Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Executed Australian Man Pardoned

It will not do Colin Campbell Ross much good. After being executed for rape and murder 86 years ago, he was pardoned by Victoria state Governor David de Kretser. Research had shown that he was convicted on shaky evidence. Details on the case can be found at Australian state pardons man who was hanged for murder 86 years ago by the Canadian Press.

The article notes, "Prosecutors alleged that Ross, who ran a saloon in Melbourne, gave Tirtschke alcohol before raping and strangling her on New Year's Eve 1921. The only physical evidence connecting him to the crime were hairs on a blanket which prosecutors claimed were Tirtschke's. While witnesses gave alibis for Ross, he was convicted and later hanged, protesting his innocence. The pardon petition built on recent forensic tests that finally proved the original hair samples did not come from Tirtschke."

I amazed that this long after the fact forensic tests can point to guilt or innocence. Lacking the hair sample evidence, the only "proof" of Ross being guilty was questionable testimony from a jail house informer who got his sentence reduced by testifying against Ross and two others who got reward money for helping getting Ross convicted. The fact that Ross had recently been acquitted of an assault charge did not help him either as the Melbourne Police appear to have been out to get him.

A Wikipedia article has more on this case and Ross. A horrid fact is noted, "Colin Ross was executed on April 24, 1922 at Melbourne Gaol in a particularly gruesome manner. A new four-strand rope was used for the first time in an Australian execution and proved to be a failure, as Ross slowly strangled for more than forty minutes before his death. A prison report later ruled that such a rope must never be used again."

I am happy that Ross at least has been cleared all these years after his probable unfortunate false conviction. Justice delayed here is indeed justice denied. Ross will never get the years back he lost when he was executed. However, at least his name has been cleared.

No comments: