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

R. v. Davy [1854] NSWSupCMB 8

Aboriginal defendant - murder

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Moreton Bay

Dickinson J., 20 May 1854

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 27 May 1851, p. 2[1]

Davy, an aboriginal native, was indicted for the wilful murder of Adolphus Henry Trevethan, at Rawbell, in the Burnett district, on the 29th March, 1852.

There was only one witness in this case, the others being unaccountable absent, but the evidence given was very clear and distinct.

James Carney deposed that he was a workman at Rawbell on the 28th or 29th march, 1852, and early in the morning a large number of blacks, about three hundred, came to the station. Mr. Trevethan and five or six men went out, and Mr. Trevethan, laying down his gun, called upon some of the blacks whom he recognised to put down their spears and come forward to parley with him. About half a dozen of them did so, and amongst them witness distinctly recognised the prisoner Davy, who was well known to him before, and had been frequently employed at the station. After some talk with them, Mrs. Trevethan went to the store and got some tobacco for them. They then asked for pipes, and Mr. Trevethan procured some from the store. He went up to the half dozen blacks, and they surrounded him. In a few seconds afterwards witness, who saw no blow struck, observed Mr. Trevethan come up to the hut with his hand on his breast, exclaiming "I'm dead. I'm dead." He had five spear wounds in his breast, three of which were near the heart, one in the right breast, and one in the abdomen. The blacks with whom he had been parleying were then running away to the main body, who were about three hundred yards off. Here they resumed their weapons, and finally they moved off. Mr. Trevethan died in about two hours after he received his wounds. Witness saw no spears with the blacks when Mr. Trevethan was talking to them, but several spears were afterwards found near the spot where he stood.

The Attorney-General wished to put in evidence of the custom of the blacks to trail the spears with their toes, so that the grass may conceal them, but this was held inadmissible. The evidence of Walter Middleton was read, with the view of showing that another black, named Paddy, might have been mistaken for the prisoner; but the witness Carney, who knew both blacks, was firm in identifying the prisoner.

The jury found the prisoner guilty, and his Honour passed sentence of death upon him, in the usual form.


[1] Continuation of R. v. Davy, 1853.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University