Juror Arrested, Blames Seagull-Shooting Lodger, 1866

From the Manchester Chronicle, 17 December 1866:

“An extensive seizure of arms and ammunition was made in a house in Trinity Street, Dublin belonging to a tailor called Downey… at the top story of the house, the police found ten well-finished revolvers, two fowling pieces and a large quantity of ammunition. One of the revolvers was a most formidable weapon, containing twelve chambers. They were all concealed in the woodwork and casing of the windows. The proprietor of the house was from home during the search, but was arrested at the Four Courts where he was serving as a juror in the Probate Court. .. a carpenter, who was employed in fitting up the woodwork, was subsequently arrested… all the prisoners were lodged in the College Street police office to await the arrival of the Lord Lieutenant’s warrant for committal.”

The arrested juror, Denis Downey, was subsequently found not guilty following a defence that the arms belonged to his lodger, O’Flanagan, who had been seen shooting seagulls (!) with the twelve-chamber revolver.

Downey was arrested again in January 1868, at his new premises in Dawson Street, on a warrant of the Lord Lieutenant. On Friday 10 April 1868, a question was asked in the House of Commons as to

the nature of the charge under which [he] was imprisoned, whether it was true that detectives called on him seeking information about a man called Lennon, and on asserting his innocence of anything to do with a man called Lennon, they did take him to prison and whether it was true that Mr Downey’s wife and eight children were reduced to a state of starvation in consequence?”

Perhaps because of this question, Downey was subsequently unconditionally discharged and by December 1869 he was back in business at 14 Crow Street. He advertised this business by placing an advert in the Irishman thanking the public for past favours, and “trusting by strict attention to business, and his usual superior style of fit and workmanship to merit a continuance of their kind patronage.

Downey, with a side-line in manufacture of Irish Republican Brotherhood uniforms, was lucky to have escaped conviction in 1867 – possibly his knowledge of juries assisted him and his legal advisers in coming up with ‘the Seagull Defence?!’

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

One thought on “Juror Arrested, Blames Seagull-Shooting Lodger, 1866”

  1. I have no comments here but how many were on a jury in those days and was there ever a woman on them.

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