Chapter 198379578

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Chapter NumberIX
Chapter TitleTILE ADVOCATE'S DEFENCE.-THE VERDICT.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198379578
Full Date1883-07-26
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count2420
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleThe House of White Shadows
article text

THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS.

BT R L. FARJEON, Author of uBlade-o'-Orase " "Joshua Uaml/ "Bread and Cheese and Kisses," "GrU," "tott doo'B Heart," Ac.

CHAPTER IX. TILE ADVOCATE'S DEFEXCE.—THE VBBDIOT.

He spoke In a calm passionless voice, the clear tones of which baa an effect resemblingthat of a current of cold air through an overhealed atmosphere. His tint words were a panegyric of justice, the right of dispensing Which had been placed io mortal hands by a supreme power which watched its dispensation with a jealous eye. He olaimed for himself that the leading principle, he might Almost say the juusioo of his life* was a desire for justice, in small matters as well as great, for the lowliest equally with the loftiest of human beings. Before the Bar of justice, the prince and the peasant, the most Ignorant ana the most higaly-caltured, the meanest and the most noble in form and feature, wers equal. That is why justice JSvas represented with A bandage rouna her eyes, Bo that she should not be milled by .external Influences. The eounsel for the prosecution bad told them that justice was demanded from them by law and by society. He would supply a strange omission in £ois direction, Boone would tell them, primarily and before every other consideration, that it was the prisoner who demanded jbstice from them. It was tbe prisoner who was on his trial, Kho was to 00 judged, who was to be condemned or acquitted. A life was in their evidence supplied to you is entirely oircum- BtantiaL That a beautiful and engaging girl lias been sacrificed, and that a brutal, a barbarous, murder Las been committed, are undoubtedly and most unfortunately true. !Fhe girl was beautiful, the man accused of her murder is hideous. Does that weigh with you ? If it'does, pause and reflect, and remember that justice is blind, and tliat these outward circumstancesproved to you in the person of the murdered girl, and visible to yoo in the porson of the prisoner—should kavo no more effect upon you than if it were Gaatran who was murdered, and the young and beautiful girl who Stood accused of his murder. Thinkof this calmly, and if in your mind exists a prejudice to the detriment of the prisoner—a prejudice vhich is widely current outside the walls of this hall of justice, I charge you to dismiss it. Reason with* yourselves, and let your consciences tell you whether, if a young and beautiful woman were in. the place of 1 ^jged with his murder, and if iubt in your minds—ask your 'say, whether you would not ght creature the benefit of the m, if thero be a doubt in your ininds at the conclusion of this ease, shall Gautr&n be deprived of the benefit of it because t he is hideous and degraded ? (Where, in that event, are the sightless eyes Of justice ? Are they suddenly endowed with light, to be beguiled by beauty of feature find fatally prejudiced by its reverse ? If you allow th^se external impressions to influence you, you Mill be false to the solemn oath yoo fcave taken. A rourdec has been committed •—no person saw it committed. The last person seen in the murdered girl's company was Gaatran, her lover. The girl had other lovers, who followed her, who attempted to embrace ber, who were passionately enamoured of her.

She was left to heraelf, deprived of the protection and counsel of a devoted woman who, unhappily, was absent from her side. She svas easily persuaded and easily led. Who can divine the influences which surrounded ber, the temptations whioh beset her—influences and temptations which may have been the direct cause of ber untimely death ? Goutran was heard to say, " I will kill you —I will kill you !" He had threatened her before, and she still lived, and allowed him io associate with her. What more probable tlian that this was one of bis usual threats, In a moment of passion, when be believed it likely a rival was supplanting him in her ntioctione? The handkerchief found round ber neck l>clonged to Uautran. The gifr of a handkerchief among the lower classes is not uncommon, and it is frequently worn round the neck. Easy, then, for any murderer— Dot necessarily the giver of the handkerchief ~-to pull it tight during the commission of bis crime. But apart from this, the handkcrchiuf does not fix the crime of murder upon Gautran or any other mat), for you have b&d it proved that the girl aid not die of Strangulation, but of drowning. These are bare facts, and 1 present them to you 111 a bare form, without needless commcnt. I do not base my defcnce upon them, but upon what I ain now about to say. If in a case of circumstantial evidence there is reasonable cause to l>elieve that the evidence furnished Is of insufficient weight to convict; and if on the other side* on the side of the accused, evidence is adduced which dircctly proves, according to the best judgment we are euablea to form of human action in supreme and terrible momenta—08 to the course it would take, and as to the manner in which it would be displayed—that it is almost if not quite beyond the bounds of possibility that the person accused can have committed tho deed, you are bound to acquit that person, however vilo that i>erBon may be, and however de graded bis career and antecedents. It is evidence of this description I intend to submit to yoo at the conclusion of my remarks. The character of Gautran has been exjiosed and laid bare In all its vileness ; the minuteness of the evidence is surprising: not the smallest detail has been overlooked Or omitted to complete the picture of a ferocious, ignorant, brutal creature. He stands before you stamped with degradation. How be grew into what be is, matters not; whether he himself is or is not directly accountable for his ignorance, for his ferocity, for his brutality, will not and should not affect the verdict you will pronounce. Guilty, he deserves no mercy; innocent, he is not to be condemned beoauso he is vile. This single accusation of the murder of Madeline tho flower girl is the point to be determined. It has been proved that the prisoner is possessed of great strength, that be is violent in his actions, unoontroilablu in bis passions, and fond of inflicting pain and prolonging it. He hue not a redeeming feature in nis coarse nature. Thwarted, he makes the person who thwarts him suffer without mercy. Thore is nothing gentle in bim; tifr^&ppeal to tils humanity would be useless, for he has no humanity; when crossed he has been seen to behave like a wild beast. All this is in evidence, and has been strongly dwelt upon as proof of guilt by counsellor tbe prosecution. Most important is this evidence, and I charge you not for ono moment to lose sight of it. I come now to the depiction of the murdered girl as she has been presented to you. Pretty, admired, with lovers pursuing her; gentle in her manners, and poor. Although the proof of a person being poor is no guarantee of morality, wo may accept it in this instance as a proof Of the girl's virtue. 8he was fond of life; ber disjx>sition was a happy one; she was in the habit of singing to herself. All this haH been adduced ui evidence; and we have before us the presentment of a young drl whose nature was joyous, and to whom life was very sweet. Aiiothor important uiccc of evidence must be borne in mind. Sne possessed strength, greater strength than would bave been supposed in a form so slight. This strength she would use to protect herself from injury; it has bean proved that she used it successfully to protect heraelf from insult. Theso points are important; but one of greater importauoe than any I have mentioned remains for me to speak of. I do not intend to impress it upon you—it has already been sufficiently dwelt upon by the prosecution. The murdered fjirl aid not meet her fate with gentleness or willingness. In tho whole of this case nothing has been more dearly proved than that she resisted her murderer, And that ou her part there was a long Struggle for life—a long and horrible struggle —in which she received minor injuries, wounds and bruises and soratchcs, and in which her clothes were rent and torn. This Btrugglc, in tbe natural order of things, could uot have been a silent one; accompanying the conflict thero must have been outcries—frenzied appeals for mcrcy from the weaker to tho stronger of those engaged In the terrible tiuht for life. No witness has been callod who heard such cries, aud therelore it must bo the fact that the murder was committed some time after Gautran'B threat. 1 11 will kill you—I will kill you 1" was heara by meu who passed along the bank of the river in tbe darkness of that fatal night. Simc enough for Gautran to have left her; igli * to time meet enough her; for ; time another—lover enough enougi for or murdor stranger— by „ another hand than that of the prisoner who Btands charged with the commission of the crime. I assert, with <W1 tbe force of my exporicuceof human nature, tnat it is impossible Gautran could have committed the deed. And for this reason, which logic cannot dispose of. Thore was a long and terrible struggle--a struggle with haude, and arm and limbs—a struggle iu which tho murdered girl's clothes were torn, in which her face, ber arms, her hands, her neck, her sides, her bosom, were bruifiod and wounded in anundreddifferent v.-avs. Ou the very day after the murder, within four hours of tne body being discovered in the river, ttautran was arrested. 11c wore the s;une clothes he bad worn on the night of the murder, the clothes ho had worn for months pa6t, the only clothes he jwssesBcd. In these clothes there was not rent ur a tear, there was uo indication of a recent rent or tear having been mended. How, then, could this man have been engaged |Q a prolonged and violent u&ud to-hand cou-

flict? It is manifestly to all reasonable ooniecture, that s clothes could have escapod from some injury, however slight, at tne hands of a girl to whom life was very sweet, who was strong and capable of resistance, and who saw before her the shadow of an awful fate. Picture to against unhappy girl clung to her destroyer, she clutcnea lus dress, his hands, his body, in her wild despair—a despair which gave her strength beyond her ordinary capacity. And further still, and of greater weight, upon Gautran's faoe, upon nis hands and arms, upon his nook, upon no part of his body, was there a scratch, a wound, a bruise. What, then, beoomes of the evidenoe of a terrible life and death struggle in which it is said he was engaged? Upon this point alone the entire theory of the prosecution breaks down; not for one moment will reason entertain it. The absenoe from his clothes and person of any mark or indication of physical contest is tne strongest testimony of Gautran's innocenoe of the wicked, ruthless, diabolical crime: and wretched and degraded as is tbe BDeotaoie he presents^ justice demands from yon his acquitl .. of innooenoe remains to be spoken of. , but it bears a ... longh the prosecution were afraid that its introduction would fatally weaken their ca°e. When Gaatran was searched a knife was found upon him— the knife, without doubt, with which he inflicted a wound upon the faoe of a comrade which he will bear to the grave. Throughout «he whole of the evidence for the prosecution I waited for the production of that knife; I expected to see upon it a blood-proof of guilt But it was not produced; no mention has been made of it. Why ? Because there is upon its blade no mark of blood. Do you for one moment suppose that a rnflian like Gautran would have refrained from using his knife upon the body of his victim, to shorten the terrible struggle ? It is contrary to reason, and I leave you to form your own conclusions upon it. You are to try, not the prisoner's general character, not his repulsive appearance, not his brutish nature, but a charge of murder of which be stands accused, and of which, iu the clear light of human movement and action, it is impossible he can be guilty." The Advocate's speech, of which this Is but a brief and imperfect pr&ts, occupied seven hours, and was delivered throughout with an absence of passion, and with a cold impres dive earnestness, which gradually and effectually turned tne current which had set so fatally against the prisoner. The disgust and abhorrence he inspired was in nowise mitigated, but the Advocate had instilled into the minds of those who heard hjrr> the strongest doubts of Gautran's guilt. Two witnessed were called, one a surgeon of eminence, the other a nurse in a hospital. They deposed that there were no marks of an encounter upon the prisoner's person; that upon his skin was no abrasion; that his clothes exhibited no traces of recent tear or repair; and that it was scarcely possible he could nave been engaged in a violent personal struggle. Upon the conclusion of their evidence, which the cross-examination of the prosecution did not shake, the Jury asked thatGautran should be examined by independent ' < -- - irts. This was done by tnoroui . . whose evidence strengthened that of the witnesses for the defence. The Jury also asked that the knife found upon Gautran should bcproduced. Itwas brought into Court, and carefully examined: its blade

was entirely free from blood stain. Astounded at the turn of affairs the Jury listened in silence to the elaborate summing-up of the Judge, who dwelt minutely upon every feature and detail in the case. The Court sat late to give its decision, and when it was pronounced, Gautran was a free man. Free to enjoy the sunlight and seasons as they Iiassea. Free to continue bis life of crime ana shame. Free to murder again I