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

R. v. Harris [1827] NSWSupC 64

assault, autrefois acquit, Lord Ellenborough's Act

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Trial, 14 November 1827

Source: Australian,16 November 1827

William Harris, a seaman, was indicted for a violent assault on the person of John Loader.[1 ]

[This prisoner had been tried some days ago on the present charge, but the evidence then adduced being in the opinion of the Court not sufficient to support an indictment, under Lord Ellenborough's Act, he was acquitted, but the Attorney General detained the prisoner to answer the minor charge of assault.]

JOHN LOADER examined - Is a publican living on the Rocks.  One Sunday evening, now about six weeks back, prisoner came to his house and asked to be served with a pint of beer, which witness refused to do.  Prisoner then went  away, saying he would be revenged on him (meaning witness) for it.  On the Thursday following witness had been from home a short time, and on his return found the prisoner in his house - he appeared to have been drinking.  Presently asked witness to give him a pint of beer, but refused to do so.  Witness's wife had previously served him with some beer, which he had not paid for, and witness demanded payment of the same.  Prisoner then drew a clasped knife out of his pocket, and offered it to witness in pledge for his reckoning.  Witness refused to do this, and desired prisoner to leave the house.  The latter immediately with an oath said, "Then I'll pay your reckoning," and upon this opened the blade of his knife, and made a thrust with it at witness, who felt himself cut in the head, and the blood began to flow copiously.  Witness had had no previous quarrel whatever with the prisoner, and had no weapon in his hand at the time of being stabbed.

TIGLEY, a constable, deposed to having assisted in taking the prisoner to the watch-house.  Prisoner did not seem in a very sober state at the time.

Mr. CONNOLLY, Surgeon, stated, that the prosecutor applied to him for assistance on this occasion.  On examining his head there appeared a wound about half an inch in width and in depth.  It might have been inflicted by some sharply pointed instrument.  The knife produced might have effected the injury.  The wound appeared to have been cut in an oblique direction.  A small artery was wounded, which witness was obliged, by means of stitching, to take up.  The blood flowed very fast, until the artery was taken up, when it ceased.  Prosecutor was perfectly sober at the time.  Guilty.

The learned Judge regretted it was not in his power to pass a heavier sentence upon the prisoner than that which he was about to do.  The offence of which the prisoner had been found guilty was of so atrocious character, that the law in this instance would fail in meting out a proper degree of punishment to the offender.  The sentence of the Court was, that the prisoner be imprisoned in the gaol, and kept at hard labour, for two years.


[1 ] The trial was also reported by the Sydney Gazette, 16 November 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University