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

R v Clyne [1825] NSWSupC 54

murder - self-defence - bushranger

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 18 November 1825

Source: Sydney Gazette, 21 November 1825


John Clyne was indicted for the wilful murder of David Ramsay, by stabbing him with a pitchfork, at the Field of Mars, on the 20th day of October last.

The Attorney General[1 ] stated the case for the prosecution.

John Wright deposed, that he rents a farm, and lives at the Field of Mars, about 14 miles from Sydney; that while he was at work on Thursday, the 20th of October last, between 4 and 5 o'clock in the evening, he heard a noise of two persons, apparently at high words, at some distance from him, and immediately after saw the prisoner running after the deceased; that the deceased ran towards the bush, and the prisoner then returned towards his own dwelling; shortly after the deceased came again towards the prisoner, who again followed him, and returned alone; a third time the deceased ran towards where the prisoner was at work, when he seized something, which appeared to witness, at a distance, like the handle of a pitchfork, and once more pursued the deceased, and the witness then lost sight of them.  Shortly after witness heard the voice of the prisoner, calling out ``Murder!  Murder!  Master!" and immediately proceeding to the place whence the voice came, accompanied by his brother, and a man named Butler, they found the deceased lying on the ground, in a gore of blood, and the prisoner holding him down; a pitchfork and a shingling hammer were lying close to the body.  Witness said to the prisoner, ``you have killed the man;" when he replied, ``by G---d, this is the fellow who is constantly robbing me."  The deceased died almost instantly.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowe. --- The deceased was a stranger to witness; has heard since that he was a bushranger; the prisoner had no idea that he had killed the deceased, for he said he would ``get up directly, and run away."

Wm. Wright and Wm. Butler corroborated the evidence of the last witness.

Thomas Walsh a constable, apprehended the prisoner; he said the deceased came to rob him, and that he was killed in the scuffle with the pitchfork,

Cross-examined. --- Has heard since that the prisoner [sic] was a bushranger, a runaway from Emu Plains; knew him to have been sent to Emu Plains as a prisoner from the Court at Parramatta.

For the defence, F.A. Hely, Esq. examined. --- The deceased has been a runaway from Emu Plains for 12 months prior to September last; he was apprehended since on a charge of felony, and broke out of gaol.

His Honor recapitulated the evidence, and observed, that the only question was, whether a malicious intent existed in the mind of the prisoner, or that being under an impression that the deceased came to rob him, he had used means to drive him away, met with resistance, and the death ensued in the scuffle.  Altogether it was not a case upon which a conviction for murder could conscientiously take place; it was for the Jury to consider how far the prisoner was guilty of manslaughter.  The Jury returned a verdict of --- Not Guilty.



[1 ] Saxe Bannister.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University