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Colonial Cases

R v Felker [1865]

cutting and wounding

Supreme Court

Begbie C.J., 23 June 1865

Source: The Cariboo Sentinel, 24 June 1865, p 4[1]

Regina vs. Henry Felker.

The accused, who is a farmer alongside the waggon road, surrendered to take his trial for unlawfully cutting and wounding Frederick Bible, since deceased.

...

The jury only took ten minutes to deliberate, when they brought verdict of "not guilty," remarking at the time that on the face of the evidence there was a doubt of the prisoner's guilt and therefore they had given him the benefit of that doubt.

   The Judge, addressing Felker - You have narrowly escaped, and by means of the verdict of the jury, which he (the Judge) could not possibly understand how it was arrived at.  As far as he could judge the verdict was not reasonable, and he believed he had the right of refusing to accept a verdict which to his mind was unreasonable.  This was the first case of the kind here and he would therefore let the matter go, but if on any future occasion a verdict which he thought unreasonable was rendered, or which he thought was not borne out by the evidence, he would refuse to receive it, and lock up the jury until they had come to a conclusion which he might conceive to be correct.  He would dismiss the matter therefore, and now tell the prisoner he was glad his counsel had not put in a plea of justification as their plea, as some men in this colony seemed to take extraordinary views of what would justify them in using violence.  There can be no moral doubt of your guilt, and every man in the court and on the creek knows it.  Such a wound as that inflicted, considering the circumstances, could only be given by a ruffian.  The present prosecution was a warning from society against a recurrence of such a foul deed.  Now, as there is not doubt of your guilt, but as at the same time you have been found by a verdict "not guilty," you are discharged.  I don't wish to see you before me again, therefore, "Go, and sin no more."

Note

[1] This case was transcribed by Peter Bullock.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School