LAST WOMAN HUNG IN NEWFOUNDLAND EXONERATED
200 YEARS AFTER THE EVENT
(St. John’s, Newfoundlandand and Labrador– March 30, 2012) A very cold case was reopened last night in St. John’s,Newfoundland by the Newfoundland Historical Society to re-examine the murder trial of Catherine Mandeville Snow, the last woman executed in Newfoundland.
The case has fascinated historians for decades. In 1833, Catherine Mandeville Snow was tried along with Tobias Mandeville and Arthur Spring in connection with the murder of Snow’s husband, John. He had gone missing in August, which led to an inquiry that discovered dried blood on his fishing stage. It was determined that John Snow had been murdered, but his body was never recovered.
No direct evidence linking Catherine Snow to the murder was ever presented in court, but she was found guilty and sentenced to hang along with her co-conspirators. Her execution was delayed because she was pregnant at the time with her eighth child.
She gave birth to the child, baptized Richard Snow, nursed him for three months in her prison cell from where she was taken and hanged in July 1834 from the court house in St. John’s.
The case garnered a great deal of public sympathy for Snow, including the sympathy of the local Catholic Bishop – Michael Anthony Fleming a native of Carrick on Suir – who took over guardianship of her seven children. Carrick was also the home town of the Mandeville family.
Her hanging in St. John’s drew a huge crowd. Her final words were:
“I was a wretched woman, but I am as innocent any participation in the crime of murder as an unborn child.”
A panel including two Supreme Court Justices from Newfoundland and Labrador, Carl Thompson and Seamus O’Regan, along with defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan examined how the two hundred year old case. An audience of 460 (who also served as the jury) listened intently as the evidence was explored.
The jury has spoken. Catherine Snow is an innocent woman.
200 Undecided, a hung jury
250 Not Proven (= Not Guilty)
10 – Guilty