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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Changing Front After Eighteen Years

Changing Front After Eighteen Years.

Little new evidence was led before the Commission on the part of the Crown, but a remarkable change of front considerably embarrassed Meikle's defence, though in the long run it probably did him far more good than harm. Having after moor than eighteen years secured a new trial, in which he had to begin, as the onus of proof was adjudged to rest on him and having closed his case on the old familiar lines, it was amazing that he should be suddenly confronted with a change of date. He was convicted of stealing sheep on the 17th October, 1887, but now his innocence with regard to that date was admitted, and the Crown proposed to prove that it page 20 was on the 18th that the crime was really committed buffling as such a charge was after the lapse of eighteen years, it carried with it the enormous advantage of incidentally clearing away the only ugly feature of the defence made by Meikle in 1887—viz., the total failure of the alibi which was attempted to be set up for Arthur Meikle. Both of the counsel for the Crown—Dr. Findlay in his opening address (C. 126, second par.) and Mr. T. M. Macdonald in an interjection towards the close of the case (C. 303, middle)—coneceded that the alibi might be treated as established for 17th—the only night for which it was attempted. This admission completed the vindication of Meikle in respect of the original trial in a singular fashion. Templeton's error having been proved to be not only .trivial but nonest, the question of pastures and fences having been ruled to be immaterial, the sheepskins having been made by McGeorge to testify not against Meikle but against his accuser, and the alibi which failed being now admitted to have been honest and correct-how much remained against Meikle from the original evidence? Absolutely nothing, except the uncorroborated testimony of Lambert; and the proceedings of the Commission supplied the finishing touches to a due appreciation of its value.