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Colonial Cases

R. v. Gurrier [1847]

Aborigines, killing of

Quarter Sessions, Western Australia[?]


Source: Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, 10 February 1849 (extract from the Annual Report of the Protector of Aborigines, 9 January 1848) [1]

At the Vasse, in April last, some excitement prevailed among the natives in consequence of an aggravated assault committed by a settler of the name of Gurriere upon the person of an aboriginal woman. It appears that Gurriere confined the woman for three days to the post of his verandah, proposing thereby to induce her husband to bring in a stray cow. The unfortunate woman died almost immediately after her release: a severe attack of influenza under which she was laboring being doubtless aggravated by her illegal detention, and the fact of her being near the time of her accouchement. I immediately instituted a strict investigation of the case, and committed Gurrier for trial at the July sessions on a charge of manslaughter. This bill being ignored, a new bill for an aggravated assault was subsequently found, and the defendant pleading guilty, was fined £5, and severely reprimanded. The court, in pronouncing so lenient a sentence, considered the high character of the prisoner, and the total absence of malicious intent. The Court suggested that the fine be appropriated for the benefit of the relatives of the deceased.


[1]  On attitudes to Aborigines in the very early colony, see Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 12 January 1833, p. 8.

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