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

R v Coleman [1833] NSWSupC 3

attempted murder - convict discipline

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 11 February 1833

Source: Sydney Herald, 11 February 1833[1 ]

Joseph Coleman was indicted for assaulting Edward Gostwick Cory with a spade, with intent to kill and murder him, at Patterson's Plains, on the 8th October.  The second count charged the offence to have been committed with intent to do some grievous bodily harm.

It appeared in evidence that on the morning laid in the information, Mr. Cory's men were allowed half an hour longer than usual, in consequence of their flour not being served out before.  Finding the men did not turn out at the sound of the horn, as usual, Mr. C. went  to the huts, when the men asked for ten minutes longer, which was granted.  When leaving, Mr. C. observed the prisoner in the hut, and knowing that he had had his breakfast in the kitchen, he was ordered out, and desired to follow Mr. C. to his house to receive his orders.  Mr. C. directed him to go to the quarries.  He went, and returned in about ten minutes, saying there was no spade, and where was he to get one.  Mr. C. desired him to go the mill, and there he would get one.  In going through the yard a small spaniel dog ran out, and barked at the prisoner, who took up a stone and threw it at the dog.  Mr. C. told not to aggravate his conduct, as he had been sufficiently insolent in the morning to justify his taking him before the Magistrates.  The prisoner then crossed a fence, and went towards the mill.  Mr. C. followed, and passed him, and called out at a hut.  A man named Brown came out, and Mr. C. asked him for a spade, which Mr. C. gave to prisoner, who immediately struck him a violent blow with the edge of the weapon, and he fell senseless.  Prisoner was then taken into custody, and he told one of Mr. C.'s men that he had done it to get hanged, as he could not stand the tyranny on the farm.  He had tried to kill his master, and if he had missed his life, somebody else would take it.  He subsequently said he was sorry for the accident, and asked how his master was.  In defence, prisoner alleged that it was merely an accident, occasioned by throwing his spade carelessly over his shoulder.  The prisoner was found guilty, and having been called up for judgment, the learned Judge passed upon him the awful sentence of death, holding out to him not the slightest hope of any mitigation of his sentence.



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 9 February 1833.

There was also a new statute in 1832 to regulate the summary trial and punishment of convicts in New South Wales: see 3 Wm 4 No. 3, Sydney Herald, 29 October 1832, Sydney Gazette, 6 September 1832; and see a Circular to Magistrates, 24 September 1832, in Forbes Papers, Mitchell Library A 1381, Reel CY 986 (near the end of the Forbes Papers).  On these changes, see also Australian, 31 August, 7, 14 and 21 September 1832.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University