How the Victorian press covered the story


The Verdict and Judgement

4th May 1887

The Clerk of the Assize: "Gentlemen, have you agreed upon your verdict?"

The Foreman: "Yes."

The Clerk of the Assize: "Do you find the prisoner guilty or not guilty of manslaughter?"

The Foreman: "Not guilty of manslaughter."

The Clerk of Assize: "Then you also acquit him on the second count of wilful murder?"

The Foreman: "We do."

Mr. Blair drew the Judge's attention to the further indictment which was before the Grand Jury for unlawful assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He, however, left the matter in the hands of his Lordship as to how it should be dealt with. For his part he did not see that the case could be carried further.

The prisoner was then asked to plead to the charge of assault, and his reply was "Not guilty".

The jury were again sworn, and his Lordship directed them to acquit the prisoner on the second count also, remarking that they had already had all the evidence that could be given.

The jury concurred, and a formal verdict of not guilty was taken.

In discharging the prisoner, his lordship said that he had stood in much danger through his own conduct. He thought it was very little use giving advice to Garner, for the chances were that some six hours hence he would have forgotten the warning he had had. But if it was useful to say anything, he would ask the prisoner for God's sake to reform and give up drink.

Prisoner: "I will, my lord."

He then left the dock, was discharged from gaol shortly afterwards, and returned home with his family by the 8.10 p.m. train from Manchester Victoria Station, proceeding to Lower Darwen Station.

Back in Darwen the news of Garner's acquittal was received by telegram at The Darwen News office shortly after seven o'clock, and came as a great surprise. A crowd of people, chiefly women, assembled at Darwen station that Wednesday evening at 9-17p.m, awaiting the arrival of the train from Manchester, eager to catch a sight of the man. They were disappointed at finding that the object of their curiosity had gone on to the next station, Lower Darwen, and there left the train without exciting very much attention.

The Manchester Evening News of 4th of May reported the earlier parts of the "case of the alleged manslaughter at over Darwen" as far as the evidence of Dr. Ballantyne. The full report, including Garner's acquittal, appeared the following morning in The Manchester Guardian. The Northern Daily Telegraph reported the case extensively from the start, as did the two Darwen weekly papers, The Darwen Post and The Darwen News.