Manslaughter at Old Hall Farm, Marchwiel 1865

On Monday 2nd October 1865, Joseph Jones was working on Old Hall Farm that belonged to Birch.  Joseph Jones was approached by Edwin Hanmer.  Edwin Hanmer was seeking work, and both men got into a conversation.

For reasons not covered in the reports, Joseph Jones struck Edwin Hanmer with a back handed slap, causing a fight between the two men.  Joseph Jones fell onto the ground on his back.  The ground was covered in rough gravel.

During the fight, Joseph Jones was mortally wounded.  He lived for four days after the fight, from the Tuesday to the Friday, before finally succumbing to his injuries.  During this time, he was treated by Mr T. Eyton Jones, a surgeon from Wrexham.  After Jones died, Mr T. Eyton Jones performed a post mortem on him.  He found that Joseph Jones had died as a result of a fractured skull.

On the 19th March 1866, Edwin Hanmer, who had been held in custody for a period of time before the trial, appeared before the Ruthin Assizes Court, charged with manslaughter.

The Judge surprisingly intervened in the case after just hearing the advocate explain how the fight had started.  The Judge told the court that if Edwin Hanmer pleaded guilty, he would not pass any sentence on him.  The Judge instead asked that the medical evidence was immediately presented to the court.

The Judge summed up the case to the Jury.  He said that if two people fought, and one sustained such injuries as to cause his death, the other person who fought with him was guilty of manslaughter.  He then told the Jury that the only thing that they could do was to find Edwin Hanmer guilty of manslaughter.

Obviously, strongly influenced by the Judges, summing up the Jury found Edwin Hanmer guilty of manslaughter, but they also recommended mercy for him.

Edwin Hanmer was about to address the court, when the Judge again intervened, prior to him being able to do so.

The Judge told Edwin Hanmer and the court that he was not going to pass any sentence on him.  The Judge said to Hanmer that he was more sinned against than sinning, since Joseph Jones was more to blame for the fight as Joseph Jones had first struck him.

The Judge then openly criticised the Wrexham Coroner.  The Judge stated that he would have refused bail and kept Edwin Hanmer in custody.  Instead, the Judge would have granted Hanmer bail with two securities of 5 shillings.  He continued this reproach by stating that he would have simply just fined Hanmer 5 shillings and the court costs.

The Judge ended the case by sentencing Edwin Hanmer to one day imprisonment for the offence of manslaughter, which meant that Hanmer was immediately discharged from the court.

Source: Written and researched by Wayne Piotr Cronin-Wojdat – Historical Gems.

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