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The Bendigo Advertiser Friday December 11, 1874
GENERAL SESSIONS, Friday December 11, 1874
Friday, 11th December.
(Before His Honor Judge Dunne, Messrs. T. Moore and Macdougall, Js,P., and juries of twelve.)


William English pleaded "Not guilty" to the charge of maliciously wounding John Gittins. The prisoner was defended by Mr. John Rainey. For the Crown was called John Gittens, farmer, living at Raywood, who deposed that in the month of August last he was an applicant for some land. On the 23rd October he was at Sullivan's Hotel, at Raywood, from eleven until about one. The prisoner came to the hotel between twelve and one o'clock. Witness had six pints of beer up to that time. He was not sober, but was able to recognise people. There were present the landlord, S. Gilmore , and S. White. Witness had some conversation with English about land selected. The prisoner said "It's a lie" in answer to something that witness had accused him of, and witness struck the prisoner, who returned the blow. Both fell on the floor, but they were soon separated by Gilmore, who held witness. Witness saw a knife in the prisoner's right hand, with which he stabbed him in the stomach. Witness said he was stabbed, and the prisoner left the bar. In a little while the prisoner came back, and witness said "Bill you stabbed me." Prisoner said, "No, I didn't." Witness replied, "You did, and you are a murderer." The prisoner said, "I could not stab you when I had no knife." White told prisoner that he saw a knife in his hand. The prisoner was then given in charge, and witness, was subsequently taken to the Bendigo Hospital.

To Mr. Rainey: Witness did not insult the prisoner. He did not recall calling him a "loafer' or "shellback loafer." Witness went to prisoner while in the bar, and struck him. He could not say how often. He first saw the knife in the hand of the prisoner a few seconds before he was stabbed. He did not see him take the knife out of his pocket. He only felt the stab. He did not see the blow with the knife.

James Gilmore deposed that he was at Sullivan's Hotel
on the day of the occurrence. He heard a conversation between Gittens and English. He heard English ask Gittens whether he would have a drink, and Gittens replied that he would not drink with a "shellback loafer". Something else was then said, and English called Gittens a "___loafer". Gittens struck him a blow. English was cutting tobacco at the time with a knife. He returned the blow. Witness's father then went between the two men, and no further blows were struck. He heard Gittens say, "You have stabbed me". The prisoner left the bar without saying anything. He went in the direction of some water holes. Before he went someone said, "Fetch the police; take him to the lockup." The prisoner said, "All right, I'm ready to go." The lockup was also in the direction of the water holes. Witness only saw two blows struck, one by the prosecutor and the other by the prisoner.

To Mr. Rainey: The prisoner was cutting tobacco with a knife when he was struck by Gittens. The two men closed. They did not fall. When English struck Gittens first he had no knife in his right hand.

Samuel Gilmore, father of the last witness,
corroborated the evidence already given, and also described the manner in which the blows were given by the prisoner, which were "back-hand blows, not straight from the shoulder."

Patrick Sullivan, publican, deposed that he saw the altercation
, and corroborated the evidence of former witnesses, and stated, in cross examination, that he had known the prisoner for fourteen years as an exceedingly quiet and peaceful man.

Dr. Hinchcliff described the wound
of the prosecutor when admitted into the hospital. Gittens remained in bed in the hospital until the 6th November. At one time he was in danger. It was a stab wound caused by a pointed instrument.

To Mr, Rainey: He could not say how the wound was inflicted. It might have been accidentally inflicted by two men fighting, one with a knife in his hand.
J.White deposed that he saw the fight. He saw the prisoner leave the bar. He had a knife in his hand at the time.

This closed the case for the prosecution.

Mr. Rainey addressed the jury for the defence, and contended the prosecutor's evidence was in no way corroborated by the other witnesses. He pointed out the discrepancy which existed, to his mind, between the evidence of the prosecutor and the other men who were in the bar at the time of the disturbance. As regards the wounding he submitted that there was no malice shown; in fact the stab which Gittens received was purely from an accident. The two men had some dispute, and bore each other ill will about some land and logs. It was clearly proven by the evidence for the Crown that the prosecutor has been the aggressor, and had provoked the disturbance which followed. The prisoner asked the prosecutor to have a drink, and in return received an insult, he was called a "shellback loafer," a most offensive term to apply to an honest man. And it was also shown that the prisoner had been beaten and assaulted by the prosecutor. The prisoner bore an excellent character for the past twelve years, and had not been known to be connected with any case of this kind. He would leave the case in the hands of the jury, asking them to weigh well the surrounding circumstances of it, and what had led to the disturbance.

His Honour summed up, and the jury retired to consider their verdict. After an absence of about three hours, they returned with a verdict of guilty of the lesser offence-unlawfully wounding. The prisoner was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.

(Messers. Moore and Macdougall left the bench)

(source: Family Research & Records of Bruce English.)

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