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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts

R. v. Clipham [1827]

murder - manslaughter - Launceston trial

Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land
Pedder C.J., Launceston, 12 January 1827
Source: Colonial Times, 19 January 1827 [1]

Friday, Jan. 12. - Andrew Clipham, was indicted for receiving a gun, knowing it to be stolen, the property of Mr. Solicitor Gleadow. - Mr. Gellibrand, as Counsel for the prisoner, urged an objection against the indictment, but it was over-ruled by the Chief Justice Pedder; after considerable argument, the gun was proved to have been stolen, by some person unknown, from Mr. Gleadow's overseer, who deposed that there were persons in the hut when the gun was lost. - Mr. Mulgrave proved that the gun was found in the house where Clipham resided, but the prisoner being only a lodger in the house, denied all knowledge of the theft - Not Guilty.
Mr. William Beumby was indicted on a charge of manslaughter, for shooting at a child, at Norfolk Plains, whereby it received a wound, which in a few hours caused death. It was proved in evidence, that the gun was without a cock, and went off by accident; that he was very fond of the child, and the child fond of him; that he had clothed and fed the child in his own house; and that from the moment the accident happened, he appeared extremely sorry for what had occurred. - The Chief Justice, in his charge to the Jury, said, that he was glad this case was brought forward, as he had understood that an erroneous impression had been entertained, that any accident of this kind was not really manslaughter. His Honor observed, that if a man killed another, even when performing his lawful occupation, as for instance, throwing rubbish from the top of a house, and a man passing by got killed thereby, it would be murder; or if a man driving a cart or carriage, drives over any person whom he might have avoided, it is also murder. But in either of the cases, if by calling out and giving notice, he does his best to prevent it, it is only manslaughter. He further observed, that if a man found a pistol in the street, and tried it with the ramrod, and found no appearance of its being charged; he presented it at his wife, snapped it, and shot her dead, yet it would be only manslaughter. - Counsel, Mr. Dawes. 
By some means, our Reporter has omitted to mention the verdict in this case.


[1] Andrew Clipham was also found guilty of receiving a stolen gun, knowing it to have been stolen by Brady, a notorious bushranger: see Colonial Times, 26 January 1827. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment:Colonial Times, 2 February 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University and the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania