Tn. trial of these atrocious offenders disclosed such a scene of unparalleled iniquity, that we shall give it in full. Thomas Hoskins, Esq., for whose murder these malefactors suffered, was a young man, of a most respectable family in the county of Limerick. In resisting a party of Whiteboys, in 1821, who had beset his father's house, he brought upon himself the vengeance of these illegal banditti; and on the 27th of July, in the same year, he was barbarously murdered, in the face of day-light, on his return from Newcastle, in the county of Limerick.
For twelve months, the savage assassins escaped the pursuit of justice; and some of them never have been apprehended. The two Welshes, Dooherty, and Martin were taken into custody in the summer of 1822, and brought to trial at Limerick, on the 1st day of August. The case for the prosecution being stated, Patrick Dillane, an informer, was called and examined:--
Witness saw Mr. Thomas Hoskins once; believes that he is now dead; saw him this time twelvemonth at the west of Barna-Hill; he was on horseback; knows where Mr. Patrick Hayles lives at Cragg, right well; he rode a mule, and a little boy accompanied him, who ran away when he heard the shots fired; heard the boy's name was Crowly; William Welsh, Laurence Welsh, Edward Dooherty, Patrick Neil, not as yet taken, James Welsh, not taken, and William Martin, were with the witness; on seeing Mr. Hoskins the party divided; Martin, Dooherty, William Welsh, and witness, stationed themselves at the sand-pit; the others were under the bridge, which was forty paces from his party; Mr. Thomas Hoskins was coming in the direction of Newcastle; Drohedeena Solus is the Irish name of the bridge; Mr. Hoskins was near the bridge when first the witness saw him, and from where witness was stationed he heard the shots fired from under the bridge; two shots were fired, but they did not take place; James and Laurence Welsh fired first at Mr Hoskins; witness was in front of him.
Mr. O' Connell.--Did you see them fire; how do you know that?
Witness.---No other men were at the bridge, but those spoken of; Mr. Hoskins was half way in the direction of the sand-pit, when witness ran out with his gun when he heard the shots from the bridge: witness then fired at young Mr. Hoskins, and desired a man named Hartnett to be off; witness's shot took place when he fired at Mr Hoskins; Hartnett made off; he shot Mr. Hoskins in the arm and breast; they were small slugs in the gun, and the mule fled; the slugs were lead; he had beat into a rod, and then cut it with a chisel into small slugs; Mr. Hoskins fell; after which he ran up a mountain at the right hand side, in the direction of Newcastle; he then went on his knees to where there was gravel, and begged his life.
Court.-- Who was it pursued him?-- All of us.
Witness and party then overtook Mr. Hoskins; he was on his knees begging his life; there was a hole with gravel near it; that precise spot he showed to Mr. Percy, chief constable, and to Mr. Vokes; it was on this spot that Bill Welsh struck him with the butt-end of a gun, which was broke near the head from the blow.
[Mr. Hoskins, father to the late unhappy young gentleman, placed his head on his hands, and seemed to be in the most acute agony -- an awful stillness pervaded the Court.]
The gun was a peculiar one; witness lent the gun to one Jack Murphy, which, when he saw it with Welsh on the mountain, he asked him where he got the gun; it was a left-handed gun, as the lock was at this side. Edward Dooherty, one of the prisoners, fired a pistol down through the body of Mr. Hoskins as he lay on his face and hands; it was about the loins he shot him; he had received no other wound but the one witness fired; it was the third shot; witness then took his watch and five tenpennies from his pocket; thinks he would know the watch; saw chains, &c., belonging to it; a ring was on the seals.
[Here the watch was handed to the witness. It was a small watch, chased on the back, gold, a plain curved chain, one seal and a ring. The witness viewed the watch closely.]
Witness.-- To the best of his belief it is the same watch he took from Mr. Hoskins; sold it about a month afterwards to one Hanlon for ten shillings; showed it first to Daniel Doody, who was also present when it was sold; the ring was not to it when sold; gave the ring to Peggy Clifford, wife to George Reidy; shewed her the watch; the party separated after the murder, and went towards Fournavulla; after separating, Bill and Laurence Welsh went with the witness: the others faced to Rathcahill; Martin Dooherty, otherwise Sladdy, and James Welsh, not on his trial, Neill, not on his trial, went to Fournavulla; witness and family went to Kelly's to drink whiskey; witness heard the police and army; went off, and no one with him; but met William Welsh before break of day, and they both went into one Curtin's house.
To the Court.--Curtin was in bed when he went there.
Witness put his gun into a rick of turf on the mountain; saw no one else hide his arms; Laurence Welsh lives near Fournavulla; Kelly lives near the Strand; the distance between the two houses is twenty paces only; witness never since saw the left-handed gun; left Curtin's house after breakfast, and left the house first; it was about four o'clock in the evening when first he saw Mr. Hoskins; knows one James Fitzmaurice; knows Martin Sheehan; saw Sheehan the same day of the murder; Sheehan's wife and children were within; no one else was along with witness at the interview; left the party on the hill while he was at Sheehan's; Laurence Welsh told witness that Sheehan would direct him to Fitzmaurice; the latter could tell whether Mr. Hoskins was coming on or returning to Newcastle that day; he could not see the prisoners from Sheehan's house, but could by going about forty yards from, the house see the men on the hill; saw Fitzmaurice; was at Sheehan's about an hour and a half before the murder took place; Fitzmaurice lived round the hill; went back again to the party; they questioned him as to his seeing Fitzmaurice and what he said; witness said he saw him, and Mr. Hoskins was returning home; saw Mr. Hoskins coming along; he was a mile and a half distant; as soon as witness met him, he fired on him from the sand-pit, heard Mr. Haye's son was along with Mr. Hoskins; saw the white trowsers; ran down to meet him; saw a boy with a bundle of rushes facing Sullivan's house before he fired the shot; whistled to a man digging to go in quickly -- he did so, and was working in his shirt, and left his spade; don't know the man's name, and never saw him; a rick of turf was between him and his view before the shot was fired: witness showed the place, but did not go to the spot; it was to Mr. Percy and Mr. Vokes he showed the situation where he called out to the man; heard the horsemen coming in the direction of Furnavulla a little after nightfall, when he threw himself into a ditch.
Cross-examined by Mr. O' Connell.-- Did you live three or four years with Walter Fitzmaurice, Captain Rock? I was the first that was called Captain Rock at that time. I was christened so by a schoolmaster.
I should be glad to know who that worthy disciple is?-- His name is Morgan: it was he christened me; was once or twice examined about the murder; was not examined yesterday, nor the day before; it was Mr. Vokes who brought him into court.
Was he hander and feeder? Witness swears he don't know whether he told it yesterday or the day before, nor the last week, nor the last fortnight, nor the last month, nor the last two months, but told it when he gave his information; told it within the last three months; did a month ago, when giving information: knew Walter Fitzmaurice was in the house where he was; witness was carried to Newcastle in a hack; he showed the spot where the murder was committed; on the way he told every word of it; it is not a fortnight ago since he told every word of it.
Mr. O' Connell.-- What harm did the young gentleman you murdered ever do you?-- He was a nice young gentleman, and he never owed him any rent.
Was it not you that set him? Yes.
Was it not you that went in order to find when he was coming home, when you coolly and deliberately murdered him?-- I was at the murdering him.
Would you not have fired at the man in the garden whom you desired to go in, if he refused doing so?-- I might fire at him, and would make him go in if he did not.
Were you not the first who shed the blood of this young gentleman?-- Yes.
Did you then believe that there was a God?-- I am sure of it: sorry for it. Sorry for it?-- Sorry that there is a God.
Witness was brought up the last assizes to be arraigned at the dock behind him, and postponed his trial.
Don't you think if you were tried for the offence you were arraigned for last assizes, that you deserved to be hanged for it? How long after you postponed your trial was it you gave information?-- Two months. So then you gave information with the rope about your neck?-- I did it with a pious view for what I had done -- I love piety. Didn't you know Galvin, who was tried for Mr. Hoskins's murder, was innocent?-- I did. And Mr. Vokes fed the witness, and paid them for that prosecution; didn't you hear he had a narrow escape, and that one Anglim swore also against him?-- I heard he had a narrow escape. Didn't you hear that Galvin was sworn to particularly, by having a mark on his cheek?-- Knew Galvin was innocent. Witness gave the gun to Murphy; had often two guns, but had only one that time; forced these guns from other people. Did Mr. Vokes tell you would be examined?-- He told me to tell nothing but the truth. And if you didn't swear, Vokes would hang you?-- I deserved to be hanged. Is there a greater villain in the creation than you are; were you not the first to draw his blood? didn't grant him mercy, when he implored it from your hands! Yet you knew Galvin was innocent, why not come forward then? Did you think, if Galvin was hanged, it would be murder?-- At that time he intended to give himself up. But you let the trial go on; and only for Mr. Ashe's testimony, he would have been hanged, notwithstanding the cross-examination that gentleman underwent. It was after Galvin's trial he was christened Captain Rock; and never at that period told Mr. Yokes he had a notion of giving information; he thought nothing of spilling blood! Heard there was a large reward for giving information. About how many times did you deserve to be hanged? Several times. You are a pious man! Now give me in a lump how many times?-- Often; don't know how often; if that which he fired at Mr. Hoskins was the shot, did not take effect so as to kill him. Give me no if or and -- give me yes or no -- do you think you are a murderer? If you stop there until midnight, you must give an answer: I ask you, in your own mind, don't you think you are a murderer?-- I went there with that intent-- the shot I fired didn't kill. Well, that is one answer. Remember you are sworn -- sworn with blood upon your hands! Do you think you are a murderer?
Court.-- Do you think or not whether you are a murderer?-- I think I am.
Mr O'Connell.--I should not have got the answer had the Court not interfered.
How much money did you get?-- I got fifty shillings.
What for?-- I was hired to commit the murder! -- was put up!
Mr O'Connell.-- Oh, go down, go down; I'll not ask you another question.
The indignation and awful feeling which pervaded the court lasted a considerable time.
Alexander Hoskins, Esq. examined by Mr. White.-- The watch was handed him, and asked whether he ever saw it; said the last time he saw it was in his son's possession; his son occasionally wore a ring, which sometimes he attached to the seal.
Several other witnesses were examined, whose evidence was conclusive against the prisoners. For the defence two witnesses vainly endeavoured to prove an alibi in favour of Martin. The other three had no evidence to offer.
His lordship charged the jury in this important case at very great length. The jury retired for half an hour, when they returned and brought in a verdict of Guilty against all the prisoners.
After the clerk of the crown asked the prisoners, in the usual way, why judgment of death should not be pronounced, &c. Martin declared to God he was not guilty.-- Laurence Welsh, in an emphatic manner, and lifting his bands in a declamatory style, said, 'he who swore against them committed the murder, and brought them into it.'
His lordship, in a most feeling and impressive manner, passed the awful sentence of death. In his charge he particularly alluded to the enormity of the offence. and trusted that the prisoners would occupy the few hours they had to live in prayer and devotion. His lordship ordered them for execution on Saturday, their bodies to be given for dissection.
The awful sentence of the law was carried into effect on the appointed day; and it is to be lamented that justice could not be administered without releasing the wretch Dillane from a similar fate, which he appears to have richly merited.