Spotlight: Smith and Brady Convicted (21 April 1873)

Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), Monday 21 April 1873, page 3




At the Beechworth Circuit Court on Friday last James Smith and Thomas Brady were arraigned on a charge of having feloniously murdered one John Watt, at Wooragee.

Prisoners pleaded not guilty, and were defended by Mr. F. Brown, instructed by Mr. G. Smith. The evidence. in the case has already been published and it is therefore unnecessary to recapitulate it. Happenstein, who was committed for trial with the prisoners, was allowed to turn Queen’s evidence. At the conclusion of the case, as we learn from the “Ovens and Murray Advertiser,” the jury retired, and after an absence of three-quarters of an hour, returned into court with a verdict of guilty. Prisoners were asked if they had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon them Smith made no reply. Brady made an indistinct murmur, which was understood by come of those nearest the dock to be “yes,” but he said nothing further. After a brief but impressive pause, his Honor addressing the prisoners, said that all through the case they must be aware that this result was inevitable, they must have seen that no other verdict could be returned. The evidence of Happenstein, corroborated, as it was, by that of other witnesses, had proved that they were

The two men who shot Mr. Watt.

For years, no case like that which had been tried that day had occurred in the colony. Men had been executed for murder committed in hot blood, for crimes committed under the influence of passion, but a cool-blooded murder such as that of which prisoners had been found guilty had not been committed for years. In times past, when men were determined on obtaining gold at any cost, murders like that committed at Wooragee had occurred; these times had happily gone; but the prisoners had resuscitated this class of crime, and had murdered Mr. Watt

In the most cold-blooded manner.

The man was doing no harm; was interfering in no way with the prisoners, yet had been shot down by them at the door of his own house. The prisoners seemed. to have issued from their lair in the recesses of Mount Pilot, like wild beasts of prey, bent on bloodshed. Had Mrs. Gale not followed the advice given her by the young man Jarvis; had she refused to obey the orders of the prisoners, as did the poor man, who fell a victim to their murderous instincts, it is probable her life would have been forfeited. It was not probable that anything he could say would affect the prisoners, if they had not been moved by the sight of

The woman, whom they had made a widow,

in the witness-box. The crime of which they had been found guilty was one which there was nothing to extenuate; it was a cold-blooded murder. It was evident that the prisoners had distrusted Happenstein, as they had kept him away with the horses; it was evident that Happenstein was not so criminal-minded as they, and therefore they had not admitted him to a full share of their confidence. The consequence was that he had appeared against them in the witness-box that day, and had assisted materially in sheeting home the crime to them. They had bestowed on Happenstein only half their confidence, and in that they had committed a mistake; they ought either to have reposed full confidence or none. In consequence of the verdict that had been returned by the jury — a verdict in which he fully concurred — he had a serious duty to perform, to proceed to pass

Sentence Of Death

on the prisoners. Before doing so he would advise them to see their clergymen, and employ their remaining time in preparing for another world. He would beseech them, not as the judge to the criminal, but as one man to another, to see their clergymen, think seriously of the awful position in which they were placed, and make fitting preparation for their approaching doom. The sentence of the Court was, that prisoners be taken to the place from whence they came, and there hanged by the neck until dead, on such day as may be appointed by the Governor-in- Council. The learned Judge, who seemed to be much affected in passing sentence, was very indistinctly heard in court. Prisoners, who during the proceedings had maintained the greatest composure, seemed to be

Overpowered by the passing of the sentence.

They were then removed from the dock, and the court adjourned.

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