!! Ballina Chronicle; March 20, 1850 "Limerick Assizes" - Part 2
Ballina, Mayo, Ireland
Wednesday, March 20, 1850
Dr. Joseph Parker sworn - Is attending physician to the county gaol for
the last three years, went to see O'Grady in a few days after his committal
to prison; saw him frequently after, up to summer assizes, 1847; examined
him on the first occasion, but resolved not to come to any conclusion or
form any opinion one way or the other, until I had given his case full
deliberation; when first I saw him he exhibited a silent, silly manner, and
spoke in a mattering muttering under tone, chiefly in monosyllable; I
inquired particularly as to his previous habits and found they were quite of
an opposite character; I remember a friend of his coming to see him in the
gaol - a Mr. Brown, who he pretended not to know when introduced; a friend
or relative, then present said to O'Grady, "John, don't you know your
friend, Mr. Brown?" He replied, in rather broken accent, "Mr. Brown, Mr.
Brown, oh dear, yes, yes, oh, yes;" this was when he was pressed and about
the 11th Feb. '47; there was a strong conviction on my mind contrasting his
former state with the state he was then in, I found it impossible he could
have become so in so short a time; the rest of my observations, up to the
time he cut his throat, led me the more strongly to conclude he was acting;
I was sent for, by the governor of the gaol to see a man who had cut his
throat shortly previous to spring assizes '47; I went into his cell, and saw
O'Grady, who was not bleeding but cut in the neck, the man had bled about
ten ounces; I sewed up the wound, applied the necessary restorative, and he
was all right again; to test further the accuracy of the opinion, I had
formed as to O'Grady's feigning I looked about, and observed that the bed on
which he lay had been removed by him from the bedstead in the corner of the
room to the centre of the floor, and placed before a looking glass; I then
bethought of the time selected by O'Grady to commit the act, which was at
the very moment he heard the officers of the gaol coming into the chapel,
and as the turnkey had unlocked the door of his cell; this I deemed a
remarkable coincidence, and was forcibly struck wit hit, as O'Grady had the
razor in the cell with him for a week previous; the wound was not a
dangerous one and did not penetrate the carotid artery; it was upwards
towards the chin; my impression was that he brought the bed to the center of
the room that he might fall more easy; stood before the glass, and with the
razor cut his throat so as not to endanger life; as a further proof of his
insanity, from the period he inflicted the wound a great change took place,
he refused to take food, kept his teeth clenched, his limbs right, his eyes
permanently closed, and his hands also clenched; he kept his eyes shut, so
that when the lid was raised you could not see the pupil, for he turned up
the white; we endeavoured to open his teeth, but he resisted, and lay
motionless; he continued so for several days; there was nothing at all on my
mind to induce me to think such a change was consequent upon insanity, nor
could I refer it to mental disease. After adverting to a few unimportant
matters, Dr. Parker said it was laid down by authors as a theory, that if
insanity was feigned, the best way to find it out was by taking the impostor
suddenly off his guard, and by so doing he could be made to perform any act,
no matter how inconsistent with insanity provided he thought the performance
of it would induce the observer to think he was insane.
Judge - Let me understand you on this point.
Dr. Parker. - My Lord, it is this, that all the efforts of an impostor
able to prove that he is mad. For instance, if you tell a man who is not
insane that he is mad, he will hear you say so with satisfaction, whereas,
if you were to tell a man who is really mad that he is so, he would knock
you down. I therefore had recourse to stratagem, and on on going to see
O'Grady one day while in bed, I said, in such a way as that he could hear
me, it is quite evident this unfortunate man is mad, and therefore we can
talk freely of the awful crime, laid to his charge, as he can know nothing
of what we are saying but there are some points in the case which may lead
to an opposite conclusion, for instance - his mouth is closed and teeth
clenched; now that is not the act of a madman, but if, when I place my
finger to his mouth he opens his teeth, that will be a convincing proof of
Judge - While you had arrived at quite an opposite conclusion?
Dr. Parker - Yes, my lord, I accordingly placed my finger on his lip,
and he opened his mouth and teeth! I then said were he to open his eyes when
I put my finger on the lids it would be another proof of insanity; I did so,
and he opened his eyes which were closed for days before!! Dr. Parker then
applied the same test to his hands; on touching the little finger O'Grady
opened them at once, also applied the test as to the rigidity of his limbs,
and they became as flexible as ever they were!!
Dr. Parker was ably cross-examined by Mr. O'Hea, but his direct
testimony was not disturbed.
Dr. Francis White and Dr. John Nugent, Inspectors General of Lunatic
Asylums in Ireland, were each examined, but their testimony as to the
prisoner being sane had only reference to personal observations of his
manner in prison and at the Lunatic asylum. They came to the conclusion that
O'Grady was sane in '47, when a jury found to the contrary.
Mr. O'Hea addressed the jury for the defence.
The witnesses examined in proof the prisoner's insanity were Dr. Samuel
Bennett, of Bruff; Dr. John Peppard, of Bushy Park; Dr. J. Russell, Thomas
Cleary, Henry Gilbertson, Rev. Mr. Roche, R.C.C., Mr. J. Murphy, Mr. Wm.
Keays, and Rev. Wm. Burke, gaol chaplain.
Mr. Henn spoke to evidence, and at nine o'clock the jury were allowed
to retire for half an hour to partake of refreshment.
At half-past nine his Lordship proceeded to deliver his charge, which
occupied an hour and twenty minutes, and was most favourable to the
The jury then retired for twenty minutes and at half-past eleven
o'clock returned a verdict of GUILTY, with a recommendation to mercy.
The wretched man heard the result with perfect indifference, and quite
unmoved. His Lordship directed him to be brought up next morning for
The Court, which was densely thronged throughout the day, was then
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News