On Monday, John Minter Hart, who also occasionally assumed the
name of Morton, was tried at the Old Bailey Sessions, for stealing ten bills of exchange for 500/. each from Mr. Francis Dugdale Astley. The circumstances of the case were much the same as those already detailed in the trial of Henry Palmer, as an accessory to the transaction by which Mr. Astley had been defrauded of his acceptances to the amount of five thousand pounds.
Mr. Alley, the prisoner's counsel, urged, that as the stamps had been paid for by the prisoner, and as the acceptances had never been made over to a third person, the charge of felony fell to the ground. In support of this argument, he minted the case of Mrs. Phepoe, who was tried in that Cnait in the year
795. F.7 • was living under the protection of an old and wealthy gentleman ; and being ....irons of getting some of his wealth, she forced him by threats, pro- ducing pistols, knives, and poison, to sign a promissory note for 2,000/. ; the stamp, as in the present ease, belonged to the wrong-doer ; and it was decided by the Judges of the land, that the case did not amount to felony. It could not be said that the note was in the possession of the person who signed, nor that it had been assigned to a third person ; therefore it was not a valuable security.
He quoted two other decisions to the same effect; and the Judges having consulted together, directed that the prisoner should be acquitted on the charge of felony. There was another charge against him of stealing a hill of exchange front a Mr. James Stannard for 301. ; and he was tried again on Tuesday, and again acquitted, owing to an error in the indictment, which alleged the offence to have been committed in the " parish of Marylebone," but omitted to add "county of Middle- sex." The Court refused to give an order for his discharge; but the gaoler released him, as there was no detainer against him : he was, however, immediately taken into custody, on a third charge.
After the first trial of Hart had concluded, on Monday, Mr. Alley applied to the Court, that Henry Palmer, who had received the bills, might be called up and discharged. He observed that Palmer was then within the walls of that prison, having been convicted at Clerkenwell by the Clerkenwell Magistrates. The sentence they passed upon him was transportation for fourteen years. He thought it was extremely hard that the accessory should be convicted whilst the principal was acquitted. He thought that it was within the jurisdiction of the Court to deliver up the prisoner.
Mr. Justice Littledale—" The Court can't stir in the matter. It has not the power of discharging a person under a sentence of transportation. You must apply for a Habeas Corpus in the Court of King's Bench, before he can be brought up and discharged."
Business was at a stand in the Old Court on Wednesday, for want of bills of indictment.
The Common-Sergeant informed the Jury, that the Grand Jury were still sitting at Clerkenwell ; and therefore be had no power to discharge them, al. though they had nothing to do. Several counsel, among whom Mr. Charles Phillips was conspicuous, com- plained, that not only was the time of the Judges of each Court, and of the Jury- men and counsel, wasted, but as long as the present system of doing business at Clerkenwell existed, there would be no end to delay and confusion. The Common-Sergeant said lie did not wish to throw blame upon any indi- vidual. As soon as the Grand Jury were discharged, he would be happy to dis- miss the Petit Juries.
In consequence of this delay, petitions, setting forth the inconvenience, were drawn up, and taken on Thursday to the Home Office; but Lord Melbourne being absent from town, they received no answer. The Recorder, however, said that an act of Parliament would be necessary to remedy the evil.
Two boys were tried at the New Court on Tuesday, for feloniously assaulting another boy, with intent to steal some gold and silver bars from him, belonging to his master, a jeweller. It appeared that the whole affair was a frolic. The Common-Sergeant, in charging the Jury, remarked, that the evidence proved nothing more than what was called "a lark" among boys. The Jury, however, found both the lads Guilty. The Common-Sergeant said, he was not prepared to term the verdict an improper one, but the case was serious and extra- ordinary, and he should deliberate before sentencing the prisoners.
The Sessions closed on Thursday ; when tae sentences were passed by the Recorder. A number of prisoners, several of whoa: were mere boys, were condemned to different terms of transporta- tion and imprisonment. The following received sentence of death— Charles Bluntly, for a robbery committed upon the person ; Thomas Foster, Joseph Tebbutt, John Kelly, Henry Eames, Henry Jotter,, George Bennett, George Dybell, Joseph Baker, and John Coverdele, for breaking and entering dwelling-houses, and stealing property therein above the value of 51. ; and Gregorio Guinea, for maliciously stabbing and wounding a person with intent to murder him. The last prisoner being a Spaniard, an interpreter was sworn, and instructed to tell hint what tare Court should dictate. To one of the intimations of the interpreter, the prisoner said he wished to know when he was to be hanged ! and be begged that a priest might be sent to him immediately, that he might confess. The Recorder said that any spiritual adviser he might suggest should attend. The interpreter explained to the Court, that the prisoner was quite ignorant of the practice in this country regarding felons. In Spain, execution almost immediately follows conviction ; and the prisoner thought it was so here. He was then told that in this country there was a lapse of time between the fiat of the Court and the decision of the Crown. The prisoner then declared that he had nothing further to say.