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2-005 (Raw)

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author,male,Australian, The,un addressee
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Decisions of NSW Supreme Court
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Andrew White was arraigned for the murder of Patrick Taggett, on or about the 22d of February last. This charge rested almost entirely on circumstantial evidence, which was gone into at some length. Mr. James Purcell, chief constable, was the first witness examined. He deposed, that from information reaching him of Taggett's murder, he proceeded with several persons, most of whom were subsequently examined, to rhe [sic] scene where it was rumoured the murder had been committed. It was at a stockstation, called Ottoo-hill, at some distance from the settlement at Bathurst, and belonged to Mr. Hassall, where the prisoner was employed as a shepherd, and Taggett, the deceased, as a hut-keeper the nearest station was distant not less than six or seven miles. Here, on the 26th of February Mr. Purcell arrived with several other persons, and prepared to search the hut, of which prisoner and deceased had been inmates. They found the unfortunate hut-keeper stretched at his length within. The body lay with the tace [sic] downwards, which covered a space of blood of about two feet in diameter. There was alarge [sic] wound on the back of the head; another on the side: and three other stabs, as if from a knife, in the throat. A knife lay by the side of the deceased, and appeared to have been instrumental in the work of blood. On searching further near the hut, an axe, partially covered with blood, and pertions [sic] of hnman [sic] hair adhering to the back part, was discovered hid under some pumpkin and potatoe [sic] vines; there was also a shovel, covered with blood.. Whilst this search was carrying on, prisoner shewed no willingness to assist ; he informed the chief constable that three bush-rangers were in the habit of paying friendly and frequent visits to the station, and it must have been at their hands that deceased received his death blow. The night he found Tagget murdered, the prisoner affirmed there was a more than usual barking from the dogs deceased besides was very subject to fits, and upon prisoner going into the hut and seeing him stretched along the ground, he at first imagined it might be from an attack of that kind, but was soon unhappily deceived. Prisoner was desired to take off his clothes, for the chief constable's inspection, and on the shirt which appeared to have been but newly washed, were found traces of what was at the time considered blood, more particularly about the right arm. The shirt was here produced in open court, and there appeared marks of what may have been blood, but of a very dark colour, and the axe which was also produced, seemed to have rusted in the part which was sworn to by several witnesses, as having been covered with portions of the dura mater, mixed up with blood, when first discovered. Upon prisoner being put upon his oath, and reminded of the heinous crime of swearing falsely, his countenance and conduct seemed to undergo no particular change. He informed Mr. Purcell, that nothing more than a steel mill had been taken away from the hut.
Henry Robinson, an overseer of the sheep stations to Mr. Hassall deposed next to his being present when Taggett's body was discovered had heard that the latter was subject to fits, but prisoner mentioned nothing to him about dogs barking. Enoch Jones, another stock-keeper, was at the hut occupied by White and deceased. On the Thursday the former was within doors at an unusual hour. Jones and another partook of some provisions, and left the hut for their own station prisoner remaining behind. Next morning before sunrise, a bitch belonging to White came into Jones's hut, and White himself followed almost immediately, with information that the bushrangers had stolen a steel mill, and that Tagget was dead and fit for burying. He asked the man to take charge of his sheep, whilst he should be getting to the next station to inform the constabulary. Several other witnesses were examined; most of them concurred in the opinion of the deceased and prisoner having lived together on friendly terms. One said that deceased had complained of prisoner's behaviours to him. The latter attempted, in his defence, to prove that, whilst employed with his sheep, away from the hut, he was aroused by the barking of dogs; and it was his suspicion then, and at the present moment, that bushrangers had robbed and plundered Tagget, as he was frequently in the habit of boasting of his hard dollars. The learned Judge recapitulated the evidence very minutely, and concluded, by recommending the Jury to, find the prisoner guilty, provided the circumstantial evidence adduced could be thought conclusive; but, if a doubt existed, it was a principle of the British law, that the ends of substantial justice would be better answered by letting twenty guilty persons escape, than that one innocent man should perish.
After consulting about six minutes, the Jury found the prisoner guilty. Sentence of death was then passed in the usual way.
Execution, 1 May 1826
The execution of the ill-fated man White took place on Monday morning. He was, as was mentioned in our last, found guilty of one of the most horrifying offences to humanity that of murder; the murder of a hut-keeper, an unfortunate being similarly situated with himself employed under the same master, and living together in an isolated part of the country, where the very nearest station occupied by civilised man, was not less than from 6 to 7 miles. What his incentive for committing this horrid act may have been, is doubtful. The deceased was said to have boasted of his having money, and perhaps a desire to get possession of this may have inspired the direful crime. The evidences of White's guilt, though alone supported by concurrent circumstances, seem too strong to admit of uncertainty. His being the only person residing with or near the deceased--- the knife which White was in the habit of using at his meals being discovered lying by the dead body--- the shirt of the deceased being stained with blood--- and all the moveables of the hut, which it is more than probable bushrangers, if any such had been there, as was said, would have carried away altogether, being found "planted," as they term it, in different directions contiguous to the hut, operated strongly against the prisoner. A steel mill was the only article missing, and even the canvas which was used to cover this was also picked up. A certain degree of dubiety with regard to the guilt or innocence of accused persons must ever exist, where nought but circumstantial evidence can be brought forward ; but the evidence adduced on trial, though of this nature, it might be said scarce left a "peg to hang a doubt upon."---From about seven o'clock of Monday morning the culprit was assiduously attended by the Reverend Mr. Therry, and he continued to receive the consolations of religion until past nine. His father, who seemed to be a very old man, was present in the condemned cell, and did not leave it until the executioner entered with the apparatus of death. The unfortunate man continued kneeling before a crucifix during the preparatory operation of binding the fatal rope, and when all was announced to be ready, he moved from the cell accompanied by the Reverend Clergyman, sub-sheriff, the gaoler, and several other persons, towards the yard at the rear of the prison. An officer's guard was drawn up fronting the drop, and a number of the prisoners in irons were arranged on one side. When the culprit had got to the yard, his death warrant was read by the sub-sheriff, who importuned the unfortunate man, now that all hope of escaping an ignominious fate had deserted him, to confess his crime, and not aggravate it by being hurried into another world, with the consciousness of having spoken a falsehood. In this request Mr. Therry joined, but could elicit nothing further than an attestation from the ill-fated being, that he forgave, with the utmost feeling of sincerity, all who may have been accessary to his fate; he would never perhaps have been so well prepared to die as just then, and that he could confess nothing further than what he already had to his clergyman in the Attorney General's presence. He then conversed with and took an affectionate leave of his father and two prisoners whom he called from among the crowd of others, and gave a free vent to his tears. The clergyman continued to pray and read with the culprit, who made the responses in a firm and penitent voice, until it was intimated that the time for carrying the law into execution, had nearly transpired White then recovered from his kneeling posture, and called out again to some others of his former companions. Notwithstanding the awe and feelings of sympathy which scene of death, like the present, cannot but at all times excite; there was a singular mixture of sorrowful humour in the manner of the unfortunate man. On getting off his knees, he stared about for a few moments, then called out, "Arrah, Jem, Father, Howell, and all o'ye's, why don't you's all come here and speak to me?" The men he addressed himself to stepped forward, and with the unfortunate father took a hasty farewell; the culprit conversed with them in Irish, until he was reminded by Mr. Therry, that it was then time to wean his mind from all mundane associations, and fix it on his Saviour, in whose presence he was shortly to appear. In about three minutes more the mortal career of this misguided young man was finally closed. He struggled but little, and seemed to meet death without much apprehension.
It is rather a singular coincidence, that this youth should have suffered death on the day of his birth. He had only just attained his twentieth year on Monday last, the very day of execution. His body after being suspended the usual time, prescribed by law, was placed in its coffin, and conveyed away to the hospital, for dissection. This reservation of punishment applied to murderers, does not appear to have that horrifying effect upon delinquents in this country, as elsewhere. With the lower orders of Irish, more particularly, a great and universal horror of having their bodies exposed after death to the surgeon's knife, predominates. Many of them view this latter part of their atonement in a darker light than death itself but here where the unfortunate criminal is most generally far removed from kindred and early associations, this idea becomes fainter, and where there are no friends "no women to make lamentation," he becomes indifferent as to the disposal of his body after death, and is most generally consigned to the earth unlamented and unhonored.