I Am Innocent tell stories of those who were convicted of crimes, but maintained their innocence throughout.
Runtime: 60 minutes
I Am Innocent - Patrick J. Whelan - Netflix
Patrick James Whelan (c. 1840 – 11 February 1869) was a suspected Fenian sympathiser executed following the year 1869 assassination of Irish journalist and politician Thomas D'Arcy McGee. He maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, but the government needed somebody to blame, and although the evidence against Whelan was entirely circumstantial, he was “the perfect candidate”. Questions about his guilt continue to be voiced, as his trial was “marred” by political interference, dubious legal procedures, allegations of bribing witnesses and easily discredited testimony.
I Am Innocent - Life - Netflix
Whelan was born in County Galway, a younger son of William Whelan and Mary Sullivan of Galway. He became apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14. Meanwhile, his brother John was alleged to have committed arson against a police station in Tallaght. Whelan then led a “wandering life” travelling around England, before moving to Canada in approximately 1865. In Quebec City he worked as a tailor. There he joined the Volunteer Cavalry against the Fenians; however, some of his actions led to a military review on suspicions his sympathies lay with the Irish raiders. He was arrested, but eventually released without charge. He is believed to have moved between Buffalo, New York and Hamilton, Ontario and finally Montreal, Canada for a year before marrying Bridget Boyle in 1867. Boyle, who was thirty years older than Whelan, was an upper class woman and later the couple settled down with Whelan working as a merchant tailor in Ottawa. On 31 December 1867, two men including one identifying himself as “Smith, of the Grand Trunk” went to the home of McGee where they were welcomed into the library of the house by McGee's brother. One of the visitors, commonly believed to be Whelan, told McGee that he had come to warn the family that renegades were plotting to burn down the house at 4 am the following morning. He was thanked for the information, which seemed credible given the animosity against McGee, and given a note to take to the police station relating the known information about the alleged arson attempt and requesting two officers be sent to the house for protection. However, Whelan did not deliver the note to police until 4:45 am the following morning, after the supposed arsonist had failed to arrive. On 17 March 1868, Whelan acted as the Assistant Marshal of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ottawa.
I Am Innocent - References - Netflix