Alexander Edmonstone

Court Case 1909, July 8th and 9th.
At Perth Circuit Court, before Lord Guthrie, ALEXANDER EDMINSTONE (23) , an unemployed miner, was charged with having, on the 19th February, robbed a young lad, named Michael Swinton Brown, of £85 in money, also a watch and chain, and further, at the same time and place, “within the lavatory at East Wemyss, Fife, did murder him.” Mr A. M. Anderson, K.C., Advocate – Depute (the Late lord Anderson), prosecuted, while the defence was conducted by Mr J.A.Christie and Mr Armit.
Brown, who was a clerk at East Wemyss, had been in the habit of going to the bank every Friday for money for his employer’s wages. This had become known to Edminstone, and he dogged the lad’s footsteps from the bank to the tramway car and travelled with him. Edminstone and the lad went into the lavatory together and probably when the money was not handed over at his request he strangled him. Suspicion fell upon Edminstone, who had disappeared. Traces were discovered of his movements at Strathmiglo, Perth and Glasgow. The leather bag which had contained the money and the bank pass-book was found on the sea shore near Mac duff’s Castle.
After extensive police inquiries extending over several weeks, the wanted man was located living in lodgings in Manchester, where he had assumed the name of “Albert Edwards.” In a Gladstone bag was found a considerable amount of the missing money-£25 in single bank notes, £10 10/ – in gold, and £7 5/ – in silver. The man admitted that he was Edminstone, but said that when he committed the acts he did not know what he was about.
A defence of insanity was put forward at the trial. Evidence was brought to show that the prisoner had previously suffered from epileptic fits. In addressing the jury, Mr. Christie made a strong appeal to find the accused only guilty of culpable homicide on account of his delusions and diminished responsibility. After an absence of only ten minutes, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder. Lord Guthrie thereupon passed sentence of death, to be carried out within Perth Prison on the 6th July.
A petition was forwarded to the Home Secretary asking that the sentence should be commuted, but taking in all the circumstances, and also the fact that there was no recommendation from the jury to mercy, this was refused. Edminstone went to his doom.
Ellis was the executioner.
Executed at Perth 6th July 1909

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