People v Feehan


1965 WJSC-CCA 522


Mr. Justice Teevan,

Mr. Justice Kenny

The Hon. the Chief Justice,

Judgment delivered the 7th day of October 1968 The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Kenny J. :

Kenny J.

The accused, Mary Feeban, was tried in the Control Criminal Court before Mr. Justice Murnaghan ???query?????? jury on a charge than on the 16th on 17th October she murdered Guard Hugh Patrick Greene ("The Guard"). After a trial which lasted five days she was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to penal servitude for life. An application for leave to appeal was refused by the trial Judge. We have decided to treat this application as the hearing of the appeal.


The accused, who is 18, lived at Balling Street, Crossmoling, with her mother: her father worked in England. The Guard, who was 46, was stationed of Crossmolina. His wife owned a public house at Blacksod and be lived in the Guards Barracks at Crossmolina. There was evidence from which the jury could have decided that there was an association between the accused and the Guard in 1967 and that he had tried to get a transfer from Crossmolina to a place nearer to Blacksod. On the 27th of September 1967 the accused bought 20 grains of strychnine in powdered form (strychnine hydrochloride) from a chemist in Crossmolina whom she told that she wanted it to get rid of a rat. The chemist was reluctant to sell it to her and entered her mother's name in the poisons register as the purchaser. The accused, in her evidence at her trial, stated that the Guard had asked her to buy this strychnine for him and that there had been a discussion between them before the purchase during which he made some reference to ending his life. She also stated that immediately after she had bought the poison she handed the package containing it to him. She had made attempte to ???query?????? Ryan-Gharda and had ???query?????? this with him.


On Saturday the lith of October the ???query?????? want to Castlebar to stay with ???query?????? relativer ???query?????? there until Tuesday morning, the 17th of October, so that the accused was living slowe in the house at ???query?????? Street on Sunday and Monday. The Guard, who had spent Sunday with its wife, came back by car to Crossmeling on Monday morning and went to the barracks. In the afternoon, the accused gave Guard Ryan a letter for the Guard which read: They was call us to the house today sometime before 5 O'clock. ???query?????? possible I have a bit of news for you." Guard Ryan delivered this letter to the Guard and the accused, when giving evidence, said that the Guard called to her house at about 5 O'clock on that afternoon and left the strychnine, which she had given him and which had not been unwrapped, on the mantelpiece of the sitting room. He visited a number of public houses between 2 o'clock and 11 o'clock and was last seen that night at 11.20 when he had taken a considerable amount of drink and when he was unsteady on his feet. ???query?????? that night at the Barracks and he was ???query?????? 8.40 on the following morning when he was ???query?????? Dr. Loftus” in Crossmelina. A number of ???query?????? gave evidence that he walked from Ballina Street towards the Barracks and that be was staggering as is was drask. At 8.45 ???query?????? telephoned the post office from the Barracks and asked the staff to get doctor ???query?????? shortly afterwards another telephone call was made and the speaker asked whether the doctor had been get. Dr. Loftus arrived at the Barracks a few minutes afterwards and thought that the Guard, who died at 9.27 had a heart attack. A pathological premination showed that a fatal does of str???query?????? was in his holy which must have been given to of taken by him within the period of two hours before his death.


The accused made a statement, which contained many falsehoods, to the guards on the 19th of October and on the 25th she was brought to the Barracks and questioned. Her mother came to see her and urged her to tell the truth. She then signed a statement which contained this passage: "He asked me would I get the strychnine for him. I never heard of it until then. The next time I met him was at the post office and he gave me the money ???query?????? told me to go to in and get it and I got it and brought is out ???query?????? I got it is Ward's. He had it then for a while and last monday evening he left it in she kitchen and it was these until Tuesday morning and then in the morning ???query?????? if I had any drink in the house and I told him what I had and he took it out and took the bottle down and got ???query?????? emptied the poison in on that and he said to me if we cannot live together we can die together and he took it and ???query?????? a drink out of it and ???query?????? the rest to me and I took it in my hand and I was going to drink it and then I couldn't ???query?????? I left it down. That was the lot. We had decided to drink it together."


At the trial Counsel for the People submitted that evidence of a conversation between Dr. Leftus and the Guard at the Barracks on the morning of the 17th of October was admissible in evidence. The Judge heard this evidence in the absence of the jury and decided (in our view correctly) that what the Guard had said to the doctor was not a dying declaration and could not be given in evidence.


The accused gave evidence that she was woken on the morning of the 17th of October at 7 o'clock by a knock at the ball door, that the Guard was where, ???query?????? she let him in and then realised that he had take some ???query?????? drink. She said that he vomited and that he then sent ???query?????? until spent 8.20 when he case down, head some to and ???query?????? was there any drink in the house. She said that she then got a bottle of sherry and glass and that be then took down the bottle of poison from the mentelpice and pourel it into the glass of sherry which she handed him. Her evidence was ???query?????? when he had done this, handed the glass to her and said "if we cannot live together, we can die together", and that she said she would not take it but that he took the glass and drank it and left at 8.40.


Counsel for the People addressed the jury when the accused's evidence had finished. It is ???query?????? that in the course of his speech he said that there was no evidence that the Guard had told the doctor that he had taken...

To continue reading