Spotlight: Indictment of Sam Poo

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Friday 13 October 1865, page 5

TUESDAY, 10th October.


Sam Poo was indicted for that he, on the 3rd day of February, 1865, at Talbragar, did feloniously, wilfully, and of malice aforethought, kill and murder one John Ward.

John Clough deposed: I am a stockman at Talbragar. I remember when constable Ward was shot. I saw the prisonor the day before that on the head of the Tarrawa. My brother was with me. It was afternoon when I saw him on the station. He had a gun in his hand. I was coming through the scrub, and he covered me with the gun. I asked him where he lived. He told me to go on, or he said he would give me one, two. He also had a pistol with him. I saw the gun afterwards in Mudgee. The gun produced is the same. I could not swear to the pistol. It was lying on a log beside the prisoner. I cannot say whether the pistol produced is the same. I had not seen the prisoner before that. He had on a blue shirt, a cap, and a pair of moleskin trousers patched with corduroy. The cap produced is the one he had on. I could not say whether the trousers were or were not corduroy, but I noticed that they were patched.

Isabella Golding deposed: I live in the neighbourhood of Mr. Plunket’s station. I heard of Ward’s death. Prisoner came to my house on the 30th January. I was not at home at the time. He came to me a few hours after that. I asked him what he wanted by coming back a second time, He said if he could not have his will of the little girl he would of me. I ran for assistance. He had a gun with him. I am sure he is the man.

James F. Plunkett deposed: I am a squatter, and live at Talbragar. I saw constable Ward on the 3rd of February, after he was shot. I found the constable near Barney’s Reef; I never saw the prisoner before that. I found some property at the sheep station scattered about. I saw the prisoner afterwards in custody. I saw where some flour had been emptied, and a portion of a leather legging cut up. I saw the gun and pistol produced. The leather on the gun I believe to be a part of that found cut at the station. It was three or four days after Ward was shot that I saw the things referred to. I removed Ward to my place, and he died on the following day. I spoke to him repeatedly. He said he knew he was dying, and asked what would become of his wife and family. I took down a part of his statement in writing. He made some statements to me that I did not take down in writing. He was quite satisfied he was dying when he made the statemonts, and asked me to pray for him. The statement produced is the one I took down from his lips.

The statement was then read, of which the following is a copy :– “I, John Ward, senior-constable, stationed at Coonabarabran, do hereby solemnly declare, believing myself dangerously ill and at the point of death, that on this 3rd day of February, 1865, I met two men on the Mudgee side of Barney’s reef, who told me that a Chinaman was about sticking up people. When I got on the Talbragar side of Barney’s reef, I sighted a Chinaman, and when he saw me he left the road and went into the bush. I chased and overtook him, and told him that I was a policeman, and ordered him to put down his gun. He ran at me, and said, ‘You policeman, me fire’; when he presented his gun I got off my horse and took out my revolver. He followed me round the horse and fired at and wounded me. I fired one shot at him and he fell; I fired two more when I was on the ground. He then ran away reloading his gun. To the best of my belief the Chinaman was a short, little, cranky old man. He had a gun and a pistol.”

Mr. Innes addressed the jury for the defence and commented at considerable length upon the evidence, arguing that there was nothing in the statements of the witnesses that would fix the shooting of Ward upon the prisoner; and the jury should be satisfied not only that the evidence was of such a character as to render it probable that the prisoner was the culprit, but also that it was such as to render it improbable that any other person could have done the deed. There was no case against the prisoner, if thc dying declaration of Ward were shut out, and that declaration was defective and very objectionable, inasmuch as from it they learned that Ward himself was only acting upon imperfect hearsay evidence

His Honor, in summing up, referred to the value of dying declarations as evidence, and argued that they should be received, as a person dying was likely to be fully impressed with the importance of his situation, and was quite as likely to state the truth as he would be were he in the witness-box and giving his testimony upon oath. After reading the declaration, his Honor recapitulated the principal portions of the evidence, expatiating upon the various circumstances related by the witnesses, and showing how those circumstances bore upon each other.

Mr. Butler called his Honor’s attention to the fact that, in the verbal statement made by the deceased that was not reduced to writing, he described the Chinaman’s gun as cut down.

The jury retired, and after a short absence returned a verdict of guilty. Sentence deferred. – Abridged from the Bathurst Free Press.

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