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Colonial Cases

St Helena

Advertiser (Tas.) 17 July 1832


   An atrocious murder was been committed at St. Helena; the following are particulars:-

   Upon the summit of a Sugar-load rock (900 feet high) there is a level of about ten feet square, with a wall erected towards the sea, to prevent accidents, two feet and a half high.  On the land side, near the top, there is a small shelf, on which is erected a hut for the residence of two soldiers, who are always stationed upon the rock to look out for ships approaching the island, and whose duty it is, whenever a sail appears in sight, to communicate by telegraph to Ladder-hill battery.

  On the 11th August last, the two men, who were on duty at the Sugar-loaf  rock, by name Abbott and Taylor, each made a ship at the same, or nearly the same instant.  Each claimed the merit of the discovery, for which there is a reward of five shillings.  A quarrel ensued.  Taylor descended to the hut on the shelf, armed himself with a musket, returned and fired at Abbott.  The shot having missed, Taylor returned to the hut a second tine, took another musket, and ascended to the summit.  Taking a more deliberate aim, he fired a second time, and shot Abbott through the lower part of the jaw.  Taylor finding his victim still alive, dragged him to the edge of the precipice, hurled him over the wall! And, as he supposed, into the sea, thinking that the murder would not be discovered.

   But is happened, that at a distance of a fall of seven hundred feet, and above two hundred feet from the sea, there was a small portion of rock jutting out, upon which the body fell.  Taylor then procured large stones from the land side, which he hurled down upon the body with a hope of dislodging it, but to no avail. On the following morning, Taylor signalled that his comrade Abbott had left station in the night, and had not since returned.  Another man was appointed to the station; who, on looking over the wall, discovered the body of Abbott lying upon the projecting part of the rock.  A party of soldiers were ordered to proceed to the top of Sugar loaf Rock, provided with four coils of rope and sail cloth, with the necessary tackle for lowering a hammock for the purpose of braising the body.  The soldiers having succeeded in raising the body, it was discovered to have been barbarously murdered, and the course of the ball was apparent. Taylor was instantly secured as the murderer.

   A coroner's inquest was held on the body and a verdict of wilful murder returned against Taylor, who was shortly to be tried at a special session, to be held for that purpose. 

   Subsequent to Taylor's committal, his wife, who had witnessed the horrid transaction, stated, that as she was ascending the rock in the afternoon she heard the report of a musket.  When she gained the hut she saw her husband come back, take another musket, and re-ascend the summit; she followed, and saw him fire at Abbott, who fell, mortally wounded as she supposed, but nit dead; her husband then dragged him to the wall at the edge of the precipice,  and hurled him over.

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