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

R v Green [1833] NSWSupC 32

murder - capital punishment, dissection

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 24 April 1833

Source: Sydney Herald, 27 May 1833[ 1]

Edward Green was indicted for the wilful murder of Edward Edwards, by stabbing him with a knife, at Sydney, on the 21st March.

It appeared in the course of the evidence that prisoner and deceased were servants in the employ of Mr. Pritchard, in Pitt-street; that between 8 and 9 o'clock of the morning of the day laid in the information, when the men and apprentices were getting their breakfast in a room adjoining the kitchen, deceased got up, and went into the front shop, followed by two apprentices; he returned in a minute or two, followed by prisoner; deceased went into the kitchen, and prisoner remained at his breakfast, when one of the men asked him where he had been? he replied, round the market; he then turned short round, and went into the kitchen, a scuffle was heard, and on the men going in, prisoner and deceased were seen scuffling, prisoner, with a knife in his hand, and blood spouting from deceased; one of the men seized prisoner, and another took the knife away; a person said to him that he had done a shocking deed, to which he replied he wanted to be hung, rather than live a life of misery, and he wished to serve one person else the same way.  Dr. Bland having been sent for, the deceased's wounds were dressed, and he was put to bed; about twelve that night deceased said he knew he could not live, and wished some one would write home to his wife; he also said, that while stooping at the kitchen fire, the prisoner stabbed him in the side, and before he could recover himself, prisoner pulled out the knife, and stabbed him again; he then turned round, and caught him by the collar; prisoner then stabbed him twice on the other side; he also said he wished the prisoner had done it fatally, and not put him in such torment; about six o'clock the following morning he expired.

The prisoner called no witnesses, nor made any defence.  The Jury, without leaving the box, found him guilty, and having been called up for judgment, His Honor proceeded to pass sentence upon him, remarking that the dreadful fate now awaited him, which he must long have anticipated and been prepared for.  It was no part of his duty either as a Judge or as a man, to aggravate his case, by calling up all the aggravated circumstances attending it, but he would advise him to prepare for that awful transit which in a few hours he must make to another world, and he hoped that since committing the deed, he had betaken himself  to meet the awful event that must have been fully aware that he who sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his be shed.  It was the law of nature, the law of God, and the law of mankind.  He would not dwell longer on the enormous features in the case; every one present must have been shocked at the ferocity that he had exhibited, lying in wait, and with the implement of his trade, taking away the life of a fellow creature.  A Clergyman of his profession would attend him, from whose instruction it was to be hoped he would derive consolation in his last moments.  It now only remained for him to pass the awful sentence of the law upon him, which was that on Monday (this day) he was to be hanged by the neck until dead, and his body, when dead, to be given to the Surgeons for dissection and anatomization.[2 ]



[1 ] For the trial notes, see Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 81, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3264, p. 178.  See also Sydney Gazette, 25 May 1833.  See also R. v. Ross, 1833, a contempt case which arose out of this one.

[2 ] He was hanged on Monday, 27 May 1833.  (See Australian, 31 May 1833, and Sydney Gazette, 28 May 1833, both newspapers saying the prisoner seemed indifferent to his execution).  In this, as in many other murder cases, the trial was held on a Friday and the prisoner condemned to die on the following Monday.  This was consistent with the provisions of a 1752 statute (25 Geo. III c. 37, An Act for Better Preventing the Horrid Crime of Murder).  By s. 1 of that Act, all persons convicted of murder were to be executed on the next day but one after sentence was passed, unless that day were a Sunday, in which case the execution was to be held on the Monday.  By holding the trials on a Friday, judges gave the condemned prisoners an extra day to prepare themselves for death.  See R. v. Butler, July 1826. On anatomising, see R. v. Worroll, 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University