Executing Justice

8 Sep

Another bit of the CNN front page:

I admittedly don’t know much about the Iranian legal system, but it seems to me that any structure so crude as to depend on stoning as a method of justice probably has some issues. I find it hard to imagine that there is place in such a system for a Clarence Darrow, or even a Johnnie Cochran.

Anyhow, this reminded me of something I read the other day that I wanted to pass along. It may end up somehow incorporated into a Blackhall tale someday, but, in his book Whiskey and Wickedness, Larry D. Cotton writes:

“The last public execution in Perth occured in May 1851. A convicted murderer named Francis Beare was scheduled to be hung, but a serious problem arose – the authorities could not find a hangman!”

That’s an interesting problem for an area on the cusp of civilizing to have. In the end though, they found a, uh, creative solution.

“The Sheriff contacted the penitentiary in Kingston and made arrangements for a prisoner to be offered a pardon in return for carrying out the task.”

Which reminds me of a Monty Python quote, from the Zulu sketch in The Meaning Of Life: “I mean, at home if you kill someone they arrest ya, eh, but here they give you a gun and show you what to do. I mean, I killed 15 of those buggers, sir. At home they’d hang me; here they’ll give me a ****ing medal.”

So, as was the custom of the time, the day of the execution came and the populace crowded together to watch.

Mr. Cotton continues:

“When the hangman appeared, the crowd jeered at him and shouted threats. The noose was tightened, the trap door sprung and the condemned man hung from the second story of the Court House. The screams of the crowd echoed even louder for the head of the hangman, who “yelled back at them that he’d hang them all for a shilling a dozen.”

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2 Responses to “Executing Justice”

  1. Monique September 9, 2010 at 11:56 #

    Sounds like something that could of happened in your home town when they were doing hangings. I understand the problem of finding a hang man because there were fears of reprocution. This is why the rumour is that it was a man from Timmins (who passed away not that many years ago). He was to remain unknown, came in with a big black hood on, was well paid no need to say, and he would pull the lever from the second floor of the jail, right at the door of the warden’s office. To this day it gives me shivers when I look up at the middle windows of the front of the former jail. Rumours are that they would do it at midnight and if you stood in front of the jail that with the warden’s office open door you could see it take place. Hmmmm….How is that as for a small history lesson. LOL

    • JRD Skinner September 9, 2010 at 12:12 #

      Yikes! The story actually had me thinking about all the skeletons they eventually dug up at the old jail. There isn’t enough money in the world to convince me to do that kind of job.

      I wonder what kind of person the fellow from Timmins was in day-to-day life.

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