Horse Poisoning Penalty: Perpetrator of This Atrocious Act Executed after Guilt Was Established by Jockey Club, Daily Racing Form, 1924-11-19


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HORSE POISONING PENALTY Perpetrator of This Atrocious Act Executed After Guilt Was Established by Jockey Club. In the First Spring meeting at Newmarket in 1S09 several race horses in Stevens stable were poisoned by arsenic being put in the trough at which they were -watered. A reward of 100 guineas was immediately offered for the discovery of the offenders, who however, succeeded for that time in eluding the pursuit of justice; but in 1811, emboldened by their success, they again perpetrated a similar offense. At the commencement of the First Spring meeting at Newmarket in 1811, Spainard, Pe-rouette, The Dandy and Sir F. Standishs Eagle colt died from arsenic poisoning. Two other horses. Reveller and Calebs, recovered. This atrocious act created general indignation and a reward of 500 guineas was immediately offered by the Jockey Club for tho discovery of the guilty party. On August 15 in the same year, Daniel Dawsdn", "a" notorious "touter," was apprehended at Brighton and committed by M. Conant, the magistrate of Marlborough street, to Cambridge Gaol, a true bill having been found against him by the grand jury for poisoning horses at the Newmarket Spring meeting of 1S09. At the ensuing Cambridge Assizes, Dawson was tried for this offense, sergeant Sellon being the counsel for the prosecution. The learned sergeant dwelt much on the enormity of the offense with which the prisoner stood charged. He said this was not an offense recognized at common law, but was founded on the statute of the Ninth George I. C. 22, which was enacted for the purpose of punishing persons maliciously wounding, maiming and killing cattle. He was well aware that the mere killing would not support this indictment without an object attached to it. The statute upon which this indictment was founded did not specify further than unlawfully and maliciously killing animals, but the motives which prompted tho killing and maiming were to be considered. If it be proved that the horse the subject of this im-dictment was killed by poison, then it would be necessary also to prove pre-existing malice. If a man kills or maims an animal in the moment of anger, the offense would not be recognized by the statute, as revenge or malice to tho animal alone would not be sufficient without an object. The malice must be against the owner and it was not sufficient to apply direct malice against the owner even, but as in this case, the law implied malice when the animal was killed for an object of gain or reward. Though the offender had never seen the owner, the case for the prosecution rested on the evidence of Cecil Bishop, who had been apprehended with Dawson and now admitted evidence for the Crown. AHSENIC IN "WATERING TROUGHS. This man, who had been brought up to the trade of a chemist and druggist, deposed that at the instigation of Dawson he had prepared a strong solution of arsenic, which he had injected by means of a crooked syringe into the watering trough on Newmarket Heath, by which means the horses mentioned in the present indictment Avcre poisoned ; he deposed, moreover, that he had been temptAl into this crime in the expectation of receiving a share of the gains which were to be realized by a confederate of the name of Trist, who was to bet heavily against the horses thus made safe. Upon the conclusion of the evidence for the prosecution, Mr. King, the counsel for the prisoner, took an objection to the indictment, which charged the prisoner with being a "principal" in the alleged act of poisoning when in point of fact, he was an "accessory before the fact." On these grounds the judge immediately directed his acquittal, but refused to accept bail for the prisoner which was tendered immediately on the conclusion of the trial. Dawson was accordingly sent back to Cambridge Gaol, to take his trial at the autumn assizes on another indictment, charging him poisoning two broodmares, the property of Mr. Morley, and a hack belong to Mr. Adams, of Royston, at Newmarket in 1S09. His trial on this indictment took place at the assizes in July, 1812, before Mr. Justice. Heath. The prisoner was indicted under the Act 9th George I., C. 22, for felonously, wilfully, and maliciously infusing white arsenic into a watering trough at Newmarket on July 10, 1809, and thereby poisoning certain horses and broodmares, etc. The charges laid in the indictment having been proved as clearly as circumstantial evidence would permit, Mr. King, for the prisoner, contended that no offense, in point of law, had been committed sufficient to constitute a felony. No malice had been proved against the owner, inasmuch as Bishops evidence this accomplice having been heard as evidence for the Crown, did not state that there, was any wish to go to the extent of killing the animal. The learned judge, however, thought to the contrary, and overruled the objection. The jury having found a verdict of guilty, sentence of death was pronounced, and Dawson was executed at Cambridge on August 8, 1812, and, although he confessed his guilt, did not mention his having had any accomplice in the crime, as had been generally supposed. The criminal was prosecuted by the Jockey Club at an expense of ?7,500. This trial clearly established the fact that, by the statute of the Ninth George I., C. 22, the offense of poisoning or maiming race horses so as to gain money by incapacitating them from running a race was made a capital felony and punishable accordingly.

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