Sentencing remarks

The great Judge Sir Redmond Barry

I wrote last week that one of the things I dislike more than anything about Kelly idolatry is that it encourages and supports disrespect and contempt for the police, both then and now.  Another specific thing that I find contemptible in the pro-Kelly community is the disrespect and contempt it directs towards Sir Redmond Barry. The lies that they repeat about this great man, and the contempt with which they lace any mentions of his name is quite sickening. Brad Webb finds it amusing, and can’t help himself mentioning as frequently as he can the entirely trivial fact that the statue of Barry outside the SLV, in common with every other statue in the entire world has bird shit on the top of it.  Small things amuse small minds.
But as always, Kelly apologists pronouncements about Sir Redmond display their hopeless ignorance of the historical truths, not just about Barry but about their own sad story. For example, no serious Kelly scholar – say, for example Ian Jones – believes that Barry announced at Ellen Kellys trial that if Ned Kelly was there he would have got 15 – or was it 20, or 25? – years for his involvement. But does that stop Kelly ignoramuses from saying it?

And they love to wring their hands at how the terrible Sir Redmond sentenced one of the many criminals that were Uncles of Ned Kelly, the drunken arsonist James Kelly, to death, ignorantly insisting this proves what a nasty hanging judge he was and how he had it in for the Kellys. The refutation of that claim has been in print for nearly 40 years but it hasn’t filtered through to any of them yet so they continue to repeat the lie. So dumb. (Hint : Read Graham Jones book The Larrikin Years – or if that’s too big an ask, read my Review of the book, posted on this blog in January, and bring yourself up to date )

Now you might be asking what’s prompted this outburst? Well, I just happened to come across a reference to a report from the Age, 20th November 1854, page 6 which records Barrys sentencing remarks in a murder trial, and they are reprinted here in full. (But you can use the link and read  the article itself if you like) Barrys remarks reveal him to be an amazingly humane and wise man, not just for his time. The reporters observation at the very end blew me away.
Saturday 18th November, 1854.
(Before His Honor the Acting Chief Justice, Redmond Barry, sitting in the New Court.)
The Attorney-General prosecuted for the Crown.
The Court was very densely crowded, it being understood the case of the Bentleys would be taken on this morning, charged, with others, with the murder of James Scobie, at Ballarat.
Luke Lucas, who was convicted on Friday of the capital offence of the murder of his wife, was brought up for sentence. The crier proclaimed strict silence, under pain of imprisonment.
The learned Judge then addressed the prisoner nearly as follows:
Luke Lucas you have been convicted by a jury of your countrymen of the wilful murder of your wife, Mary Lucas, and the short, consistent, and uncontradictory testimony upon which that verdict was founded leaves no doubt whatever of your guilt.
You yielded to an outburst of passion and cruelty, and in the very midst of this populous city, at nearly midday, with a bar of iron, you murdered your wife. Had but your hand been raised against your equal in strength it might have shown, at any rate, some degree of courage,—an act like that would have thrilled us with less horror; but you have raised it to slay your partner in life, and her whom you were bound by all ties to love and cherish and protect.
What can be said in extenuation of your crime? A crime committed by a man upon a woman, a husband upon a wife, a father on the mother of his children?
The learned counsel (Mr. Dawson) who volunteered your defence, has ably advocated you. He has tried all in his power to see if the witnesses for the Crown were speaking the language of truth, but the few and simple details showed there was no contradiction. He tried to reduce the crime to manslaughter, but failed.
That little child of yours, eight years of age, brought forward by your counsel to give evidence in your favour, might have benefited you much, but, by your own culpable negli-
gence, he has been deprived of giving that evidence that might possibly have saved his father. Let this hold up in strong light to all, especially to men in your class of life, the necessity of religious instruction; if not from the high and holy motives of religion, let it be for the welfare of the children themselves, lest when their own life and welfare and liberty should be at stake, instead of their young children being the artless advocates of truth, possibly to save them in that hour, they find them the speedy avengers of evil.
Let this case be set before and terrify all that are given to the habits in intemperance. The last crime of murder has sprung from the first crime of intemperance. To this vice a wife now owes her murder, a husband a speedy and retributive death, and these young children, left in ignorance and vice, possibly to want and suffering. If no other mode of reasoning will avail with the intemperate, let this terrify the drunkard: that the fate of Luke Lucas may one day be his; that the thirst for drink is the demon that urges them to inevitable ruin.
The recommendation of the Jury for mercy shall be duly forwarded to the Executive Council, but I can hold out to you no hope. I cannot interfere in your case, neither do I feel called on to do so. I would not pass upon you the sentence of death hastily, therefore I have submitted the whole of your case to a most painful retrospect. I feel and respect the opinion of the jury, because it yields to mercy. My opinion also is entitled to respect, and I believe yours is a case that demands a public example. How dare you arrogate to yourself the office of an avenger, to deal out such unproportionate retribution to a wife; prepare then for a death, not so sudden—not so severe—not so terrible as you have inflicted—prepare, I say, to stand at that bar where all of us shall meet our doom.
The sentence of the Court is; that you, Luke Lucas, be taken from the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, at such time as His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor may appoint, and there be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and may the Lord God in his infinite compassion have mercy on your guilty soul.

The learned Judge was deeply affected towards the conclusion of his address, so much so as to become inaudible, and large tears were coursing down his cheeks. The prisoner, who looked very pale, was then removed to the gaol.”
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