James Blay’s sentence

Dawn crept through the grates that masqueraded as windows in the cell. The watery steaks of sunlight promised warmth but delivered the cold hard light of day. A day that Blay knew would see him in court. Sleep had eluded him; he was frozen to the bone, dirty, and hungry. He and six other prisoners were herded from the cells into the Newgate Gaol courtyard in readiness for transfer to the dock at the Old Bailey for trial.

He didn’t remember the closing remarks of the defence or the prosecution. He did remember the judge’s gavel thundering on the bench and declaring him to be guilty, with a sentence of death. His wife put her hands to her face and sobbed loudly. Blay’s knees went from under him and he collapsed onto the chains attached to his ankles

‘James Blay the jury has found you guilty, you are hereby sentenced to death. The sentence can be commuted to transportation for life if you so agree. A decision is required immediately.’

Blay blurted out that he would be transported. Sarah’s anguished cries penetrated his soul.


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