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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Far-fetched and Impossible

Far-fetched and Impossible.

Prima facie at any rate the action was that of an innocent man, but it is suggested by counsel for the Crown that it was really a ruse to avert suspicion. This charitable theory seems too far-fetched to deserve elaborate refutation. Where a crime would leave ineffaceable traces, there would be some point in the intending criminal announcing that somebody else was seeking to trap him. Such a device might conceivable have been employed to explain the presence of the sheep But what possible application could it have to the skins? Five minutes' work would have disposed of these most telling evidences of guilt at any time, and who but an idiot could suppose that he would be in a stronger position by carefully preserving the skins after his communication to the police than by destroying them promptly, whether he had informed the police or not ? Here again the charity of the prosecution has to impute idiocy no less than wickedness to the accused in order to put a criminal construction upon an innocent action. Meikle certainly did precisely what an innocent man would have done after receiving such communications as he himself, his wife and his sons, his servants—Harvey and Mrs. Shiels—and his nurse—Mrs. Howe—all swear to have been made by Lambert and an opposite interpretation must be rejected as untenable by anybody who is not so blinded by malice or prejudice as to seek to wrest everything to the injury of the accused.