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

R. v. Jones [1827] NSWSupC 6

murder, defences, accident

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 16 February 1827

Source: Australian, 17 February 1827

G. Jones stood capitally indicted for the wilful murder of J Bellinger alias Purton, on the 26th of December last.[1]

J. Steadworth, living at Parramatta, remembers on the 26th of December going to Kissing Point, to a house called the Waterloo, had brought with him a loaded gun, but discharged the contents before he entered the house, this was done in sight of the prisoner.  Two hours after this, witness recharged the guns with slugs.  Witness did this in the room and the prisoner was sitting there, but engaged in talk with some other men.  He sat in the room for the space of a minute with the gun in his hands when the prisoner got up and took hold of the piece.  Witness, thought he took the gun merely to look at it.  He appeared to be examining the barrel, when it went off; the deceased, who was standing immediately in front of the prisoner, and in the same direction the muzzle of the gun was pointed, instantly fell, having been shot in the head.  Witness thinks the prisoner did not pull the trigger; is sure the piece was not cocked.  On discovering the injury that was done, prisoner appeared to be very much affected and cried bitterly.  Does not think the prisoner knew the piece was loaded at the time of firing it.

J. Lee deposed to a similar effect.

Mr. Anderson, surgeon, examined as to the wounds of deceased, who was removed to the Hospital at Parramatta.

The Learned Judge summed up to the Jury, observing there was not the slightest room to imagine that the prisoner had been guilty of what was in law considered as murder.  The prisoner had, to say the most, only acted incautiously with the piece he took in his hand; but, under all the circumstances of the case, his Honor did not think the present could be considered even a case of manslaughter.

Verdict - Not Guilty.

The Judge admonished the Prisoner, and ordered his discharge.


[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 19 February 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University