Trial & Sentence
JAMES BELL, Private in the Fifth Dragoon Guards, for the
Murder of Serjeant-major Moorhead, by shooting him with a
pistol, at Piershill Barrachs, on Sunday the 17th May last.
Monday, June 22d, 1835.
JAMES BELL, private of the Fifth Dragoon Guards, was
then put to the bar, charged with the Murder of serjeant-major
William Moorhead of said regiment: In so far as, upon the 17th
day of May last, at Piershill Barracks, be, did wickedly and feloni-
ously " fire off and discharge, at and against his person, a pistol or
other fire-arms, loaded with gunpowder, and with a leaden bullet,
or some other hard substance to the Prosecutor unknown, and did
thereby wound him severely in or near his back, in consequence of
which he was mortally wounded in his person, and died on or about
the 25th day of May 1335."
The prisoner's counsel gave in written defences, denying gene-
rally the charges set forth in the indictment, and pleading that he
was insane at the time libelled.
George Tait, Sheriff-Substitute identified the declaration made
by the prisoner on Monday the 18th, and deponed, that he ap-
peared then perfectly sane and collected, and emitted freely and
voluntarily, that he was also at his second deckration of the
27th?-In which he was fully corroborated by, Archibald Scott,
Procurator Fiscal, and R. J. Moxey, the Sheriff Clerk.
Private George Smith was at morning parade with the prisoner,
and heard him apply to Serjeant Bracken for leave of absense, who
reported it to Serjeant Major Moorhead, who said that no man
would get leave of absence from the stables that day, when Bell
muttered some answer which he did not hear. Saw Bell after-
wards speaking to Captain King for leave, in which he did not suc-
ceed, and saw him also at the stables at 12 and 3 o'clock, and again
at roll call at 7. About ¼ past 7 he saw him coming to the stables,
No. 18, where Serjeant Moorhead was standing inside with his
back towards the door, and when at about 3 yards distance, saw
him present and fire the pistol, when Moorhead fell upon his right
knee, crying " O God, O God, O God." Identifies the pistol mark-
ed E 9 to be that which was in charge of the prisoner.
Private John Calinan was in No. 13 at evening stables, where
Moorhead with his back towards the door, heard the report of a
pistol from behind, and turned instantly round, when he saw Bell
walking away from the stable door, with the pistol in his hand ;
went after him, and he, Corporal Baxter, and Patrick Egan seized
him, took the pistol from him, and conveyed him to the guard-
house,?the prisoner exclaiming, " Ladies and Gentlemen, look
here, I have shot the tyrant who tyranized over the troop and me
Corporal Martin Baxter, and Private Patrick Egan corroborated
the foregoing statement of Calinans
Private William Graham saw the prisoner with a pistol in his
hand near the outside of the stable door, as he was going f r a
bucket of water, who asked where Moorhead was when he told him
he was within. Had not gone 2 or 3 paces. when he heard the re-
port of a pistol, and turning, saw Bell seized by Baxter a few steps
from the door, whtn he said, "You're down, you b------r. If I did
not do good for myself, I have done it for my comrades."
Adjutant Henry Ash was in the mess-room, when it was report-
ed that a shot had been fired, and by Major Scarlett's orders sent
off his servant for a surgeon. He went to the black hole and or-
dered the prisoner to be searched and handcuffed, when he heard
him say, " I hope I have done it effectually, have I comrades."
Dr Galbraith Logan attended the deceased from the day of re-
ceiving the wound till his death, and along with Sir George Bal-
lingal opened the body, when they found that the ball had lodged
in the spinal marrow, which no doubt had caused his death.
Sir George Ballingall corroborated this statement.
A number of exculpatory witnesses were called, endeavouring to
establish Moorhead's severity in duty, and the prisoner labouring
occasionally, or at the time under a fit of mental derangement.
The Jury were addressed by the Solicitor-General for the Crown
and by the Advocate for the pannel, bath at considerable length ;
after which the Lord Justice Clerk went over the evidence with his
usual ability, when the Jury returned a verdict of Guilty.
The pannel was then sentenced to be executed on Monday the
13th of July next, at the usual place of execution.
Sanderson, Printer, High Street, Edinburgh
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Date of publication:
1835 shelfmark: F.3.a.14(72)
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