Object #1003341 from MS-Papers-0032-0449

5 pages written 2 May 1873 by Sir William Martin in Auckland Region to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - Sir William Martin, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0449 (25 digitised items). 25 letters written from Taurarua, Auckland, Wellington and San Francisco, 1854-1875. Includes some draft letters from McLean and piece-level inventory (excludes letters accessioned in 1969).

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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English (ATL)

Private Auckland
2 May 1873

My dear Mr. MacLean,

Allow me to trouble you with a suggestion in reference to the crime lately committed in Waikato. As to the precise facts of the case, the number of persons concerned, etc. I know nothing. I am writing with reference to the general question.

It is obvious that if such crimes recur from time to time, the settlers may grow impatient and the matter may be complicated and the mischief extended. Happily at present the Settlers are showing much reasonableness and good sense, but a cry may at any time be raised against the Government for doing nothing, even when it may be plain that nothing can be done and such a cry may find persons disposed to second and encourage it.

I wish now to suggest (or rather to submit for consideration) that there is something which may be done soon, which can do no harm in any case, and which may prove useful in some cases - which may indeed save us from a great evil by preventing the Criminal, whenever apprehended, in this and other cases, from escaping altogether from punishment.

The risk last mentioned arises from a settled rule of our Law that the depositions before the Magistrate must be taken in the presence of the accused otherwise they cannot be used as evidence on the trial. In the circumstances of Gland no one would wish to modify this rule. But our circumstances are widely different. Here a criminal may evade capture for years, possibly until all persons, who could give any evidence as to the crime, are dead. It would be a great misfortune to fail in proving the crime against the criminal; whilst, provided the due punishment came down on the offender, delay - even a long delay - might only render it more impressive in the end.

It is, I think, very worthy of consideration whether it might not be well to enact, that in all cases of homicide, if the person suspected of the crime shall evade or escape apprehension for a certain time, it shall be lawful for the Govr. to direct some Magistrate to inquire into the case, and collect and record the evidence touching the crime - and provision being made to secure a careful sifting and cross-examining of the evidence before recording it: and that the evidence so recorded shall be admissible as evidence on the trial, to have such weight as the Jury may think it entitled to.

What I have now stated in the rough was I believe on some former occasion put into a former and complete shape by Mr.Swainson and laid before Mr.Fox. I asked Mr.S. yesterday to send the same proposal in for your consideration. He answered that, nothing have come of his former suggestion, he was not inclined to volunteer a second; but that he would willingly lay his views before you, if he should understand that to be your wish.

I have not myself ever seen the communication which was made to Mr.Fox. I only remember some talk about the principle of it. I cannot help thinking, it would be worth your while to ask Mr.S. to furnish you with a statement of his views on the subject, with any additional points which may have occurred to him since the date of his letter to Mr.Fox. But my object in writing is simply to give you notice of what has taken place, and to leave the rest to your judgment.

I remain, My dear Mr.MacLean Very truly yours
Wm. Martin
The Honble.Donald MacLean

Part of:
Inward letters - Sir William Martin, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0449 (25 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)

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