CONSPIRACY TO MURDER
This is the case which was tried at the last Spring Assizes, as against John Ahearn, who was then found guilty of the crime, and sentenced to death, but which was afterwards commuted to transportation for life. The indictment runs to the following effect:--
John Ahearn, Maurice Ahearn, and Patrick Brown stand indicted that they, on the 27th October, in the 15th of the Queen , at Killongford, in the county of Waterford, with malice propense, did conspire to murder James Troy, against the peace and statute. In consequence of the prisoners not agreeing to join in their challenges, John Ahearn was tried at alone at the last Spring Assizes, and the further hearing of the case was postponed till the present time. Mr. George, Q.C., having inquired if the two remaining traversers would now join in their challenge, and being answered in the negative, His Lordship remarked that they had the right of doing so ; but if it should turn out that the Court would be unable to go into the case of the second at this Assizes, he could not, under such circumstances, complain, if detained in prison until the next Commission. His Lordship then requested that they would consider well what they were about to do. The prisoners not being satisfied, Mr. George signified his intention on part of the Crown to proceed with the trial of Maurice Ahearn, who was then placed at the bar.
Mr. Dennehy (Clerk of Crown) commenced empanelling a jury for the purpose. [Those names marked (c) were challenged, and the names to which the numerals are affixed were sworn to try the case.] Nelson T. Foley (1), George L. Keane (c), Philip Kearney (c), Robert Backes (c), John W. Langley (c), B. W. Kielly (2), Alexander Kennedy (3), Edmond Russell (c), Mathew W. Biggs (c), James A. Merrit (c), John R. Steele (c), Stephen Gamble (4), Thomas Smith (c), Hancock Strangman (c), Henry Langly (5), John Wyse Furlong (6), Richard Barker (c), Henry Wilson (7), William Moore (8), John W. Maher (9), George Moore (c), Wm. Budd (c), Thomas Kelly (10), George Kelly (11), John Caulfield (c), Robert Carroll (c), Paul Heney (12).
Mr. George stated the case in a remarkably clear manner, and differing in no material point of view from the manner in which the like duty was performed by Mr. Scott, Q.C., at last Assizes, and with which our readers are acquainted. Richard Roberts, (C.E.,) was the first witness called, who proved the accuracy of the map, which had been prepared by him, of the neighbourhood in which the murder was committed
Thomas Sherlock sworn, and examined by Mr. Pennefather, Q.C.—I reside in Bandon ; I have been acting as agent for Mr. H. Walsh, the owner of the property of Grange, for over 10 years ; I know the prisoner—he held part of those lands, and his yearly rent is about £62—John Ahearn and Patrick Brown were also tenants on those lands ; James Troy was my bailiff on this property ; in the month of June, '52 [sic], the prisoner was indebted to me, and I took his note for the rent then due—I had made an abatement on him previously ; I subsequently ordered proceedings to be taken on that note, and upon those of other of the tenants, including John Ahearn and Patrick Brown ; Mr. Kelly was my Attorney ; the Sessions took place at Dungarvan about the 1st of October, 1851.
Court—What became of those notes?
Witness—I obtained decrees against Maurice Ahearn and others—against Ahearn for £38, 6s. 10d., exclusive of costs ; the decree against Maurice Ahearn was since paid £20—the balance—was paid about a month ago ; the first payment was made upon it about the time the case occurred.
Witness, voluntarily—I must say that up to that time I fancied that Maurice Ahearn was one of the best tenants on the lands.
Cross-examined by Mr. Meagher—I cannot say that the rent was £77 a-year, as I have not my books with me ; the amount of the note was something over the half years rent, I believe ; I thought up to that time that he was a very honest man—I never had any trouble with him.
George Keilly (Solicitor) examined by Mr. Lawson, Q.C.,—I recollect the sessions of Dungarvan, which took place in October '51 ; these are the documents [the I. O. U's.,] on which processes were issued from my office they purport to be witnessed by James Troy ; I recollect the 26th of October—the sessions were going on ; those cases were not called on, on the first day ; I know Maurice Ahearn now ; I cannot say that he had any direct communication with me ; these decrees [handed witness by counsel] were obtained at that sessions ; the handwriting of the late James Troy was proved by another party ; I cannot say that any of the parties against whom those decrees were granted were then present.
Cross-examined by Mr. Curtis—Troy was an attesting witness to the notes ; I knew him as the bailiff of Mr. Sherlock, and believe that he acted generally in that capacity ; I know of his being an attesting witness in other cases—he appeared in court on the proceeding [sic] evening to prove some handwriting—it was a defended case ; I think the defendants name was Hannigan but I do not know any more about him.
To the court—Troy was there on the first day of the sessions, the 27th ; on the 28th the decrees were obtained, that was the day on which his death was proved ; I am not aware of his having to prove against any other tenants on the 26th.
William Hally examined by Mr. George.—I live about an English mile from the lands of Grange ; I know the Ahearn's [sic] and Brown ; I saw Maurice Ahearn at my house on Sunday evening, the 26th of Oct. ; he said that he intended to defend the process against Mr. Sherlock, but I did not hear him say anything then about Troy ; I heard him say at one time that Troy was a blackguard and ought to be kicked [The foregoing evidence was not given by this witness at the former trial]—I was in Dungarvan on the 27th—I had a process against a man named Hannigan ; Troy was there also, as he was a subscribing witness ; he proved my case, which came on about night fall ; the Court broke up about six o'clock ; I believe that my case was second to last ; when we came out, he told me that he was badly off for his supper and a bed ; I went to Keane's house with him for the purpose, and did not stop long there—I settled for his bed and supper ; we went out together, and I brought him to Fitzgerald's to give him half a glass of spirits ; when we were leaving Keane's, I saw John Ahearn, brother of the prisoner, at Keans's door—he was standing I believe inside of the door ; I did not see any person with him then ; he went down the street in the same direction with us ; when we went into Fitzgerald's he stopped outside ; we did not stop but while Troy was drinking the half glass of whiskey ; we then came out and I proceeded with Troy about half way to Keane's house and took leave of him for the night ; Troy went towards Keane's house ; after I took leave of him, John Ahearn went in the same direction ; I went home then, and never saw Troy alive again afterwards ; I knew Patrick Brown, and saw him in Dungarvan that day ; I did not see Maurice Ahearn that day ; I heard that Troy was killed about eleven o'clock on the next day.Cross-examined by Mr. Meagher—My case was one of the last in the evening ; I had only one witness ; Hannigan had witnesses against me and disputed my claim ; Hannigan was there with his brother and a number of witnesses—I cannot say how many ; Hannigan lives about a mile from Grange, and in the same direction from Dungarvan, but beyond Grange ; Hannigan and his friends would go home the same road with the Ahearns ; I was not a bit astonished at hearing Troy called a blackguard ; I cannot say how long before the murder was committed that I heard that expression used—it might be two months ; no one heard him make use of the expression but myself—it occurred in the entry ; I did not make an entry of what he said then ; I never heard anything of Maurice Ahearn but the best of good character before this occurrence.
Patrick Keane, a lad of about thirteen years of age, was next produced, and examined by Mr. Lynch—I live with my step-mother in Dungarvan ; I knew James Troy and recollect the October Sessions there ; he came to my father's house about 7 or eight o'clock—there was another man named Hally with him ; they went into the kitchen, which is opposite the shop door ; it is separated from the shop by a partition of boards, and there is a square window cut in the boards something larger than the crown of a hat—it is without glass ; a person in the shop could see into the kitchen ; while they were there a man came into the shop, and there was another outside the door ; I would know the man who came into the shop—he was here at the last Assizes ; I heard that his name was Herrn ; he asked my step-mother for milk.
Mr. Meagher objected to let in the observations of John Ahearn. The Court ruled in his favour.
Examination resumed—I saw John Ahearn look in towards the kitchen ; he left the shop shortly after that ; I saw James Troy and Hally leave the kitchen shortly after that, and he went out before them ; Ahearn turned down the street before them.
Cross-examined by Mr. Meagher—I was at the last Assizes ; I was not sure of John Ahearn in Dungarvan ; I got sure of him after I was examined in the Crown Office ; I knew him amongst other men in the jail ; I admitted in Dungarvan that I could not be sure of him there ; I saw him the night that Troy was killed ; I saw him four days after that in jail when he was taken for the murder ; I was brought to see him, and could only swear to the best of my belief ; I was brought by the police to the jail on that occasion. To the Court—I was asked if he was the man, and I said to the best of my belief that he was—I had a full opportunity of seeing him then. [This had reference to his identification at Dungarvan.]
Mr. Meagher resumed the cross-examination, but nothing more of any importance was elicited.
Ellen Keane [step-mother of the last witness] was examined by Mr. Pennefather, and corroborated the direct evidence given by the boy.
Edmond Lynch was next produced, and stated that he was a bailiff on the lands of Grange, and in the habit of assisting James Troy. He also proved to having seen Troy in the square of Dungarvan, and not far distant from the Ahearns, who were there also. [The testimony of this witness was of no importance.]
William O'Brien [examined by Mr. Lawson]—I live at Lockinagrene in this county I knew all the parties ; I live about three or four miles from them, and my sister is married to Brown ; I was at the sessions of Dungarvan on Monday and when the court was over, I went to Mrs. Maurice O'Brien's house to take my lodgings there ; I saw Pat. Brown and his wife, Maurice Ahearn and Jame [sic] Troy and to the best of my belief Troy's daughter with them—two or three of them came in together ; John Ahearn and Maurice's wife and his own wife came in afterwards ; they went into the room and called me with them ; they called for half a pint of whiskey and a shilling's worth of bread, a gallon of porter, and to the best of my belief a pint of whiskey while they were there ; we all sat down together ; I was sober at the time, as I was then and now a teetotaller ; I heard Troy say that he was going to decree the tenants of Grange to-morrow, and if they would take his advice they'd make up £3 17 [the cost of the keepers] between them that he would go home with them and not attend as a witness on the following day ; he also said that after that he would be done with Mr. Sherlocks employ ; there was a sign of liquor on him at the time, but not much ; they said that if he'd go home with them then, they with the other tenants, would make up the money for him as it would be unfair to ask them to pay it all, and when made up they would put it in the hands of one Connolly till after the sessions ; he said he would not go home with them upon that condition, but if they would then make up £3 he would trust to Dennis Flynn to make up the remaining 17s., he also said that it should be lodged with me as I was present ; I refused to take it, but his daughter and himself pressed me to take it ; I did so and I was to keep the money until after the sessions, and if he was to save them from the decrees I was to give the money to him and if not I was to return it to themselves ; when they had finished the drink we all went out together and went over opposite Maurice Duggans house in the square where Maurice Ahearns horse and cart were in the yard ; when the horse and cart were brought out Troy said he would not go home ; his daughter pressed him and after some words I heard her say that wherever he'd stop she would stop with him ; I then went away to my lodgings ; Troy was very drunk but able to walk well ; Maurice Ahearn and Patrick Brown would not be noticed as having drunk anything. John Ahearn had more sign of drink upon him than any of them ; the women were all sober.
Cross-examined by Mr. Meagher—Biddy got a fair share of what was going, I saw her first with a glass of whiskey drinking it ; I don't know whether it was porter or a dandy of punch she drank after ; I saw another glass of whiskey in her hand and she drank a part of it and spilled the remainder of it ; after all there was no sign of drink upon her ; Troy drank like the rest of them ; I saw no attempt made to make him drunk more than any one else ; I saw Brown stop him at one time, take the glass out of his hand, saying that it was not his turn and drank it himself.
Bridget Troy [daughter of deceased] examined by Mr. George—I knew of my father making a distress upon the lands of John Ahearn, about a month before his death ; on the 20th October he left home about four o'clock in the morning ; I left the house about two o'clock the same day ; our pig had been taken by the police the same day ; I went to Dungarvan, which is about eight miles from home, and reached town about half past five in the evening ; I could scarcely see any one at the time, but for the gas which was there ; Maurice Ahearn was with my father when I met him ; I saw him at the Widow O'Brien's house ; when they went in first there was but a part of the company there, but they came in afterwards ; they sat down and called for three half pints of whiskey altogether, three half gallons of beer, and a shilling's worth of bread. [The testimony of this witness coincided exactly with that of Wm. O'Brien, up to the period of his leaving them in the square] We all went towards home then, passing up by the "White Joiner's" ; there is a gate on the side of the road between the "White Joiner's" and the Sluice ; I saw the car at this side of the Sluice with the four men in it ; while my father was walking, before he got into the car, he was between Patrick Brown and Maurice Ahearn, who were supporting him ; I did not see my father get into the car ; the women remained with me ; the men in the car drove on before us, but not very fast nor very easy—the night was dark, and they were soon out of our sight ; Brown had a single horse, which was ridden by his wife ; it was at the Dungarvan side of the Sluice I saw the car for the last time ; Ellen Ahearn and I went on together, and Brown's wife was behind with the horse ; at Roche's forge, in Killongford, we met Pat Brown facing towards Dungarvan—I did not see anyone with him, nor had he a stick with him then. [The witness stated that he had a handstick with him at the public-house.] He said he came back to see what was keeping us ; he waited for his wife who had not come up at the time, and Ellen Ahearn and I went on to the short-cut. [This was described as being a pathway over a hill, to avoid a more lengthy way by the high-road which wound round it.] We sat down at the end of the pathway to remain until Brown and the two women should come up ; we were not sitting there more than three or four minutes till we heard three blows given ; they were in the direction of the high-road as I would go home from where we sat ; I cannot say how far they were from me—they could not be far—they were heavy dead blows, and did not make a sharp noise. [Instead of sharp, the witness used the word bright.] Brown was in the opposite direction at the time, not having come up with the women ; I did not go by the way I heard the blows ; after hearing the blows we went back towards the forge and remained there till Brown and his wife and John Ahearn and his wife came up to us ; we all then proceeded towards home together and went up the short cut ; when Brown came up to us with the women, himself and his wife were riding the horse ; he came a part of the way with us up the path but said that he would not get to go that way with the horse, and that he should take him by another path down in the Glynn—I don't know how he went ; all the women went over the mountain, and Brown overtook us shortly after ; his wife got up with him then and went before us—they were at home when we reached his house ; I stopped at Brown's house that night and slept on a table in the room ; it was very late in the night when we reached there, and I remained but about two hours and got up very early in the morning ; Brown's wife and I went to Maurice Ahearn's house, which is about half a mile from it ; I went in and went up in the room ; Maurice Ahearn's wife was dressing herself, Ahearn himself was in the bed ; his wife said, "Biddy, it was Maurice made the noise last night" ; Maurice was then in the room and heard her say so ; I asked him why he did it and he said he did it to know if it were you were there ; he said that he parted with the car at Killingford short cut, and that it was on before him ; I asked him then where my father was, and he said he supposed that he was with John ; he said that my father and John were in the car then—Mary Brown was in the kitchen when he said that ; I went down to John Ahearn's house then—Brown's wife was with me ; I saw two girls there ; I went to the room door and heard John Ahearn speak—The Court thought that what John Ahearn said was not admissible on the present occasion.