p.2 THE GARRYOWEN CASE
A very important decision has been rendered by Mr. Justice Wilson, at Toronto, in reference to the alleged scuttling of the Garryowen schooner. It will be remembered that this schooner was bound for Toronto with a cargo of coal, when somewhere on Lake Erie she began to fill with water and sink. On arriving in Toronto a charge was preferred against the captain and mate of scuttling the ship, whereupon they were arrested, and brought up before the police magistrate for examination. After some evidence had been taken, which certainly had all the appearance of criminating the captain and mate, an application was made for the release of the prisoners under a writ of habeas corpus. Objection being taken to this by the prosecutors, the case was removed for inquiry and decision to the Court of Queen's Bench. There it was ably argued on both sides; and Mr. Justice Wilson, the presiding judge, has now given his decision. It is to the effect that the release cannot be granted, and that the prisoners must be remanded to the police magistrate for examination.
The ground taken by Mr. Harrison on behalf of the prisoners was to the effect that the alleged crime had been committed in American waters, and that consequently our Courts of Law had no jurisdiction in the matter. If this conclusion had been sustained by evidence and fact, then the Judge would have had no alternative but to order the release of the prisoners by a writ of habeas corpus. In his opinion, however, the case was different from the manner in which the prisoners' counsel had presented it. He held that the jurisdiction of our courts extends to Lake Erie. The ground on which this judgement was based is the English statute and authority. According to Judge Wilson, and by reference to certain cases which he quoted, the English Admiralty has jurisdiction over Lake Erie, the Colonial courts are empowered by Imperial statute to deal with crimes committed in neighbouring waters. If this view of the case be sound, then the judge was bound to refuse the application, and to send the prisoner back for examination in the police court. We have every reason to believe that Judge Wilson has correctly interpreted the law in the matter; and apart from the merits of the individual case in question, it is well that we have such a clear and authoritative decision. There has long been a vagueness on this subject; and we doubt not that under the impression that our courts had no jurisdiction over certain waters, many unjustifiable liberties have been taken, not to say crimes committed. It will henceforth be understood that all persons upon the Lakes will be amenable to English law, and that any infraction of that law can and will be followed by inquiry and punishment. The effect of this may be most beneficial in preventing a repetition of a case like the present, and in checking the indulgence of lawless passions in other ways. The case of the Garryowen must now undergo full examination before the proper tribunal. If there is evidence sufficient in the police court to justify a conviction, the prisoners must be sent for trial; if not they will be acquitted. We will pronounce no judgement on the facts so far disclosed. It is only fair to await the evidence which has yet to be adduced. That evidence may be conclusive of guilt, and if so it will be matter for thankfulness that a dreadful crime has been detected, and that the criminal parties will meet with their deserts. [Hamilton Spectator]
City Council - petition of Jacob Bajus requesting city to give up claim to a water lot near the haymarket which he had filled in, according to an agreement made with the Corporation in May last, to enable the petitioner to obtain a permanent lease from the government.