Writingsexpand
 
 
Print Friendly and PDF
 
Download Free!

Popular Texts

Mr. Webster's Opening Statement

The Old Bailey (October 23, 1885). Quoted in Alison Plowden, The Case of Eliza Armstrong: A Child of 13 Bought for £5 (1974)

It will be my duty, gentleman of the jury, on behalf of the Crown, to lay an outline of the facts of this case before you, as simply as I possibly can, in order to enable you to follow the evidence which will afterwards be given by the various witnesses. I will make one preliminary observation only, and that is to ask you to dismiss from your minds anything you may have heard or read about this case; because no one can doubt that the question involved has been much discussed on both sides in the public press and elsewhere. I am sure I shall have the concurrence of my lord, when I urge the jury to try this case only upon the evidence which may be given in the witness-box.

There are several indictments against the defendants, but at the present moment the accused are before you on one indictment simply. It is perfectly true that in the Police Court, other and perhaps more serious charges were preferred against them, but I have been most anxious that their mouths should not be closed, and that if they have any explanation to give which will be consistent with innocence in the eyes of the law, it shall be open to them to give it. Under the provisions of a recent statute, they will be able to give evidence themselves if they desire to do so, and therefore I have taken it upon myself to have them charged with what might be called the lesser offence. They are arraigned under the 55th section of the Act which provides that whosoever shall unlawfully take, or cause to be taken, any unmarried girl under the age of sixteen years out of the possession and against the will of her father or mother, or of any other person having the lawful charge or care of her, shall be guilty of misdemeanour.

[See errors in this document? Please Flag it up here.Thanks!]