THE following case, while it exhibits the utmost depravity and wickedness, affords a consolatory instance of the persevering industry of two officers of justice, whose conduct merits the highest praise, and well deserved whatever reward had been offered for the apprehension of the murderer.
On the evening of the 18th of December, 1812, as Mr. Benjamin Robins, a farmer of Dunsley, near Stourbridge, was returning home from market on foot, he was overtaken by a man, who, under pretence of inquiring his way, walked with him for a mile, when be suddenly fired a pistol at him, and robbed him of twenty-six pounds and his watch. Mr. Robins reached home in great agony, when the wound was found to be so serious, that, after languishing eight days, he expired.
The alarm caused by this atrocity induced the magistrates of Bow Street to send down Adkins and Taunton, two most active officers, by whose extraordinary exertions the wretch was traced to London, where, after a patient watch of many days and nights, they at length succeeded in securing him. He was conveyed directly to Stourbridge, where he was identified by those who saw him on the day of the murder. At the Stafford assizes, March the 17th, 1813, he was put upon his trial, when, in addition to other facts, it was proved that after his apprehension he had sent a letter to his wife, directed Mrs. Howe, wherein he told her to go to a rick near Stourbridge, to search for something. Vickers and Aston went to the rick, and in a hole, apparently made by a hand, they found three bullets and a pistol, a fellow to the one found in the box.
A watch, which proved to have belonged to Mr. Robins, was also found to have been sold by Howe; and, after a trial of ten hours, his guilt was fully established by the corroborating testimony of between thirty and forty witnesses. The judge passed on him the awful sentence of the law; after which Howe, who did not call a single witness, exclaimed, 'My heart is innocent!'
He appeared quite indifferent during his trial; but at the time of his execution, Monday, the 20th of March, he seemed to be impressed with the awfulness of his situation, and manifested corresponding symptoms of repentance.