|(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)