§ MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the case of Robert Comerford, who was sentenced to 29 months' imprisonment, with hard labour, by the magistrates presiding at the Belfast Police Court, on 21st July last, for having assaulted five policemen who were at the time taking him a prisoner to the police barrack, and where this assault was dealt with as five separate offences, Whether it is the practice in England to pass cumulative sentences in such cases, or to treat the charges as constituting one offence only; and, whether Justices at Petty Sessions in England have power to sentence a prisoner, on conviction of any one offence, to a longer term than six months' imprisonment?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
By the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, magistrates are not allowed in England to impose on any person for several assaults committed on the same occasion cumulative sentences of imprisonment exceeding six months in the whole. Before that statute, I apprehend that each assault on a different person was a separate offence, for which, both by law and in practice, magistrates could award separate and cumulative sentences.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I wish to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, now that we are given to understand that it is impossible for a magistrate in England to give 29 months' sentence, whether he will take care that 500 under the provisions of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill sentences shall not be cumulative?
§ [No reply.]