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Colonial Cases



DREADFUL MURDER IN GIBRALTAR. - A most atrocious murder was committed at Gibraltar on the 21st May.  About one o'clock, while a party of convicts were at work in the house that is now building for Sir John Sinclair at the south, one of them, named Thomas Anson, was reprimanded by the overseer, Mr. Samuel Walter, for neglect of duty, and told that if he was not more attentive he should be reported to the chief superintendent Mr. Armstrong.  On hearing this the convict followed his victim some yards, with a knife in his hand, seized a small crow-bar, with which he struck the overseer a severe blow on the back part of the head, which extensively fractured the skull and produced instant death.  The villain then rushed out in an excited state, saying to his fellow-prisoners, "I have killed Mr. Walter, and would serve any other fellow in the same manner that would dare to scold and collar me like Walter did," at the same time he held up a glazier's putty knife covered with blood.

   He was immediately secured and conveyed to the convict-yard, where he was placed in safe custody to await the coroner's inquest, which took place at four p.m., and then adjourned to one o'clock the next day.  The evidence at the inquest went to show that there was a wound at the back part of the head, on the left side, about fourteen inches in length, and about one and a half to two inches broad, penetrating the brain; while on the forehead there was an other wound evidently inflicted by a different instrument to that on the back part of the head.  The bone was fractured and slightly depressed.  It was the opinion of the surgeon (Mr. Campbell, of her Majesty's ship Scout, who was in attendance, the surgeon of the establishment being in England,) that the wounds were inflicted by a blunt instrument, such as a crow-bar, especially the one at the back part of the head, and must have produced instant death; but neither of the wounds could have been inflicted by the knife produced, nor could that knife at any time have been introduced into the wounds.  Other witnesses went to show that the prisoner had said, "I have killed Walter, by G-d; and if you don't believe me, come and see.  There he is."

   The jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Thomas Anson, the convict who was afterwards conveyed to the Provost prison to await his trial at the ensuing sessions.  The prisoner is a short, square-built young man, about 22 years of age, and is at present undergoing a second transportation for burglary, and firing at a policeman while endeavouring to apprehend him.  The unfortunate deceased has left a widow and ten young children in Devonport, to deplore his melancholy fate.  He was universally esteemed in the establishment, and much respected by the other convicts for his humane treatment of them.

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