McGladdery’s Trial

Pearl Gamble’s murder had caused outrage, not just in Newry but throughout these islands. When McGladdery appeared at Newry Courthouse in April the building was besieged by a huge crowd, most of whom were unable to gain access to the proceedings.

Inside McGladdery’s mother Agnes attempted in vain to clasp her son’s hand as he sat in the dock. She was restrained by a policeman and two warders of the court. A motion was put to adjourn proceedings to County Fermanagh on the presumption that a fair trial could not be conducted in Newry where people had already made up their minds of his guilt. It was said that some press articles were also prejudicial to a fair trial. 

It was a full six months later that the trial resumed in Downpatrick under Lord Justice Curran. McGladdery had in the meantime persuaded the Daily Mail to publicise his cause, printing photos of him weight-lifting with home-made weights consisting of concrete blocks on the ends of metal bars. ‘This man is a fitness fanatic, the legend ran. The aim was to get a mistrial called on the grounds of adverse press publicity prejudicing his case.

It did not work.

Even in his opening address Brian Maginness the Attorney-General told the court:

The sum total of all this evidence points in one direction only: that McGladdery on that early morning of January 28th foully and deliberately murdered this young girl. The taking of her clothes suggests a sexual motive and although it is not necessary for the Crown to prove motive, you may come to the conclusion that passion started this affair.

And an unrequited passion may have been succeeded by hate or anger.


….. final episode to follow shortly …..

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