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Colonial Cases

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 21 November 1873, p 2

Coroner's Inquest.

On Wednesday an inquest was held at William's Hotel, Palmerston, on the body of Duncan Pollock, who had died rather suddenly on the same morning.

Mr. Wells, J.P. was Coroner, and Mr. John Sinclair was chosen foreman of the jury.

Henry Williams, publican, was examined. He said-

The deceased has been in my employ about six weeks as ginger-beer maker. He has been very healthy up to a week last Monday, when I put him in the bar as barman, and he got the worse for drink. To the best of my knowledge he has been drunk nearly ever since. For two or three days together I have not seen him at all.

Yesterday morning he came and asked me if he should go to work again, and I told him he was not to do so. I discharged him. I saw nothing more of him until this morning at 7 o'clock.. He came and asked for a glass of ale. I gave him the ale. He was then labouring under the effects of drink. I gave him no more. At 6 o'clock he was going about from one room to another. I went to breakfast, and as soon as I had done breakfast a man named Williams told me he thought Duncan was dead. I ran into the room to see, and saw him lying there. I sent for the doctor. I went to the police. I suppose he was dead when I first saw him lying there.

The policeman attending the court then proceeded to cross examine the witness in a very noisy manner as to how much the deceased had drunk; but was reminded by the Coroner, at the suggestion of Dr. Ellison, S.M., that he must put his questions, through the court.

Policeman: Oh, indeed ! I represent the Crown here, and it is my duty to put questions. (Laughter.)

Coroner; Surely, you mistake your position altogether. It is the Coroner who represents the Crown.

Herbert Mander, another witness, said This morning, at 8 o'clock, I was coming to Williams' public-house, to breakfast, when I saw some blackfellows pointing towards the verandah of the house. This attracted me. I looked there, and hurried over. I saw deceased lying with his head on the ground. He was quite powerless. I helped to carry him into a bed-room, and put him on a bed. After breakfast, I saw him lying dead in the bed-room. His head was quite uncovered. The sun was not strong. I cannot say whether the sun was shining on him or not. He was rolling his head about, and breathing in a heavy manner. He was apparently speechless when I called him by name. I told Mr. Williams as I entered the house that I and some one else had taken him into the bedroom.

George Richards deposed as follows-

This morning between one and two o'clock, deceased came to my hut, in Palmerston. He was singing out, " Bill, Bill." He woke me. I said, " Is that you, Duncan?" and got up. As soon as I got up, he turned round and ran down the flat. I called out to him, and ran after him. I brought him back, and carried him to a shipmate's tent. About 3 o'clock he returned. I got up again and laid him down, dressed myself, and watched him for the remainder of the night. During the night he kept talking very strange things as though he was not sound. At daylight I went to my shipmate, William Mattison. I asked my mate to go to the Camp and give him in charge. He went, and returned, and told me he saw the police, and they, would be down in a few minutes. He asked me to stop till the police came. At 6 o'clock I went to work, and left deceased in my tent. I left him in charge of my wife and boy. I knew him in Hokitika, in New Zealand, as cordial maker. He arrived here seven or eight weeks ago. He had been drinking for the last seven or eight days. I never, heard him make any complaint. He was, I think, in the horrors when he came to my tent. The policeman again rose and began to address the jurors as to the portion of the evidence which related to the police being sent for.

The Coroner: I must order you to sit down, or else leave the court. Any evidence you can bring forward or elicit the jurors will be thankful for. But a policeman must not interrupt the proceedings.

Policeman: It is my duty. I have a position.

Coroner: No, it is not your duty. It was your duty, as instructed, to summon the jurors and witnesses; to procure from the offices the proper forms and documents; and to have a Bible on the table for administering the oath. But you brought a Testament and Prayer Book instead of a Bible; and there are no proper forms for making out the inquisition or issuing a warrant for the burial of the body. Fortunately those technical omissions will not be allow to vitiate the inquiry.

Dr. S. K. Ellison was then sworn and deposed-
This morning, about 9 o'clock, I was sent for to see a man who was said to be lying dead in Williams' public-house. I went, was shown into a room-a lean-to to the house-in which there was a man lying dead.  On the Coroner's order, I made a post mortem examination, and found the kidneys diseased, especially the right kidney. The liver was congested; the heart and lungs were healthy. I then examined the head and found the membranes of the brain very much congested; also a rupture of one or more of the vessels on the right side of the  head. My opinion is that the cause of  death is apoplexy. The man whose body I  saw this morning and the deceased Duncan Pollock are the same.

Two other witnesses-James Hunt and William Mattison-were called, and their evidence confirmed the previous statements  as to the intoxication of the deceased for  some days before his death.

The jury then retired, and in a few  minutes returned a verdict to the effect that  the death of the deceased was caused by  apoplexy, accelerated by drinking. 


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 8 June 1878, p 2


On Wednesday afternoon, an inquest was held at the Court House, before Mr Donaldson, acting-coroner, on the body of Pang Toon, who was found dead on the morning of the same day. The jury having been sworn-

Dr Morice deposed-I am a qualified medical practitioner. I was called to see the body of deceased by Corporal Montagu, at two o'clock this afternoon. On examination, I found one contused wound behind the right ear, and compound fracture of the right cheek bone with part of the bone protruding, besides five incised wounds on the forehead and face, one of them four inches long. Over the left jugular vein there was a punctured wound about an inch from the jaw. On the thorax I found one small incised wound under the left shoulder; one penetrating wound two inches to the right of the right nipple, which externally measured half-an inch, but extended under the skin two inches long, exposing the gut just the ribs on the right side. Besides these wounds there was the cicatrice of a recent wound about six inches long and in parts one quarter of an inch broad in a transverse direction close under the left nipple; and four cicatrices of wounds of recent date on the back. The wounds might have been inflicted about twelve days before death. The head was discoloured and covered with blood; blood had been exuding from nose and mouth; the right arm was extended, the hand half open; the left arm was flexed and the hand was on a level with the face, it was also half open; both hands were covered with blood, but both unwounded. The body was quite cold and the abdomen was slightly distended; with marks of discolouration on it. The jacket the deceased had on was torn in several places, and had two cuts in front corresponding with two of the wounds on the thorax. The incised wounds on the head were not serious, but the wound over the left jugular, the wound on the right side of the chest, and the wound over the abdomen were very serious, while the wound over the region of the heart must have caused instant death. The contused wounds on the head must have been caused by a heavy blunt instrument, the other wounds by a knife. I am of opinion that the deceased must have been first knocked on the head and then stabbed.

By the Coroner-There was a slight smell of decomposition about the body, and it was quite cold. I should say the body had been dead between twelve and twenty-four hours. The discolouration on the abdomen was caused by decomposition. From the cicatrices on the body I believe that a previous attempt must have been made on the life of the deceased within twelve days of his death. It is quite impossible that the wounds were self-inflicted. I should expect the blow behind the ear to cause instant insensibility.

George Chan Waugh, sworn, deposed-I have seen the body outside; it is the body of Pang Toon; I saw him last alive between two and three o'clock yesterday afternoon; I do not know anything of the circumstances under which he met his death.

By a Juror-I saw him in my verandah; I did not see where he went to; he came from the Union; I believe he had money; he came to buy fish; I did not see his money.

By Corporal Montagu-I don't know that he had a quarrel with any person; I have known him about five months; he has been in Palmerston about seven days; he intended to go to Hong Kong; I don't know where he lived.

Gee Long, sworn, deposed-I am a gardener: I have seen the body outside. It is the body of Pang Toon. The deceased lived with me since he came from the country. I last saw deceased between eight and nine o'clock yesterday morning. He left my place to go to Palmerston. I keep the Hospital garden. I saw him again at 11 o'clock on the morning of yesterday, smoking opium in the house of Mock Tow Chow. He left the garden with deceased. Lyng Fee was lying with deceased smoking opium in Mock Tow Chow's house. Mock Tow Chow was also there. Two other Chinamen were in another room of the house. Deceased had money, but I don't know how much. I don't know whether he took any money with him yesterday morning. I don't know how many days he bad been in Palmerston. I did not see any one quarrelling with deceased. Ah Vow came with him the first day he came to my place. I was going home yesterday afternoon when I saw a pair of Chinese slippers alongside the road about three or four hundred feet from the church, on this side of the church. I then went home without taking any notice, when I found deceased did not come home last night I went to look for him after nine o'clock this morning. I looked all over Palmerston, and not finding him I recollected the slippers and went to where I saw them yesterday. I found the body of deceased where grass had been burnt There were two saplings along-side the body. It was about 12 o'clock noon when I found the body. After I found the body, I told George Chan Waugh. I left the slippers where I found them; The slipper I produced is like the slippers I saw. The slipper produced belonged to Pang Toon, also the hat. I do not recognise the other things.

By a Juror-I did not ask for deceased at Mock Tow Chows. A Chinaman of the fish party told me that deceased went to the garden about three o'clock yesterday. I did not notice any marks of a fight; the slippers were about two yards apart. Pang Toon was not playing fan-tan or gambling at the gardens before he left.

George Montagu, sworn, deposed-I am corporal of police-station at Palmerston. A few minutes before one o'clock p.m. to-day, Trooper Curran came down and told me a Chinaman had been murdered. I went with him and with witness Gee Long, and George Chan Waugh, to the place where the body was. The body was over a quarter of a mile beyond the Wesleyan Church on the road to the Hospital; it was from 25 to 30 yards off the road among bushes. I found the body lying on the right side; the head was resting on the right arm, the left arm was bent; the hands were half shut, covered with blood. I noticed the wounds on the left side of the face that have been described by the doctor. I heard an exclamation from P.T. Curran, and I went 15 yards from where the body lay, in the direction of the road, and scattered about on the road I found the £l-note produced, two shillings in silver, two pieces of red silk scarf saturated with blood, four little pockets of alluvial gold done up in paper and marked; the gold was wrapped in Chinese tea paper and sewn up in calico; there was also a pool of blood and we could trace blood in the stones till within three or four yards of the road. On the sides of the road for some distance there were marks of a struggle having taken place; from where the marks of the struggle ended there was a trail on the ground as if a body had been dragged along: the trail continued to where the body was found. A few yards away from the body under a bush I found another piece of a silk scarf (produced) and the handkerchief (produced); the slipper was lying, not in a direct line between the body and the road, but a little to the right. After finding the things, I went to the body and turned it on its back, and then found the wounds on the chest and right side, described by Dr Morice. I then caused the body to be brought to the police-station. In lifting the body found a good deal of blood under it. I was present when the doctor examined the body and to-day when he gave evidence as to the number of wounds and their position. I took the jacket produced off the body this afternoon, and examined it, there are several cuts made by a sharp instrument.

This closed the proceedings.

The Coroner having summed up, the Jury without retiring, returned a verdict of-Wilful Murder, against, some person or persons unknown.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 8 March 1879, pp 2-3

Yam Creek.

The Warden held an inquest, on Monday, the 17th instant, on the body of a Chinaman named Ah Ting who was found dead on the banks of the Margaret Creek. The inquiry took place at Mr. Johnston's store, Port Darwin Camp, which was kindly placed at the Coroner's, disposal. From the evidence, which was very brief, it appeared that on the evening of Saturday, the 15th, the flood came into the hut which was occupied by the deceased and his partner, and swept away the whole affair. The other man, Wang Wing, clambered up a tree, and remained there all night; in the morning he looked for his mate, but could not find him. The following morning the deceased was found on the bank of the creek, the body being greatly swollen. There were no marks of violence on the body, and a pouch, with a watch in it, was round the man's waist. The jury returned a verdict of "accidentally drowned."


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 8 May 1874, p 3

Coroner's Inquest.

On Monday morning, the 4th instant, an inquest was held by Mr. Price, S.M., in the Court-house, Palmerston, to enquire into the death of Matthew Dillon Cox, who had died at his residence, in Smith street, early on the same day.

Mr. J. Jones was foreman of the Jury.

The Coroner explained to the Jury that on the 17th April the deceased prosecuted a person for assault in the Police Court, and was at that time suffering from the effects of the assault. Since then he had become seriously ill and died. The Jury could now hear the evidence that was taken in the Police Court, and also the evidence of Dr. Ellison as to deceased's illness. If, after that, a post mortem examination was considered necessary the inquest could be adjourned.

The Jury went to view the body.

On returning to the Court-house Trooper Tasker was called, and swore to the depositions made by the deceased in the Police Court on the 17th April, when he gave evidence against Charles Bouchier for an assault, and when Bouchier was fined and bound over to keep the peace.

Dr. Ellison was then called, and stated that the deceased sent for him on the 14th April (the day after the assault), he was then suffering from severe contusions on several parts of the body and an abrasion on the left side of the face. The left eye was black, and there was a large contusion on the right side of the forehead. There was a swelling on the back part of the head of which deceased complained a great deal on account of the pain. And there was a bruise on his left side. He complained of great pain across the loins and tenderness over the abdomen, and also oí the inability to pass water. He also complained of pain down the back part of the thighs. He attributed these injuries to an assault which had been inflicted upon him. He had been complaining more or less ever since, and particularly of a pain in the back. A few days ago he took a cold bath contrary to witness's instructions. Might also mention that deceased had a bruise on the left side of his throat, and also a swelling as though from pressure having been used. He was hoarse in consequence. At a quarter past eight this morning ascertained that deceased was dying. Could not speak precisely as to the cause of death without making a post mortem examination.

By the Foreman-At the time deceased took the bath he was in a critical state, and had been for some time past.

The enquiry was adjourned until 9 o'clock the next morning, in order that a post mortem examination should be made.

It appeared that Bouchier, the deceased's nephew, who had been fined for the assault had left Port Darwin for Adelaide by the Contest. He wished to be tried by Jury when the case was heard, but at the desire of the deceased the matter was dealt with under the Minor Offences' Act.

Thursday, May 7.

The adjourned inquest was held in the new Court-House on Thursday, when the subjoined evidence was taken.

Mr. Rudall appeared on behalf of Charles Bouchier, and Mr. Smith on the part of Mrs. Cox.

Dr. Ellison said he made a post mortem examination on Monday last, about six hours after death. Examined the spine, and on opening up the spinal column found a quantity of dark matter and fluid contained in the membrane which surrounds the spinal cord. Removed the cord with the membrane, and the membrane was lined with lymph. Examined the organs and chest and abdomen; found the lungs congested, but otherwise healthy. Was of opinion that the cause of death was the inflamation [sic] of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord, and that the proximate cause, from evidence adduced, was from injuries externally received. There was no fracture of the spine. The symptoms before death, and since the time of the injuries received were in every way accounted for by post mortem examination appearances. Was with deceased about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour before he died. He was then in a dying state. Did not examine the skull. The post mortem examination fully accounted for the symptoms felt before death. Chronic rheumatism would not have produced the state of the spinal cord. Acute rheumatism might do it occasionally; but there was no evidence of acute rheumatism in this case. The kidneys were congested. There might be extensive contusions across the loins, and yet no external appearances. Bruises on the head would not account for injury to spinal marrow; there was a mark on the left side. It is quite possible that the cold bath taken by deceased contrary to orders hastened his end. The organs of the intestines were in their usual state. The state of the lungs and kidneys was caused by the state of the spinal cord. The body was that of a well nourished man. If witness had not heard anything about injuries he would have asked for a history of the case, and that would have led him to the same conclusion as at present. Had heard Mr. Cox speak of previous injuries, but could not remember what they were. He spoke of injuries to the back. Examined his urine a few months back, and came to the conclusion that there was no disease of the kidneys. Should certainly say the injuries to the spinal cord were recent. Did not examine the head in the post mortem because he found the cause of death in the spinal cord. Mr. Cox had some time ago complained of suffering from pain in the back, but could not remember how it occurred. There was something about a horse; and he said he had been under medical treatment in Batavia. Saw Mr. Cox out in the evening once during his recent illness, and spoke to him about it. Also objected to his coming to Court. A sudden wrench might have caused inflammation of the membranes of the cord. Deceased was partly paralysed before he died; and was delirious the day before his death. Had not heard of his receiving other recent injuries.

By Mr. Rudall-Was called in on Tuesday; had attended him before for chronic rheumatism. Saw him the night before he died, as well on the following morning. He seemed to be in a critical state about a week before he died. Did not know that deceased had attended auction sales after the injuries. The use of spirits might accelerate death. Never saw him intoxicated. Was treating him for wounds received.

The deposition of Trooper Tasker, who arrested Bouchier, and attended the examination at the Police Court, were put in and read.

Mr. Wells was called and recapitulated the evidence given at the Police Court, besides stating to what extent deceased complained of his injuries during the time he was in the boat on his way back to Port Darwin.

George Francis Blundell Cameron was called-Had never said to his knowledge that Mr. Cox would catch something when he went over to the Peninsula. Might have said something, but could not swear what it was; might have let words drop which he had never meant even if he did say them. Heard Bouchier say that if Cox did not keep a promise he had made he would use other means to get it out of him. Never heard him say he would thrash him within an inch of his life. Might have used the words about Mr. Cox catching it, but could remember it.

By the Foreman-Mr. Cox's health in May, 1873, was suffering severely from pain in his ear; and he always said his memory was very bad. Often fetched medicine for him because he had chronic rhumatism or something of the sort. Once asked Dr. Millner to see him on the Peninsula, because of that complaint. But Dr. Milliner sent medicine, as he could not go. Mr. Cox always drank freely; had seen him the worse for liquor. Had heard him complain of having been thrown from a horse in Batavia, which made him ill. He was always complaining of something about his health. He was a man of violent temper. Was not aware that Mr. Cox was on bad terms or good terms with Bouchier. The latter always complained that Mr. Cox had treated him badly.

Mr. Rudall, on behalf of Bouchier call Mr. M. L. Connor who said about two months ago, Mr. Cox. in the course of conversation, told witness he was suffering from a severe rick in the spine or back which he received some time ago. He said it was from an injury connected with a horse.

The Coroner summed up in a very clear and lengthy address, and the Jury retired to consider their verdict.

The Jury after some consultation returned a verdict of Manslaughter against Boucher, with a rider to the effect that deceased was in an unsound state of health from previous injuries when assaulted by Bouchier; and that after the injuries received from Bouchier he committed great indiscretion in disobeying the orders of his medical adviser.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 10 May 1879, p 1

Coroner's Inquest.

Monday, 5th May.

Before E.W. Price, Coroner, and a jury of twelve.)

An inquest was held on Monday, the 5th May, at the Local Court House, Palmerston, on the body of one Pack Soey.

The jury, having been sworn, appointed Mr Thomas Nelson their foreman, and then proceeded to view the body.

Dr Morice, sworn, deposed: I am a duly qualified medical practitioner; I did not attend deceased before he died; I first saw the body yesterday, at half-past 3 o'clock p.m., the body was lying under a fly opposite the Chinese quarters; it was lying on the open ground, in Cavenagh-street; I think he died from natural causes, there were no marks of violence on him; he had the appearance of having had fever, his feet were swollen; I think being placed in the open street, exposed to such cold wind, would tend to hasten his death; I did not make a post mortem examination,

Ah Sic, sworn, deposed: I saw the man yesterday outside Hee Kee's house; he was not dead; two men carried him out and put him in the road; it was about 7 o'clock in the morning; I did not see him again until this morning; he had his usual clothes on, but had no blankets; I live in Hee Kee's house; I pay Hee Kee; I saw him in He Kee's on Saturday; I did not see any money on him; he was able to walk on Saturday evening.'

Ali You, sworn, said. I saw the man, Pack Soey; I did not carry him out (Ah Sic, being recalled, said Ah You did carry him into the street)-I live at He Kee's; I did not touch him yesterday.\

Ah Chee, sworn, deposed. I saw Pack Soey yesterday, I carried him out of He Kee's house; I carried him out myself, no one told me; it is Hee Kee's house, I only stop there; He Kee, the master, sent me-he said, "You carry him out, and put up fly;" he was alive; Ah You helped me carry him out; the wind was blowing, it was before breakfast; I saw him at dinner time, he was dead then; He Kee never sent me to give him water or anything.

Ah You, recalled, admitted he did help to carry deceased out, but that no one sent him; he never saw Pack Soey give any gold to anyone.

Soe Tuck, sworn, deposed: I live next door to He Kee's; I saw Pack Soey on Saturday, and he said he was very bad; he was sitting down outside He Kee's.

Corporal Montagu, sworn, deposed: Yesterday afternoon, about 2 o'clock, I was told a Chinaman was dead in Cavenagh-street; I went down, and found the body lying on two sheets of bark, nearly in the middle of the road; the body was lying on its left side, and was stiffening; he had a jumper and trowsers on; there was a fly rigged up over him, it was open at the sides; there was a grey cotton sheet, partially covering him; the whole of his back was uncovered; about 9 o'clock the previous night I passed close to where the body was lying yesterday, it was not lying there when I passed; I understood Hee Kee to say the man had camped there from the previous day; the wind was from the south-east; there was a Chinese basin under his head, and a metal basin by his side with some liquid in it resembling tea. I saw Pack Soey yesterday morning, about 7 o'clock, in a fly across the road; he was very bad, and singing out; I asked deceased what, was the matter with him; he said it was hard to breathe, on the chest; he said he had been bad for a few days; I asked him if he had any money-he said he had no money; he said he had one relation here.

The Coroner, in summing up, took occasion to remark on the inhumanity of the Chinese generally; no sooner were any of them ill than they were turned out of doors; the cold and piercing winds of the last few mornings was enough to kill anyone ill with fever, if exposed to the open air.

The jury, having retired for ten minutes, brought in a verdict--Died by the visitation of God, and not otherwise.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 10 May 1879, p 1



Wednesday, 7th May.

(Before E.W. Price, S.M., and Messrs. M'Minn and Morice, J. P's.)


He Kee was charged by Corporal Montagu with causing the death of a Chinaman named Pack Soey, on whom an inquest was held on Monday last. Mr Stevens, with an interpreter, were allowed to appear for defendant; the Government Interpreter was employed for the prosecution.

Doctor Morice was sworn, but his evidence was so similar to that given on the inquest that it is useless reporting it, excepting the remark that he was inclined to think that Pack Soey died of some sort of fit, as he was walking about the previous day; he could not say what he died of, or whether he was put there alive or dead.

Ah Se, sworn, said: Ah You and Ah Chee carried him out of the place (a fly tent) by the arms, Pack Soey walking between them; he was too sick to walk without help; I don't know where he slept or got his food.

Ah You, sworn, said: Pick Soey lived alongside He Kee, in a fly; he came down country last Saturday; he was sick; on Sunday I took him breakfast, but he could not eat it; I carried him out at his own request, along with Ah Chee; we took him out two hours before daylight, and placed him on the road under a fly.

The case here broke down, and was dismissed.

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