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Through out the ages, there have been many tales of the viciously murdered, somehow passing on the name of the person responsible for their sudden demise. In superstitious communities, just pretending that this had occured, was enough to frighten the culprit into a confession. Over the years, " the finger " has been pointed at many who were totally innocent of any wrong doing, mainly the old I should add. The many infamous Witchcraft Trials, are a prime example of what can be accomplished by the unscrupulus individuals who had a motive other than Justice in mind. Ghosts and Apparitions, voices in dreams, all have at some stage featured in Court case's. This is one of them, and, in a more un-enlightened age, could have led to an innocent man being hanged.
In August, 1808, a Farmer, returning from a good day at Southam Market, Warwickshire, with his pocket filled with money, was waylaid, robbed, and stabbed to death. News quickly spread that he was missing, but a quick search failed to find the anything. The very next day, a man called at the Farm and proceeded to tell the new widow an extrodinary tale. He claimed, that the Ghost of her husband had appeared before him, displaying several knife wounds, discribing how he had been robbed, and then thrown into a Marl pit. To ensure justice was done, the apperition then named the man who had committed the crime. Another search began, the body was found, in the same condition the widow had been told it would be found in, and in the place described. The man named by the " Ghost " was arrested, bought before the Magistrates, charged with Wilful Murder, and sent for trial at the next Assizes. Now at this point, you may begin to have some doubts, but as I said before, the supernatural, to uneducated country folks, was a powerful thing.
The man was duly bought up at the Warwick Assize court in September, and a surprise awaited for those who packed the place. Lord Chief Justice Raymond was astounded, that educated Magistrates could commit a man, on a murder charge,on the " facts " of this story. Further more, it has to be said, but for the Judges intervention, the jury would have convicted him. He dismissed, out of hand, the Ghost-story, which had bought the reputation of an upright and respectable man almost to ruin. Both the murdered man and the accused knew each other, were on friendly terms, and had not had any dis-agreements. There was no Law, said the Chief Justice, that allowed for a "Ghost " to give evidence, and, this apperition had failed to turn up to give any. Justice Raymond, beginning to enjoy himself by now, ordered the court crier to summon the apperition to take the stand as witness to the foul deed. The call went out three times, as required by law, but sadly, the elusive Ghost failed to appear. Much to his relief, the accused man was aquitted, and as he was leaving the dock, he heard Justice Raymond order the man who recited the tale to both the Widow, and the Magistrates, to be held on suspicion of the murder.
He turned out to be one John Simkins, a man with a mean and nasty nature, who had decided to try and make a name for himself in the district. No evidence was found that implicated him in the murder, but he admitted, that he had found the body some time before the searchers had gone home for the night. At the next Warwick Assizes, he was found guilty of Perjury, ( The statement to the Magistrates, made on Oath ) and sentenced to six months imprisonment and to be whipped. I still don't know the name of the murder victim, perhaps someone out there does, and would be glad to share it with me, for the records are few. That it did all happen, ( and this tale wasn't related to me by another spirit ) is a fact, for it appeared in several newspapers.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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