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

R v Mitchell [1826] NSWSupC 44

murder - manslaughter - domestic violence

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J.,[1 ] 21 July 1826

Source: Australian, 22 July 1826


Hugh Mitchell was capitally indicted for the wilful murder of Laura Murphy.  It appeared in evidence that the prisoner and deceased had cohabited, unhappily, it would seem, together, for some time past.  In one of their small quarrels the prisoner struck the deceased a fatal blow, which led to her death.[2 ]  The difference was understood to have arisen in a fit of jealousy.  Verdict - Guilty of manslaughter.  Remanded.[3 ]



[1 ]Stephen J. resigned as temporary Justice of the Supreme Court on 27 May 1826, and was not sworn in as puisne Justice until early November 1826.  See C.H. Currey, Sir Francis Forbes: the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1968, pp 97-98; Australian, 3 June 1826. In the meantime, Forbes C.J. sat alone.

[2 ] The Monitor, 28 July 1826, said that "On the evening of Friday, Mitchell was heard treating the unfortunate object of his fury with brutal violence - he had dragged her from her bed, and after the infliction of the alleged violence he flung her into the street, where she lay for some time insensible.  The deceased was carried to the General Hospital, where she lingered until the following Sunday, when she expired.  The Surgeon who examined the body, was of opinion, that severe internal injury occasioned by violent treatment occasioned her death.  The fact of her survival for 24 hours after the infliction of the wounds, taking away in some degree the capital part of the charge, the Jury returned a Verdict of Manslaughter."

[3 ] On 4 September 1826, Forbes C.J. sentenced Mitchell to transportation for three years: Australian, 6 September 1826; Monitor, 8 September 1826; Sydney Gazette, 6 September 1826.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University