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Daily News
United Kingdom
25 October 1888

Criminal Folly and Its Deserts

A young lady who has just died at Kilkeel, County Down, in consequence of a fright she received a fortnight ago from the vagary of a ruffianly practical joker, adds another item to the long list of the deplorable results of the Whitechapel tragedy, and suggests the great necessity for dealing very sternly with the various manifestations of criminal folly of which these dreadful occurrences have been singularly prolific. Three ladies were walking out together when a man suddenly appeared before them, brandishing a knife and declaring that he was Jack the Ripper. One of the terrified ladies, Miss Milligan, twenty one years of age, afterwards became hysterical, and the next day was found to be ill of fever in consequence of the excitement she had undergone, and in spite of every effort to save her, she died. Whether the buffoon who perpetrated this abominable outrage is in custody, or is to be, we are not informed. It is sincerely to be hoped that he may be brought to justice and punished as he deserves to be. This is but one manifestation of the senseless wickedness which the Whitechapel murders have called into activity, and for which a good many persons richly deserve to be made to smart. The public must have observed with indignation that the young woman who was convicted of writing letters over the signature of Jack the Ripper at Bradford, escaped with nothing more severe than being bound over to be of good behaviour for six months. That sort of practical joking is a very serious offence indeed. It intensifies excitement, and, what is far more important, it tends to lead justice off the scent, and imposes an immense amount of trouble on the police at a time when it is most burdensome and perplexing. People who do these things should not have the full benefit of the absence of any criminal intention. It is perfectly gratuitous mischief and inexcusable folly, and those who are guilty of it may very fairly be required to pay the penalty, if only as a warning to others. If the law does not provide for their punishment it should speedily be made to do so.