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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts

R. v. Bailey [1841]

drunkenness - assault, grievous bodily harm - domestic violence

Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land

Pedder C.J., 1 June 1841

Source: Hobart Town Advertiser, 4 June 1841[1]

            John Bailey stood charged on a first count, with having on the 3d May unlawfully and maliciously cut, stabbed, and maimed one Maria Carroll, and on a second with cutting, stabbing, and wounding the same with intent to do her some grievous bodily harm.

            Mr. John Hutson was the principal witness; he deposed that on the afternoon of 3d May, while standing in the back yard of his house, in Harrington street, he heard prisoner and Maria Carroll (who had been living with him for the last twelve months) quarrelling, their house not being more than 5 yards from witness's, he could hear a great noise. He presently saw Carroll run to a neighbour's house, situate about 20 yards from their own; Bailey followed at the same pace; they both went in, and the women immediately screamed violently. Prisoner came out dragging her by the waist, she clinging to the fence whenever within reach, calling on witness's wife to save her. On reaching the door of his house prisoner opened it, pushed the woman inside, walked in, and shut it. Mr. Hutson, on hearing Carroll continue to scream, went to the door and knocked, at the same time calling Bailey, who let him in, and placed himself with his back towards the window. The woman was then standing against the doorway leading from that into another room. Prisoner sprang at her saying, "You ------- I'll murder you." He struck her on the back, which threw her forward, and he fell too. Prisoner then jumped on her as she lay, and with a knife he held in his hand, stabbed her in the back from 5 to 8 times. The first blow did not take effect, but at the second blood run profusely. During the time, he kept repeating "You ------ I'll rip your ----- guts out" Witness explained "Good God, Bailey, what are you doing?" On which prisoner got up and said "you ----- I'll serve you the same." She raised herself, and was staggering against the wall, when he again threw her down, and twice jumped on her. She again got on her feet, and prisoner lifting up her clothes, said, "Moll, have I murdered you?" Prisoner then walked out and went into a neighbouring house.

Mrs. Hutson corroborated a part of her husband's testimony, and said she had received the knife produced, (a small table knife, with the end bent) from him.

Mary Saunders stated that she was to have been married on the morning of the day in question, but being too late, returned with some of her friends, prisoner and Maria Carroll being of the number, to partake of a dinner; they had drank a good deal and prisoner becoming very intoxicated, made use of obscene language, and was requested by witness to leave. Before doing so, he desired Carroll to follow him. She appeared afraid of him, and began to cry. Witness said, "Baily, don't ill-use her, for you are tipsy," they then went home.

Maria Carroll deposed that she had been drinking the greater part of the day, and being intoxicated at the time Bayley struck her, she did not remember any thing about it, though she could call to recollection all the preceding circumstances. It was evident, however, she did not wish to incriminate the prisoner, for she pretended not to be able to identify the knife produced, which had been in her possession for some time.

Constable Seagrim. - On the third of May on going to prisoner's house, I saw Maria Carroll lying on her face, her back completely covered with blood; I conveyed her to the hospital. On the 4th May, when I arrested Bayley, saying, "you know who I am, you are my prisoner," he then said, "Good God! Is she dead then I'm a lost man.".

Mr. Randolph, assistant in the Colonial Hospital attended Carroll on her first entry into the hospital; on first examining her she appeared intoxicated, her clothes saturated with blood, and a large fleshy wound in the back about three inches in depth, very likely to be produced by a knife of such description as that produced, and as by probing he had found that the wound was first oblique and then turned towards the spine, against the transverse process, the bend at the point was likely to be produced; had it gone half an inch deeper in would have caused death.

The Prisoner, when called on for his defence, said he left it entirely to His Honor, for he was as ignorant of the circumstances as a child.

He called on Mr. Hutson, the first witness, to certify as to his general quiet deportment, which he did, saying that when sober it was impossible to find a more harmless being, but when tipsy he appeared crazy.

The Jury, after a quarter of an hour's deliberation returned a verdict of guilty on the 2nd count of the information.

Pedder C.J., 1 June 1841

Source: Austral-Asiatic Review, 8 June 1841

            John Bailey was found guilty of stabbing, with intent to do bodily harm, Maria Carroll, a woman with whom the unfortunate man cohabited.  The act was committed in a state of intoxication, another proof of the dreadful effects of that horrid vice.

Pedder C.J., 5 June 1841

Source: Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen's Land Gazette, 11 June 1841

            John Bailey being brought up before his Honor observed, that since his trial he had given the most serious and careful attention to the particulars of his case in the hope that he might find some mitigatory circumstances, but he could not find any and he was of the same opinion then as formerly, that if the woman Carroll, had died, the crime would have been that of murder.  His Honor then passed sentence of death upon the prisoner.

            Bailey again stated that he knew no more than a child what he had done; he was quite unconscious at the time of what he was doing.



[1]              See also Hobart Town Advertiser, 8 June 1841.  According to AOT SC41/5, p. 75, Bailey was charged with intent to murder and by order of the Colonial Secretary was sent to Port Arthur for ten years.  See also AOT GO44/1 Judge's Report, 9 June 1841.


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