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THE LOSS OF THE BRIG COLINA
CENTRAL Criminal, COURT, April 17. Mr. Justice Maule took his seat on the bench at ten o'clock, and William Read was placed at the bar charged by the indictment, "That he on the --- did incite and procure one William Simpson, feloniously and maliciously to cast away and destroy a certain vessel called the Colina, on the high sea, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England, and also of the Central Criminal Court, with intent to prejudice divers persons as part owners of or underwriters to the said vessel" There were several other counts in the indictment in one of which the master of the vessel (Simpson) was named as the principal in the felony.
The prisoner pleaded “Not guilty."
Mr. Sergeant Shea (with whom was Mr. Doane) appeared for the defence, and Mr. Clarkson (with whom was Mr. C. Jones opened the case for the prosecution at very great length, stating the principal facts to be detailed in evidence, and remarking on the conduct of the two principal witnesses in the case. At the conclusion of this opening, which occupied an hour and a half, Mr. C. Jones called
Mr. Frederick Secretary, superintendent of the Marine Alliance Insurance Company: He stated that the business of the company was carried on at Ipswich by an agent. In the month of July, 1840, an insurance was effected by the company on the brig Colina, for the sum of 1,2501. The insurance was effected on the 20th of July, for the term of twelve months, by order of Read and Page. At that time the chairman of the company was Mr. John Irving. He has always been chairman, from the institution of the company. In the year following application was made on the policy for a total loss. This application was made on the 17th of July. There was some hesitation on the part of the company with regard to the payment of the insurance. The names of the parties affixed to the policy produced are in the writing of the parties themselves.
Richard Dykes Alexander, examined by Mr. Clarkson: I was formerly a partner in the bank of Alexander and Co., at Ipswich. I have since retired from it, and am now an agent for the Marine Alliance Insurance Company. I was their agent in the year 1840. I had then left the Bank, though I still kept an account there. The firm of Read and Page also kept an account there. In consequence of instructions I received from the company, I gave directions to George Pooley, a clerk in the bank, to transfer the sum of 1,248l. 12s 6d. from my account to the credit of the firm of Read and Page. The prisoner applied himself to have that sum paid.
By Mr. Serjeant Shea: I can't say exactly when Read first applied to me. I received the instructions to pay the money by letter from London.
Mr. Clarkson: I am ready to produce that letter, if it is required.
George Pooley, examined by Mr. Clarkson: I am clerk in the bank of Alexander and Co., at Ipswich. In August, 1841. the firm of Read and Page kept an account at the house. In August, 1841, in consequence of instructions I received from Mr. Alexander, I transferred from his (Mr. Alexander's) account to that of Read and Page the sum of 1,2481. 2s 6d.
By Mr. Serjeant Shea: The account kept by Read and Page was a joint account, and drawn by a joint check.
William Henry Ross, examined by Mr. C. Jones: I produce an official copy of the register of the Colina. The names mentioned in the register as owners are William Read and Enos Page. Can't say if Read therein-mentioned is Read the prisoner.
Charles Tovell, examined by Mr. Clarkson; I am a shipowner, and live at Mislay, in Essex. I know the prisoner Read. I was once the owner of the brig Colina. I sold her to the firm of Read and Page in May 1840. She went in part payment of a vessel called the Seaflower, which they were building
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at my order. I believe they allowed me from 750l. to 800l. for the Colina. When she was delivered to Read and Page she was rather an old vessel. She was of American build, and was in rather tight condition. The parchment produced is the bill of sale of the Colina.
Mr. Sergeant Shea: Look at the bill of sale and see if you did not part with the Colina for more than 750l.
Witness: Yes I see that it is 9001. She was worth from 950l. to 1,000l. to sell. She did not want repair. Twelve years is not a very great age for a ship. I cannot say what wood she was built of, but it was not oak. The firm of Read and Page is a very extensive one.
By Mr. Clarkson: 'They are in the habit of building new ships and taking old ones in part payment. I cannot say whether the sum mentioned in the bill of sale as the price of the Colina is the sum I received or was allowed for her.
The bill of sale was then read, and it appeared from it that the sale was effected on the 1st May,1840. The vessel was built in 1821, at Prince Edward's Island.
Thomas Ross: I am an auctioneer at Ipswich. In July, 1840, I was employed by the prisoner to put up the brig Colina for sale. I put her up on the 14th July. I previously received a note, signed by a person named Gardner, to keep a reserve bidding of 950l. No sum of that amount was offered for her by the bidders at the auction. If such sum had been offered she would have been sold.
By Mr. Sergeant Shea: I can't say I received all my instructions from Gardner relative to the auction. I had often before sold ships for the firm. They were both new and old.
John Brady, examined by Mr. C. Jones: I am a mariner, residing in Barking, in Essex. My business is the Cod fishing. In the month of June, 1841, I had the command of a smack called the Sarah, and I went in her to the coast of Holland. I was off that coast in company with some other smacks. I was lying off the Brown Bank on the eastern edge. There were about eight other smacks lying off the same place. About six o'clock one morning I was roused out of my berth by the watch, and I immediately went on deck, and my attention was directed to a brig which was in sight. This brig I afterwards found at to be the Colina. She was about six miles off, and appeared to have been deserted by her crew, and to be in distress. Her canvas was only three parts set, and there was no signal of distress hoisted. The wind at that time was south-west, and the weather fine. I called all hands and made towards the ship. I neared her very soon, and was about half a mile distant when she went down. I then took up the crew who were in the long-boat. They had been taken on board a Dutch galliot, which they left to come on board of my vessel.
The crew had some of their clothes with them. The vessel was about three hours in sight before she went down, which she did head foremost. From her appearance she seemed a very good vessel. I put the crew on board the John Bull steamer, which was bound for London. There were six hands besides the master. They had no provisions on board. The crew did not seem to be fatigued, as if they had been at work. They seemed quite fresh. I sent the boat up to London. Mr. Simpson made me a present of the boat when he went on board the John Bull steamer. I believe, from the state of the weather and the wind, that if she had not been deserted, the ship could have been got ashore and saved. The sails were disposed in such a manner as not to assist the ship in any way. She was then about 36 miles from land. There was a favourable breeze blowing at the time.
He examined by Mr. Doane: She was on the eastern edge of the brown bank. The Texel was the nearest port as the wind was then blowing. I myself was about 44 or 46 miles from land on the previous day. The vessel was about two-??? Of the bank from the south end on the eastern side. The weather was ???very hazy that morning, but it was a little so. I had turned into my berth at about 3 o’clock on the morning the vessel sank. There was a good breeze
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all night. I have lost a vessel belonging to my employers within the last two months. She ran into a sunken vessel and sunk almost directly. I circulated a report that the vessel first caught fire, and while the fire was being extinguished she ran upon the sunken vessel.
By Mr. Justice Maule: The report about the fire was not true. I only did it to break the matter to my employer before I got home. The vessel was the Sarah. She struck the sunken vessel in the night, and during a gale. There was no buoy over the ship. I have a certain share in the cargo. I lost this, my clothes, and my wages; and I have not been employed since. The vessel was not insured at all. I had eight hands on board. These facts were questioned by my owner, but they confirmed my story. She sank in 11 fathoms water.
William J. Smith: I was off the Brown bank on the coast of Holland, on the morning the Colina was lost. She was lost on Thursday morning, I was called from my berth between five and six o'clock, and saw a vessel with her sails clewed up, and lying in a very curious position. She was six or seven miles off. There was but little wind at the time, and the weather was very fine. A vessel bound for any port would, on such a morning, have crowded all sails, but the sails were so placed as to act against each other, and keep the vessel motionless. I could not make out what she was about, as there was no signal of distress hoisted. I looked at her with a glass. There was a fishing smack called the Gem amongst the other snacks. This smack was the fastest vessel of the whole, and she put off her boats towards the strange sail. The sea was quite smooth at the time. Just as the boats of the Gem arrived at the quarter of the Colina she suddenly sank, bows foremost. A boat had been put off from the Colina, and made for the Gem, but it changed its course and went on board the Sarah. The crew appeared quite fresh, and did not appear as if they had been working at the pumps. They had very little clothes with them. In consequence of what I saw I entertained some suspicions. When I came home I found out the name of the owner, and I wrote to him about the circumstance. The letter produced is the same:
"Barking, Essex, June 29, 1841.
"Sir.- I conceive it a duty to the public and the fishery at large to acquaint you, as being the owner of the brig Colina, of Ipswich, which was sunk off the coast of Holland some short time since, that I intend to acquaint the insurance company that I can produce sufficient evidence that the long was sunk purposely. I am well acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, and merely inform you of the fact before legal proceedings are commenced, that you may institute proper inquiries respecting it. Advice has been had on the subject, and legal gentlemen say, that it is as strong a case as the Dryad, so recently reported in the papers. I shall wait your answer lay return of post. If I do not receive an answer by Friday morning, I shall immediately commence. "I am, yours respectfully,"
William Smith, Jun.
“Anchor Inn, 9 o'clock, Tuesday morning,
“Mr. Read, Shipbuilder, Ipswich, Suffolk.”
I received an answer, which my father opened and read. It was destroyed. I read the letter. It was from a person named Cobbs. It stated that the charge I had made was a grave one, and that if I could not fully substantiate it I should be called on to answer it. I heard nothing further, and I did not write to the Marine Alliance Insurance Company,
By Mr. Sergeant Shea: I do not think the Colina was 60 miles from the Texel. At the time I observed the sails clewed up the hands were not on board. When a vessel was in a dangerous state, it would be the duty of the master on such a day as that on which the Cosine sank to make for the nearest port. I never wrote to the Insurance Company. I wrote to Read because I thought there was some foul play. The sunken vessel is in the way of the fishery, and many nets have been lost in consequence. I did not write to the company, because my father desired me not to do so. I do not know what legal gentleman
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said that the case was as strong a one as the case of the Dryad. I do not know that any legal gentleman gave such an opinion. I did not expect any money from Mr. Read. I was formerly in the employment of a Mr. Roslyn, a timber merchant, who charged me with embezzlement, and sent me from his service. I was then 15 years of age. The sum I was charged with taking was 2l. or 3l.
By Mr. Clarkson: I was never taken before a magistrate or prosecuted. After I left Mr. Roslyn I went to the fishery. I went from the fishery to the Duchess of Kent steam-boat.
Three other mariners were then called, and their evidence was confirmatory of the statements of the last two witnesses.
George Gardner sworn: I was clerk to Messrs. Read and Page, by whom the brig Colina was purchased. She went one voyage to the West of England, and afterwards she went to Newcastle, from which she left for Rotterdam with a cargo of coals. I was in the counting-house when a Mr. Taylor entered the place and said he had good news for Mr. Read. He then read from the paper an account of the loss of the Colina. Read said that he knew she would be lost, for Mr. Simpson had promised him that he would sink her. He also said that it was a very fortunate thing, and that when he saw Mr. Simpson he would ask him how it occurred. I saw Read a few days after in the counting-house. I believe Mr. Page was there. Mr. Simpson had arrived, and Read was speaking to him about a letter he had received from Barking relative to the loss of the Colina. Read questioned the master about his conduct to the men on board the smacks, and asked him if he had been careful not to commit himself. Simpson said that he had been very cautious. Read then asked him if he had been drinking, and when he left the vessel, and he said that he had not, that it was all right. Read then said that he would take the letter to Mr. Cobbs, his solicitor, to answer. Soon after I heard this conversation I met the master in the counting-house, and he communicated to me the many circumstances about the loss of the Colina. I informed Read of what Simpson had told me about three weeks after. The master said that the ship had to his knowledge been wilfully cast away. About five days after this I saw Read and the master in the counting house again; Read asked him what reports he had been making about the loss of the Colina? Mr. Simpson smiled knowingly upon Read, and shook his head. When Mr. Simpson was gone, Read said, "Simpson and I have been speaking of the loss of the vessel, and we have come to the understanding, so that he intends to say nothing more about it.” Read also said that he would give him another vessel. The firm of Read and Page then owned the Argo, and Read gave Mr. Simpson a written authority to go on board the Argo. Simpson appeared always very unhappy about the whole affair.
By Mr. Doane: I have been in the service of Page and Read seven years. Before that I kept a village school. I was reared a mechanic. When these conversations took place we were all in the same counting-house. I will not swear that no one else was there. There was no one else present during these conversations, certainly not to my knowledge. Read read Smith's letter aloud. There were people coming in and going out at the time. Simpson bad been formerly in command of the Ranger, but he was dismissed in 1842. He was appointed to the Argo in June last. During the interval of his dismissal from the Ranger and his appointment to the Argo he was out of employment.
Captain William Simpson was then brought from Newgate, and placed in the box. He said, I first entered the employment of Read in 1840, and when he purchased the Colina I was put in command of her. She was a leaky vessel. I made one voyage in her, and found her so leaky that I was compelled to mention it to Mr. Read, who had her put into his shipyard and repaired. He remarked to me that it was a pity I did not sink her; and I replied if she had sunk we should all have gone down with her, because the boats were not seaworthy. I was then going to London with a cargo of pipeclay, and Read desired me to purchase a new long boat out of the money I should receive for the cargo. He afterwards asked which would be the best
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voyage in which to sink the ship, and I said I thought the Rotterdam voyage the best. I then took the ship to Newcastle, and took in a cargo of coals. As soon as the cargo was stowed, we sailed for Rotterdam. When the ship had reached the Brown Bank, on the night of Wednesday, I went down into my cabin and bored two holes in the side of the ship with a trenail auger. I pierced the planks which line the ship, and then the outer planks. I then plugged the two holes in the lining planks, so that the water should not spout into the cabin. I then called the mate, and told him that the ship had sprung a leak, and directed his attention to the noise made by the water entering. The pumps were not set to work, nor were the sails set. We got out the boat at one o'clock, and at almost nine were picked up by one of the fishing smacks in the neighbourhood.
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THE LOSS OF THE BRIG COLINA.
We give the remainder of this trial from the Shipping Gazette, but are still at a loss for the motive and its origin that induced the master to sink the vessel. – Ed.
Central Criminal Court, April 18th. - The Trial of William Read.
Captain W. Simpson, cross examined by Mr. Sergeant Shea: The letters produced are in my writing. I wrote two of them while the Colina was in the Tyne, and one of them from Shields. The Colina is registered at 150 tons, but I took in at Newcastle about 230 tons of coals. The freight of these coals to Rotterdam would be about 90l. or 95l.. and the stores and provisions of the vessel would be worth about 30l. When the vessel sank she was 61 miles from Rotterdam, and about 80 from the Texel. The mate and a boy slept in the cabin with me, but they were on deck when I bored through the side of the vessel. I can't say that the boy was not in his berth. I believe he was not, for he was in the mate's watch. I believe that the first person I spoke to about having sunk the vessel was Read. I do not think that I told anything about it to any one else until March, 1843. In 1843 Mr. Page questioned me as to the fact of the Colina having been sunk on purpose, and I said there was no truth in the story, for the occurrence was quite accidental. The vessel was rather deep in the water in consequence of her heavy cargo. I bored the holes about four or five feet under water. It was done with a trenail auger. I can't say what the diameter of such an auger would be. Probably about an inch and a quarter. I don't know that the size of these augers vary according to the tonnage of the vessel upon which they are employed. I called the mate down to find the leak. He did not call me down, nor was I on deck. When I was at Glasgow I believe that I threatened to be revenged on Read for dismissing me from the Ranger. I was intoxicated at the time. If I said that Read should never build another ship at Ipswich, if I could help it, I must have been intoxicated. The letter produced is in my handwriting. The letter was as follows:
"Newcastle, Jan. 4, 1844.
“Sir. - I received your letter this morning, dated the 28th. You wish to know the particulars of what is stated. I can assure you that I never said to any one that I was paid to lose the Colina, nor that I had lost her purposely, or that I had been uncomfortable over since.
“This must all have arisen from the letter sent from Barking; but, Sir, I can clear you of the report, and myself likewise. I expect to load next Saturday, and, if so, I am in hopes that I shall be at home in a few days, and get all these false reports proved to be false.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
“E. Page, Esq., Ipswich.
I did say to Gardener that I had sunk the Colina purposely, and I afterwards wrote the letter which has been read.
This closed the case for the prosecution.
Mr. Sergeant Shea then rose and said, - Gentlemen, it now becomes my duty to answer before you this most serious charge against the prisoner at the bar, who is accused on the evidence principally of two men, Simpson and Gardner;
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and I am quite confident that no man of the prisoner’s character ever left court in the whole of England with a verdict of guilty recorded against him upon such evidence. I make no complaint against the prosecution. The prosecutors, as they are familiarly termed, consist of an Assurance Company, and cannot be supposed to have any feeling of personal animosity against the prisoner; and I believe that their only intention in prosecuting this charge is the sense that in such a case as the present justice must be done. It is the curse of prosecutors in England that, on the commission of any crime, they, on hearing ex parte evidence and statements, generally make up their minds to the belief of the guilt of the accused. This belief is strengthened by statements made from day to day, and they come into court certain that the prisoner must be convicted on evidence which, after all, is viewed by the jury and judge with caution. Of this class I hope Mr. Alexander is one, and I believe that he acted conscientiously and honestly when he, on hearing the statements made, felt it to be his duty to bring this case to trial. I will prove that Mr Alexander has fallen into this common error by the evidence which, if you do not already feel convinced of the untruth of this charge, I shall feel it my duty to produce. The prisoner lived at Ipswich, and his character has been unimpeachable up to the present time, as might have been judged from the admission of my learned friend in his opening statement, and this fact was well known and admitted by Alexander, who had good opportunities of knowing his private life. The first question I will ask is, what motive is alleged on the part of the prosecution for the commission of this grave offence? In its consequences it involved the loss of honour, character, and a short time ago of life, and which even now is punishable with transportation for life. It has been insinuated on the part of the prosecution that there must have been some stronger motive than that of pecuniary gain. No such motive had been shown not even hinted at; and with respect to the pecuniary gain, a few words would set that matter to rest.
My friend has affirmed that the Colina was worth only 7001.: that she was an old vessel, worm-eaten, and totally unseaworthy; and the point of all this was to show or induce a belief that she had been insured beyond her value. He asks if there was any reason that Simpson should willingly perjure himself for no ostensible cause, in order to prepare your minds against the time when the character of the man should be known to them. Gentlemen, you probably remember a case which occurred a few years ago, and which is referred to in Smith's letter - the case of the Dryad. This was a case of parties casting away a ship to receive the sum for which she had been insured. The motive in this case was admitted to be proved by the fact that the vessel which was cast away was insured for a sum considerably more than her value, and in all these cases some such motive must be proved.
In the present case there is no proof of the kind. There is no proof that the ship was in a bad state, and that she was not, for her age, as good a ship as any one in England. Why did they not call some person by whom the ship had been examined since she neatly went down on the western Coast of England? There is not the smallest proof that she was not in a good state, and with her cargo and stores fully worth the amount for which she was insured. Mr. Tovell, the former owner of the ship, admitted that she was worth from 950l. to l000l. and that she might even sell for more. The sum allowed by Read and Page in exchange for her is 9001., and from the evidence of the auctioneer it is proved that it did suit them to take 9501. for her. In fact, the value of the ship was close upon 1.0001. Well, add to that the amount of the premium for insurance, which at 9 per cent. Would amount to near 1151. Then come the ship's stores, which, by Simpson’s own calculation amounted to 301. The freight of her cargo would amount to 971., all of which would be lost if the vessel did not arrive at her destination; and thus, on their own showing, the loss of the vessel would occasion an actual loss to Read and Page. Then what motive could Mr. Alexander assign for a crime by which Read
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would not only suffer a pecuniary loss, but by committing it would place himself for the remainder of his life at the entire mercy of the very worst of men, and by which he would subject himself to loss of honour and character, besides a banishment for life? Can you believe, on the testimony of such a man as Simpson, that a man of Read's acknowledged character would go and commit such a fruitless stupid crime to a certain loss and to gain no one single object? Do you believe that he would sink the vessel purely for the sake of committing crime? When a man of the standing and character of Read is accused, you will surely expect that the characters of the witnesses against him will bear the strictest investigation. My learned friend was aware that the character of Simpson would not stand such a scrutiny, and he therefore mentioned it in his opening, and says there is a total absence for all motive for perjury. I however, can prove to your satisfaction that such a motive really exists.
The law admits the evidence of an accomplice in a felony against the principal actor, but it does so with considerable reluctance, because, having committed one crime, there is no certainty that the accomplice will not commit another by perjury, Especially in those cases which may from their nature furnish an adequate motive; but it is only a very short time since the law admitted the evidence of a convicted felon against a man on his trial.
I do not complain of the law in this matter, though it seems to me rather strange; but can you place any confidence in the evidence of a man who comes into the box scarcely cool from the excitement occasioned by his crime, and whose lips, stained with falsehood, profanes the book in which the sacred gospel is contained? My learned friend in this case was aware that the unsupported evidence of Simpson would go for nothing, and, therefore, produced two witnesses whom he thought were respectable men, in order to substantiate the statements made by him. The first of these men is Brady, who at once shewed what reliance might be placed on his evidence by admitting frankly, without any shame, that when he sunk his employer's vessel by his own negligence, he told the steward of the Ramona to ascribe the destruction of the ship to fire. When his lordship questioned him as to his reason, his answer intimated that no young man could get on without telling falsehoods.
With regard to Smith, who professes to have been so eager after the interests of the owner of the Colina, he in early life appears to have been dismissed for taking too great a fancy to some parcels of halfpence belonging to his employer. You remember the letter from him to Read. It was read yesterday, and can you for a moment doubt that that letter was sent with the view of obtaining money, and that he expected by return of Post a bank note or post-bill? Remember his statement about the advice of legal gentlemen having been taken on the subject, which was totally untrue, and his non-fulfilment of his threat about giving information to the insurance company; and can you on taking his conduct into your consideration, consider that he has in any way substantiated Captain Simpson’s evidence? He laid great stress upon the fact that no signal of distress was ever hoisted. Both he and Brady agreed upon this, but they also say that the ship was so curiously situated that they at once bore down upon her. Is not this sufficient evidence, that in fact, the ship by her position showed that she was in the greatest extremity of distress; and of what use would it have been to hoist signals at a distance of 80 miles from land? No assistance could reach them, and any vessels near would know it at once from her position, as was evident from the smacks bearing down upon her instantly on perceiving her. Besides, the crew were not pretended to have been privy to this plan of sinking the vessel, and they would at once have made signals if they considered it necessary for their own safety. Nor would they have left her in an open boat 61 miles from the land, if they considered there was any reasonable chance of bringing her to land. If there had been any neglect, my learned friend Mr. Clarkson had it in his power to call them. Why did he not do so? He had all their names, and could have easily got at them, if he pleased.
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With respect to the witness Gardner I have but few observations to make. He stated that he was the confidential clerk in the firm of Read and Page, and knew that they had purchased the Colina , and that she had gone to Rotterdam under the command of Mr. Simpson.; and his story is, that before any letters had reached Read relative to the loss of the Colina, a Mr. Taylor entered the counting-house and directed Read’s attention to a paragraph in the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, which related to the loss of the Colina.
Read, in the hearing of that witness, says that Mr. Simpson had promised to sink her. He hears this statement made – he knows the vessel is insured, and that if she was sunk purposely it would be a fraud on the insurance company - he knew that his silence on the subject would permit the perpetration of a gross and shameful fraud, to which that silence would render him an accomplice by law; and he sits down quietly, goes on with his usual avocations, and takes no more notice of the disgraceful fact he has overheard than if it had never reached his ears at all, and tells it at a period little short of two years after, when he is compelled to disgorge the fact by regard to his safety. Will you put any faith in the statement of such a man, who is as deeply steeped in the crime as Read himself, if his statement is true, who has just contrived by a timely statement to keep himself out of the reach of the law, and who has to-day the assurance, to admit all this in the face of the court? And supposing that what he states is untrue - a fact by no means improbable - is not the fact of his coming here to-day and swearing to all this against himself and others, sufficient to stamp him as a more disgraceful character than he would be if he has told the truth.
Again, with regard to Simpson's evidence, was there in his whole statement any mention of reward which he was to receive from Read for sinking the vessel? Was there any promise on the part of the prisoner, or any hope expressed on the part of Simpson, of reward for the destruction of the Colina? No such thing. Was there any means of secret or private communication between them, as there should have been in such a case as the present ? No; it is all said in the presence of Gardner, who would not as an honest man conceal it, and who as a rogue had no inducement to do so. Simpson was heard to say at Glasgow that he would be avenged on Read. He does not deny this, but qualifies it with the statement that he was drunk, he will not deny anything, but says he was drunk as a ready means of evasion. Why should it be believed that he was drunk then? No reliance can be placed on him. When the ship was lost he sent in false protests to the insurance office, and why should he not tell an untruth about the matter now as he did then, and as be did in his letter to Mr. Page? Independently of all these considerations, was he not now strongly actuated by his impending sentence? He saw the chain gangs of New South Wales before his eyes; he knew that the acquittal of Read would send him to join them, and he felt that his conviction would operate in mitigating his sentence, and he is right in his thoughts. Though he is a being without honour or principle, without any religion or thought of any, yet he must be influenced, as are all mankind, by the prevailing passions, hope and fear; and even if his principles were more strict, his evidence would be influenced by then. Under all these circumstances I contend, that all of Simpson' evidence should be doubtfully and cautiously received, and no credence given to it, unless you consider it sufficiently borne out by the remaining facts of the case.
The learned gentleman, at the conclusion of his address, which occupied two hours, sat down apparently much fatigued.
Mr. Doane then proceeded to call the witnesses for the defence.
The first witness called was Mr. James Hudson, who said - I am the surveyor of Lloyds at the port of Stockton. I examined the Colina in 1840. She was then perfectly seaworthy, and would certainly have lasted without repair for four or five years. She was then worth 7l. per ton. Her tonnage was registered 156. She underwent repairs to the amount of 190l. She was
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placed AE on Lloyd’s list, and that is next to Al, the first and best on the list. She was quite as good as any ship of her age and timber, and in fact much better than many of them.
William Revell, foreman to Mr. Bellamy, in whose yard the Colina was repaired at Stockton, proved that she was perfectly seaworthy, and would have lasted without further repair for seven or eight years longer.
Mr. Carter, a notary, produced a copy of the protest drawn up and signed by Simpson relative to the loss of the Colina. The document was read, and merely stated facts which have already been detailed in evidence.
Henry Sadler examined: I was mate of the Colina when she was bound for Rotterdam. I remember the morning when she sank. I was on deck when she sprang a leak, at about half-past eleven or twelve at night. At this time it was Simpson's watch below. He pumped out the ship. It was customary to pump her out every four hours. She made about three inches of water in four hours. At the time she sprang a leak there was a cross-grained sea, which would try a vessel very much. It did not, however, affect the Colina much. As soon as the leak was sprung I pumped her out, but finding that the water gained, I went and called the master, who was in bed at the time, and told him that the ship was making water fast. He worked himself at the pumps. There were seven men on board, all of whom worked at the pumps. Simpson gave the necessary directions for saving the vessel. The men worked at the pumps without intermission until one in the morning, when, there being no hope of saving the ship, the boat was got out. There was no galliot near the vessels but we were picked up by a smack, and put on board the John Bull steamer.
Mr. Bodkin cross-examined this witness, but elicited nothing material from him.
All the hands who were on board the Colina on the voyage to Rotterdam were examined separately, and they all confirmed the story of the mate, and their evidence tended to contradict that of Simpson as to the ship being sunk purposely.
Mr. William Taylor: I am a shipowner at Ipswich, and have been so for 15 years. I remember the loss of the Colina. I went to the counting-house for the purpose of communicating to Mr. Read what I had seen in the paper. I saw Mr. Read in the yard, when I asked him if he had heard anything about the Colina? He said, "No." We then went into the counting-house, where we found Gardner and Page. When I informed Mr. Read about the loss of the Colina, he never said that the master had promised to sink her. Not a word to that effect ever passed
Mr. Clarkson did not put any questions to this witness.
Hannah Roper said I am 15 years of age, and reside at Ipswich, I remember that in June, 1841, Simpson came to Read’s place, and said that the Colina had been lost off the coast of Holland.
Mr. Clarkson raised an objection to any evidence of a conversation being given by a girl who could at that time have been only 12 years of age, and which had taken place three years back.
The objection was overruled after some discussion.
Witness, in continuation: Simpson said that a strong sea had struck her, and that she had sprung a leak, and had gone down almost instantly.
Mr. John Cobbold (The name of this witness was mentioned in the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette of yesterday as Cobbs, by mistake). I am an attorney, residing at Ipswich. I recollect that about the beginning of July, Read brought me a letter, which I was asked to answer. I wrote an answer to it, but I do not think that I have kept a copy of it.
The letter written by Smith was here produced, and identified by Mr. Cobbold as the one to which he had written an answer.
Examined by Mr. Doane: I was the chief magistrate at Ipswich. I have known Mr. Read for many years as a man of the greatest respectability and integrity. I never heard any story against Read until now.
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Start p. 400
Several of the former mayors of Ipswich, and some of the aldermen, together with many gentlemen of the highest respectability, then stepped forward, and gave the strongest testimony as to the respectability and character of the prisoner.
The whole court, both bench, bar, and the body of the court, seemed crowded with his witnesses and friends.
At the conclusion of this testimony, Mr. Clarkson rose, and replied upon the whole case at considerable length, and contended that the witnesses in defence had by no means thrown any doubt upon the original evidence of Simpson and Gardner.
At the conclusion of Mr. Clarkson's address, which occupied the court more than an hour and a quarter,
Mr. Justice Maule went briefly through his notes of the evidence. He said that the point on which the greatest stress was laid on both sides was the question as to whether or not the ship was insured for more than its value. From the statements of the witnesses and the papers produced, this did not appear to have been the case, as the ship, with her cargo, stores, and other property on board, was, in fact, worth fully, if not more than sufficient, to cover the amount for which she was insured. The witnesses also for the prosecution were rather of a suspicious character, and it certainly appeared that their evidence should be viewed with suspicion. The learned judge also remarked on other portions of the evidence as bearing favourably for the prisoner.
The jury instantly returned a verdict of “Not Guilty.”
The decision was greeted with loud applause by the friends of the prisoner.
Sentence on Simpson.
William Simpson, who pleaded guilty to having sunk the Colina, was then placed at the bar.
On being called up, and asked if he had anything to urge against the sentence of the law, he said
“I have spoken nothing but the truth."
Mr. Justice Maule: If you have said nothing but the truth, you are guilty of the crime of casting away a vessel; and it appears by your own statement - and we cannot have better authority - that you did so without any adequate temptation, at least if there was such instigation. The jury have not inquired into it. Your offence was one which was attended with danger to life. You are either guilty of the crime of perjury, which is not so punishable as that of casting away a ship, or you have in reality sunk the ship.
Prisoner: I did so, my lord.
Mr. Justice Maule: Very good; your case is one in which I can see no mitigatory circumstances; and the sentence of the court is, that you be transported beyond the seas for the term of your natural life.
The prisoner was then removed.
End p. 400