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Colonial Cases

R v. Boynjat, Wobut and others [1849]

Aboriginal defendants - Aborigines, killing of - Aboriginal defendant, offence against another Aborigine

Quarter Sessions, Western Australia

W.H. Mackie Esq., April 1849

Source: Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, 7 April 1849

[3] Boynjat and Wobut, charged with the wilful murder of Injerwert, an Aboriginal native of the Perth district.

Robert Hester: I knew the deceased Injerwert well; the last time I saw him, was at Mr. F. Armstrong's;   He had previously been a prisoner at Rottnest for theft; it was in January lastthat I last saw him; he left Mr. Armstrong and went into the bush; I heard no more of him 
till a native told me that deceased had been killed, by certain other natives whose names they gave me; the prisoners were two of them; I apprehended Boynjat; I asked him why he had speared the deceased after I had often told him not to spear any natives; he said other natives had forced him to do so, and that he had jobbed a spear into deceased; Boynjat afterwards 
led me and Mr. Symmons and Dr. Ferguson to a spot on the left bank of the Swan near Mr. Hardey's where he said the deceased had been killed; Boynjat said he did not know where deceased was buried as he had left the place after spearing deceased; after searching the neighbourhood for some time, one of the natives with us found traces of the sand having been removed, and on removing a little of the earth we found the corpse of a native boy of apparently the same age, (10 or 11 years) and height as Ingerwert; I also recognised the remains as those of Ingerwert by a projecting tooth about which I often joked Ingerwert; I am quite certain as to the identity of the remains as those of the deceased Ingerwert; I had frequently before the deceased death warned both the prisoners, as well as many other natives, not to spear any other natives, as the Governor was determined to hang any native convicted of such an act; the remains were so decomposed that the head separated from the body in drawing the remains out of the ground; I afterwards apprehended the other prisoner Wobut; I asked him why he had speared the deceased; Wobut said that he had speared the deceased because his brother had died shortly before. He said his brother was a big fellow and deceased a piccaninny and that they thought it a good chance to have fallen in with deceased; and thought, from the secret manner in which they had buried deceased the white fellows could not find it out; Wobut told me that he had thrown the first spear into deceased.

John Ferguson, Colonial Surgeon: I was present with the last witness and Mr. Symmons at the examination of a native corpse, that of a boy apparently of 11 years of age; the remains were much decomposed; there was a large orifice under the left shoulder, below it looked as if a spear or other weapon had been worked about in the wound; one of the ribs was also broken; the vertebrae appeared as if there had been some violence to that part; there was also a punctured wound on each side above the groin, and another on the upper part of the left thigh. I have no doubt that the deceased met with a violent death.

Francis Armstrong: I was present when Wobut was examined before the committing Magistrate I interpreted the charge to him and told him that it was optional with him to say anything or not but that what he did say, would be brought against him; Wobut confessed that he had speared the deceased on either the left or right side, on account of one of his relations 
having died.

The substance of the evidence having been explained to the prisoners by the sworn public interpreter Mr. E. Armstrong they made the following statements:

Wobut: the deceased was connected with a man who caused by magic the death of my brother. I speared the deceased, rather a slight wound, but if it had not been for the other natives present, I should have killed the deceased myself.

Boynjat: I speared the deceased in the leg, because Wobut's brother was my relation. - Guilty, DEATH to be executed on Monday the 9th inst.

The following natives were sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour, for various offences -

Malony, Wombat, Wongan, and Bierbin for 3 years; Botoit, 6 months; Injaiwert, 3 months.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School