SUSSEX SMUGGLERS. 107
charged as principals, wherever several persons agree together to commit a murder, or any other felony, and the murder or felony is actually committed, every person present aiding and abetting is, in the eye of the law, guilty in the same degree, and liable to the same punishment as he who actually committed the fact. And the reason the law goes upon is this, that the presence of the accomplices gives encouragement, support and protection to the person who actually commits the fact; and at the same time contributes to his security.
That it is not necessary that the proof of the fact, in cases of this nature, should come up to the precise form of the indictment; for if the indictment charges that A did the fact, and that B and C were present, aiding and abetting, if it be proved that B did the fact, and that A and C were present aiding and abetting, they will be all guilty within the indictment.
That accessaries before the fact are those who, not being present in any sense of the law at the time the fact is committed, have advised or otherwise approved the fact to be done. These persons, in the case of wilful murder, will be liable to the same punishment as those who committed the murder by their instigation, advice or procurement.
He then summed up the evidence very largely, and applied it to the case of the several prisoners, and concluded, that if upon the whole, the jury should be of opinion that either of the principals (Tapner, Cobby, Hammond, or the others charged as principals in the indictment) did strangle the deceased, and that the prisoners Tapner, Cobby, and Hammond were present aiding and abetting, they will be within this indictment.