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

R. v. Fitzpatrick [1837] NSWSupC 55

manslaughter, road accident - road accident

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Burton J., 16 August 1837

Source: Sydney Herald, 17 August 1837[1 ]

Peter Fitzpatrick was indicted for manslaughter.  The information stated that on the 14th May, the prisoner was driving a horse and cart along the Cowpasture Road, when by hallooing, shouting, and making a noise he caused the said horse to gallop and run away, by which means the cart was upset, and one Thomas Seymour was cast on the ground, and received divers mortal wounds of which he died.

A constable named Macintosh stated that, on Whit-Sunday he was riding along the road, when he passed the prisoner's cart, a boy named Seymour was riding on the front of the cart;, Fitzpatrick was very drunk in the bottom of the cart, and the father of the boy was walking very near the horse's head; a few minutes afterwards, the horse galloped past him at a furious rate, the prisoner was hallooing and making a noise, and the boy was crying out for help; he went after the cart, and saw it upset; and when he got up to the spot the boy was lying with his arms under the fore part of the cart, and expired immediately.  The boy's father stated that he was walking near the head of the horse, and had occasion to leave it for a moment, when the horse ran away without any reason that he could assign; the prisoner was so drunk that he was obliged to be lifted into the cart.  His Honor told the jury that they must acquit the prisoner, as it was necessary to support the information, that it should be proved he was the cause of the horse-running away.  Not Guilty. - Discharged.


Burton J., 16 August 1837

Source: Australian, 18 August 1837


Peter Fitzpatrick was indicted for manslaughter under the following circumstances.  On the 14th May last, the prisoner was proceeding in his cart along the Cowpasture Road, he lying drunk in the bottom of the cart, and Thomas Seymour, a lad between eight and nine years of age sitting in the front of it.  The father of Seymour was walking by the mare's head, but having occasion to stop for a few minutes, the cart went on.  After it had gone on a short distance, the animal suddenly started off at full gallop, from what cause it was not known; the cart was capsized, and the boy killed upon the spot.  Mr John M'Intosh, Chief Constable of the Stonequarry district, had passed the cart shortly before the occurrence took place, and observed that the prisoner was helplessly drunk.  Having occasion to dismount at a house a little further on, he was standing there when the cart passed at full speed, and the prisoner was shouting in the usual manner of a drunken man.  Mr M'Intosh immediately galloped after the cart, but did not arrive until after it was upset, and the boy merely groaned once, and then died.  The learned Judge stopped the case.  The shouting of the prisoner while the mare was at full gallop, he might have intended as a call for assistance - the cause of the mare's starting off ought to have been shewn to sustain such an indictment.  The prisoner was then discharged.




[ 1] This case was also recorded in Burton, Notes of Criminal Cases, vol. 32, State Records of New South Wales, 2/2432, p. 70.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University