In a riveting turn of events, the Charleville murder trial has resumed its proceedings before Mr Justice Boyd at the County Cork Assizes. William Scanlan stands accused of the wilful murder of Bridget Gayer, a young girl whose life was tragically cut short on July 12, 1909. The courtroom was filled with palpable tension as the Crown presented its case against Scanlan, who, notably, is the brother-in-law of the deceased.
This trial, which has garnered remarkable public interest, is not unfamiliar to those who have been following the case. Scanlan was initially arraigned during the last Winter Assizes, and after an extended trial, the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict. A subsequent attempt to proceed with the trial was thwarted due to the unavailability of a crucial witness, Michael McCarthy, who succumbed to illness. The twists of fate continued with another material witness, Miss Motherway, falling critically ill, leading to yet another adjournment.
FEENAGH CO. LIMERICK SHOWING (LEFT) THE HOME OF WILLIAM SCANLAN, NOW ON TRIAL AT CORK ASSIZES FOR THE MURDER OF BRIDGET GAYER.
The Crown, represented by The Right Hon. the Attorney-General, Sergeant Monarty, K.C., and Mr P. D. Fleming, K.C., opened its case with a meticulous recounting of the grim events that unfolded on that fateful day. Bridget Gayer, a lively and attractive young girl on the cusp of womanhood, became the victim of a brutal and cowardly assassination, according to the prosecution. The accused, William Scanlan, is alleged to be the perpetrator, further complicating the narrative as he is the brother-in-law of the deceased.
The Attorney-General expressed satisfaction that such heinous crimes are rare in the criminal annals of Ireland. The deceased, Bridget Gayer, hailed from the village of Feenagh in Co. Cork, while Scanlan, the accused, was the son of a small farmer in Co. Limerick. Scanlan had a tumultuous history that included military service in the American Army during the Cuban campaign.
The prosecution laid out a narrative that suggested Scanlan’s early attraction to Bridget Gayer, even proposing marriage when she was just 17 years old. However, this proposal was rebuffed, and Scanlan went on to marry Bridget’s sister, Ellen. The Attorney-General then meticulously detailed the movements of both Scanlan and Bridget on the day of the murder, emphasizing the premeditated nature of the crime.
The trial unfolded with witnesses taking the stand, providing harrowing details of the events leading up to Bridget Gayer’s murder. The court heard about Scanlan’s return from America, his infatuation with Bridget, and the sinister turn of events that culminated in the young girl’s death. The Crown argued that Scanlan’s attempt to establish an alibi in Buttevant, claiming attendance at Cahirmee Fair, was a desperate ploy to divert suspicion.
The proceedings, expected to span three days, promise a riveting legal drama as the defence, led by Mr E. Mclligott, S.L., and Mr James. B.L., presents its case. The accused, despite appearing visibly changed since the previous trial, maintains his plea of not guilty. The outcome of this trial hangs in the balance, as the courtroom becomes the stage for justice to unfold in the aftermath of a chilling and senseless crime.
Dublin Daily Express – Tuesday 19 July 1910