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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R. v. Walker [1817] NSWKR 10; [1817] NSWSupC 10

murder - capital punishment, gibbet

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Wylde J.A., 10 October 1817
Source: Sydney Gazette, 11 October 1817

John Walker, Ralph Pearson, and Elizabeth Pearson (his wife) were next put to the bar and indicted for the wilful murder of John Suddis, a settler at Wilberforce, with a gun or musket, on the evening of the 12th of July last.

           Mrs Isabella Suddis, widow of the deceased, deposed that on the evening of the 12th of July, during the twilight, three men rushed in upon her family, when at tea, and presenting a musket towards them, commanded all in the house to throw themselves on the floor and remain quiet, on pain of instant death. All the persons present, consisting of another woman and four men exclusive of her husband, were terrified into compliance with the command.  Her deceased husband, on the contrary, immediately ran to a window, and in passing through it, a musket was fired at him by one of the robbers, at the desire of the other two, and the unfortunate men fell with a groan on the outside.  He survived the wound in extreme agony for 15 days, and expired on the 27th of the same month.  They then proceeded to plunder the house of everything they considered of value, and took away among other property a chest of hyson-tea, into which some shingle nails had fallen and become dispersed.  The persons of the robbers she described to be, one a big man; another of middling stature; and the third a smaller man; the first had a musket, and was the man by whom it was fired; the second was armed with a brush hook, with which he struck the witness, and had long shaggy hair; and the third was armed with a pistol.  On their entrance they called out, "come in Fitzgerald;" but no other person entered.  The musket she had had time to observe and to describe during their continuance in the house, which was nearly an hour; their faces were too much concealed or disguised to be recognized by her; but the two male prisoners, together with another man (Samuel Gilbert), who had been since admitted as an Evidence for the Crown, being some weeks after the robbery and murder taking for examination before the Bench of Magistrates at Windsor, she there saw them, and had no doubt that they were the persons; Pearson she positively swore to from his remarkable head of hair.

           James Tracey, servant of the deceased, corroborated Mrs Suddis's testimony, and described the situation of the deceased, whom he found bleeding in the yard, after the robbers had departed.

           William Coane spoke to the same effect.

Sarah Connolly of Windsor, deposed, that soon after the robbery, the approver Gilbert (which the prisoner at the bar, Walker), hired a horse and cart of her for two days.

           Mr Carver, district constable at Windsor, sworn.  Witness took Samuel Gilbert into custody soon after Suddis's death, when selling tea to the settlers, among which were shingle nails mixed.  He took him before a Magistrate; to whom Gilbert detailed all the circumstances of the fatal evening, and the prisoners at the bar were taken into custody accordingly.  It appeared from Mr Carver's testimony, followed by that of Mr Howe, chief constable of Windsor, that the prisoner Pearson was desirous when taken to become an evidence for the Crown.

Samuel Gilbert, King's Evidence, was now sworn, and gave a testimony which when compared and joined to the facts the Court were already in possession of, left no doubt of the guilt of both the male prisoners: the female was acquitted; as the only evidence that went to incriminate her was that of Gilbert; which stated, that on the evening of the robbery they were all assembled at her house, and that she, knowing the gun was loaded, and that her husband was going with them to commit a robbery somewhere or another, had lent a pin to prick the touch-hole.  Sentence was passed on the criminals, which condemned them to be executed, and both hung in chains.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University