No person possessing the ordinary feelings of human nature can read the dreadful detail of this villain's detestable crime, without shuddering at the baseness of heart which prompted him to its commission. Few instances are to be found where the remorseless debauchee has resorted to means so horrid as those adopted by this youthful destroyer of female virtue; and setting aside his age, and the respectability of his family, one is at a loss to discover a reason why the full sentence which the law awarded to his crime should not be carried out, and why a mitigated punishment of transportation only should have been inflicted upon him.
He was tried at the Commission Court at Dublin on Thursday the 13th of April 1831, on a charge of feloniously violating the person of Miss Anna Frizell, a young lady of most respectable connexions and amiable disposition, and but twenty years of age.
Upon his being placed at the bar, Dillon appeared to be only about twenty-one years of age. He advanced to the front of the dock with an air of the most unblushing effrontery. He was fashionably and gaily attired, and his appearance was highly prepossessing.
Miss Frizell was the material witness against him; and her evidence detailed the whole of the connexion which had existed between her and the prisoner. She was frequently interrupted during her examination by her emotions; and her answers were allowed to be repeated by Mr. West, king's counsel, who sat near her. From her statement it appeared, that she had been principally educated abroad, and that, after having passed eight years in a convent in France, she returned to her father's house at Stapolin, near Howth, in the year 1828. She was occasionally in the habit of visiting her relations, Dr. and Mrs. O'Reardon, who resided in Molesworth-street, Dublin; and there she met the prisoner about two years before the trial. An acquaintance soon ripened into an intimacy; and on her meeting him at a party at Mr. MacDonnel's, in Stephen's Green, whither she had accompanied Mrs, O'Reardon in October 1830, he professed himself to be her warm admirer. At her invitation he was to call upon her on the following day, for the purpose of receiving some letters which he had undertaken to convey to England for her; but upon his knocking at the door, Dr. O'Reardon presented himself, and denied her to him. On the 4th of November they again met, and the prisoner then accompanied her, and Mrs. O'Reardon, to a dinner party. They entered into conversation in the course of the evening; and Dillon requested her to meet him on the following day, as he had something particular to say to her. She exhibited some hesitation in complying with this request; but eventually she consented to an appointment in Kildare-street. She accordingly repaired to the spot; but it proved wet, and for shelter they entered a cottage which presented itself to them in a walk which they took. They remained there during two or three hours; and in the course of that time the prisoner disclosed to her his object in requesting her to meet him, which was to ask her hand in marriage. Her answer to him was that she should be very happy, provided he could obtain her father's consent; but added, that if money was his object, he would be disappointed, as her father had a large family, and could not give her any considerable portion. He declared that he had no such sordid motive in view in making the offer which he presented to her, and that if he succeeded in gaining her affections with her hand, he should consider himself supremely happy, for he had money enough to support them both, and had besides very considerable expectations from his uncle. Before they quitted the cottage, he kissed her twice; and as they drove away in a carriage, which he had sent for in consequence of the rain, he pressed her to marry him privately, as he was sure that her father would never consent to their union. The carriage drove on as Miss Frizell believed in the direction of Molesworth-street, but presently it stopped at a house in Capel-street; and at the earnest solicitation of the prisoner, the young lady alighted to take some refreshment, receiving an assurance that she should immediately afterwards be conveyed home. She entered a house with the prisoner, and they were shewn into a back apartment by a young man, who was directed to bring some fish. They sat together for a time, and then Dillon left the room. He was away for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour; but on his return he said, that the evening was fine, and she could walk home. As she had taken no punch, however, he insisted that she should have a little warm wine and water; and some was almost immediately brought by the waiter. Dillon then placed the glass to her lips, and held her head until she had swallowed full half the contents of the glass. She directly felt stupefied and faint, and became quite unconscious of what subsequently passed, until she found herself at night, undressed, and lying on a bed by the side of the prisoner, in a room above that in which they had been sitting. Frantic with terror, she sprang from the bed, and in her hurry rushed against the wall instead of going through the door. The prisoner ran after her, and seized her round the waist, saying it was all over then, and she might as well be quiet; but she screamed aloud. He dragged her away from the door with great violence, cursing and swearing at her all the time, and again threw her on the bed, where he completed an outrage, which, there was no doubt was a repetition only of an act of violence of which he had before been guilty. He put his hand upon her mouth to prevent her screaming, and swore to God that he would marry her the next morning. He, however, again repeated his violence, and detained her in bed until daylight, when he allowed her to rise; and she ultimately left the house with him, under a promise that he would take her to Mr Kenrick, the priest, and marry her. This promise, however, he did not fulfil, and she returned alone to Mrs. O'Reardon's house. She told Mrs. O'Reardon that she was married; but acquainted her also with the violence which had been used, and that lady fainted, and subsequently she also communicated what had passed to other persons. The prisoner never kept his promise to marry her, and she had never seen him until that day in court since the transaction, the circumstances of which she had just related.
The witness was cross-examined at great length by Mr. Serjeant O'Loughlen, in the course of which she admitted having written a letter, of which the following is a copy, the day after the atrocities described in her evidence in chief: --
"My dearest Dillon -- Our car came in to-day. Fortunately papa did not come with it. I was wishing to see you, so I went to Home's, but you were out. I cannot tell you what torture I have been in since I parted with you. You may imagine I am nothing better; you may guess the rest. If you value my life -- my honour; everything depends upon you. I have thought of something that will, I think, do. I will see you to-morrow. When I see you I will -- . I was obliged to tell Maria (Mrs. O'Reardon) we were married. She is exceedingly ill. The Doctor thinks I was at a lady's in Gardiner-street, a Mrs. Dwyer's. He went to Mrs. Callaghan's himself, so I could not say I was there. For God's sake, meet me to-morrow, about twelve o'clock, at the end of the street, in Dawson-street, and I will, at least, be a little happier, for I am miserable now. Buy me a ring, and, for Heaven's sake, arrange everything. Recollect who you had (these words were scratched out) I am not to be trifled with. I am sure papa would blow my brains out were he to know it. I, therefore, rely on your solemn promise last night; and, once more, be punctual to the hour to-morrow. Really, I am almost dead with grief. Indeed, my dearest Dillon, on you depends my future happiness for life. Yours,
"Saturday night. "Anna."
"Luke Dillon, Esq., Home's Hotel, Usher's-island."
In her further cross-examination, she affirmed she wrote to him in these affectionate terms because Mrs. O'Reardon told her, that if she called him a villain or a wretch, he would never come back to her; and that she wrote the letter for the purpose of bringing him back. After she had been under examination and cross-examination upwards of five hours, her mother, Mrs. Frizell, and Mrs. O'Reardon, were examined, and they corroborated her testimony as far as they had any knowledge of the facts.
For the defence, several persons from the hotel or house where the affair took place stated that the lady was a consenting party, and that no outrage had been committed. -- In their cross-examination, however, they prevaricated a good deal, and acknowledged visiting the prisoner in Newgate.
Judge Torrens charged the jury in a luminous speech, who, after one hour and three quarters' deliberation, returned a verdict of Guilty, but strongly recommended the prisoner to mercy on account of his youth.
On the next day he was brought up for judgment, when, in answer why sentence of death should not be passed on him, he replied, in a low, but rather firm voice, that standing in the awful situation in which he did, it was not for him to arraign the verdict of twelve men on their oaths, and he should, therefore, bow with submission to the sentence of the court.-- Judge Torrens then, in an impressive manner observed, that after a most anxious consideration of his case, the recommendation of the jury could not be attended to. His lordship, in a tremulous accent, pronounced the awful sentence of the law, fixing Saturday, the 7th of May, for his execution.
The most strenuous exertions were made to save the life of this unhappy but most guilty culprit; and petitions signed by many persons of the highest respectability were forwarded to the crown in his favour. The recommendation of the jury was also most strongly represented, and as it was said that even the friends of the young lady herself were unwilling that he should expiate the foul crime of which he had been convicted on the scaffold, a reprieve was granted, and his punishment was eventually commuted to transportation for life.
The wretched young man was eventually transmitted to Sydney with other convicts; but here his fortune and the respectability of his connexions enabled him to obtain privileges not usually granted to persons in his situation. He was of an excellent family in the county of Roscommon, and by the death of some of his relations came into a handsome fortune. Money, in the colony in which he was compelled to reside, would obtain for him every luxury which he could desire; and from recent accounts received from that place, it appears that he was among the gayest of the gay of that extraordinary society.
We have but one other fact to add to our recital of this most distressing case. The unhappy object of Dillon's machinations and brutal crime died in the month of June 1831, a victim to her own sensitive feelings. She had gone to Bangor, in Wales, in hope that a change of scene might relieve her of the melancholy which appeared to have settled upon her mind, but she died there of a broken heart.