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1-230 (Text)

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author,male,Sydney Gazette,un addressee
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Decisions of NSW Supreme Court
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Friday. - The Attorney General informed the Court, that he would present an information against John Johnston, William Clarke, John Nicholson, Henry Castles, and John Crear, charged with an assault on an aboriginal black woman, which terminated in death. The prisoners were accordingly indicted for manslaughter.
The Attorney General observed, that this was not a case which affected the lives of the prisoners, as there were certain transactions which prevented a capital charge being preferred. There were circumstances of danger which led to the present trial, but nothing, in his opinion, that could justify the measures that had been adopted. Many accounts of the barbarities perpetrated by the black natives had been circulated, and there had also been lives and property destroyed; which, in extreme cases, there could be no question should be defended at the risk of the lives of the assailants. The Attorney General further remarked, that no difference existed between individuals, whether black or white, but that the same laws, now in force, equally extended to each; and, although it was necessarily admitted that danger had no small influence upon the minds of the prisoners, nevertheless it was to be proved, that the steps resorted to were unjustifiably rigorous. Witnesses were then called in support of the prosecution.
Mr. William Lane, overseer to Mrs. Hassall, at O'Connel-plains, in the Bathurst country, deposed, that a party of the natives visited that neighbourhood about the latter end of May last; shortly prior to which 7 white men had been killed by them, in the vicinity of Mudjee. This occurrence had spread terror and alarm through the country. That a tribe of the natives also visited Brisbane Valley, a station belonging to Mr. James Hassall, distant 15 miles from O'Connel-plains. Here they plundered the stockmen of all their comforts and provisions. On the 31st of May, one of the men under his controul, named John Hollingshead, came home wounded in two places; one spear having passed through the left arm, just below the elbow, and another fractured the thumb bone. This man reported to Mr. Lane, that he had been pursued within one mile of the farm. The consternation among the men on the estate increased. Application was made by the prisoners at the bar, in conjunction with one Alexander Grant, to be allowed arms, that they might go in pursuit of the natives, else they would all be murdered. The witness, considering his family and people were in imminent danger, supplied the prisoners with horses and arms: four had muskets, and the fifth (Castles) could only obtain a sword. The wounded man (Hollingshead) having been pursued in the S.E. direction, which was close to the main road leading from O'Connel-plains, the prisoners went off in that route. In the evening the party returned, reporting the fruitlessness of the expedition, as they had not fallen in with any of the natives. After this, Clark and Castles admitted they had seen a party; in which they were borne out by the declaration of Alexander Grant, in presence of the prisoners. The latter remarked to the witness, that the blacks had their spears prepared to throw at him; that he called to the five prisoners, who were rather behind, to advance; that a volley was discharged in their midst; and that some of them dropped, but whether males or females then they did not know. It was afterwards ascertained, by the story of Grant, that one was an old woman, but of the age or sex of the others they pleaded ignorance. The party, which had been so fired at, contained about thirty in number, and fle