22nd February 1836

Murder appeal saves man’s life but results in his transportation

Jersey law made no distinction between killing someone with your own bare hands and assisting the victim in their own suicide. Thus, when adulterous French music teacher Louis Marin was accused of assisting his lover’s suicide – in an apparent pact that he survived – he was brought to court on a charge of murder.

The hearing began in mid-December 1835, and continued until 22 February the following year, when he was found guilty after a seven-hour summing-up, and condemned to death – but not before being given the chance to appeal to a grand jury.

An unpopular figure

The public mood was very much against Marin. The Morning Advertiser had reported, on the first day of his trial, that when he had been returned to prison the crowd waiting outside had been calling for his hanging there and then.

Marin didn’t have much time to prepare for his appeal. It was staged just eight days later, but only confirmed the original judgement. Although the victim had initiated the act of killing herself, Marin was once again found guilty of homicide with aggravation. However, the sentence passed was this time not the statutory hanging, but “to be banished from this island for ever, under pain of death if you return thereto”.

Although French, Marin was to be transported to England and then “to where his Majesty may deem fit, and all your property is confiscated to the king”.

An unhappy outcome

Despite his decision to appeal, Marin was unhappy that his life had been spared, reportedly telling guards at the prison where he was being held that he’d prefer to have been hanged. Nonetheless, his wife was visiting him every day, and despite the fact he’d been cheating on her, she promised to follow him to wherever he was transported.

However, when the process of his transportation began, at 5am on Friday 8 April, his wife missed him, having been told that the plan was to hold him at the prison for at least another hour. He was placed on the Lady de Saumarez, a steamer bound for Southampton, and from there taken to Portsmouth. Upon arrival, according to the Dorset County Chronicle of 14 April 1836, “he underwent the preliminary process of being immersed in a tub of water, and having his hair and whiskers closely cropped, then dressed in convict’s clothes and put in irons. He will be transported [at] the first opportunity, either to New South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land for life.”

Van Diemen’s Land is now known as Tasmania. It was the primary penal colony in Australia, on which around 40% of all convicts sent to the continent were settled.


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