Spotlight: DEATH OF JOHNNY GILBERT & INQUEST ON BEN HALL

Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880), Wednesday 24 May 1865, page 2


NEW SOUTH WALES.

DEATH OF JOHNNY GILBERT.

(From the S. M. Herald, May 16.)

Yass, Monday Evening.

On Thursday night a horse was stolen out of a paddock at Murrumburrah, of which no particulars could be ascertained till about eleven o’clock on Friday morning, when a man named Furlonge, who was travelling with sheep, stated that he had been visited by Gilbert and Dunn, who rounded up his horses and took a favorite animal, leaving in its stead the one taken from Murrumburrah. On Friday night the bushrangers camped at Rieley’s-hill, two miles from Binalong, some one having seen them there apparently fast asleep. When the police received their information they went to a farmer’s hut, in which a man named Kelly resided, who is the grandfather of Dunn. The police watched all night, but they saw no indication of the bushrangers, and left in the morning, being hopeless of success. Fresh news, however, reached them between eight and nine o’clock on Saturday morning which induced a fresh start to Kelly’s. When the party arrived there, they watched for about an hour, when Kelly came out of the hut and walked up and down in front of the door; and afterwards his wife came out. A little while after Kelly’s youngest son, Thomas, made his appearance, and was beckoned by Constable Hales, who inquired whether there was any one besides his parents in the hut, to which the boy replied that no strangers had been in the house during the night. Hales, however, proceeded to the house, and burst open the door, when he was saluted by a volley from the two bushrangers. The fire was returned, and the police withdrew for a short distance, when almost immediately after Gilbert and Dunn were observed running through a paddock adjoining the hut. Constable Bright started in pursuit, and was followed by the three other troopers. Several shots were then exchanged on both sides, when the bushrangers again retreated, and Hales and Bright fired together, and Gilbert fell. The pursuit after Dunn was continued, but although several shots were fired at him none took effect; and he has since been heard of at Bogolong, ten miles from Binalong, having stuck up Mr Jullian’s station yesterday, and whence he took a horse, saddle, and bridle. The inquest on Gilbert’s body was held yesterday at Binalong. The evidence of Constables Hales, Bright, and King was taken as to the shooting of Gilbert; the body was identified by Messrs Hewitt and Barnes and Constable Bright — the latter knew him for five years, and Hewitt knew him when a storekeeper at the Wombat. Barnes, who was stuck-up by Hall and Gilbert and kept two days in camp, had a good knowledge of Gilbert, and was able immediately to identify him. Dr Campbell, from Yass, made a post-mortem examination of the body, and found that a single bullet had entered the left part of the back, gone through the centre of the heart, and passed out through the left side, fracturing one rib. Dr Campbell stated that death must have been immediate. After Gilbert was shot, constable King received a bullet in the ankle from Dunn’s revolver. The revolver rifle taken from Mr Davis has been recovered. Gilbert had possession of it, and he made several attempts to use it, but the rifle missed fire three times; three chambers were loaded, and one had been discharged. The following is the verdict :— “That the said John Gilbert came to his death by a gunshot wound inflicted on Saturday, 13th May, 1865, near Binalong, in the said colony, by one of the constables in the police force of New South Wales, in the execution of their duty; and that they were justified in inflicting said wound which caused his death. The jury desire further to express their approval of the conduct of the constables, and in their opinion they are deserving of great credit for the gallant manner in which they effected the capture of Gilbert.”

INQUEST ON BEN HALL.

The inquest on Ben Hall was held at the police barracks, Forbes, on the 6th inst. We take the following report of the evidence from the Yass Courier :—

James Henry Davidson, on oath, states: I am sub-inspector of police stationed at Forbes. On last Saturday morning, 29th April, I left the police camp with five men and two trackers, and started in pursuit of the bushrangers — Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn. On the evening of the fifth day from leaving Forbes, we came upon two horses hobbled in the scrub, about twelve miles from Forbes, near Billabong Creek. We watched the horses for about half an hour, when we saw a man approach who caught the horses. He parssed close by where we were standing. He caught the horses, and led them away about 100 yards. This was about ten o’clock in the evening. We did not recognise the man. He took the horses about 100 yards, and hobbled them again. Shortly after, a tracker, Billy Dargan, informed me that he heard the mean he saw lead away and hobble the horses making a noise among the dead leaves, as though he was preparing a bed for himself. I then placed five of the men in my charge where we were standing, and went with Sergeant Condell, and Billy Dargan on the other side of the man, with the intention of attacking him in his camp should we discover that he was Ben Hall. We could not get within 100 yards of the man, in consequence of his horse snorting at our approach. I then determined to wait until daybreak. About half-past six in the morning I saw a man with a bridle in his hand, about 150 yards from where I was, approaching the horses. By this time the horses were feeding on a plain bordering the scrub, and when the man was about half the way from the border of the scrub to the horses, myself, Sergeant Condell, and Billy Dargan ran after him. After running about fifty yards the man became aware of our presence, and ran in the direction where the five men were posted. By this time I identified the man as Ben Hall. I several times called on him to stand. After running about one-hundred yards, I got within forty yards of Hall and fired at him. I shot with a double-barrelled gun. Hall after my firing jumped a little, and looked back, and from his movements I have reason to believe that I hit him. Sergeant Condell and Dargan ( the tracker) fired immediately afterwards. They were running a little to the left of me and not far away. From the manner of Hall, I have reason to believe that Condell and Dargan’s shots took effect. From that time he ran more slowly towards a few saplings. The five police who were stationed beyond him, immediately ran towards him and fired. I noticed Trooper Hipkiss firing at Hall with a rifle, and immediately afterwards the belt holding his revolvers fell off him. At this time he field himself up by a sapling; and upon receiving Hipkiss’s fire he gradually fell backwards. There were about thirty shots fired in all. Hall then cried out, “I am wounded; shoot me dead.” I then went up to the body, and noticed that life was extinct. I also observed that the bullet fired by Hipkiss passed through his body. I searched the body, there was £74 in notes in two chamois leather bags, one in his trousers pocket, the other in his coat breast pocket, three gold chains, and a gold watch, a portrait of a female, three revolvers, and a number of bullets in his pocket, and a gold ring keeper on his finger. Along with his saddle was a quantity of wearing apparel. There were also two single blankets. I knew the body to be that of Ben Hall. His clothing I observed to be perforated with bullets. We caught the horses and fixed the body of deceased on the saddle, and in this manner brought him to Forbes.

James Condell, on oath, states :— I am sergeant of police stationed at Forbes. On Saturday night last, in company with Sub-inspector Davidson, four constables, and two trackers, in pursuit of the bushrangers — Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn. On the Thursday night following, we observed two horses hobbled in the bush. We watched the horses for about an hour. We then saw a man approach the horses and take the hobbles off, and lead them through the bush for about one hundred and fifty yards. He then hobbled the horses, and let them go. He afterwards proceeded into the scrub, and immediately afterwards we were informed by the black tracker, Billy Dargan, that he heard him scraping on the ground as if to make a place for a bed. Sub-inspector Davidson and myself then posted the men in a half-circle on one side, and Sub-inspector Davidson and myself proceeded to the opposite side. Myself, Mr Davidson and the tracker crept about through the bush in search of his camp. Finding that we could not succeed in discovering the camp, we resolved to watch the horses all night, and about six o’clock next morning I saw a man emerge from the scrub into a piece of open country, and walk in the direction of the two horses, we started in pursuit, and ran about fifty yards before he observed us. He then looked up and saw us, he turned and ran from us. Sub-inspector Davidson then called on him to stand; he looked round and still kept running. Sub-inspector Davidson then fired at him. Immediately afterwards I saw Hall jump; he still kept running. I then levelled my rifle at him, covered him full in the back, and fired. I believe the shot took effect between the shoulders. After this he rolled about, and when running appeared very weak. The tracker then fired with a double barrelled gun, and I believe hit the deceased. We called out for the men stationed on the opposite side. When he saw them emerge from the scrub, he turned and ran in another direction. The men all fired, and I believe most of the bullets hit him. Deceased then ran to a cluster of timber, laid hold of a sapling, and said, “I am wounded; I am dying.” The men then fired again, and he immediately rolled over. He threw out his feet convulsively once or twice, and said, “I am dying, I am dying.” We all then approached him, and found he was dead. Sub-Inspector Davidson searched the body, and found £74 in notes, a gold watch, three revolvers capped and loaded, a powder, two boxes of percussion caps, a bag of bullets, and a quantity of wearing apparel. At his camp we found a saddle and bridle and a pair of blankets. We then packed his body on a saddle, and removed it to our camp, and then to Forbes. I have known the deceased for four years. About three years ago I escorted him a prisoner to Orange, and saw him frequently afterwards. I identity the body of deceased as that of Ben Hall.

William Jones, on oath, states: I am a storekeeper, residing at Forbes. I have seen the body of deceased, and identify it as the remains of Ben Hall. I have known the deceased seventeen years, and have seen him continually during that period, except during the last three years. I am perfectly certain as to his identity.

John Newall, on oath, states: I am a licensed publican, residing at Forbes. I knew Ben Hall nine years ago, and have frequently seen him since until within the last two years and a half. I have seen the body now lying in the adjoining room and identify it as that of Ben Hall.

Charles Assenheim, on oath, being duly sworn, saith: I am a qualified medical man. I have examined the body of deceased, and find it perforated by several bullets. The shot between the shoulders, the two shots into the brain, and the one through the body were severally sufficient to cause death.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s