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

R. v. Cook [1838] NSWSupC 49

murder - Aborigines, killing of - Lake Bathurst

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling C.J., 10 May 1838

Source: Sydney Herald, 14 May, 1838[ 1]

James Cook was indicted for the wilful murder of an aboriginal native, to the Attorney-General unknown, by shooting him at Mr. Hall's station, near Lake Bathurst, on the 7th February.

The death of the black in this case appeared to quite accidental.  The deceased and the prisoner were on excellent terms, and the prisoner in joke levelled a loaded gun at the black fellow, which went off and killed the unfortunate man.  Mr. Hall, the prisoner's master, said they were all on excellent terms with the blacks, who were quite satisfied it was accidental.  Not guilty.

 

Notes

[ 1]See also Australian, 19 May 1838; Sydney Gazette, 19 May 1838; Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 150, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3335, pp 34-44.  According to the latter, the Attorney General argued that there was no distinction between black and white in the eyes of the law.  The primary witness, John Corbett, said that two Aborigines came to a hut where he fed them.  Cook was in another room when he shot the victim, and claimed that he had not known that the gun was loaded.  There was no trouble with the natives at the time.  Corbett testified that Cook had not attempted to run away, and had always treated the Aborigines with kindness.

 

 

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University