Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

In a Nut-shell

In a Nut-shell.

It is no doubt a providential arrangement for the safety of life and property that the cleverest criminals often make a stupid blunder which checkmates all their cleverness and leads to their undoing. But stupidity verging on insanity is not to be lightly presumed, and a hypothesis which attributes such stupidity to both criminal and detective in the same case does not deserve acceptance outside of Bedlam. The theory of the Crown, that Meikle left the incriminating skins in his own page 30 smithy, and that the Company's detective, having seen the sheep stolen, left them unwatched for fourteen or fifteen days, and then put the police in to find a number of sheep corresponding exactly with what had been originally stolen is therefore utterly untenable. But the rationality of both parties will be saved and every improbability removed by supposing (i) that the sheep, whenever Lambert first saw them on Meikle's property*, were not there as the result of any criminal act of Meikle's, but had either strayed or been placed there by Lambert; (2) that the skins were placed in Meikle's smithy by Lambert in order to secure a conviction which would be impossible on the uncorroborated assert of a hired informer. Let us tabulate the chronology in order to focus its bearing on both points:—
  • October 17 or 18.—Lambert claims to have seen 28 sheep stolen by Arthur Meikle and one killed.
  • November 1.—Lambert visits Meikle's smithy at night, and he can't say why !
  • November 2.—Police enter, and find—
    (1)Two of Company's sheepskins in Meikle's smithy.
    (2)Twenty-seven of Company's sheep in his paddocks.

For fifteen days after the alleged theft the police are held back, but they come in to find the booty intact and the skins in position on the very morning after Lambert's nocturnal visit to the smithy ! If either of the Commissioners is simple enough to suppose that this was a mere coincidence, he surely ought to have told us so. If they both know better, why has not Meikle had a full clearance ?