An Affecting Charge
The following case lately came for trial before Mr Henn QC, the new Recorder of Galway:— George Hamilton, who for twenty-five years had been in the employment of the Midland Great Western Railway Company as station-master, was indicted for stealing from a hamper some goods, the property of Sir Arthur Guinness, which were addressed to Cong, in the county Mayo. For some time a course of pilfering had been carried on, and the directors, in order to find out who were the guilty parties, employed two Dublin detectives, named Stookman and Healy, who arrived in Galway on Aug 31st, and, concealing themselves in the goods-store in empty barrels, remained on the watch all night. About one o’clock next morning they heard a noise, and observed the prisoner entering the place. Having satisfied himself that he was unseen, he took out his penknife and proceeded deliberately to cut the cords of the hamper and extract some of its contents. The detectives waited until he had taken out a bottle of vinegar, a bottle of pickles, and some cheeses, and then tied up the hamper again. They then issued from their hiding-place and seized him. He begged them for God’s sake to have mercy on his wife and family, and to leave the matter between himself and the manager, but they refused to do so, and, having called the police, gave him into custody. About twenty witnesses were examined for the prosecution, and among them the clerk of the goods store, who swore that it had been locked and the key left with the prisoner.
Mr M’Laughlin QC appealed to the sympathies of the jury, and, pointing out some alleged discrepancies in the evidence, pressed them, if they had a doubt that the prisoner took the articles with a guilty intent, to give him the benefit of it.
The Recorder, in his charge, showed that the discrepancies only proved the truth of the charge, and expressed the deep pain he felt at seeing in such a position a man who had held a respectable position, with a salary of £300 a year, and had young ladies whom he saw in court dependent upon him. He finally burst into tears.
The jury retired, and after three hours’ deliberation returned into court and stated that there was no chance of an agreement. His worship sent them back to their room, and, after being absent for another hour, they brought in a verdict of not guilty, which the Recorder stated he could not endorse, but characterised as monstrous.
The Leeds Times 12 October 1878
The Recorder, Mr Henn, was the father of T R Henn and later lived in Paradise. Sir Arthur Guinness, a stout fellow, was a descendant of this chap and had a small holiday house at Cong on Lough Corrib, where his family had many boats.