We had to break in, your Honor. There were rumors that the house had ghosts inside and we’re ghost hunters.
If you’re on the jury, how would you vote on a breaking-and-entering case based on this ‘ghost defense’? If you vote ‘not guilty’, are you giving burglars around the world an air-fright alibi? If you’re leaning towards ‘guilty’, would you change your mind if you knew this house was in a town well-known to be a hotbed of haunt?
“The entire Lancashire area is a veritable hot-bed of paranormal activity, including every type from witches, headless spectres, to ghosts and Roman soldiers and everything in between. The town of Accrington seems to have had more than its fair share of paranormal activity and on the night of January 30 Jason McCash and his girlfriend went to what they had understood to be a property where somebody certainly had been deceased, perhaps murdered, and the body had been left undiscovered for a very long time. The rumours going around Accrington was that this might be a haunted house.”
Lancslive reports that defense barrister Richard Dawson offered this to judge Heather Lloyd in the recent trial of Jason McCash and Naomi Ruth Haworth, who were arrested inside the empty home of a recently deceased man in Accrington, a town in the Hyndburn borough of Lancashire, England. The prosecutor described it as a clear case of criminal trespassing, even though Accrington really is known throughout the area for its unusual paranormal activities.
The Black Abbey in Accrington is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman who fell in love with a handsome monk who was captured by the girl’s father, chained to a wall and set on fire. Her ghost is said to start out beautiful, but turns into a shrieking withered crone before disappearing. Another young woman who was deserted by the father of her unborn child threw herself into the River Hyndburn and is now seen walking the grounds where she lived. A local inn is haunted by the ghost of a Roman Catholic priest who was held in the pub before being executed and now slams doors, drags chains and stomps around. And just last month, a group of ghost hunters from a television show were mysteriously locked inside a cell at the former Accrington police station during a ghost hunt. There's plenty more in the book, "The Shadow Man of Accrington: Haunting stories of the paranormal and the unexplained in Lancashire."
Did these and more ghost stories sway Judge Lloyd?
“Your explanations for being found in this house as trespassers is in my judgement utterly ludicrous and I don’t accept it for one minute.”
It probably didn’t help that McCash had a long list of priors, including dishonesty, house burglary, theft and assault. Both he and Hawthorn pleaded guilty to criminal damage and were given 12-month conditional discharge orders.
Despite that, the ‘a ghost made me do it’ and ‘everyplace here is haunted’ defense will likely be used again. After all, it beats telling the truth.