Spotlight: Apprehension and Committal of Martin Cash

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Tuesday 5 September 1843, page 3




On Friday morning a highly respectable Jury was summoned to enquire into the death of Constable Peter Winstanley, who had been shot by Martin Cash, in Brisbane-street, on Tuesday night when in the act of capturing that daring and desperate man, and who expired on Thursday morning, at the Old Commodore. As Winstanley’s body lay at that house, and as he was shot opposite the door, the Jury was summoned to attend there, and accordingly, at ten o’clock on Friday morning the following Jury was impanelled :— Mr. Rout, senior, Foreman ; Messrs. J. Robertson, J. Johnston, J. Wilkinson, E. Howe, W. Lindsay, and S. A.Tegg. Having viewed the body of the deceased, and returned to the jury jury-room, the Coroner, Mr. Champ addressed them and observing that as there would be great impropriety, as must be obvious to them, in having Martin Cash dragged there through the streets, and as it was desirable that he should be present, at the enquiry, it was proposed that the inquest should be held at the gaol ; he also directed the jury to discard from their minds the various contradictory reports they must have heard, and judge the case solely by the evidence to be adduced.

Mr. Rout, the foreman, believed, that, according to a recent law, it was not necessary that the party accused should be present at the enquiry. The Coroner said, as we understood him, that perhaps it was not legally necessary, but in the present instance it was highly desirable. The jury accordingly repaired to the gaol, and about half-past ten the enquiry commenced. The jurors having taken their seats, Martin Cash, was brought into the room, very heavily ironed, so much so, indeed, that he was assisted up the stairs by three persons ; he looked embrowned and weather-beaten ; the upper part of his face was cut and bruised, but the cap which he wore concealed the injuries inflicted upon his head by the constable Thomas Thomas, who broke the butt of his horse pistol in beating him over the head [see his evidence] ; the prisoner was dressed or rather, scantily covered with a flannel jacket and trowsers, ragged at the knee, and exposing his thigh, without shoe or stocking ; he sank into his seat in sullen indifference and sat scowling, and apparently unconcerned, and with his arms folded during the examination of the several witnesses. Before the examination was commenced, Mr. Champ addressed the prisoner, and told him that he had sent for him, in order that he might be present at the enquiry ; so that he might have an opportunity to hear the evidence, and to put such questions, to the witnesses as he might think proper.

Prisoner (in a careless manner) — Oh! there is no occasion to say anything here.

The Coroner wished him to pay attention to the evidence. He had thought it better for the prisoner to be present, seeing that he stood charged with the murder of the deceased, whether rightly or not he, the Coroner could not say.

Mrs Mary Ann Smith.— I am the landlady of the Old Commodore public house in Brisbane-street ; I had known the deceased, Peter Winstanley, for several years ; he was at my house on Tuesday night, when he told me he was a prisoner of the crown, and had two or three months to serve before he got his emancipation ; about twenty minutes before nine on Tuesday night, the deceased was in my bar, having been in the house about half an hour ; I heard a cry of “stop that man!” I ran into the street, and saw a man running a-head of his pursuers, and going down Brisbane-street, towards the Government paddock ; there were a great many people after him, and as near him as the Man of War public-house ; I called to Winstanley, and said, “Peter, come out and stop this man, who has been thieving or murdering his wife ;” the man was running in the middle of the road ; Peter Winstanley came out instantly, and stood in the road, opposite the man who was running ; Winstanley held his arms in the middle of the road ; the other man ran against him with some force, and then drew back a little, and fired ; I did not see with what the man fired, but I saw a flash, and heard a report, I should say of a pistol ; Winstanley cried out, “Oh, Mrs. Smith, I am shot — I am a dead man ;” he came towards me, and leaned against me, and I and my son assisted him into the house ; when he entered the house, he fell on his back ; I cannot tell what became of the other man ; there was a great rush and noise in the street, and I locked the door instantly ; the deceased was standing about two yards from me when he was shot ; I sent immediately for Doctors Meyer and Crowther ; just before I heard the shot, the man who was running appeared to take some-thing from about his breast, and he held out his arm towards the deceased ; there was no one else standing by him ; the flash seemed to come from his hand ; I am quite positive that the man who was running was the man who fired the shot ; I did not see his face ; he was dressed in dark clothes ; there was no light, except from the fire-arms, by which I could distinguish that the man was tall, and that he was dressed in dark clothes ; I did not observe what was on his head, or what kind of trousers he had on ; Dr. Crowther came about five minutes after Winstanley was shot ; he was then lying on the ground, where he fell ; Dr. Meyer was very ill ; he went away, as he could not attend upon the deceased ; nobody had interfered with the deceased, or touched him, before Dr. Crowther came ; he had not spoken at all ; when Dr. Crowther came, the deceased’s clothes were taken off, and he was removed to bed ; I saw a hole in his side before he was put to bed, and while the doctors were examining him, the wound was bleeding ; Dr. Crook was also there, and he and Dr. Crowther attended the deceased till he died ; I saw no other marks of violence on his body ; the deceased died a little before eleven o’clock yesterday (Thursday) morning ; I knew the deceased to have been a constable, but did not call to him in that capacity ; I should have called to any one.

On being asked if he wished to put any questions to Mrs. Smith, Cash replied — “I have no wish to put any questions to the woman ; I don’t know her — what questions should I put to her ?”

In answer to a question by the Coroner, Mrs. Smith said, there were two lamps near — one over her door, and another at the corner of the street, by the church ; she could not at all distinguish the features of the man who fired.

John Price, Esq., Police Magistrate for Hobart Town, deposed as follows :— I know the deceased, as “Peter Winstanley,” he was a constable since the 10th April, 1842, and was attached to the Hobart Town Police Force ; he was not on duty on Tuesday last ; I had sent him up the country on special service, with two absconders in his charge ; constables are always considered to be on duty when their services are required ; I know the prisoner Martin Cash, I know him well ; I first saw him about eighteen months since ; he is a prisoner of the crown and an absconder from Port Arthur ; I tried him summarily and sentenced him eighteen months’ ago, to hard labour in chains for two years, at Port Arthur ; I sentenced him for absconding ; I think, also, he had two years extension of sentence, he being a seven years’ man ; I have seen his name in the Gazette, as having absconded from Port Arthur ; there is no other Martin Cash in the colony ; there is a Martin Cass, but not Cash ; I know of a Proclamation offering a reward for the apprehension of the prisoner, published by authority of the Government ; I have also issued warrants for his apprehension ; this was known generally to the police, but I cannot say whether the deceased knew it ; I issued a warrant for robbing the Coach — a highway robbery, likewise as being a prisoner at large with fire arms ; on being told that Winstanley was dead, Cash said he was glad ; I think it right to say, however, that he sent me a message this morning, saying, he was sorry for the expression he had used relative to Winstanley’s death ; Cash at first refused to have his wounds dressed, until I threatened to use force for the purpose.

The Police Record Book was now produced, by which it was found that Cash had been tried summarily on 2nd June 1842, by Mr. Price & Mr. Gunn, when he received two years’ extension of his sentence, and was recommended to be sent to Port Arthur, he being at large a long time and suspected of having committed several felonies.

Mr. Ebenezer Smith, son of Mrs. Smith, stated, that on hearing the cry of “stop thief,” or “stop that man,” he ran out, and he corroborated so much of his mother’s evidence as proved the shooting of the deceased ; he stated, also, that Winstanley grappled with the man before he drew back and fired ; Winstanley also held the man till some of his pursuers came up, when he let him go, and said, he was a dead man ; the pistol which the man fired was a foot long ; witness distinctly saw it by the flash; the man was running with his arms crossed when witness first saw him ; as soon as he shot Winstanley the people came up and grappled with him ; he struggled a great deal to get away, and kept the people away till he got to the curb, when he fell ; witness thought there were two or three hundred people following him ; when he was down a man beat him with the butt-end of a large pistol, while the people called out — “use him fair, don’t kill him!” The man that beat him was a tall man dressed in light clothes, but witness would not know him again ; witness never lost sight of the tall man from the time he fired at Winstanley till he fell down ; he got by some means to the foot of the sign post, where, in about five minutes afterwards another pistol went off ; witness did not know by whom that was fired ; after this there were cries of “murder him! kick him!” and the man with the pistol beat him again ; he must have been dragged to the sign-post by the movement of the people ; all the time he was on the ground he struggled very much ; witness heard that a man was shot in the face by the second pistol ; about ten minutes after the second pistol was fired, the man was got up and taken to the Penitentiary ; witness could not trace the man’s features, and did not know whether it was the same that shot Winstanley ; he was, however quite certain that the man that was beaten with the pistol was the same as was taken to the Peniten-tiary ; being requested to look at Cash, the witness did so, but said, that he did not see his features sufficiently distinct to enable him to recognize him, he had on a dark dress but no cap when witness saw him.

By the Foreman.—He appeared to have on a close-bodied coat, down to the knees ; his clothes were dark.

Prisoner. — Have you wrote down everything this young man knows about me ?

Coroner. — He has not mentioned you yet .

Prisoner. — Well, the man you think to have been me ; he says had on a frock coat.

Coroner. — He says it was so dark, he did not rightly know ; but I will write it down, if you wish it.

Prisoner. — Ah! well —

John M’Donald. — I live at No. 45, Brisbane-street ; at half-past eight o’clock on Tuesday evening I heard the report of a pistol, in the direction of Murray-street ; I ran out, and saw a man running, and some people crying ” Stop him ;” he turned round the corner into Brisbane-street ; I went up to him, when he said, “They want to rob me ;” I went closer to him, when he said, “If you dare to stop me, you are a dead man!” No one else was near, and I was in advance of the man. On hearing this, I let him pass, but hearing cries of “He is a murderer” I threw off my coat, and feeling an irresistible inclination to stop him, I ran after him ; when near Roxboro’ House, he turned deliberately round, and fired at me — fortunately, the pistol did not go off ; he was not then running very fast, but appeared exhausted ; a man named Cunliffe came up ; he was close to me when the man pointed the pistol ; I think I was rather the foremost of the two ; I could not swear it was a pistol the man pointed at me, as I did not see one, but I heard a snap ; I saw neither flash nor sparks ; we both continued to run, calling — “Stop him, stop him !” we passed several persons, ; some laughed, some stood still ; we came near the Old Commodore, when a man rushed out of the house ; I saw Cash shoot him ; I never lost sight of Cash since I first pursued him. [The witness here corroborated the shooting, as explained by the other witnesses.] Cunliffe and I then closed upon the man, and threw him on his back ; a constable came up, and took up a pistol that was lying on the ground, and beat Cash about the head ; we succeeded in holding him on the ground till other persons came up ; I should not know the constable again who beat Cash with the pistol ; thinking Cash was going to bite my leg, I let go my hold, when Cash took out another pistol, and fired it off at random ; I heard some one say he was shot in the face, and he ran off; I am not quite sure that the constable took the pistol off the ground.

The Coroner here desired the witness to be more particular in his answers, as it was a matter of great consequence to the prisoner, observing that he said just now the constable picked it up.

Prisoner. — He has sworn it.

The witnesses were here ordered to withdraw, and M’Donald’s examination was resumed — I am quite positive Cash is the man ; I never lost sight of him until he was taken to the Penitentiary ; I did not see the pistol fired, but I heard the report and could feel him rummaging about his breast, and I immediately heard the pistol go off ; the constables soon after handcuffed Cash, and lodged him in the Penitentiary ; I did not know the deceased ; neither can I say that the body I saw this morning was that of the person shot by Cash.

By the Foreman. — I could tell by his accent that he was an Irishman ; he spoke like Cash, whom I heard speak at the Penitentiary ; I was leaning over his face, and could recognise his features ; it was dark, but I could see sufficiently for that purpose.

By Mr. Lindsay. — I could not say what dress the prisoner had on ; I believe it was dark ; I will not swear positively, but I think he had a coat on ; I asked the constable his name who struck Cash with the pistol, but he would not tell me ; I took off his hairy cap, put it in Cash’s hat, and gave them to Mr. Gunn. On being pressed, as to his recognition of Cash’s face, the witness said, that when he was in the “Tench,” he saw his face distinctly by the lamps, and he had never lost sight of him ; he could say positively that Cash was the same man that was lodged in the Penitentiary.

By the Foreman — I was six or eight yards behind Cash when Winstanley first came out of the “Old Commodore,” and within two yards of him when he shot the deceased ; he just put out his hands, and touched Cash, when he was shot ; the deceased did not hold Cash after he was shot.

The prisoner declined to ask this witness any questions.

Charles Cunliffe. — I reside in Murray-street, and am a carpenter and joiner by trade ; on Tuesday evening, between eight and nine o’clock, I heard the report of a pistol ; I went out to my gate, and saw a man coming in a direction from Veteran’s Row, in a blue dress ; I ran to meet him, and asked him what was the matter ; he turned round and pointed something at me ; I will not swear it was a pistol, or, if it was, that he snapped it ; he made me no answer ; I then heard a voice behind the prisoner, saying, “stop him — it’s Cash — stop thief!” or words to that effect ; I then pursued him down Brisbane-street, and overtook him near the Independent chapel ; he then turned round, and pointed at me again ; I drew back, and cried out, “stop him — it’s Cash, the bushranger ;” I met three people, who crossed to the other side of the road ; no one was then with me, but some persons were behind me ; we ran till we came to Trinity Church, when I saw a man run across the street. (The witness here corroborated the manner in which the deceased was shot.) After Cash fired, I seized him by the shoulder and said, “you murdering rascal, do you know what you have done ;” I threw him on his back, and M’Donald and I fell upon him ; I did not see M’Donald till I put my hand on Cash’s shoulder ; I put my hand on his throat, and my knee on his chest, a constable came up, to whom I said, “keep off, for God’s sake — he has got fire-arms about him ;” other persons then came up, and as they were taking Cash’s fire-arms away, a pistol went off, and slightly wounding me in the hand, shot a person in the face ; Cash was then secured, and conveyed to the Penitentiary ; he was there searched, and one or two watches, and some notes, were taken from him, but no fire-arms ; I recognise him as the same person I had seen conducted to the Tench ; he was smothered with blood, so that Mr. Gunn could not recognise him ; the prisoner Cash is that man ; I did not call out to the prisoner to stop till I captured him ; the man who ran out of the Old Commodore must have heard me say, it was “Cash, the bushranger ;” he must have heard me a quarter of a mile off from the way I hallooed ; I did not know at the time who that man was, but I have since heard he belonged to the police ; I do not recollect whether I saw any pistol at the time Cash was taken ; there was one went off at the time, which I felt, but I did not see it ; my hand was on the muzzle of the pistol, when it went off.

By a Juryman (Mr. Howe) — I saw a constable beat the prisoner on the head with something that I heard was a pistol ; this I prevented ; this pistol could not be the one that went off.

Thomas Thomas. — I am a constable, and was on duty, with constable Agar, on Tuesday night, in Murray-street, near the Blue Bells of Scotland public-house, between eight and nine o’clock ; I saw two men coming down the street, a tall one and a short one ; they came from Brisbane-street towards the Blue Bells of Scotland ; they stopped, while Agar and myself kept out of sight ; we then stepped out to them, when the short man asked Agar “if he knew a man named Pratt about here?” Agar said he did not exactly, and asked me if I knew him? I said, I did not exactly, but there is a man of that name living hereabouts, on the other side of the creek, first house on the right, up a sort of alley ; the short man went up towards the house, about twenty yards ; the tall man stood with me, and Agar went after the short one ; the short man turned back, and said to the tall one, “here, I want you!” he was away about a minute, but did not go into the house ; the tall man took no notice, but went on towards Brisbane-street, and I kept behind him, Agar going with us ; the tall man must have heard the other ; he quickened his pace and began to walk very fast, and set to running, when I ran too, and said, “you must stop, my man ;” he stopped directly, and pointed his pistol at me and fired ; I was ready for him, and fired at the same time ; I saw his pistol most distinctly ; he then set off running very fast, and Agar and I ran after him down Murray-street, towards Brisbane-street ; before he reached Brisbane-street, he stopped, and pointed his pistol two or three times, but did not fire ; I pointed mine too, but I had nothing in it ; we stuck to him ; I could not see the pistol ; another man came up, and Cash fired again, but whether at me, or Agar, or the other man, I cannot tell ; he actually fired in Brisbane-street, about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards from the corner; I do not know the other man who first came up ; I am quite positive Cash fired, I saw the flash ; Cunliffe had not joined us at that time ; this was in Brisbane-street, about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards from the corner of Murray-street ; when Cunliffe joined us he asked what was the matter? I was now getting “winded,” and Cunliffe being fresh, I said to him, “my good man, take him if you can, it is Cash, follow him up ;” Cunliffe pursued him ; he joined us first-near Elizabeth-street.

The Coroner here directed Cunliffe to be re-called, when Cash said, “Can’t you take one man’s statement at a time? You had better call them all up at once, and tell them what to say.” Thomas recognised Cunliffe, who said, that Thomas had told him that it was Cash the bushranger.

Examination continued — I followed the pursuit, raising a hue and cry with the others, till we came to the Old Commodore, when the man Cash was down ; I then set to, and being satisfied it was Cash, struck him on the head with my pistol ; this pistol I had from Mr. Symonds, Chief District Constable ; I broke it beating Cash, about the head ; I beat the man because I thought I stood a good chance of being shot if I did not secure him ; when the pistol broke I seized him by the throat, and called upon Agar, who had a thick pair of boots, to kick him about the head ; when he was nearly strangled and pretty quiet, I called to Agar to put the handcuffs on ; while putting on the handcuffs, Agar took a pistol from

him, which went off at the same moment ; Agar has that pistol ; (it was a small pistol, the barrel of which corresponded with the ball that was taken from Mr. Oldfield’s cheek 😉 the prisoner had the pistol in his hand when Agar took it from him ; when the pistol went off, I called out to Agar to give it him in the head ; it was the only chance we had ; he was then handcuffed and taken to the Penitentiary ; I should know the man again ; the prisoner Cash is the man ; I did not hear any one call out anything besides “stop thief, and stop him!”

Constable Agar corroborated the testimony of Thomas, and Drs. Officer and Crowther deposed to the cause of the deceased’s death, occasioned by the wound inflicted by the pistol shots, which had penetrated the anterior portion of the left lung, and lodged in the opposite side of the body, causing considerable hœmorrhage.

On being asked if he wished to say anything in his defence, Cash said, it was of no use saying anything there ; he begged the jury to notice the quantity of false swearing that had been adduced, and observed that, because there was a reward offered for him, the witnesses had sworn that he had arms about him sufficient to shoot all Hobart Town.

The Coroner addressed the jury, and, in a plain and lucid manner, placed before them the leading points of the case, and after a consultation of nearly half an hour, they brought in a verdict of “wilful murder against Martin Cash.”

The Surveyor-General was present during nearly the whole time, till half-past four o’clock, and a few respectable persons were admitted into the jury room. We beg to express our thanks to Mr. Champ for the urbanity and readiness with which, when the jury was adjourned, he acceded to our request for permission to attend the inquest in the jail.

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