Attorney General v Linehan

JurisdictionIreland
Judgment Date20 December 1929
Date20 December 1929
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal (Irish Free State)
Attorney-General v. Linehan
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL
and
MARY LINEHAN (1)

Court of Crim. App.

Criminal appeal - Evidence of accomplice - No corroboration - Rule of practice against acting on such evidence - Application of the rule - Meaning of "accomplice" - Jury not warned as to nature of such evidence - Conviction for murder set aside - Re-trial ordered - Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), sect. 31 (ii) - Courts of Justice Act, 1928 (No. 15 of 1928), sect. 5.

A woman was charged with the murder of the illegitimate child of her granddaughter. The case against her rested entirely on the evidence of her granddaughter, and this evidence, as regards the main facts, was practically wholly uncorroborated. This evidence went to show that the granddaughter was implicated in the crime. The woman was convicted and sentenced to death. On appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal:

Held that the rule requiring corroboration of the evidence of an accomplice applied to the facts of the case, and the jury should have been warned as to the danger of acting upon the granddaughter's evidence alone without corroboration. Accordingly the conviction was reversed, and a re-trial ordered under the provisions of sect. 5 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1928.

A person implicated, either as principal or as accessory in the crime under investigation, is an "accomplice" within the rule, though the degree and gravity of such complicity may vary, and inasmuch as the extent of the effect of such complicity upon the credit of the witness or the weight of his uncorroborated testimony will vary accordingly, so should the degree and gravity of the warning be measured.

Criminal Appeal.

Mary Linehan appealed under sect. 31 (ii) of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), from an order of Sullivan P., refusing to grant her a certificate that her case was a fit case for appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

She was tried at the Central Criminal Court, Dublin, on November 29th and 30th, 1928, on the charge of murder of an unnamed child of her granddaughter, Hannah Linehan, on January 1st, 1928, and was convicted, and sentenced to death.

The facts appear sufficiently from the judgment of Kennedy C.J.

The application for leave to appeal was based on the following grounds:—

1. That the Judge misdirected himself in law when he declined to leave to the jury the question of whether the witness, Hannah Linehan, was an accomplice or person having guilty knowledge, such question of a suspected accomplice being required in law to be answered as a fact by the jury.

2. That the Judge misdirected himself, both in law and on the facts, when he expressed the opinion that the witness, Hannah Linehan, was neither an accomplice, nor an accessory, nor a person having guilty knowledge of the murder of the infant or of the concealment of the birth thereof.

3. That the Judge misdirected himself in law when he declined to charge the jury as to the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.

4. That the Judge misdirected himself on the facts when he submitted to the jury three questions, set out hereunder:—

  • (i) Was the infant born alive?

  • (ii) Was the infant intentionally killed?

  • (iii) Was it the prisoner who murdered the...

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21 cases
  • People (Attorney General) v Carney and Another
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 21 Octubre 1955
    ...Attorney-General v. Finegan,IR [1933] I.R. 292; Attorney-General v. Joyce and WalshIR [1929] I.R. 526; Attorney-General v. LinehanIR [1929] I.R. 19 and the judgments of Pollock C. B. and Blackburn J. in R. v. LangmeadENR 1 Le. & Ca. 427 at pp. 439-441, approved. R. v. LincolnUNK[1944] 1 All......
  • Cosgrave v DPP and Another
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 26 Abril 2012
    ...J., 5/10/2007); Attorney General for Gibraltar v Leoni (Unrep, Court of Appeal for Gibraltar, 19/3/1999); Attorney General v Linehan [1929] IR 19; Barker v Wingo (1972) 407 US 514; DC v Director of Public Prosecutions [2005] IESC 77, [2005] 4 IR 281; Carlin v Director of Public Prosecutions......
  • Cosgrave v DPP
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 26 Abril 2012
    ...2007). Attorney General for Gibraltar v. Leoni (Unreported, Court of Appeal for Gibraltar, 19th March, 1999). Attorney-General v. Linehan [1929] I.R. 19; (1928) 63 I.L.T.R. 30. Barker v. Wingo (1972) 407 U.S. 514. D.C. v. Director of Public Prosecutions [2005] IESC 77, [2005] 4 I.R. 281; [2......
  • DPP v Quilligan (No. 3)
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 Enero 1993
    ...mentioned in this report:— Ali v. Ali [1965] 3 All E.R. 480. Attorney General v. Levison [1932] I.R. 158. Attorney General v. Linehan [1929] I.R. 19; (1929) 63 I.L.T.R. 100. Basto v. R. (1954) 91 C.L.R. 628. Berkeley v. Edwards [1988] I.R. 217. Byrne v. Grey [1988] I.R. 31. Chan Wie Kung v.......
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