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

R. v. Flemming [1823] NSWKR 9; [1823] NSWSupC 9

murder - domestic violence

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction

Wylde J.A., 27 December 1822

Source: Sydney Gazette, 2 January 1823

            Terrence Flemming was indicted for the wilful murder of Catherine Kennedy, on the 9th of November. From the evidence that came out on the trial, it appeared that the prisoner and the deceased cohabited together; that they [had] a small shop in Clarence- street, as well [as owning] three cows; that the deceased was occasionally a drunken and intemperate woman, and that the prisoner was a sober and industrious man. Upon the 3rd November last, the deceased was thrown down by one of the [cows] while in the act of milking her, and trod upon in the lower part of the abdomen. She was taken up forthwith, carried into the house. In a short time the prisoner came home, when the deceased began to accuse [him of] neglecting the cows, and said she would come by death in consequence of the injury unfortunately received. She became more violent, getting furious [at] last, and then a regular combat began between them. The deceased was soon knocked down or thrown down by repeated blows; and, when on the ground, was savagely kicked by the prisoner. However it was [proved] that he conveyed her to bed, where she was [believed] to groan most piteously the whole night. [The next] morning, the prisoner sent for Dr Bland, who contended the deceased up to her death, which occurred in five days after. She told him that the complaint originated in a tread from a cow [on] Sunday evening; the wound, corresponding with [the heartless] tale, manifested itself extensively below [the] abdomen. From its deep discoloration, the [terrible] state of the wound, and emaciated state of the woman altogether, Dr Bland conceived it would be fatal, but which nevertheless might have favourably terminated, had the deplorable creature been induced refrain, for a little while, from wine drinking. She always told Dr Bland and others who occasionally saw [to] the wound, which caused her death, proceeded from the cow; notwithstanding which, it was sartorially proved, that the prisoner had maltreated [her] upon the same evening. Previous to pronouncing [the] decision of the Court upon the occasion, His Excellency the Judge Advocate pathetically and solemnly told the prisoner, that it was doubt, and doubt alone, that [saved] him from that ignominious destiny which otherwise would have inevitably awaited him. Not Guilty.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University