|Newspaper Title||Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||A True Story|
A TRUE STORY.
By JAMES GRASSIE.
The most strange aud startling criminal trial on record waa probably that of John Dunand, (Inverness, 1836), and it still cries with a hundred tongues to juries urging them to caution in weighing testimony. Several versions of that singular trial have recently appeared in English and American periodicals, all more or less in correct; but as this one is from the notes of George Duncan, who reported the trial from the mouths of the witnesses, for the Inverness Journal, it may be relied upon as correct to the letter, as I have them before me now. Dunand was an hotelkeeper and a ship owner, in Wick, Caithnesshire, and was both respectable and wealthy ; but in 1835 there came a blast that nearly blew him on to the gallows, and in fact he very narrowly escaped it. In 1832 amongst a fleet of fishing smacks lying at Wick, thore was one named the Petrel, the mate of which, James Small, went ashore one evening, and was seen in Dunand's Inn ; but was never seen again. It was supposed that he had got too much of Brodie, the distiller's whisky, at Is. 9d, a bottle, fallen over the pier on his way to the ship, and been carried to sea by a strong spring ebb tide, and lie was soon forgotten. But in 1835, his memory was revived in a very strange manner. In that year the mate of a ship named the Thistle, which had lain alongside of the Petrol, at Wick, delivered himself up to the Sheriff of Liverpool, and confessed that he had been subborned by Dunaud to aid in the murder of James Small, and that he and Dunand murdered him in Dunand's house ; aud robbed him of £72, and a silver watch ; that they threw his body over the Wick pier, aud divided the booty between them. The approver was remanded to Inverness, where the sheriff having some doubts of his sanity was inclined to dismiss the case, when a local witness of unimpeachable character ap peared in Wiok, and in a singularly pointed manner corroborated the approvor's evidence.
That witness had been housemaid in Dunand's Inn in 1832, and deponed that hearing a scuflle in one of the rooms one night she arose, and peeping through a keyhole saw Dunand and the approver murdering James Small ; and the policeman who arrested Dunand in Wick de- poned that in the mail coach en route to Inver ness, Dunand, with a view of getting his ad vice, confessed the whole affair to him. That was a mass of startling evidence, but more start ling still is the fact, as next chapter will shew, that there was not one word of truth in any of it.
The trial came on in Inverness in 1836, and the witnesses for the prosecution gave their evidence clearly and pointedly, the policeman asserting that he more than once cautioned Dunand that he would have to make use of his confession, But there was a power of over whelming and unimpeachable evidence concealed on the other side.
First-Mary Finlayson, a married woman, in Wick was, she said, an inside passenger in the mail coach to Inverness-the only other inside
passenger beiug Dunand and the policeman, he did not sleep any by the way. Dunand made no confession to the polioeman. She does not think he spoke to him at all, and only said two or three words to her. He was very silent and sulky. 2nd. Thomas Wilson was master of the Petrel at Wick, in 1832. Allowed James Small to go ashore on the evening of 3rd. September, aud advanced him 3s, at his request. That was all the money he-Small-had on the night he disappeared. He had sold some of his indispensitile clothing a day or two before for a few shillings, aud spent them on grog.
He never had seventy two pounds no seventy two pence in the Petrel nor any money but what I gave him, a few shillings at a time, He never
had a silver watch-there was no watch iu the Petrel but mine. He had only three shillings in his possession on the night he disappeared, and if any person was to swear that he had a silver watch that night that person would swear false. Two seamen of the Petrel fully corroborated Captain Wilson's evidence, and George Pritchard was put in the witness box.
Was master of tho Thistle at Wick in 1832, and the approver was his mate. I remember well the night of September 3, 1832, when James Small disappeared, and I remember equally well that the approver was not ashore at all that night. We were stowing herrings all night to enable us to got away with the morning tide. He had no money either in Wick or after we left. I had to unship him during the next voyage as he seemed to be getting crazy.
He never mentioned to me that he had helped to murder James Small and I swear positively that he was not ashore in Wick on the night of September 3, 1832. Mary Wright - I am mother of the female witness, and we have resided together since 1832. My daughter never told me that she saw James Small mur dered, but she one day told me that she had dreamed about it. She has, I fear, been get ting weak in her mind lately. I told the Sheriff not to heed her much as she sometimes spoke nonsense, Sho never spoke of. the murder until she heard of the approver's confession, John Gollan-Is manager at Inverness of the northern mail coaches. Produced books and way bill to show that John Dunand, of Wick, was in Inverness on the night of Septomber 3, 1832. Wick is 100 miles from Inverness. There is no other John Dunand in Wick. Provost Fergusson ex amined said, "I saw the prisoner in my wine shop in Inverness on September 3, 1832."
Here the foreman of the jury intimated that no further evidence was needed, as the jury
were ready to give their verdict.
Verdict "Not Guilty," but Dunand was ruined, some of the witnesses having been brought from the West Indies at great expense.
The approver soon thereafter became an
imbecile, and the female witness a halfling, but the policeman continued to persist that Dunand confessed his implication in the murder to him in the mail coach, How far he was believed is