Jury Brings in a Verdict of Manslaughter. As announced in last issue, the case of the Crown vs. James FOLLETT, charged with the murder of his brother Edward FOLLETT, terminated on the 17th ult., when the jury brought in a verdict of “Manslaughter”. The following synopsis of Judge PINSENT’s address to the jury is taken from the Evening Herald of the 18th: - Mr. Justice PINSENT then charged the jury. He said that the prisoner James FOLLETT was charged with homicide in the highest degree, viz: murder, and in reply to that charge he said that he was not guilty, and the issue which the jury had to try was whether he was guilty or not guilty, upon their oaths and upon the evidence and under the law. The jury was a remarkably youthful looking jury; several of them must be inexperienced in their duties and some of them probably quite new and had never exercised them before. These had entered upon their duties on a solemn occasion, and under circumstances of the most harrowing and distressing character. The occasion was one well qualified to impress, not only upon youthful juries, but upon all juries, a grave sense of their responsibilities as such and of the important nature of their office. Just setting out - as some of them practically were, upon the troubled sea of life with probably a long career of public service before them, which might affect, for weal or woe, the society in which their lot might be cast - we solemnly charged them to reflect upon the great gravity and importance of the functions upon which they had so recently entered, and upon the duty of discharging them according to law, and consistently with their sworn pledges, made under the sanction of the law, and of the just fulfillment of which they had called God to witness. He then proceeded to describe what the charge was. He said that the crime was murder where a person of sound memory and discretion, in other words, a sane person unlawfully killed another human being with malice aforethought, expressed or implied.
July 4, 1891 Crown vs. James FOLLETT (Part 2) The law presumed every homicide to be murder until the contrary appeared, and the prosecution was not bound to prove malice or any facts or circumstances except the killing, from which the jury might presume it, and it was for the accused to give evidence of such facts and circumstances as might prove that the homicide was excusable or justifiable or that it amounted to manslaughter only. There had been some reflections with regard to the manner in which the prosecution was conducted, particularly before it came into Court. These remarks were too severe. The learned judge then reviewed the evidence. The defense, he said, was conducted with most remarkable adroitness, shrewdness and prudence. The jury had heard the prisoner’s statement, which could be taken as evidence, as it was quite consistent with the evidence of the witnesses. He then commented upon Sir J. S. WINTER’s address and upon the evidence, pointing out the law by which the jury should be guided in considering them. If a man killed his wife, he said, under great aggravating circumstances, the crime of murder would be reducible to manslaughter, but this case was one where the aggravation proceeded from the wife, but where the consequences were visited upon a third person. He then laid down the law relating to insanity and provocation. Abandonment to unrestrained passion was not insanity nor was the dogged determination to commit an offence and take all the consequences of the act. There should be a degree of mental disturbance, destroying the will. Here there seemed to have been a strong expression and action of the will and a set purpose and pre-determination. The inward satisfaction with his own acts, as being just, right and defensible from his own moral point of view, would not acquit the prisoner from criminal responsibility.
July 4, 1891 Crown vs. James FOLLETT (Part 3) His Lordship quoted from text books upon these points, and concluded by saying that the jury were bound to find that the accused had committed the deed with which he was charged, and they should then consider how far criminal it was. The Court could not accept an entire acquittal, and it would be against their oaths for the jury to offer one. He left three issues to the jury, (1) whether he was guilty of murder, (2) whether he was guilty of manslaughter, (3) whether he was insane when the act was committed. The jury might recommend the prisoner to mercy.The Court was about to pronounce sentence upon the prisoner when Sir J. S. WINTER, Q.C., on his behalf, rose and said that he would like, if it were convenient, and no difficulty stood in the way, to submit, by affidavit, some matters which might affect the sentence by way of mitigation. The matter he would urge would be to the same effect as that he had addressed to the jury and which they had, to some extent, taken into consideration in their verdict. He asked the Court to consider the misery, the trouble and the sufferings the prisoner had already undergone. As far as the evidence showed, he hitherto had borne a good character for industry and good conduct. He had been a good husband, father and neighbour and had, up to the commission of this unfortunate offence, led a blameless life. He would ask their Lordships to take into consideration the condition of the man’s family, his young children, helpless and deprived of his support as well as of the care and affection which they ought to have from their mother, who had been unfaithful to her duties. She had already threatened to leave her home and children. He would ask the Court to consider the exceptional provocation and suffering undergone by the prisoner, and while vindicating the law, temper justice with mercy as far as they consistently could. Mr. Justice PINSENT said that having heard Sir James, if he desired time to communicate with Grand Beach, they would postpone the sentence till the July post-terminals. Sir James said he would like their Lordships to do so, and the sentence was postponed till July. The Court then rose for the term.