Yesterday, Mr Harper, R.M., presided over a court hearing in which Major Studdert, Thomas Studdert, John A. Studdert, P. J. Howard, V.S., and Patrick Collins are charged with conspiring to defraud the Government in connection with the purchase of remounts for the Imperial Yeomanry. These individuals all have significant connections to Limerick, heightening the local interest in this case. Proceedings began with the careful reading of depositions from witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense.
Colonel St Quintin clarified a previous statement he had made, saying that he now believed permission had in fact been given to Major Studdert to purchase from his sons before the 18th of February 1900, likely on the 28th of January. This contradicted the Crown’s assertion that permission had been granted on March 5th. Major Studdert, once asked if he had anything to add, launched into a passionate defense of himself and his co-defendants, stating that he had never done anything wrong in the course of this business.
Major Studdert recalled how, in January 1900, he had realized that it would be impossible to secure the large number of horses needed by the Government through the usual dealers. He had suggested that his sons, with their knowledge of the county and experience with horses, could supply these needed horses. Colonel St Quintin’s account of the situation was different, but Major Studdert stated he was willing to accept the Colonel’s version of events. He went on to thank Colonel St Quintin for his honorable conduct and unwillingness to bend under the pressure that had apparently been brought to bear on him.
Major Studdert expressed amazement that he could have ever agreed to the compromise with the Crown, which stipulated that he would pay a large sum of money. Asserting his innocence, he pointed out that the only reason he agreed to this compromise was to prevent the loss of the receiverships and land agencies held by his family. However, having signed the agreement, he was quickly informed by Judge Ross and the Lord Chancellor that his family would be stripped of those receiverships and agencies regardless.
Stating that he had made no money beyond his usual fees from these transactions, Major Studdert condemned the Crown for initiating a criminal trial against him and his co-defendants while knowing they were innocent. He pointed out that they had all cooperated fully with the investigation, providing any documents and evidence the Crown required. Major Studdert characterized the prosecution’s actions as ruinous and stated that no jury would find them guilty of any crime. He also lamented the distress and damage to their reputations that the trial had caused himself and his co-defendants, who were upstanding citizens and long-standing members of their community.
After his remarks, John A. Studdert, Thomas Studdert, and P. J. Howard briefly echoed Major Studdert’s sentiments. Following some final arguments from legal counsel, Mr Harper ruled that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for the defendants at the next Clare Assizes, and bail was arranged for all involved. The Limerick community eagerly awaits the developments of this scandalous case.
Dundee Courier – Thursday 25 September 1902