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

R. v. Kelly [1827] NSWSupC 48

manslaughter - boxing match

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 10 August 1827

Source: Sydney Gazette, 13 August 1827


FRIDAY, 10. - John Kelly stood indicted for manslaughter, in causing the death o[f] John Parker, at Windso[r], on the 10th of July last.[1 ]

From the evidence of several witnesses, it appeared that the prisoner was provoked into a pugilistic combat, by the deceased, about four o'clock on the day laid in the information, the termination of which was a vio[l]ent fall, and being unable to rise from the ground, the deceased was carried into the kitchen of Mr. Beasley, at Windsor, where he was placed on a bed, and expired shortly after midnight.  Dr. Allen, on the med[i]cal establishment at Windsor, examined the body, but no external mark of injury appeared.  He afterwards proceeded to open the deceased, and found the lu[n]gs distended, and hard with blood, in consequence of the rupture of a blood vessel.  the rupture was in the substance of the lungs, so as to fill the air-ce[l]ls, and prevent respiration.  there was no extravasation outwardly, and the contents of the thorax had otherwise a healthy appearance.  Dr. Allen further stated, that such a rupture might be occasioned by various causes; as from drinking, hard-riding, previous disease, the deceased's own exertion during the fight or any other cause which wou[l]d excite the arteries to over exertion, or increase the circulation.  It might also have arisen from blows or falls; but, in that case, he should suppose there would have been some external marks.

Mr. JUSTICE STEPHEN summed up the evidence, and whilst he lamented the prevalence of such practices, as that in which the deceased had come by his death, or th[a]t any encouragement should be given, by people of education and reflection, to an act which too often terminates in fatal consequences, still he was of opinion, there was nothing before the Court to show that the fight in which the deceased and the prisoner were engaged, was other than a t[r]ial of strength and skill in boxing, without any previous ill-w[i]ll existing between the parties, or that any unusual or unfair proceeding had taken place in the course of a transaction which had ended so unfortunately for the deceased.  The Jury found a verdict of Not Guilty, and the prisoner, after an admonition from the Learned Judge was discharged by proclamation.




[1 ] See also R. v. Francis, 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University