Letter: Children on trial for adult crimes

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The Independent Online
Sir: Concerning your story 'Boy defendant makes history at Old Bailey' (2 December) about the 11-year-old boy on trial for manslaughter, said to be the youngest accused, your readers may be interested to learn that in 1900, in British Columbia, where I live, an eight-year-old boy was charged with murder. After a two-day trial before judge and jury, he was acquitted. Although it was clear the boy had shot the victim, the jury evidently applied the then common law rule that, in effect, conferred diminished responsibility upon very young persons.

The boy was hidden from view when seated in the dock (much like the lad at the Old Bailey) but could certainly be heard, for he was allowed to take some toys with him.

He is the youngest person to have been tried in Canada for a capital offence and possibly the youngest in any common law country.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID R. WILLIAMS

Duncan, British Columbia

Canada

4 December

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