a marriage binding as we are it is not binding their (sic) is the Conjugal Rights Act passed in 1872 that if we get married and not sleep and cohabit after the union in 12 months it becomes nil and void. Well you see with all thy faults I love thee still. Now I hope you will read this letter three or four times over and for the future use a little discreation (sic) in your letter. Very glad to hear your cold is a deal better. Well now send for me pay all expenses and I will have a few weeks with you and you shall know all. I remain, yours, etc., David." "General Post Office, Salford, near Manchester. My dearest wife,—I received your very wel- comed (sic) letter and postcard to-day Friday. Did not call for them yesterday as I had not been well. I am proud to hear you express your love for me, and I hope in a fortnight to have you with me all together never to part. As soon as Mr. Hampson is ready to negotiate for me as the doctor says he will be able to come out then he will meet me with my solicitor to settle all and once for all everything. I did not like to trust anybody else but in him excepting yourself and then you could not act about the same like a man of business not to be expected my dear. I am changing my lodgings on Monday, don't like this shop and will give you my other address as soon as I draw my money I shall telegraph to you at once and meet you at Holyhead and take you to Llandudno to settle after I have got shut of the Griffith's (sic) in January. I am not joining them in building but I have bought the ground off them what they had and have put a deposit down till my money comes. It is in the solicitor's hand and he has got the order to pay a few weeks back but can't proceed without me love you know. It will soon come to the crises (sic) now with the help of God. Respecting you my darling saying you will go to work for me that will never happen. I have married you to keep you as man ought to do. I know you have been very anxious over me and so have I over you my dear, but I am all right since I received your letter that you are not in want and has (sic) plenty. These people here are strangers to me and I want to shift from them on Monday. Do me a kind loving favor. I have not a penny to turn round through Hampson being ill. Send me £ 5 it will last till I will draw my own. I saw Mr. Hampson yesterday and he asked me for £ 2. I told him I hadn't a cent., and I think he did not believe me and then he asked me why I didn't write to you for some. Now my dear do me that favor and I shall send my new address on Monday. If you have not got it try to borrow it at once for a fortnight. So I shall have mine by then. I shall write pretty often now nothing to do dear, and I can't go out you know. In haste to save post with my warmest love and kisses to my loving wife. I thought you did not love me but your letters has altered my opinion. Hoping my sweet pet is quite well, I remain, your fond husband, David. Mr. Herbert Williams again addressed the jury on similar lines to those of his first address in defence. The J,i(ige having summed up, also on the same lines as in the first case, the jury again retired at 5.0 o'clock, and at 11 minutes past returned into Court, with a verdict of GUILTY in this case also. Evidence of previous convictions against prisoner was then put in. Detective Hall, of the Birkenhead police force, deposed to the prisoner having been convicted in that town and Oldham for felony while a letter written from the prisoner while in Walton Gaol in 1893 was also put in, the Judge remarking that, while that letter might be shown to him, he never acled on such things unless they were proved. The Judge having explained the purport of the letter as bearing on the case f,)r the prosecution, the prisoner was asked, by the Clerk of the Assize, whether he had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced on him. He remained silent, standing, with downcast eyes. in the front of the dock. After a grave pause, His Lordship, addressing the prisoner, said, David James Morgan, I am sorry to say that it is my duty to pass a severe sentence upon you. I have no choice but to do so. I am quite well aware that there has been sitting in Court to-day, Miss Sadleir, with whom you went through a form of marriage, in respect of which you suffered your first conviction. I is should be very glad it, consistently with my duty to the State, and, indeed, to her, I could mitigate your sentence, but I cannot. The fact that she forgives you, and the fact that she is here to help you, is all creditable to her kindness of heart and all creditable to her womanly instincts, but I ain quite sure that the best thing for her, as well as for the State, is that I should not in any way mitigate your sentence because she is here, and, in this tender-hearted manner, is anxious that you should be spared. I do not mean to spare you. You have been tried, and convicted not only of one offence, but also of the offence in Ashmore's case also. The one fact, and the only fact that I can find that at all mitigates your offence, is tint meanly as you had behaved in respect of many matters, in respect of Ashmore, you do in that case seem to have had some spark of manliness about you, and I shall mark that by a slight reduction from the punishment that I should otherwise have given you. That is all I can do. I consider this a most grave offence, and I cannot help saying that you for a long time have been living a life in which you did not care at what expense of crime and misery you obtained your ends. Under these circumstances, I have no pity for you, except of course the pity one must feel for one who has been placed in different circum- stances than those who have to deal with him, from inyseif,btit, except in that sense, I feel that I ought not to allow any pity to move me at the present moment at all. I am going to pass upon you two sentences, which are to run con- currently, so that the whole sentence will only be the length of one. No doubt, you and your friends will think it a severe sentence, but I have in my mind deducted one year on the ground that you did not behave as ill to Ashmore as you might have done. The Judge th.-n sentenced the prisoner to four years' penal servitude on each count, the sentences to run concurrently. The prisoner received the sentence in silence, and was immediately led away by the warder in charge. As he was leaving the dock, the prisoner attempted to lean over to shake hands with Miss Sadleir, who was sitting close by the dock, and she eagerly rose, with streaming eves, to reciprocate his effort, but the warder interposed, and Morgan disappeared down the stairs leading to the cells. We understand, however, that both Miss Sad- leir and the prisoner's sister were admitted to the Prison afterwards. What transpired there, we know not.