27 April 2014

Court of Justiciary Trials (2)

The Court next proceeded to the case of Jean Davidson, from Banff, accused of housebreaking, theft, and of being habit and repute a common thief.  This was a very distressing case.  The prisoner, a young creature, and apparently pregnant, appeared in the most calamitous circumstances, totally friendless and forlorn.  She instantly pleaded generally guilty; but the Court having permitted Mr Gordon to converse with her, it was reporter by him, - that the prisoner was neither aware of her situation, nor of the proper mode of communicating to the Court her real meaning; that she did not mean to admit her guilt as to the housebreaking, or the habit and repute; that she was innocent as to these charges; and that her only guilt was, a participation in the thefts libelled.  The Advocate-Depute, with great humanity, expressed his happiness at this explanation, and his satisfaction on the whole, that this was a case which he was at liberty to restrict from the capital pains, under circumstances singularly affecting in the history of the prisoner.  She then repeated her plea of guilty, under the qualifications stated by her Counsel; and a jury having been impannelled, were directed to return their verdict on Tuesday.

On Tuesday the Court resumed its sitting.  The jury, in Farquhar's case, returned their verdict , finding, by a plurality of voices, the libel Not proven; whereupon the prisoner was assoilzied and dismissed from the bar, after a suitable and impressive admonition from the Court.

After this, the jury in Jean Davidson's case returned a verdict, unanimously finding her Guilty, in terms of her confession. - Sentence to-morrow.

Published in the Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday 27th April 1814.

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