The Case of Oscar Slater


Oscar Slater was a victim of a miscarriage of justice. Arthur Conan Doyle heard about the case and, in 1912, published this book as a plea for a full pardon for Slater. (120 pages).

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The Case of Oscar Slater

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Oscar Slater was a victim of a miscarriage of justice. Arthur Conan Doyle heard about the case and, in 1912, published this book as a plea for a full pardon for Slater. (120 pages).

The Publisher has copy-edited this book to improve the formatting, style and accuracy of the text to make it readable. This did not involve changing the substance of the text.

Oscar Slater--The Great Suspect

.....Slater, whose real name was Oscar Leschziner, was a 37-year-old German Jew who had fled Germany to avoid conscription. He was a turn-of-the-century rogue surviving by his wits as a gambler. In 1901 he had married May Curtis, but May had drunk too much, and Slater had left her in 1905. In London, he had met and moved in with Andree Antoine, a prostitute. They traveled frequently, and because the estranged May was always hounding him for money, it became Slater's practice to adopt aliases and false destinations. The day Oscar had left with Andree for America, he had told friends they were going to Monte Carlo for a vacation. (Actually, a friend had invited him to San Francisco on business.) The police discovered that the pawned brooch was Slater's own, but they charged him with murder anyway because of his skulking demeanor and sordid life-style. If Slater had had any idea he would be hewing granite at Peterhead Prison for the next 18 1/2 years, it is doubtful whether he would have so willingly returned to Scotland.

.....Slater was tried in Edinburgh on May 3, 1909, before the Honorable Lord Guthrie and 15 jurymen. Slater sat upright in the dock, tidy and dignified, convinced they would never find an innocent man guilty.

.....Scotland had no legal system for appealing Slater's case, but two days before he was to hand, a petition bearing 20,000 signatures forced his reprieve. Slater disappeared into the granite quarries at Peterhead, but public agitation kept his plight before officials.

.....In 1912 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, already world-famous for his cocaine-shooting literary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, espoused Slater's cause in a pamphlet, The Case of Oscar Slater, which blasted Slater's conviction. Still, officials refused to reopen the case.

.....Two years later, a special inquiry was held when a highly respected Glasgow detective, Lt. John Trench, accused Lambie and Barrowman of perjury. Lambie, Barrowman, and the police vehemently denied the accusations, and the case was closed. Trench was immediately dismissed from the force.


.....It is impossible to read and weigh the facts in connection with the conviction of Oscar Slater in May, 1909, at the High Court in Edinburgh, without feeling deeply dissatisfied with the proceedings, and morally certain that justice was not done. Under the circumstances of Scotch law I am not clear how far any remedy exists, but it will, in my opinion, be a serious scandal if the man be allowed upon such evidence to spend his life in a convict prison. The verdict which led to his condemnation to death, was given by a jury of fifteen, who voted; Nine for "Guilty," five for "Non-proven," and one for "Not Guilty." Under English law, this division of opinion would naturally have given cause for a new trial. In Scotland the man was condemned to death, he was only reprieved two days before his execution, and he is now working out a life sentence in Peterhead convict establishment. How far the verdict was a just one, the reader may judge for himself.......

.....This is a condensation of a very interesting and searching piece of the cross-examination which reveals several things. One is Lambie's qualities as a witness. Another is the very curious picture of the old lady, the book-maker and the servant-maid all at dinner together. The last and most important is the fact, that a knowledge of the jewels had got out.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780781224192
  • Publisher: Reprint Services Corporation
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was both a doctor and a believer in spirits, which may partly explain why his Sherlock Holmes is one of literature's most beloved detectives: Holmes always approaches his cases with the gentility and logic of a scientist, but the stories are suffused with an aura of the supernatural. Narrated by devoted assistant Dr. John H. Watson, Holmes's adventures were so addictive that fans protested the master deducer's "death" in 1893 and Doyle had to resurrect him.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859. After nine years in Jesuit schools, he went to Edinburgh University, receiving a degree in medicine in 1881. He then became an eye specialist in Southsea, with a distressing lack of success. Hoping to augment his income, he wrote his first story, A Study in Scarlet. His detective, Sherlock Holmes, was modeled in part after Dr. Joseph Bell of the Edinburgh Infirmary, a man with spectacular powers of observation, analysis, and inference. Conan Doyle may have been influenced also by his admiration for the neat plots of Gaboriau and for Poe's detective, M. Dupin. After several rejections, the story was sold to a British publisher for £25, and thus was born the world's best-known and most-loved fictional detective. Fifty-nine more Sherlock Holmes adventures followed.

Once, wearying of Holmes, his creator killed him off, but was forced by popular demand to resurrect him. Sir Arthur -- he had been knighted for this defense of the British cause in his The Great Boer War -- became an ardent Spiritualist after the death of his son Kingsley, who had been wounded at the Somme in World War I. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in Sussex in 1930.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 22, 1859
    2. Place of Birth:
      Edinburgh, Scotland
    1. Date of Death:
      July 7, 1930
    2. Place of Death:
      Crowborough, Sussex, England

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