Sheehy-Skeffington Court-Martial transcript 1916

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extract from Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook

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Sheehy-Skeffington Court-Martial transcript 1916

  1. 1. 102 COURTS-MARTIAL AT RICHMOND BARRACKS. THE SHOOTING OF FRANCIS SHEEHY SKEFFINGTON. The court-martial on Captain J. C. Bowen- Colthurst, Royal Irish kmes, in connection with the shooting of three men named F. Slieehy Skeffmgton, Thomas Dickson,, and Patrick Maclntyre at Portobello Barracks, Dub- lin, 0.1 the 26th April last, opened at the Richmond Barracks, Dublin, at 10 o'clock on Tuesday, 6th June. Admission to the court was by ticket, and at the opening of the proceedings there were about 100 civilians present, including - number of ladies. Dr. Skeffmgton, M.A., L.L.D., J. P., lather of Mr. Sheehy Skeffmgton, and Mrs. Sheehy Skeffmgton (widow) were pre- sent during* the proceedings. The Court was constituted as follows :—Major-General Lord Cheylesmore (presiding), Colonel H. M. Thoyts, Lieutenant-Colonel Murray, temporary Lieutenant-Colonel H. Taylor, Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel L. G. Redding, Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Simmons, Temporary Lieu- tenant-Colonel W. J. Kent, Major W. E. R. Colhs, Major D. S. Matthews, Temporary Major E. C. Hamilton, Temporary Major H. Montgomery, Temporary Major M. A. Tighe, and Temporary Major H. Johnson. Waiting Members—Major A. B. L. Wood, D.S.O. ; Temporary Major Davenport, Tem- porary Major Hon! J. P.. N. Ridley. Prosecutor—Major Kimber. Judge Advocate —Mr. Marshall. Mr. James Chambers, K.C.. M.P.. and Mr. Andrews (instructed by Mr. C. H. Denroche), appeared for the prisoner. Mr. T. M. Heaiy. K.C., M.I'., and Mr. P. O'C. White (instructed by Mr. Lemass). appeared on behalf of Mrs. Sheehy Skeffmgton. but they did not intervene in the proceedings. THE INDICTMENT. The Judge Advocate read the charges against Captain Bowen Colthurst, which were: (1) That on the 26th April, 1916, at Porto- bello Barracks, he murdered Francis Sheehy- Skeffington. (2) That he was guilty of the manslaughter of Francis Sheehv-Skcffingtnn. (3) 'J hat on the 26th April, at Poitobello Barracks, lie murdered Thomas Dickson. (4) That he was guilty of the manslaughter of Lickson. (5) That on the 25th April, at Portobello Barracks, lie murdered Patrick Maclntyre. (fc) '1 hat he was guilty of the manslaughter of Maclntyre. The prisoner, in a loud clear voice, pleaded '' / 1 * t guilty " to t lie several charges. THE STORY OF THE TRAGEDY. Major Kimber, the prosecutor, stating the -aid the accused was charged with the murder of three |:i*ms—Mr. T. tSheehy feUt llingf.Mii, Mr. TJios. Dickson, and Mr. P. Maclntyre—and in the alternative he was charged with the manslaughter of these men. About six o'clock on the evening of Tuesday, April 25, the accused was with part of his regiment (the Royal Irish Rifles) at Porto- bello Barracks, Dublin. At Portobello Bridge there was stationed a picket of about thirty men under command of Lieutenant Morris, guarding the bridge. IN ear the bridge was a publichouse called Davy's, and a short dis- tance from the publichouse was Jacob's fac- tory, which was held by the rebels. Firing was going on from the factory towards Porto- bello Bridge, and information had reached Lieutenant Morris that there was a possibility • —nay, more—that there were thoughts of an attack on Portobello Barracks. There were about 300 men stationed in the barracks, but, of course, a considerable part of that number was on duty in the streets about that time. In the other direction from the budge lay Portobello Barracks—the opposite side from Jacob's. The rebels were advancing from that direction. Between 6 and 7 o'clock on Tuesday night firing was going on from Jacob's direction, and also from the rebels who were coming up in the direction of Porto- bello Barracks. One of the deceased men — Mr. Sheehy Skeflington—advanced, followed by a crowd, from the direction of the factory towards the Portobello Barracks. It was only fair to say that he was going in t«e direction of his home. Lieutenant Morris allowed him to nass, but two soldiers followed him and took him to the guardroom. MR. SKEFFINGTON BEFORE THE ADJUTANT. About half-past 8 o'clock that evening Mr. Skeffmgton was brought before the Adjutant. The Adjutant asked him if he was a * Sin* Feiner," and lie replied that he Was in sym, pathy with the movement, but not in favour of militarism. He was taken back to the guardroom. Meanwhile two other men. Dick- son and Maclntyre, were brought in, and they were, with six or eight others, placed in the guardroom. Dickson was the editor of a paper called The Eye-Opener. Mac- lntyre was the editor (if a paper called the Searchlight, and Sksffington was a well- known journalist in Dublin. The men were left in the guardroom during the night. The rebellion continued, and firing went on throughout the night around the barracks, and the rebels were in possession of the points he had mentioned. The accused officer went to the guardroom about 10.20 on vVed- nesday morning. There were other officers there and the sergeant of the guard. He said to one of the officers —" I am taking these pri- soners out of the guardroom, and I am going to shoot them, as 1 think it is the ri"l thing to do " One of the officers proceeded to the orderly room, and reported to the Adjutant what he had beard, and the Adjutant sent a message to the accused. He (prosecutor) did nnt know if that message reached the accused. He rather I lought it did not; but the fact was that the accused returned to the guardroom and ordered the three men out into the yard, lie took seven men, armed with rifles and ammunition, with him. The
  2. 2. 103 yard at the back of the guardroom was en- closed by a wall twelve feet high. The ac- cused had the men placed against the wall, and he ordered the soldiers to load and fire. The three men were shot by his orders. Hav- ing done that, he went to the orderly room and reported that he had ordered the three men to be shot, giving as his reasons, first, to prevent any possibility of escape; second, to prevent their being rescued by armed force. Apparently he then began to think that he had probablv done what he oucht not to have done, and he went in search of the commanding officer of the battalion (Major Roxburgh), who was at the time in barracks, and who instructed him to make a report of the matter. This the accused did, and the whole affair was submitted' to the Com- mander-in-Chief. LIEUTENANT MORRIS. Lieut. M. C. Morris, 11th East Surrey Regi- ment, gave evidence that he was attached to the 3rd Royal Irish Rifles at Portobello Bar- racks, and was in command of a picket of 30 men of that regiment on Tuesday, 25th April. He bore out the prosecutor's statement of the approach and arrest of Mr.Sheehy-Skeffington, who was not armed. In reply to questions by Mr. Chambers, witness said his men reported that a machine gun was seen on the top of a house near Jacob's factory, and he saw men in civilian clothes moving something across a roof in the direction where the firing was going on. A machine gun was fired in that direction. SERGEANT MAXWELL. Sergeant John Arthur Maxwell, 7149 3rd Royal Irish Rifles, stated he was at Porto- bello . Barracks on the 25th April last, and acting on instructions he took Mr. Sheeny Skeffington to tne orderly room to be examined by the Adjutant. He heard Mr. Morgan ask Mr. Sheehv Skefllngton was he in sympathy with the Sinn Fciners, and he made answer to the effect that he was, but that he did not believe in passive resist- ance. He said something about militarism, which witness could not understand. LIEUTENANT MORGAN. Lieut. Samuel Valentine Morgan, adjutant, 3rd Royal Irish Rifles, said at about 8.15 o'clock that evening he asked' Mr. Sheehy Skeffington if he was a Sinn Feincr. He said he was not. Witness also asked him was he in favour of the Sinn Fein movement. He said he was in sympathy with the Sinn Feiners, but he was not in favour of militarism. Next morning the accused came to the orderly room about 10.20 o'clock, and re- ported that be had shot three prisoners — —Sheehy Skefrington, and the editors of the Spark 'and the Eye-OjH'ner. He said he feared they might be rescued by armed force. He also said that he had lost a brother in this war, and that he was as good an Irish- man as the men he had shot. Witness re- ported to Major Smith of the Headquarters of the Irish Command, and to Major Ros- borough, who was in command of the bat- talion. Cross-examined by Mr. Andrews, witness said that snio^g went on vn the immediate vicinity of the barracks, and actually at the barracks. Among the casualties sustained by those stationed at the barracks were a second lieutenant killed, four officers wounded, while there were sixteen casualties in the rank and file. They all belonged to the same battalion as the prisoner. Second Lieutenant Wm. Price Dobbin, of the 3rd Royal Irish Fusiliers, stated that he was at Portobello Barracks on the 26th April, in command of the main guard. There were, he thought, eight civilian prisoners in the guardroom. He did not know either Skeffington, Dickson, or Maclntyre. He saw the accused going into the guardroom thai Photo &?/] [Elliot! and Fry. MAJOR GENERAL H. F. LORD CHEYLESMORB, who presided over the Courts-martial at Richmond Barracks. / morning. He came out again, and then said to w.tness, to the best of his belief, " I am taking these men out of the guardroom, and I am going to shoot them, as I think it is the right thing to do," or words to that effect." Witness, continuing, said that at the back of the guardroom was a yard enclosed by a wall ten or twelve feet high. The. three men were taken out into the yard, and he heard shots fired as from the yard. Re went into the yard and saw three men lying dead there. He knew Sheehy-Skeffmg- ton from his appearance the night before, wf)en he heard his name mentioned. Witness knew the body. He, did not examine the bodies that he saw on the ground, but he saw
  3. 3. 104 Mood on the ground. He did not examine Sheehy Skeffington's body to see whether he was dead or alive. He was some distance from the bodies. Cross-examined by Mr. Chambers, tho witness said he and other men were con- stantly on duty for three days. There was shooting going on in the neighbourhood of the barracks. Some of his men were wounded on Portobello Bridge. He had heard that a machine gun had been trained on the roof of some house by the rebels, but he did not eee it. Replying to questions put by the President witness said that when Capt. Colthurst came out of the guardroom he appeared in an excited state, which was not his usual man- ner. "TO SHOOT AGAIN." In your previous evidence you made a state- ment which you have- not corroborated to-day. You were asked by the prosecutor if you noticed anything regarding one of the bodies, and A'ou said "Nothing in par- ticular." That is your answer to the pro- secutor to-day. Did you notice anything par- ticular about one of these bodies? I did. What wT as it? I noticed a movement of one of the legs of Slieehy Skeftington. What did you do then? I sent an officer to the orderly room. That officer was Lieut. Tooley. and what I wanted to know was what steps I was to take. Did you send the officer specially to. the accused? No, but simply to the Orderly. What was the answer received by you? The order was that I was to shoot again. Who sent that order? Capt. Colthurst. How do vou know it was he? Lieutenant Tooley told me. What did vou do then? I stood by four men of my guard, and I complied with the order. The President— Perhaps after this evidence counsel for the defence would like to cross- ex.anfin's the witness. Mr. Chambers (to witness)---What sort of a movement was it that ypu s:-iw —was it a twij|^4'|rff a hi 's.'h ': 1 ihni't .know. l;.iri ; yi;ti believe Skeffiigton to -he then (had. nr that he v.-s living'.' I W keve he was Th.it lie was dead; I cannot say. In mj opinion he was- done for, ' The I'r.rsldcnt— L'y "done fur " you mean dead? : ^es. SEBCEANT ALDRIDGE, iCth R.D.F. Sergeant ' John * William Aldririge, 10th Ball. Royal Dublin Fusiliers, said he was at Portobello Barracks on the 26th April last attached tb't'he Royal Irish' Rifles.' At about 9 a.m. on that date le relieved a sergeant of the Royal Irish Rifles, who is now at the front.! At about 10.20 Capt. Bowen CoHhurst him. he wanted men named Maelntyre, oiij and Sheehy Skefijnfiton in the yard — that; ,hf:, ward.' d .to shoot them. Witness identrifiedpriso.ner as the officer who marie that statement. J he accused Oidered portion of the guard to go out with him. Tdaere were even of them, and they were ail armed. Each magazine of each man's rifle was charged. Witness followed them into the yard. THE SHOOTING. The Prosecutor—When you got to the yard what happened? Capt. Bowen-Colthurst told the three prisoners to go to the farther end of the yard, which they did. He then told all the men to load—to pull off the catch and pull out the bolt of their rifles. Then he told them to "present" and to "fire." The three prisoners, to my belief, were shot dead, sir. One volley? One volley, sir- Did you examine the three bodies? I went up to them, and so far as I could see, and so far as my judgment went, 1 took them all three to be dead. Did you see wounds on them? No, sir, but I saw at the back of tho coat where the bullets penetrated through. Now what did Mr. Dobbin do? He stood in the yard, and' at the time he thought there was a movement in Sheehy Skeffington. He went away and came back in about two minutes, and another volley was fired by four men at that one particular man. What was you own impression? My own impression was that the man was dead before that volley was fired. Cross-examined by Mr. Andrews—Witness said his impression was that the three men were killed the first time. It was the general belief that there were not sufficient forces to protect the barracks if an attack was made on it. By the President—No special orders were given with regard to Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington or anv of the prisoners. Mr. Skeffington was kept in the guardroom, and Messrs. Dickson and Maclntyre in the detention room. Wit- ness was present when the accused gave the order to the seven men to load and shoot the three prisoners. SECOND LIEUTENANT WILSON. Second Lieut. L, Wilson. 5th R.I.F., attached R.I.R., said that on the Tuesday night he was with a parly of men, about forty, under Capt. Bowen Colthurst. They had charge of Mr. Sheehy Skeffington. who was taken as a hostage, and went to " Kelly's Corner." Cant. Colthurst left witness, twenty men, and Mr. Skeffington on Portobello Bridge. The Prosecutor—What orders did he give you before he went? He said that if any of his men were fired upon I was to shoot Skeffington immediately, and if he (accused), wore knocked out of action witness was to take command. Witness understood the ac- cused was going to raid Kelly's shop. Captain Colthurst, came back with five prisoners, in- cluding Messrs. Dickson and Maclntyre. Two' prisoners were allowed to go away, and two were taken into the guardroom. MAJOR ROSBOROUGH. Major.. James Rosborough, 3rd R.I.R., stated that he was temporarily in command at Portobello Barracks during the rebellion., About three, hundred men were in barracks. Witness saw the accused on the Wednesday
  4. 4. 105 morning. Captain Colthurst came to witness as he was crossing the barrack square, and said that he had just shot three prisoners, and that he expected he would get into trouble Accused did not say whether the prisoners were military or civilian prisoners, but witness presumed that they were civilians. Cross-examined by Mr. Andrews, witness said that they received a telephone communi- cation from the garrison adjutant that an at- tack might be made on the barracks. He con- sidered that they should be prepared for an. attack. Were you aware that Skeffington had been taken out by Capt. Colthurst? I did not know. May I take it that to the best of your know- ledge the taking of hostages in warfare or rebellion is quite an obsolete practiced I certainly would not do it. The President—No reports were made to you, as commanding officer, that there were prisoners in the guardroom? No reports were made to me. You understand, I presume, that as com- manding officer you are responsible for those prisoners? Yes. When did it come to your knowledge that the accused took one of the prisoners out of the guardroom? I heard that next day. Did you take any action on that? I took no particular action. You, as commanding officer, being respon- sible for the safe custody of prisoners, took no notice whatever on hearing that one of your prisoners had been removed without your authority from the guardroom? What I understand was that he was taken as a guide. Witness said that the accused met him on the barrack square at about 11 a.m. on April 26th. Was the accused in an excited state at the time? He was not in an abnormally excited state. Lieutenant Morgan, re-called, was asked by the President—Did it come to your know- ledge that the accused had taken out Skeffing- ton with a body of men to the bridge? Yes. When did you come to know that? That night, about 10.40. Did you make any report of that to your commanding officer? Yes. When? I reported it immediately when I heard of it. Can you tell us when Skeffington was brought back to the guardroom that night? I should say about 20 minutes past 11 o'clock. Was any other prisoner taken out, to your knowledge? No. CHAPLAIN'S EVIDENCE. Rev. F. E. O'Loughlin, R.C. Chaplain to the military at Portobello Barracks, was the next witness. He said he was at the barracks on the 25th and 26th April. He knew Skeffington, Dickson, and Maclntyre by ap- Eearance. In consequence of a report which e had received from the adjutant he went to the mortuary, and there he saw the dead bodies of the three men named. They were buried at 11.15 on Wednesday night, and he was present at their interment and subse- quent exhumation. PECULIAR INCIDENT. Lieutenant Wilson was le-called for cross>- examinatiori by Mr. Chambers. You spoke of the night when Mr. Sheeny* Skeffington was taken out as a hostage? Yea, THE LATE MR. FRANCIS SHEEHY- SKEFFINGTON was a well-known figure i«l Dublin. What was the condition of the accused on that occasion? I considered that he wa3 in a highly excited condition. Do you remember any incident of a peculiar nature occurring? Well, he ordered Mr. Skeffington to say his prayers, and he mada the men take off their hats.
  5. 5. 1C6 Did he say any prayer himself? He did. What was it? As far as I can remember it was as follows —"0 Lorn God, if it should please Thee to take away the life of this man, forgive him for Our Lord Jesus Christ's sake." The President—When was it that he ordered him to say his prayers? Just outside the guardroom, previous to his being taken out as a hostage. Sergeant James Geoghegan, R.A.M.C.. said he went from the guardroom into the yard at back, and found there three dead bodies which he did not identify because he had not seen them before. 'I he medical officer was not called. He took the three bodies on a stretcher and had them conveyed to the mor- tuary. Was there any blood there? Yes, there was blood on their clothes. Can you say from what you saw if the men had been hit at all? Yes. How? With bullets. Whereabouts? In the body. 1 did not see whether or not the bullets passed through the bodies. Did you form any opinion of how they died? They died from the effects of bullet wounds. Lieutenant Wilson was recalled. Mr. Chambers—I forgot to ask yon whether on the way down from Portobello Barracks to Kelly's tobacco shop Capt. Colthurst did anything with his rifle? Yes, he was firing it "off. In the air? Yes. How often did he fire it off between the barracks and Kelly's? Several times, sir. The President—You mean that he was firing indiscriminately, without taking aim? In the air, sir. LSEUTENANT MORRIS RECALLED. Lieut. Monis was then recalled and ex- amined by Mr. Andrews. —Do you lemember on the Tuesday evening when* y a. were nro- cted'ng wi'h the prison ei^Skeffington and Capt. Colthurst in the direction of r^vtobello Bridge? I had nothing to do with Capt. Colthurst that evening in connection wit!; t!ie prisoner. 1 saw Carit. Colthurst about mid- night, when lie whs going from the barracks with Mr. SkeffinKton. and lie was then pro- ceeding to raid Kelly's tobacco si op. lie had Mr. Sheehy Skeffington with him, and was in a very excited condition indeed, and it : truck me as very stupid of him to warn Sheehy Skeffington that if he was fired on Sheehy Skeffington would be shot at once. I did not see how Sheehy Skeffington could, or anyone conld, stop anyone from firing on the troops. Did you consider Captain Colthurst to be in an abnormal condition at the time? He did not seem quite right in his he:.d at the moment—he seemed to be labouring under tremendous excitement. When did you see him the nearest time after the shooting took place? I saw him when he announced t<> the Adjutant that he had shot the prisoners. I was there when he made the announcement. He seemed then rather worse than the night before—he was perfectly stupid. Perfectly stupid? He was extremely agitated and excited. I do not know Captain Colthurst very well—indeed he did not strike me at the time as a man who should be at any time in command of troops. Did he appear to you on these two occasions to be in an entirely different frame of mind from previous occasions? I had not seen him previously, but T have seen him since, and he was then totally different. Then there was a third occasion when I saw him — that was in the officers' mess at tea time on the same day—the Wednesday about 4.30 or 5 o'clock—1 am not quite certain. There were several junior officers present. Most of us were strangers to the barracks, and Cap- tain Colthurst made a very ridiculous se 1 , speech, indeed, as to Sir Francis Vane doing all sorts of wicked things and being a Sinn Feiner and a pro-Boer. On that occasion he did not seem to be right in his head'. Did he say anything else about Sir Francis Vane? He said he should not be allowed in the barracks, and that he should be shot. I took it upon myself to tell the other officers not to pay any attention to what Captain Colthurst had said, and that I thought ha was not quite himself at the time. Did you consider he was in any way cap- able of discriminating between legal right and legal wrong? No, sir, I do not. THE DEFENCE. Mr. Chambers proceeded- to call his w'*l- nesses. In reply to the President, he sa»J that he would not call the accused, nor had the accused any written statement to hand in. MAJOR-GENERAL BIRO. Major-General Bird was questioned as to the general character of the accused, and his demeanour in 1914. Witness said that he found him eccentric. Accused seemed to be unable to concentrate his mind on a subject, and was certainly at times eccentric. Apart from that, he was a man of high character, and set a very good example to everybody. The accused took part in the battle of Mons, and tiie morning alter the battle he was in charge of the leading company of a battalion. Wit- ness found that whenever he rode away from the bead of the battalion it moved off. When witness went back and asked why that occurred nobody could tell him, but when he turned his back he heard Captain Colthurst giving an order in rather a weak voice for the company to advance. Captain Colthurst's reply and his demeanour convinced witness that he was quite incapable of leading men, and witness suspended him from duty for a time. Accused was quite broken down, and was not fit to exercise judgment. He was wounded about a fortnight later at the Aisne. Witness's opinion was that when unusually fatigued and in a state of excitement Cap- tain Colthurst was not quite responsible f or Ins actions. Cross examined, witness said that in .April, 1914, he made a report about Captain Colthurst. The report was over-ruled, and witness had to tell him on one cccaaiea th<«^
  6. 6. 107 he would have to report unfavourably upon him. On another occasion the accused bel- lowed at him : " Do you mean to say anything against my company?" That was extraordi- nary, and witness reprimanded him there and then. To the President—Witness reinstated Cap- tain Colthurst in his old position of company commander three or four days after he had been removed from it. He attributed the movement of the battalion after Mons to the orders of Captain Colthurst. MAJOR GOODMAN. Major Goodman, stationed at the Curragh Camp, examined by Mr. Andrews, said he had known Captain Colthurst since November, 1904. Taking him generally, he was a kindly and considerate man towards his fellow-officers and the men under him. He had known him occasionally to have done acts of an eccentric character. The President—Can you give us one in- stance of the eccentric acts he did? Yes. What is it? I had been on a shooting ex- pedition with him in India, and we put up for a night at a bungalow. There were dogs barking all night, and we did not sleep. At breakfast next morning I said I wished that dog was shot that kept us awake. He got up from the breakfast table without saying a word to anyone, and went out. I heard a rifle shot fired, and it was followed by the piteous howling of a dog. Captain Colthurst came back and said he had shot the dog. I asked if he had killed the dog, and he said " No "' ; and he added that the dog was sufficiently wounded to die. I mention that as an eccentric act, because it was entirely against the nature of Captain Colthurst to do that. CAPTAIN E. P. KELLY. Captain Edward Phillip Kelly, examined by Mr. Chambers, K.C., M.P., stated that he met Captain Bowen Colthurst for the first time on Easter Monday at Portobello Bar- racks. Witness thought his manner was rather peculiar on the Monday and 'Tuesday. On the Wednesday his manner seemed strange. He was half lying a.cross the table with his head rest'ng on his arm, and he looked up occasionally and stared about the room, and then fell forward again with his head on his arm. Witness came to the con- clusion then that he was off his head, and he saw Capt. MeTurk and said' something to the effect, '' For Goodness sake, keep an eye on Captain Colthurst; I think he is off his head." CAPTAIN M'TURK, R.A.M.C. Captain James MeTurk, R.A.M.C, stated, b reply to Mr. Andrews, that he had known "aptain Bowen-Colthurst for about ei<?ht Months. Both as a medical man and one who lad known him for nine months, witness houcht he was net responsible for his action", Hid was not crpa'ole r{ exercising any sound judgment or discriminating between rMit lad' wrong. Cross-examined by the Prosecutor—Witness had no special training in mental uiseases. By the President—1 ru.ve been in Porto- bello Barracks for nine months. On the Wednesday, at lunch time, did you think the accused was responsible for his actions? I do not think so. Can you give us any particular reasons for stating that? His general demeanour at lunch. ^ Did you report that to anyone? Well, Captain Kelly reported it to me. That is not the question I asked—you were there as Medical Officer—the question is, did you report this to anybody there? I re- ported it to Captain Kelly. I told Captain Kelly that I had prescribed ten grains of potassium bromide for the accused. Did you realise that it was your duty to report an officer unfit for duty"? I reported the matter to Captain Kelly. At this time did he tell you that he had been responsible for the shooting of three men? He did not; he never said that. Would you say his condition was due to anxiety for what he had done? He said it v. as a terrible thing to shoot one's own coun- trymen. DR. PARSONS. Dr. Parsons, F.R.C.P., physician to the Royal City of Dublin Hospital, gave evidence that he met Captain Colthurst several years ago, when he paid a professional visit. Wit- ness saw trie accused on November 21st, 1914, when he had returned from the front, and reported on his condition. There was loss of power, owing to wounds, in accused's left arm, and, in addition, Captain Colthurst was in a condition of marked nervous exhaus- tion. Witness reported that he was unfit for duty ; should have two months' leave of absence, and', after that, a period of light duty. He was quite unequal to 'any strain, which would probably have brought about a nervous breakdown, probably affecting him mentally. In February the accused had im- proved physically, and" the rest had done his mind good, but he was not fit for duty. Witness last saw accused professionally the previous Friday. He found him labouring under cons : derable excitement and restless. He did not seem to realise his position in regard to the present charge. In the course of a long conversation accused talked about the fighting at Mons and the retreat. Did he make any reference to the shooting incident? Yes, he told me that on Wednes- day morning he went to bed at three and read his Bible, and that he came across a passage in it wheh seemed to have exercised a very powerful influence on his mind. The passage was to the effect: "And these my enemies which will not have me to rule ever them, bring them forth and slay them." So far as I could gather from him the way that affected his nrnd was that it was his duty to slav men who would not have His Majesty to rule over the-D. Havmg regard to that and other parts of
  7. 7. 103 the conversation, did you form any opinion as to the state of his mind? I came to the con- clusion that his condition was far from normal, and that he was unbalanced. I felt that a very trivial incident at the time would absolutely upset his balance. Witness would not say that accused was responsible for his actions in March, 1915. The bearing of Captain Colthurst on the Wednesday might be consonant with mani- festations of remorse and regret on the part of a sane man. Witness said that the accused made 't quite clear to him -that he (accused) had done right and carried out his duty. His words were to the effect that in any other country except Ireland it would be recog- nised as right to kill rebels. DR. LEEPER. Dr. Leeper. F.R.C.S.I.. examined by Mr. Andrews, said he held a certificate for know- ledge of mental diseases, that he was medcal superintendent of St. Patrick's Hospital, Dublin, and late examiner in mental diseases in the University of Duoln. He first saw the accused on Friday last, in company with Dt. Parsons, and listened to the conversation which he had with Captain Colthurst. The accused seemed to be in a very restless, agitated state, pacing up and down the room, and not able to control himself. He did not appear to realise the seriousness of the charge against him. or to have the ordinary self-protect' ve feeling of a man against whom there was a serious charge pending. He (wit- ness) had come to the conclusion that the man was exceedingly nervously shaken, and that if his condition remained as it was, he was on the "eve of a complete breakdown. EVIDENCE AS TO CHARACTER. Captain Wade Thompson. D.L. , Clons- keagh Castle, was called, and stated that he had known the accused for ten years. Dur- ing that time he was one of his staunchest friends, and he had found him an honourable, straight-forward pentleman. He considered him a little erratic in his manner at times. and a little inconsequent in his conversation occasionally. He was a straightforward, kindly gentleman in every way, incapable of anything dishonourable, under natural cir- cumstances. Colonel Sir Frederick W. Shaw described the accused's character as of the very best. He was not cruel or given to harsh acts. Since Captain Colthurst's return from France his mind was more unbalanced than before. Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton Bell and Colonel J. S. Drown gave accused a high character. Major Eclrford said that he knew accused best in India. He thought he was rattier gul- lible us fur cis the men were concerned. MEDICAL TESTIMONY. Capt. George Lawless. Medical Superinten- dent of the Armagh District Lunatic Asylum, said, in reply to Mr. Chambers, that he had examined the accused. His opinion was that Capt. Colthurst was in a state of mental in- stability, and that he was restless and un- strung. His history for over a year was one of mental weakness. Witness was a mem- ber of a medical board before which Capt. Colthurst presented himself in March, 1915. A report was then made as to his mental and bodily condition. Witness saw him again the previous Saturday, when he was with him for about two hours. The result of his ex- amination was that he considered Captain Colthurst was at present mentally in an un- sound state, and that he was not responsible. Major Francis Purser, who .had also examined the accused, agreed with the evi- dence given by Capt. Lawless. TELEGRAM FROM SIR FRANCIS VANE. The President said that before the Court retired he should like to read the following telegram which he had received from Major Sir Francis Yane : — As Captain Colthurst's alleged speech ahoat myself, as reported in papers, give false impres- sion. I consider pnlilic announcement should he made from Bench. Please note T was recommended by Brigadier 178th brigade for mention in de- spatches for work done in the rebellion, and for re-organisins; defences Poriobrllo Barracks, but did not sanction unnecessary harsh actions. The Court then retired'. FINDINGS OF THE COU RTMART! AL. The finding of the General Courtmartial on Captain Bowen-Colthurst, held at Richmond Barracks on June 6th and 7th, 1916 was pro- mulgated on Saturday. 10th June. The Court found' ^nrtain Bowen Colthurst guilty of the first third and fifth charges of murder, and also found this officer was insane at the time that he committed these acts. 1 he finding m* confirmed by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief. TO BE DETAINED IN AN ASYLUM. The following communiqui with reference to the courtmartial on Captain Bowen Colthurst was issued from the Military Headquarters in Dublin on Thursday, 29th June : — The Army Council has notified that the case of Captain J. C. Bowen Colthurst, who was found guilty by courtmartial of the murder of Sheehy-Skeffington, Thomas Dick- son, and Patrick Maclntyre during the recent rebellion, has been submitted to the King, in accordance with Section 130 of the Aimy Act, and His Majesty has been pleased to direct that Captain Bowen Colthurst be de- tained in a criminal lunatic asylum during His Majesty's pleasure.

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