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defendants from disputing H. B.'s authority to accept.1 So it has been held that, after admission of a deed, no objection can be taken to an erasure or interlineation which may afterwards appear. In such a case, where the defendant objected at trial to an unexplained interlineation which had been admitted without objection, Coleridge, J., said :-" Before a party admits a deed it is produced to him for the very purpose of enabling him to inspect it, and say whether he objects to its admission in the form in which it appears to be written. Here it must be considered, either that the defendant really admitted that the deed was correct, and the interlineation no objection, or that the admission was made with the dishonest intention of entrapping the plaintiff; and as it must be presumed that the defendant acted upon the inspection of the deed upon which he had a right to act, I think the objection has been waived under the notice to admit." 2

Where there is a variance in date between the document admitted and that which is produced, it will be immaterial, unless the opposite party have been misled by it;3 but it ought to be shown that the document admitted and that produced are the same.1

Finally, it is to be observed that the whole of a statement containing an admission is to be received together.5 It will not be inadmissible, because portions of it contain hearsay; but the fact will be matter of commentary by the judge to a jury, and he will also remind them that it is their duty to consider the whole statement, although an omission in this respect will not vitiate a verdict, if it appear that the whole admission has been otherwise brought fairly before them.6

1 Wilkes v. Hopkins, C. B. 737.

2 Freeman v. Steggal, 19 L. J. 18, Q. B.

3 Field v. Flemming, 5 Dowl. 450.

4 Clay v. Thackrah, 9 C. & P. 47.

5 1 Phill. 309.

6 Beckham v. Osborne, 6 M. & G. 771.




As in civil controversies the admissions of parties are received against their makers, so in criminal trials the confession of a prisoner is held to be evidence against him of a high nature. But since a person charged with a crime may be induced by his situation either to criminate himself untruly, under the influence of excitement and terror, or trusting to a promise of forgiveness by a prosecutor, or other person who may be presumed to have a power of pardoning; it has long been the policy of the criminal law to reject evidence of every confession or statement by a prisoner, which has been made under the pressure of any species of physical or moral duress. Whenever, therefore, at a criminal trial, there appears to be ground of reasonable suspicion that a confession of guilt has been elicited from a prisoner by a threat of punishment, in the event of a refusal to confess, or by a promise of forgiveness, on condition of confessing, the court will inquire strictly into the antecedent circumstances of the statement which is to be tendered, and will not receive it unless it appear to have been the free and voluntary declaration of the prisoner. The rule, as now recognised, is the following:

The statement of a prisoner as to the circumstances of a crime with which he is charged is evidence against himself, unless it have been elicited from him by a person who had at the time, actually or presumably, power to forgive; and who, in that

capacity, induced the prisoner to confess, by holding out to him an offer, or prospect of, forgiveness.

Such is the existing rule, as confirmed by the latest decisions; but it is right to observe that it must be regarded as still comparatively unsettled, and in a state of transition. There appears to be a growing conviction in the minds of many learned judges that it has been limited too much, and that it has so been made the technical instrument of excluding much valuable and unobjectionable evidence. The tendency, therefore, seems to be rather towards an extension than a contraction of the rule; and the latest authorities are remarkable for the strong language in which the judges have reprobated even the principle of its limitation.1

In R. v. Baldry,2 Lord Campbell, C. J., said: "The rule seems to be this:-If there be any worldly advantage held out to the accused to be obtained by confession, or any harm threatened to him if he refuses to confess, any statement made by him in consequence of any such inducement must be rejected. The reason for this rule I take to be, not that the law supposes that what is said after such inducement is false, but that the prisoner may have said something under a bias, and that it is not a purely voluntary confession." And Pollock, C.B., in the same case, said:-"By the law of England every confession to be used against a prisoner must be a voluntary confession. Every inducement held out by a person in authority will render a confession inadmissible; and the cases have gone very far as to who are persons in authority."

Accordingly, a confession will be inadmissible when it has been obtained by any threat or promise of favour held out by a prosecutor or his wife ;3 by the prisoner's master or mistress when the crime has been committed against either of them, but not otherwise; by the

1 See R. v. Baldry, 21 L. J. 130, M. C.; 5 Cox Cr. Cas. 525.
2 Ibid.
3 R. v. Spencer, 7 C. & P. 776.
+ R. v. H. Moore, 21 L. J. 199, M. C.; 5 Cox Cr. Cas. 655.

attorney of such person in authority; by a constable, or any one acting under a constable; and especially by a magistrate.2

But the inducement must be held out by a person who is in authority, and who has presumably power to forgive. Accordingly, where a maid servant was indicted for child murder, a confession elicited from her by her mistress was held admissible, because the crime was in no way connected with the management of the house, and there was, therefore, no probability that the mistress or her husband would prosecute in it.3 So even when a confession is elicited by an inducement held out by a non-resident daughter of a prosecutor, it appears that she is not a person in authority competent to hold out an inducement, and that the confession is admissible.4

But if the inducement be made in the presence of a person in authority, such as a prosecutor, or one who is likely to be a prosecutor, who stands by and does not object, his silence is treated as a tacit acquiescence in the inducement, and the confession will be rejected.5

When the inducement is held out by a person who has no authority in the matter, a confession will be admissible. Thus, when a prisoner's neighbours, who were not connected with the prisoner, advised her to tell the truth for the sake of her family, the confession was received.6

When the inducement has been once held out by a person in authority, no subsequent confession to such person will be admissible, unless it appear clear that the impression, which it was calculated to make, has been removed from the mind of the prisoner. If the

1 R. v. Enoch, 5 C. & P. 535.

2 R. v. Drew, 8 C. & P. 140.

3 R. v. H. Moore, 21 L. J. 199, M. C.; 5 Cox Cr. Cas. 555. R. v. Sleeman, 23 L. J. 19, M. C.; 6 Cox Cr. Cas. 245.

5 R. v. Luckhurst, 23 L. J. 18, M. C.; 6 Cox Cr. Cas. 243. R. v. Rowe, R. & R. 153; R. v. Taylor, 8 C. & P. 733. 72 Russ. Cr. 833-5.

judge discover that a confession has been improperly received, he will strike it from his notes, and direct the jury that it is to have no weight with them.1

Great uncertainty still prevails as to the precise words which are sufficient to exclude a confession. But a confession will generally be excluded if a prisoner be told that it will be better for him if he confess, or worse for him if he do not confess; 2 and the following are instances of inducement where a subsequent confession has been rejected :

"If you do not tell me who your partner was I will commit you to prison." 3

"Tell me where the things are, and I will be favourable to you."


66 If you are guilty, do confess; it will perhaps save your neck; you will have to go to prison; pray tell me if you did it."5

"If you do not tell me all about it, I will send for a constable."6

"You had better tell all you know."7

In a case at Taunton (Spring Assizes, 1855), Erle, J., held that these last words addressed by a constable to a prisoner did not exclude a subsequent confession; apparently on the ground that the inducement held out no distinct prospect of a temporal benefit. But a constable telling a prisoner, "Anything you can say in your defence we shall be ready to hear," has been held to exclude.8

"It would have been better if you had told at first."9

1 R. v. Garner, 2 C. & K. 920.

22 East P. C. 659.

3 R. v. Parratt, 4 C. & P. 570.

4 R. v. Cass, 1 Lea. C. C. 293, n.

5 R. v. Upchurch, R. & M. 465.

6 R. v. Richards, 5 C. & P. 318.

8 R. v. Morton, 2 M. & R. 514, Coleridge, J. 9 R. v. Walkley, 6 C. & P. 175.

76 C. & P. 353.

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