Canon Magner's Murder

1920 Dec 11. Dillons Cross Ambush in which T/Cadet S R Chapman died and 12 Auxiliaries were wounded . All were from K Company, and about 30 men according to Castle information, had been driving in 2 lorries. The consequences of Dillon’s Cross was the burning of a large part of the city centre. A number of lorries carrying Auxiliaries left Victoria Barracks for Dillon's Cross, where they forced the occupants of the houses onto to the street. The troops set them on fire.

1920 Dec 15. An Auxiliary, Section Leader VA Hart , killed a boy and a priest, Fr. Magner, in an apparently motiveless attack at Dunmanway, County Cork. He was discharged from ADRIC and declared insane by the British authorities. 1 p.m. on December 15, 1920, about twenty auxiliary police left Dunmanway, in two Crossley tenders, with Hart in charge of one tender and a DI AH Edgell in charge of the other, to go to Cork to attend the funeral of Chapman who had been killed in the Dillons Cross Ambush

About a mile along the road they met Canon Magner, the 73 year old parish priest of Dunmanway, and Timothy Crowley, aged twenty-four, a farmer's son. Canon Magner had been walking along the main road. He came across a car broken down on the road and stopped to help. The man driving the car was called Mr. P Brady a Resident Magistrate from Rosebank, Skibbereen. Timothy Crowley also stopped to help. Canon Magner and Crowley pushed the car. Just then the two Crossleys full of Auxiliaries passed them, one went on about 100 metres and then backed back. They were coming from the workhouse in Dunmanway.

Hart stopped his lorry, which was the second of the two, walked up to Timothy Crowley, asked him for a permit, and then shot him dead with his revolver. He then turned to the priest, and, according to the evidence of one of the Auxiliaries, "started talking to him." Two other cadets went towards him, but Hart turned round, waving his revolver. They withdrew, Hart seized the hat from the priest's head and threw it on the ground and made him kneel down. He fired, and wounded him, and then fired again, killing him. Mr. P Brady, the resident magistrate, who was a witness of the murder, was also threatened with death, but took cover and escaped.

There appear to have been a number of inquiries, and it has not been possible to get them all. The Inquiry into Crowley and Magner's deaths, I eventually found and the full transcript is given here, but bits are missing and it is not a rigorous investigation

DI AH Edgell in his evidence to the Military Court said he was in the first tender and Hart's tender had dropped back out of sight. He turned his tender round and went back to look for the second tender. He found Hart's tender and the bodies of the two men that Hart had already shot. He took Hart back to Dunmanway, and there had problems getting Hart to give up his revolver. But he managed to snatch the gun from Hart. Edgell later took Hart to the detention barracks in Cork

T/Cadet R Milward also gave evidence. Milward was in the same tender as Hart.

So the senior officer DI AH Edgell in the leading Crossley did not see what happened, nor would any of the men in that tender. The Second tender stopped, only Hart got out, none of the other 8 or 9 Auxiliaries in that tender were with hart when he shot Canon Magner. Only two approached Hart after the shootings and they backed off when he wave a gun at them. DI AH Edgell's arrival seems to have brought the standoff to a close, and Hart was escorted back to barracks

Hart was arrested and at his trial by a military court , it was revealed that he had been a "particular friend" of TC Chapman, and had been drinking heavily since 11 December. A number of expert medical witness testified that Hart was insane at the time of the murders and the Military Court concluded that he "was guilty of the offenses with which he was charged, but was insane at the time of their commission".

1920 Dec 17. There was a Military Court of Inquiry held at Dunmanway Police Barracks investigate Canon Magner's death . Hart is described as a well built man turning grey" and he did not speak at his trial.

1920 Dec 20. At Victoria Barracks Cork.. The actual trial of Hart by Military Court commenced (I believe that the case papers are either lost or destroyed, and are not findable) Sean Enright's book The Trial of Civilians by Military Courts, Ireland 1921, has an account mainly gleaned from Cork Constitution

1921 Jan 5. He was discharged from the ADRIC.   He  was sentenced to be detained during his Majesty's pleasure and was committed to a criminal lunatic asylum.    I don't know how long he remained there.

Also PRO/WO/35/155A gives that the Divisional Commissioner, Holmes, conducted an enquiry into Hart's condition when he shot Canon Magner, and to find why the other Auxiliaries did not intervene. This RIC enquiry called neither Milward (who gave evidence to the military court) nor Hart, nor RM Brady

1921 Mar 3. In the House of Commons, Commander Kenworthy asked Sir Hamar Greenwood whether he was aware that Mr. Brady, resident magistrate, present at the murder of Crowley and Canon Magner, stated that the other cadets in the lorry made no attempt to interfere, that Mr. Brady's house was subsequently raided; whether Mr. Brady was called as a witness at the special investigation; whether these other cadets were punished in any way, and whether any of them are now employed in Ireland. Sir Hamar Greenwood answered : " A written statement by Mr. Brady, setting out the full circumstances of the murder, was fully considered in the course of the official investigation into the conduct of the cadets who were witnesses of the occurrence. As a result of this investigation it was decided that these cadets were in no way responsible for the crime, and that no action was called for in their case."

1921 Mar 19. Ministers were asked whether Mr. Brady's house had been raided by the Auxiliaries, whether they had threatened him, and whether he had left the country on the advice of the right honourable gentleman's responsible officers. Replying for Sir Hamar Greenwood, Mr. Henry could not deny this statement, but professed ignorance of the whereabouts of Mr. Brady, who had obtained leave of absence and was " broken down in nerves."

1931 Hart is living in South Africa and is on the Potgietersrus Voter's List. Now Mokopane, some 200 miles north of Pretoria

1937 Hart died in Cape Town