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The Edalji Case. Letter from the Father (Shapurji Edalji's letter)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Edalji Case. Letter from the Father is a collection of 8 letters published in The Daily Telegraph on 21 january 1907 including one written by Shapurji Edalji, George Edalji's father, one by George Edalji himself, and one written by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Below is reproduced the Shapurji Edalji's letter only. The Conan Doyle's letter is here and the George Edalji's letter is here.

The Edalji Case. Letter from the Father

The Daily Telegraph (21 january 1907, p. 9)

Mr. Kenneth Scotts Diagnosis.

Upon page 6 will be found the first instalment of a report of the trial of this case, to be followed to-morrow by the conclusion. From a vast number of the letters which we continue to receive on this subject we select the sub-joined:

To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph."

Sir — Mr. W. T. Shapley asks, "Where was Edalji between 9.40 p.m. and 6.20 a.m.?"

My son was at home at 9.40 p.m. He returned from his walk at about twenty-seven minutes past nine. At half-past nine he took his supper in the dining-room, where I was present. After supper he went into what is called here a "work-room," and was with his mother and sister until he went to bed at about a quarter to eleven. He was in bed all night. This I know as a matter of certainty, for I slept in the same bed-room — my wife and daughter being in an adjoining room. When I went to bed at eleven o'clock I saw my son in bed. I locked the bed-room door, and it has been and still is the custom at our house to lock at night all doors, upstairs and downstairs. My son slept soundly during the whole of the night. I slept badly, and it is perhaps, hardly necessary to explain why. There has been nights when I could not sleep at all. On the particular night in question (Aug. 17, 1903) I was suffering from an attack of lumbago. It is a complaint which comes to me like a toothache. I slept very little, and I am sure that if my son had at any time moved out of the bed and unlocked the door I should have known it. But I declare it here on solemn oath, that he never left his bed, and did not leave the bed-room until about twenty minutes to seven next morning.

It was about twenty minutes to six on the morning of August 18, 1903, that the mutilated condition of the horse in question was first discovered by a boy named Garrett. The wound must have been inflicted at some hour before that time. The veterinary surgeon Mr. R. G. Lewis, who examined the wound on that morning gave it as his opinion that it must have been inflicted at or after 2.30 a.m. on Aug. 18.

If it be alleged that my statement, as given above, is not to be relied upon, I ask what is the reliable statement which the police themselves have made to prove that my son did go out at any hour of the night after 9.30? None whatever. They called no witnesses and produced no evidence in support of their allegation.

Inspector Campbell in his evidence stated that he "was out that night with twenty men in the neighbourhood of the occurrence." With so many men ready to stop and interrogate any person passing them or approaching the field in question, it would have been quite impossible for my son to go at night in that direction without falling into the hands of those men.

Again, Sergeant Robinson was asked at the Cannock Police-court whether he was watching Wyrley Vicarage on the night of Aug. 17, 1903, and how many men were there. His reply was: "I was not there on the night of Aug. 17 watching the house. I do not know how many men were there that night." What is the obvious, reasonable, and logical inference to be drawn from these words? Is it not that there were some man watching the house? I appeal to all who are accustomed to weighing words and putting logical constructions upon sentences to consider whether the above-quoted words doe not imply the continuance of the watch which the police had commenced some time before the outrage in question. Certainly, if my son had gone out at any hour between 9.30 p.m. and six a.m. those who were watching the house would have been able easily to catch him.

Why is it that the Staffordshire police now affirm that they were mot watching the house that night? They know that their original theory of the crime having been committed between nine and ten p.m. was abandoned by their own counsel, and that he substituted for it what may be called a midnight theory, for which he had so evidence except the utterly false allegation that the coat was damp: and if they were to admit that they were watching the house this last straw of a theory would go to pieces, and their case would be completely destroyed. — I am, Sir, your obedient servant.

S. EDALJI, Vicar of Great Wyrley.
Jan. 18.