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Assault with firearms.

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Wednesday 14 January 1846, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

Maitland Quarter Sessions.

Monday, January 12, 1846.

(Before Dr. Raymond, Chairman, E. D. Day, Esq., Andrew Lang, Esq., Captain Smith, E. M. McKinlay, Esq., and C. L. Brown, Esq.)

The court was opened this morning in the usual form. The Chairman took his seat on the bench soon after ten o’clock. The members of the bar in attendance were Messrs. Purefoy, Dowling, and Holroyd. Mr. Callaghan was in his place as Crown Prosecutor, and Mr. Joseph Chambers as Clerk of Arraigns. Mr. N. D’E. Parker and Mr. Dunscombe, attorneys of Sydney, were also in court.



Ralph George Martin, on bail, appeared when called upon, and was indicted for having, at Armidale, in New England, on the 31st August last, discharged a pistol loaded with ball at John Simon Mann, and thereby maimed the said Mann ; a second, a third, and a fourth count varied the offence charged, as being with intent to disfigure, to disable, or to do grievous bodily harm.

Mr. Purefoy appeared for the defence.

It appeared from the evidence of J. S. Mann, that on the 31st August (Sunday), he went to the house of the prisoner, who was an innkeeper, for the purpose of procuring a bottle of gin. He was a stranger there, and did not know one door from another. It happened that he went to the front door. The prisoner asked him what he wanted, and on being answered, told him to go to the kitchen and wait a little. He waited there accordingly, in company with a man named Abdy, who accompanied him, for about five minutes. He then returned to the house, and pushed gently with his toe against the door, upon which the prisoner suddenly opened it and discharged a pistol in his face, by which he was slightly wounded in the temple. He distinctly saw the pistol.

Cross-examined : Was senseless for about two minutes after the shot; had been drinking, and was not rightly sober when he got home; was at work next morning as usual ; was sure he did not kick the door violently enough to force it in ; it was a glass door, and if he had done so he would have broken the glass; was sure the prisoner did not tell him that he knew he did not serve at that hour; it was then about 8 o’clock ; might have said to the prisoner that he was a traveller, and must be served ; the kitchen was the place where travellers of witness’s class were usually entertained ; was sure he saw nobody after the shot but Abdy and the police ; he got drink from the prisoner at 4 o’clock the same afternoon, when he told the prisoner that he was Major Innes’s blacksmith ; the prisoner must have known him again.

Thomas Abdy corroborated the evidence of Mann ; he saw the prisoner step back into the house after the shot was fired, but witness did not see it fired, as he had gone to the end of the verandah, and turned his back at the moment. The prisoner said nothing in answer to witness’s exclamation of “Martin, you’ve shot the man.” Witness was quite sober.

Cross-examined : Did not hear the prisoner say that it was too late, and he would not serve him that night ; could not say whether it was past the usual hour for publicans serving on Sundays; thought they might do so till nine, and it was then eight o’clock ; he was sure the prisoner did not go up to Mann, and lifting up his hair, say, “Is that like a man that was shot ?” if he said so, witness did not hear it ; was not aware of there being any understanding between the police and Martin, that if any row should occur he was to fire a pistol ; he saw Dr. Smith dress the wound on Mann’s head.

Peter Rowan, house servant to the prisoner, deposed that Mann and Abdy were in the kitchen on the night in question. They came to the gate, and asked for a couple of bottles of grog, to which he replied that he could not get it for them at that time on Sunday night ; about half an hour after that he heard a shot fired in the verandah ; that was a short time after he heard Mann and Abdy asking for grog ; he could not say how much time had elapsed ; he did not stir from the kitchen until called by Mrs. Martin, when he saw Mann sitting against the verandah post; the prisoner came out and asked him where he was shot ; by the time this was all over it was nine o’clock ; the prisoner was not tipsy that night; he said nothing to witness about the pistol since.

Cross-examined : Abdy was not present when witness went out and saw Mann bleeding; from the appearance of the door it must have been kicked very violently ; the pistol was one which the prisoner usually kept in his bed-room.

By a juror: Had been twelve months in prisoner’s service, and never heard a shot fired before.

Mr. Purefoy submitted that there was no case for the jury, inasmuch as the indictment alleged the pistol to have been loaded with a leaden bullet, and there was no proof what- ever that such was the case.

The Chairman decided that the objection was not a question of law, but of fact, and therefore must be left to the decision of the jury, who were to judge whether or not the pistol contained a bullet.

Mr. Purefoy, with great respect, contended that the proof of there being a bullet was in this case an impossibility, and requested the Chairman to take a note of the objection. The learned counsel then addressed the jury on behalf of his client, telling them, in the first place, that he would prove by evidence that there was an understanding between the prisoner and the police that he should fire a pistol as a signal on the occasion of a disturbance. He should also prove, by medical evidence, that the wound of the prisoner was a slight abrasion of the skin, and had been caused neither by a bullet or by gunpowder, but by a blow from the projecting ramrod of a large pistol. He then called Dr. William Smith, who deposed that he attended Mann for a supposed wound on the head, but found it to be an abrasion of the skin, so slight as not to come under the denomination of a wound of any kind ; it could not possibly have been caused by a bullet, but it might have been caused by a blow from the muzzle of a pistol, or by the ramrod projecting beyond the muzzle.

Cross-examined : Witness never saw a bullet wound, but had obtained from reading such a knowledge of gun-shot wounds as enabled him to say that the wound in question had not been caused by a bullet ; a bullet would cause a contused wound, and shot would cause an incised wound, or a simple abrasion of the skin. Witness had studied in the College of Edinburgh, and had walked the hospital there four years. It was not till next morning, when he learned the distance at which the shot was fired, that he felt quite sure that the wound could not possibly have been caused by a bullet.

Re-examined: If the wound had been caused by gunpowder, the man’s face must have shown marks of it, which it did not.

Here the Chairman interposed, and informed the jury that in law they could not but acquit the prisoner, as the evidence went to show that the pistol had not contained a bullet, without which the indictment could not be sustained.

A verdict of not guilty was then recorded, and the prisoner was discharged.

Tuesday, January 13.

(Before Dr. Raymond, Chairman, E. D. Day, Esq., John Blaxland, Esq., C. L. Brown, Esq., and A. Glennie, Esq).

Written by macalba

April 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

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