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In the days of sail, a boatswain was court-martialled for murdering a sailor. It seemed he had knocked the man on the head and thrown his body over the side. He said the man had deserted, and swum ashore.
His defending officer made a lot of the fact that no body had been found.

"In fact," he said, "The sailor has just been arrested by the press gang, and they will now bring him in."

He pointed to the cabin door, and the judges followed his direction.

After thirty seconds, nothing happened. He lowered his arm and said, "Gentlemen, I confess that he has not been found - but you all waited to see if he would appear. You must therefore have some doubt that he is dead, and so you must not convict."

The court martial continued, and eventually the court was cleared for the five judges withdrew to discuss their verdict. There seemed no doubt, but the most junior judge (who must give his opinion first) said firmly, "Guilty."

"Nonsense," said the Admiral, "We all looked at the door. How can you have no doubt?"

"We all looked at the door, sir, but the boatswain didn't"


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