Murder of a member of the unfortunate class

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 08.19.03The Notable British Trials series, Dalrymple explains,

ran uninterruptedly from 1905 to 1959. Habitués of secondhand bookshops will be very familiar with its typeface and its rough, yellowing paper.

In the old days, the British

liked nothing more than to settle down with the transcript of a trial of one of the rococo villains that their well-ordered society sometimes, indeed regularly, threw up.

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Truly out of his mind

For example, Ronald True was arraigned in 1922 for the murder of what the prosecuting counsel, Sir Richard Muir, called ‘a member of the unfortunate class’. True

had always been a bad lot, a swindler and a drug addict. His moods alternated between childish exaltation — as when he went about in a bath-chair with a hooter and a doll — and depression with sudden fits of violence. By the time of the murder, all were agreed that he was insane, but not insane enough not to be sentenced to death. However, the law of England at the time was that you couldn’t be hanged while insane: you’d learn nothing by it, or perhaps it just wasn’t cricket.

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