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

R. v. Taw [1855] NSWSupCMB 18

Chinese defendant - assault, wounding - attempted murder

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Moreton Bay

Purefoy A.J., 19 November 1855

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 24 November 1855

THIS Court opened on Monday morning last, before his Honour Mr. Purefoy, acting as Judge for the occasion. Mr. Holroyd officiated as Crown Prosecutor. The only other barrister present was Mr. Fawcett.

Taw, a Chinaman, was charged with having committed a malicious assault upon the person of Mr. Alexander M'Lean, the principal overseer on Mr. Sandeman's station at Burrandowan, in the Burnett district, on the 4th May last. The circumstances of the case were briefly stated to the jury as follows:--- The prisoner was charged on two counts, first--- with wounding with intent to murder; second--- with wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and it would be for them to establish his guilt on one or the other of those counts.

On the 4th May last the prisoner was employed on the Burrandowan station as shepherd, and lived about nine miles from the head station. On the day in question the prisoner left his own hut, and came to the head station with his flock of sheep, arriving at an early hour in the forenoon. The prosecutor remonstrated with him for driving his sheep so far at such an hour without orders, and threatened to report him to Mr. Galbraith, the superintendent. Thereupon the prisoner became very excited, and on being expelled from the hut, commenced throwing stones at the door. He entered the hut a few minutes after, with an iron bar in his hand, and struck the prosecutor on the head with it, saying that he would kill him. The blow stunned him for a short time, and the blood flowed copiously from the wound. The prisoner then ran away. Evidence in support of the case was tendered by the prosecutor and a man named James Belcher, and the witnesses were cross-examined by the interpreter "Johnny," in a manner which would have done credit to a lawyer.

The prisoner's defence was stated to the jury by the interpreter in a clear and lucid style, so much so as to call forth the remark from his Honour that "Johnny" was the cleverest interpreter he had met with in the course of his experience. The substance of the defence was that the prisoner had had orders to bring the sheep to the head station, but that he mistook the time of day, owing to the obscurity in which the sun was cast by the clouded atmosphere, and also that the assault was first committed by the prosecutor. His Honour briefly summed up the case, and the jury having retired for a short time, returned into court with a verdict of Guilty on the second count of the indictment, acquitting him on the first. The court sentenced the prisoner to five years of hard labour upon the roads.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University