Miscarriage of justice rectified after 126 years

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins: Posthumous pardon

A KERRYMAN has been granted a posthumous pardon 126 years after his execution.

John Twiss from Cordal, Castleisland was hanged in Cork County Gaol in 1895 for the murder of John Donovan, a caretaker of an evicted farm at Glenlara, near Newmarket in Co Cork.

John Twiss was hanged three weeks after his conviction and his remains are buried on the grounds of University College Cork.

Following his execution, a coroner’s inquest was immediately convened and the question of police interference in the conviction of Mr Twiss was examined. The governor of the prison and the prison chaplain both stated they believed in his innocence.

Minister Norma Foley: Welcomed the pardon

The jury at the inquest stated: “In face of the solemn dying declaration made by the deceased before execution on the gallows… and the evidence on oath of the prison chaplain the medical officers and the governor, we hereby express our belief in the prisoner’s innocence and consider this case was one in which the prerogative of mercy should have been exercised.”

The Twiss family has been campaigning for a presidential pardon for several years.

A review into the case of, recently carried out by Dr Niamh Howlin, Law Lecturer in UCD and expert in 19th Century trial law, concluded that all the evidence could not safely support a guilty verdict.

Today’s cabinet decision now clears the way for President Higgins to grant John Twiss a posthumous pardon 126 years after his execution.

Welcoming the decision, Education Minster and Kerry TD Norma Foley said: “It is clear from the expert review carried out by Dr Niamh Howlin that evidence could not support the view that John Twiss had committed the crime and that an innocent man was sentenced wrongly to death.

“I welcome today’s cabinet decision which will begin to put right a clear miscarriage of justice while also providing much needed assurance and closure for the Twiss family.”