26 January 1889
Yesterday at the High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh, the Lord Justice Clerk presiding, John Stevenson, 19 years old, a coach trimmer, was charged with having, on January 2 or 3 last, in a close or court at 83 Queen street, Glasgow, assaulted Catherine Mackenzie, at present a patient in the Royal Infirmary, by stabbing her. He pleaded guilty at Glasgow, and was sent to the High Court for sentence.
Mr. Thomson, on behalf of the prisoner, stated that he had a hasty temper and that his mother had been in an asylum and was still living in the country under restraint. He read letters from several clergymen and the accused's employers, giving him an excellent character. Mr. Robertson, Advocate Depute, said the woman stated that the prisoner followed her into a close and suddenly struck her with a knife. She saw the knife and then he struck her two or three times and knocked her down. He then raised her clothes and cut her about the legs. At that moment the police arrived and the prisoner ran off, but was caught immediately afterwards. He was glad to corroborate what Mr. Thomson said as to the prisoner's previous career. He had borne a good character in all respects. He himself had information as to the impulsive disposition of the lad, but there was no evidence of weakness of mind or anything approaching to insanity. It might well be that, reading the details of what happened at Whitechapel had acted to a certain degree on his mind, and had induced him to commit the crime. But whether the desire to emulate the deeds of the Whitechapel murderer was to be urged as an extenuation was for his Lordship to judge. The woman's injuries were very serious indeed but she was now recovering, although it would be some time before she was out of the hospital. After consultation with some of the other Judges, the Lord Justice Clerk said he should have been very glad if he had been enabled to limit the sentence to one of imprisonment, but he found it impossible to do so. To pronounce any sentence of imprisonment, in a case where a man attacked a woman without any provocation whatever, and stabbed her in various places in a most disgusting manner would be the worst possible example of all. He felt bound, in the exercise of his duty, to disregard all idea of the prisoner not being responsible for what he had done. There would be ample opportunity when he was in confinement for an investigation being made for the purpose of seeing whether that was the case or not. He could not pronounce a shorter sentence than one of seven years' penal servitude.
The prisoner was then removed.