15/11/1917 - MACROBBIE CASE WAS TAKEN FROM THE JURY

Verdict by Direction of Court Not Guilty on Manslaughter Charge

Justice Latchford Lectured Men Severely on Evils of Strong Drink

The trial at the Supreme Court came to an abrupt ending about 9:30 last night, when Justice Latchford, at the close of the crown’s case. Automatically took them out of the hands of the Jury. “Verdict by direction of the court-not guilty.” The jurors were simply asked to concur or agree to this verdict, which they did after being summoned from the back roomwhere they had been sent while the judge and the crown prosecutor discussed the legal aspect of the evidence stablished by him.

As soon as the jury retired, the judge said “What evidence is there against Asselstine?”

“No direct evidence, my lord,” replied Crown Prosecutor Battle.

“Then Asselstine is discharged,” said the judge and the talkative ex-janitorof the Crescent Oil company made hastyto get outside of the prisoner’s case.

“What about McAuliffe?” said the judge.

“I do not propose in separate the other three men. I will not take the responsibility of saying what evidence there is for the Jury in consider. Your worship may do so,” was Mr. Battle’s rejoinder.

This discussion went on while the Jury was offside of the courtroom. The members were then called back and his lordshipdelivered himself as follows: “In my opinion there is no evidence to justify any jury to find that these three men, or any one of them had committed any crime, if a crime was committed. There is no evidence proper to go before you for consideration. The judge then had the clerk read over the endorsement of not guilty, and the jury was discharged. His lordship then directed the three remaining prisoners at the bar-Smith McAuliffe and Scott- to stand up and he gave them a real temperance lecture “To you three men I wish to say a word of advice,” he said, “if advice is needed after the experience of last august and after your experience today before the bar of justice. Your position is clearly due to your fondness for liquor; a most discreditable weakness. If you expect to hold the position in the community that your appearance and seeming intelligence justifies, you must decide now to never drink another drop of intoxicating liquor for fear that you again fall away into the beasty stain you were found in that Sunday night. The only safe course is for you to never again to indulge. You are discharged.”

Friends of the three men gathered around them and shook their hands and the end came to the judicial investigation into the untimely end of the late Dr. D. G. MacRobbie. 

AFTERNOON SESSION

Dr. Langs was on the witness stand five the first hour of the afternoon counsel, undergoing crisis-examination at the hands of counsel for each of this four refused.

“Why do you think that this club was used?” asked Mr. Flight.

“Because there was blood on the end of it,” replied Dr. Langs.

“No other reason?” Answer “No.”

W. Bell thentookthe witness in hand his opening question being in reward in the fact that there were strong traces of alcohol in the doctor’s body. The doctor said that the stomach,when he after he smelled it, besent away to an analystsmelled strongly of liquor.

To Asselstine counsel, Dr. Langs said that drunken seldom fall backward. They usually go forward and go down very lightly. In his opinion, the doctor had been struck an hour or two before he was called, judging by the state of the congealed blood.

Dr. Jaffrey, city bacteriologist, told of the making examinationof knotson the floor in the office and he said these were of blood. A test of the stains on the club found near the body of Dr. MacRobbie showed that they were of blood also. Witness was shown many items in the office in question including bars, belting and other office material.and Detective Sayer had shown him the relative position of the bars and other things in the office. From the position of a pile of hefting of some other matter, it would be impossible for the blood to have spattered in the way it did from MacRobbie’s head had he fallen on the steel barsfound near the body. The blood spatters were in a straight line.

Dr. J. K. Perry, who made the post-mortem along with Dr. Langs, said the only way that MacRobbie could have sustained the two injuries from a fall was for him to fall twice. One fall could not have produced the two wounds found in his head. He agreed with Dr. Langs in most particulars, but differed with him in the opinion that the deceased must have received the blows lying down. He must have got them in a standing position but it wasn’t likely. He thought MacRobbie was struck twice while lying on the floor.

CORONER TESTIFIED

Dr. McNichol, the coroner in the case, said when he arrived at the office there were two pools of blood, the first one being where MacRobbie’s head was laid and the second one some distance away, where his head later rested. He arrived around one o’clock in the morning and he concluded from the examination made that the first pool was about two hours old. In considering the wounds floor, her and other things he decided that the death was not due to accidental cases, but he had not reached a conclusion at the time he ordered an inquest. The reason he ordered an inquest was he thought an investigation should be held. He arrived at the conclusion of foul play gradually. He said the wounds such as MacRobbie’s head showed could not have been made by falling on the steel bar lying near his body. The wounds, he said, were known in surgery as a bursting fracture. In his opinion, MacRobbie had been struck twice while prone on the floor. The blood marked club was shown on him and he declared that it was the kind of a weapon to produce the wounds found on MacRobbie’s head. He said he questioned Smith at the office and Smith appeared to comprehend his queries.

Cross-examined the coroner said he didn’t agree with Detective Sayer when the officer testified that Smith was too muddled to understand his question. “It is a matter of two opinions” said the coroner, “and my opinion is that Smith knows what he was saying in reply to my questions.”

DORNAN GOT SOME ICE

Eddie Dornan of the Royal Oak Hotel told of the visit of McAuliffe, Scott and Smith to the hotel about 7 o’clock on the Sunday night of the fatality. They were all pretty jolty and took aware. McAuliffe said that they were all going on to Smith’s farm and insisted that Dornan go along, too. Dornan told him he had an appointment at the beach that night and slipped away from there. He saw McAuliffe crank he car, and the party proceeded up Bay street from Cannon street. When witness returned from the beach about 11 o’clock he saw McAuliffe’s car in front of the oil company’s office. He went over to see if McAuliffe was about; and Asselstine said there were four men upstairs. Asselstine called him and Hynes who was with him, to go upstairs to see what shapethe men were in. when they went in, he recognized Smith, Scott and McAuliffe sleeping on the floor. Another man he did not recognized was on the floor in a pool of blood. Asselstine touched the man’s head and noticed blood. Witness told Asselstine to telephone for Harry Bell and a doctor and he went to his hotel to get a pluck of ice. When he and Hynes returned with the ice, Bell was coming down the street in his auto. Hynes carried up the chunk of ice, followed by Bell. Witness stayed downstairs and saw Scott down there, stumbling about the office. He didn’t go upstairs and waited for some time and never saw the ice again, he didn’t know what was done with it. Dornan said that when Asselstine touched  the doctor’s head, the head was one or two inches from the steel bars. He picked the head on the floor gentley and no blood could have been spattered. Witness said Bell mentioned of seeing Asselstine go to the side door of the oil company about 11 o’clock and saying “if you don’t stop the noise in there, I’ll stop it”. Later he helped Asselstine to move McAuliffe’s car from the street to the alley on the company’s property, and Asselstine made no reference to the noisein the office earlier.

Mrs. L. Baker and her son George Baker, Barton Street, swore they hear a cry from the building of the oil company as they passed about 11:10

Mrs. Mary Powis, Caroline Street arose from her bed about 11 o’clock to feed her baby. Shortly afterwards she heard three cries for help. She thought they came from the direction of the oil company’s office.

BOTTLES OF WHISKEY STOUT

Richard Servor, Harriet street, admitted having given Dr. MacRobbie a quart bottle of whiskey on the Sunday night of the tragedy, about 9.30 or 10 o’clock. He said the doctor and Smith came to his come and asked for some whiskey. Dr. MacRobbie was his family physician, so he gave it to him. The doctor, he said, was sober but that Smith appeared to be under the influence of liquor. He was the last witness to see the Dr. alive and physically unharmed.

This was the last witness called at the afternoon session, the court adjoining at 6:00 o’clock till 8PM.

THE EVENING SESSION

The first witness at the evening sitting was Benjamin Fowler, an employee of the Crescent Oil Company, who told of being notified of the trouble at the office by Harry Bell, who called at his house with an auto. When he arrived at the office he found Smith and McAuliffe dead drunk on the floor. The doctor went to MacRobbie’s side, and he shook the sleeping men. With difficulty, he awoke them. He took them to the wash room to give them a drink of water. Smith having taken it and vomited he then took Smith outside and later he learned Smith had been taken home. At the request of the detective he and Bell went to Smith’s house to get Smith.

To Smith’s counsel, Fowler said that Smith was very drunk at the time he found him at the office and he was dazed when he got him at his house some time after the trouble.

Constable Ince, Devey Hill and Arnol gave unimportant testimony in the developments at the office subsequent to the arrival of Detective Sayer.

Detective Sayer said that when he arrived at the building, Fowler, Bell and Asselstine were in the downstairs back office and Dr. Langs and Dr. McNichol were upstairs with the body of MacRobbie. Not one of the other accused even were to be seen. Asselstine took him to McAuliffe who was in the yard asleep with only one shoe on. Asselstine said he had taken McAuliffe from the office for safekeeping. Smith later appeared on the scene and seemed so so very dopey. Dr. McNichol questioned Smith on to when he had have seen MacRobbie, Smith at first said 6:30.

And later Smith said “Maybe it was 8:30” Witness then told of goingto Scott’s house and arresting Scott who was also suffering from excessive drinking. Asselstine was not arrested till about two weeks later.

This detective then produced a grin full of exhibits which had been taken from the deathchamber. One was a coat, which Smith said was his. A collar marked “J. J. M.” and an odd shoe. While the witness was producing other articles, the judge asked sharply “What have these thing to do with the case?” and the crown prosecutor called for a more exhibits from the suit case. The detective found some more empty whiskey bottles in Asselstine’s yard next to the company’s building and Asselstine said that they had been thrown over his fence during the previous night.

The detective identified the blood-stained molding produced and said it was on a box near Dr. MacRobbie’s body. He had examined the steel bars under a powerful magnifying glass for traces of hair but he didn’t find any. On one of the bars there was a blood smear.

The crown prosecutor then asked the witness concerning a question asked by counsel for one of the prisoners to the effect that Dr. McNichol told him not to take the steel bars into the grand jury room and the detective said the statement was a falsehood.

“Dr. McNichol didn’t make any such statement” he declared holly.

This sided the crowning case and the judge asked the jurorsto retire while the legal aspect of the evidence was discussed. The discharge of the prisoners followed, as told about in the early part of this report.

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