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

R. v. Johnstone [1838] NSWSupC 46

manslaughter - self-defence - Portland

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Willis J., 5 May 1838

Source: Sydney Herald, 7 May, 1838[ 1]

Before Mr. Justice Willis and a Civil Jury.

Thomas Johnstone was indicted for manslaughter, in having shot one John Quinsey, at Lower Portland Head, on the 27th March.

The prisoner is the son of a settler residing at the Lower Portland Head, on the banks of the Hawkesbury. The farm is in a lonely situation, and the only persons on it were the prisoner, his father and mother, and the deceased.  In the middle of the night old Johnstone heard the dogs bark, and getting up, desired his son to go out and see who was about.  The son went out with his gun in his hand, and seeing a man a few yards off, called to him; the man made no answer, but kept advancing towards, him, upon which the prisoner fired, and the man spoke, saying "my dear Tommy," upon which the prisoner recognised him, and was much affected.  The deceased lived in a hut a few rods from the house, and what he was doing near the house is unexplained.  It was proved that there was a report in the neighbourhood that there was a black man at large committing depredations.  His Honor told the jury that if the prisoner shot Quinsey under an impression that he was about to attack him they must acquit him.  Not Guilty.



[ 1]See also Sydney Gazette, 8 May 1838.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University