Skip to Content

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

R. v. Hickie [1857] NSWSupCMB 16

assault, wounding

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Moreton Bay

Milford J., May 1857

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 23 May 1857


Robert Hickie was indicted for feloniously stabbing and wounding one James Norman, on the 2nd of January last, at Mundubara, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.

The prisoner pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. Milford.

Mr. Pring opened the case.

James Norman, who was confined in the gaol on the charge of robbing the prisoner, was first sworn: I know the prisoner at the bar. I remember being at Gannon's public-house at Mundubara, on the Burnett River, on the 2nd January last. The prisoner and several others were there. The prisoner accused me of robbing him, and I said he was a "liar." He said I was a liar, and we then commenced to fight. In the evening, about seven o'clock, I saw him again; but we did not speak to each other. I found myself very sore. I examined myself on the 5th, and found a number of scratches and bruises on my body. I do not remember being stabbed. I never had any conversation with the prisoner before he left the public-house. I was too drunk to remember all that took place.  

Cross-examined: I only have a hazy remembrance of what happened. I was drinking every-thing I could get hold of rum, porter, brandy, gin, and everything. I was not so very bad from my sores; as I went home and went to work at once. I did not see the prisoner taken into custody. I do not recollect signing an order while at the public-house.

Re-examined: The fighting took place on the 2nd, and I was well enough to go to work on the 6th.

George Gannon: I am a publican, and reside near Mundubara, on the Burnett River. I know the prisoner, and also a person of the name of Norman. They were at my house as travellers on the 2nd January. The prisoner spoke to Norman, and asked him if he had got his money.

There were other persons present. The prisoner said that he had been robbed, but if the money was put where he could find it, there would be no more about it. Norman said he knew nothing about the money; he was sober when he said so, as was also the prisoner. A search was made for the money in the room where the prisoner had been sleeping, but we could not find it ; the prisoner assisted me in searching. When Hickie followed me back into the room, he said the robbery lay between Norman and the man outside. Prisoner then seized hold of Norman by the shoulder, and stabbed him. I did not see any weapon in his hand at the time, but Norman opened his shirt and exposed a wound, saying to the prisoner, "see what you have done." Norman then left the room. There seemed to be a cut, and the wound was bleeding. I saw a knife in the prisoner's hand before Norman opened his shirt, and also afterwards. It appeared to be a common clasp knife. The wound was on the left side; I did not see it afterwards, although Norman wanted to take off the bandage and show it to me.

Cross-examined: I was present when the examination took place, a person named Young was present. He gave evidence before the Court. I was not aware that the prisoner had money in his possession. I think Norman had been in the house a week previous to the 2nd; he was frequently drunk during that time. I have in my possession two watches belonging to him. Neither the prisoner nor Norman were drunk when the row happened. I can't remember how much they had. I handed over the sum of £42 11s. 4d. to the prisoner on the 2nd, the day the noise took place. It was in the afternoon, after Norman was stabbed, I could not arrest the prisoner, but he remained until the 5th. The nearest constable was twenty two miles distant, but I could not send. Very little drink was served out after the row. I gave him the £42 out of my own pocket, because the man was so excited, and I was afraid he would take Norman's life. The lost money was found sometime afterwards, Norman said he found it near the house. It consisted of orders and notes, and I took possession of it. The prisoner asked me if I had his money, and I told him no, but said that if he would give me the particulars, I would do what I could to stop the orders for him. I did not send for a doctor when the man was stabbed because I had no one to send. My house is not notorious for public-house robberies. Mr. Hay, a magistrate, called at my house on the evening of the5th and I narrated the case to him. The knife had two blades, one large and one small, and an imitation buck-horn handle.

By the Judge: Blood was flowing from Norman's side when I saw it, and his shirt and trousers were stained with it. Norman kept his room for two days after it was bound up.

By a Juryman: The prosecutor's shirt was cut in one or two places.

Michael Castle: I have been a writing clerk and a hut-keeper. I went to Gannon's just a day or two before the close of last year. I saw the prisoner at Gannon's house on the 2nd January. I recollect the prisoner charging two men with robbing him. He said that if Norman would put his money in some place where he might regain it, nothing should be done in the case. He said that he had worked hard for it, and was determined to have it. Hickie and the landlord went out of the room to look for the money, but came back without being able to find it. Nor-man denied having the money; upon which Hickie took a knife out of his pocket, and stuck it into Norman's side. There was no scuffling, that I saw. Norman was standing up facing Hickie when the latter stabbed him. I saw the blow given myself, and the place bleeding, but I did not look at the wound, as I turned my head away. I don't think that any great force was used.

Cross-examined: I was close to the parties when the blow was struck. It was a common pocketknife with a brown handle; I don't know whether there were two blades or not, I am sure it had one. I stayed at Gannon's public-house till last Wednesday week. I did not take any steps to correct Hickie; why should I? I am an humble civil individual, and don't know anything about the forms of law. I should have thought it to be the landlord's place. I dare say I should have gone if I had been sent. Not being a medical man, I did not dress the wound. I did not think proper even to look at it. I have no ill-feeling against Hickie, nor have I ever had. He never tarred and feathered me, (excitedly) nor was I ever tarred and feathered in the whole course of my life.

Re-examined: I turned my head away because I was disgusted, and did not like the sight of blood at any time.

Norman recalled: I did not take off my shirt or trousers at all till I left. I did not see any blood about them.

Merrick Shawsperse stated that he was acting chief constable at Gayndah at the time of the occurrence, and took the prisoner into custody. He produced the knife which he took from the prisoner.    

Gannon was then recalled in order to identify the knife, which he believed to be the same used by the prisoner.

This concluded the case for the prosecution.

Mr. Milford addressed the jury on the part of the prisoner. He confessed that an assault had been committed, but he did not think the jury could decide that the indictment had been made out, or rather, that the charge of stabbing and wounding was established by the evidence. He contended that the suspicion was strong that Gannon had concocted the story in order to shield himself.

Mr. Pring briefly replied, and his Honor summed up, after which the jury retired. On their return into Court, after an absence of about thirty minutes, they returned a verdict of guilty of unlawfully wounding.

Mr. Milford begged to inform his Honor that the prisoner had already been in gaol five months. The prisoner was sentenced to one year's imprisonment in Darlinghurst Gaol, with hard labour.

Milford J., 21 May 1857

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 23 May 1857

Thomas Woodby, Robert Hickie , and Thomas Cook , already sentenced, were brought up, and his Honor announced that their place of imprisonment was changed from Darlinghurst to Brisbane Gaol.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University