Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

An Account of a notorious Smuggling gang in the early 18th Century

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felonious design, every person so engaged, and present aiding and abetting in the fact, is considered as a principal in the felony ; and the reason the law goes upon is this, that the presence of every one of the accomplices gives countenance and encouragement to all the rest; so that consequently the fact is considered, in the eye of the law, and of sound reason too, as the act of the whole party, though it be perpetrated by the hands only of one ; for he is considered the instrument by which the others act.
And when we say that the presence of a person at the commission of a felony will involve him in the guilt of the rest, we must not confine ourselves to a strict, actual presence as would make him an eye or ear witness of what passes. For an accomplice may be involved in the guilt of the rest, though he may happen to be so far distant from the scene of action, as to be utterly out of sight or hearing of what passes.
For instance ; if several persons agree to commit a murder, or other felony, and each man takes his part: some are appointed to commit the fact, others to watch at a distance to prevent a surprise, or to favour the escape of those who are more immediately engaged ; the law says, that if the felony be committed, it is the act of all of them ; for each man operated in his station towards the commission of it, at one and the same instant. And so much doth the law abhor combina­tions of this kind, especially where innocent blood is shed, that a man may, in judgment of the law, be involved in the guilt of murder, when possibly his heart abhorred the thoughts of it. For if numbers of people assemble in prosecution of an unlawful design, with a resolution to stand by each other against all opposers, and a murder is committed by one of the party in
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