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Murder, Mystery and My Family

Case Closed?

Episode 5

Duration: 44 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC One HDLatest broadcast: on BBC Two Northern Ireland HD

Top criminal barristers Jeremy Dein and Sasha Wass look back at their investigation of a rural case of murder and moonlighting in Ireland in 1894.

County Cork, Ireland, 1894. A man was dragged from his bed and beaten by two men. With serious injuries and a gunshot wound to his arm, he was discovered early the next morning. His neighbour called for a priest and a doctor, but it was too late - James Donovan had been murdered.

With little evidence, the police rounded up several known criminals from the surrounding area, and John Twiss from County Kerry, over 16 miles from the murder scene, was tried and convicted. He was hanged in February 1895, protesting his innocence.

More than 120 years later, John’s relatives, Helen and Dennis, became determined to prove his innocence and enlisted the help of Sasha and Jeremy to reinvestigate the case.

Why was Twiss arrested within days of the murder, only for the police to then spend months investigating the case? Was there any evidence to link him to the scene of the crime or to the other man who was alleged to have also committed the murder? Were witnesses put under pressure to give evidence or to change their stories?

Helen and Dennis had heard the story of their ancestor’s innocence told countless times, but did Jeremy and Sasha discover strong enough evidence to have this case declared unsafe by a judge?

Now, nearly a year on, the barristers catch up with Helen and Dennis to find out how they’ve been pursuing the case since the judge delivered his verdict. With an official pardon recently granted by the Irish president for a man convicted at a similar time to their relative, could the same now be possible for John Twiss? Show less


Jeremy Dein
Sasha Wass
Executive Producer:
Mike Benson
Production Department:
Michael Klokkos
Production Manager:
Zlatina Rankova
Production Manager:
Kath Shannon
Series Producer:
Simon Cooper
Series Producer:
Hannah Eastwood
Production Company:
Chalkboard TV

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