I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if his attention has been called to the conviction of Wm. Mackenzie, Ardneaskan, by Sheriff Hill, at Dingwall, on the 13th of February, 1894, on a charge of trespassing in pursuit of game on the estate of Baron Middleton, of Applecross, on the 9th of January last, on the sole evidence of a game watcher, who admitted that he was not at any time within 40 yards of the accused; whether he is aware that other witnesses in their evidence showed that it was a physical impossibility for Mackenzie to be at the place at the time mentioned: and whether steps will be taken to amend the Law of Evidence, in order to make it obligatory that the evidence of at: least two witnesses shall be taken to justify conviction?
* THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR, Clackmannan, &c.)
I answered this question so far on Tuesday last. On further inquiry I find that the watcher had previously known the accused, that on the day in question he had had him in view for three hours, and had, therefore, full opportunity of identifying him. It is the fact that the watcher was never nearer to him than 40 yards; but at this distance they had some conversation, and the accused, after shooting the watcher's dog dead, threatened to shoot the watcher himself. The evidence of the only witness, who stated that it was impossible for the accused to be at the place at the time mentioned, failed upon cross-examination; and that even taking the watcher's own statement, it was quite possible for him to have done all that was alleged. There have been cases which have shown the desirability of an amendment of the Day Trespass Act, but I doubt whether this is one of them.