The Trial of Dr. Burke at the Leeds Assizes (1)

On this day 130 years ago Dr. Burke found himself in the dock again, this time at the Leeds Assizes. His previous hearing at Barnsley found him guilty of the willful murder of his nine year old daughter Aileen. He was granted a second hearing because of the delicate nature of the case. He was not granted any special clemency, for the loss of his daughter  and had the agony of waiting more than a month for what he probably knew delivered a guilty verdict.

In 1856, judges of the Central Criminal Court were also given the right to hear cases outside the court’s ordinary jurisdiction, to ensure a fair trial where local prejudice existed or when it could offer an early trial and so avoid the delay involved in waiting for the next assizes.

The second hearing didn’t attract as many of the public as the previous. It was held in a distance from Barnsley and too far for locals to travel in those days. It still attracted media attention, appearing in the local and national and some international newspapers. It was covered by some Irish newspapers but not in depth, sparing Emily and her siblings the anguish of being confronted by their half-brother’s misdemeanor daily.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph 05 May 1888