Spotlight: Bushrangers in court in Bathurst (13 April 1865)

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 13 April 1865, page 2


MONDAY, APRIL 10, 1865.

(Before His Honor Judge Wise.)

Crown Prosecutor, E. Butler, Esq. Barristers, W. B. Dalley, J. L. Innes, and E. Lee, Esqrs. Attorneys,

Messrs. James and McIntosh.


James Mount alias Gordon alias the “Old Man,” and James Dunleavy were charged with, on the 7th day of July, 1861, assaulting and robbing William Brandon, and taking from him a quantity of letters, the property of himself and another.

Mr. Dalley applied for time to plead on behalf of Dunleavy, which was granted.

Gordon, after having objected to be arraigned by any other name, pleaded guilty. His Honor reserved sentence.

Another count charged Gordon with having, on the same day, in the Half-way House, robbed Ebenezer Davis of £3, and with, on the same day, at the same place, assaulting and robbing one George Asmus, to both of which he pleaded guilty. He also pleaded guilty to having robbed, with fire-arms, on the 13th June, 1864, one Charles David Clements of a quantity of fire-arms and £2 in money ; on the 19th August, in the same year of having stolen horses, &c, the property of William Faithful Gibson ; and on the 22nd June, at Canowindra, a quantity of wearing apparel and £3 in money, from Joshua Pierce.


Sam Poo was indicted with, on the 18th February, at Barney’s Reef, shooting at one Henry Hughes, to prevent his lawlful apprehension. The prisoner remained mute, and would not answer the charge.

Wilson Ramsay being sworn said that the prisoner since his arrest had not to his knowledge spoken, but he had been told that he could speak English well.

John Duff deposed he knew the prisoner. Had spoken to him in English, and he had replied to him. He can speak English as plain as witness can.

It was therefore decided that the jury should be empanelled to try whether he was mute by malice, or by the visitation of God. The jury being sworn, Mr. Butler said that the only thing they had to try was whether he was wilfully mute or only unhappily so. He thought he could prove by various witnesses that the former was the case, and that he had only become obstinate.

Tommy Hoy deposed that he had a conversation with the prisoner on the previous day in the coach, both in English and Chinese, and he understood him.

John Duff re-called, repeated his former evidence. He asked him in English where he was going to, and he said if himself and his brother did not go on he would soon make them. Asked him where he lived, and he said, pointing down a log, “there.” This was in English. Told him he would fetch somebody to shift him. He said, “You had better not.”

Senior-constable Webb deposed that the prisoner had been in his charge. He heard him ask for a drink of water whilst on the coach, and he also spoke at his examination before the Bench.

Mr. Sub-inspector Davidson had never heard him speak.

Mr. Chippendall said that after he came into gaol he would not speak at all. Was informed he had eaten the food given to him.

Edward Clark deposed he had seen the prisoner in Mudgee, but could get him to speak. Had heard others speak to him, but he would not answer. He refused to take his food for some fourteen days.

Constable Burns deposed to his having spoken in the lock-up at Sofala, and also in the coach.

The jury retired for half an hour, and brought in a verdict of dumbness by malice.

His Honor decided that this was equivalent to a plea of not guilty, and directed the trial to proceed.

Another jury was therefore empannelled.

Mr. Butler, in opening the case, said that the prisoner was charged with shooting at Henry Hughes with intent to kill him, and in a second count with shooting to resist his lawful apprehension. The prisoner was arrested on suspicion of having shot constable Ward, but the evidence was not at present sufficiently complete to go on with that case. The Chinaman had been told by the police what he was arrested for, and he then shot at them, being well armed both with a gun and pistol, and it was only when knocked on the head with the butt end of a rifle that he was arrested.

Miles Burns deposed he was a constable in the Western Police. Remembered hearing of the death of constable Ward, about the 5th or 6th of February. Went out with senior constable Webb and another to apprehend a Chinaman. Was stationed at Mudgee then. Received information on 17th March that the Chinaman was about the town and went in pursuit with three others. Saw prisoner about fifty miles from Mudgee. McMahon was with him, the other two having taken another direction. A shot was fired and they saw him retreating. Called on him to stop but he would not. Did not see him till after the shot was fired. He was about sixty yards distant. Heard the shots passing over their heads. Fired at him and missed him. Chased him through the bush and met the others. Other shots were fired. Saw Hughes’ hat after the prisoner was taken. When prisoner was taken he was on the ground, taking deliberate aim at witness, when he knocked him over the head and stunned him.

Told him five or six times to surrender, as they were police. Found on him a powder horn, a large pistol, and a fowling piece. The pistol was loaded and the gun discharged.

Senior-constable Webb deposed he was with Burns when they went in search of the prisoner. Saw Ward when he was dead. Was not present when the firing took place.

Henry Hughes, a half-caste, deposed he was lately in the employ of Mr. Blakeman, being brought up by him. Was with the police when the prisoner was taken. He fired at witness, and the shot went through the rim of his hat (produced). The hole was not in the hat when this occurred. The hat was knocked off his head at about six yards from the prisoner. The other time he was fired at he was about twenty-five yards away. Whilst taking aim the last time constable Todd shot him, and Burns knocked him on the head. There was only one hole made in the hat.

Constable Burns was re-called, and in reply to his Honor reiterated his former evidence.

His Honor, in charging the jury, said that as the prisoner had been adjudged guilty of wilfully holding his tongue, and as others had said he could speak, the only course left open was to show them the evidence and leave it to them to judge whether he was guilty upon the first or second count.

The jury, after retiring a few minutes, returned a verdict of wounding with intent to kill. The prisoner, who appeared to be very weak and emaciated, was remanded for sentence.


Note: The following is a historical report – an archival piece – and as such contains terminology and sentiments that are not acceptable in the modern day. It is presented without alterations for the purpose of preserving history, and allowing readers to have an accurate understanding of the attitudes and terminology, of people in our past. May it be an indication of how far we have come in subduing prejudice and bigotry, as much as it is a sobering reminder of how much more work is to be done. — AP

Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893), Saturday 25 February 1865, page 3


(From a Talbragar correspondent.)

Since the murder of poor Ward, about seventeen days ago, sergeant Todd and trooper McMahon (the police at Denison Town) have been indefatigable in searching for the mahogany-colored devil who has for so long a time infested this neighbourhood. He seems never to have been more than twenty miles away from this place, and to have subsisted by robbing the shepherds’ huts round-about; but although intelligence was received almost daily of his presence in some part or another, the bush is here chiefly of so scrubby a nature that it has constantly afforded him safe hiding places. Yesterday, however, sergeant Todd, troopers McMahon and Burns, and Henry Hughes, a stockman, were scouring the bush at Nairn, a place ten miles from Cobra, and about twenty from Denison Town. At four p.m., these four were riding at a little distance from each other, when McMahon suddenly came upon him, lying like a hare “in form.” Directly the Chinaman saw he was discovered he sprang to his feet, fired at McMahon, and dashed into a more dense part of the scrub. His pursuers closed about the spot, and made sure of capturing him; but, though they searched the ground and bushes thoroughly, they could find no traces of him whatever for an hour. They were apprehensive that he had again slipped through their fingers, when he suddenly sprang up as if from the earth, and fired his gun full in the face of Henry Hughes, who seemed to have escaped almost by a miracle for of the slugs with which the gun was loaded one passed through the brim of his hat, and another struck him on the side of the head. After discharging his piece, the Chinaman bounded off to some other part of the scrub, loading as he ran along, which he could the more easily do as his charges were made up in cartridges. He cut such antics as he went along, and sheltered himself so well, that his pursuers could not get a fair shot at him; and he actually fired ten shots before he was taken. Sergeant Todd, as brave and as efficient a man as the force can boast of, repeatedly challenged the fellow to step out and fight him; and it was not until he got almost face to face with him that he had an opportunity of firing with effect. The sergeant had wisely exchanged his clumsy carbine for a double-barrelled gun loaded with No. 1 shot, and lodged the contents of one barrel so effectively about the Chinaman’s head and neck that it placed him hors de combat. When the fellow fell, Burns ran up to secure him; but as he did so the Chinaman drew a pistol, but as he presented it Burns struck him on the head with the butt end of his carbine and stunned him. The news of this rascal’s capture has caused the greatest satisfaction throughout this neighbourhood, where, from his sudden and unexpected appearances, he has been a source of constant alarm to the residents. He now lies in custody, at McVigor’s station, in a precarious state; from which let us hope he will recover sufficiently to die at Bathurst by an anodyne necklace – a process more becoming his calling and profession than a military death.

Denison Town, Talbragar, 18th Feb. 1865.

The Western Post of Tuesday gives an account of the capture, and adds :—

All the constables say that too much praise cannot be given to Hughes for the assistance rendered in capturing this miscreant.

On the case being called on yesterday at the police court, it was found that the prisoner was too weak to be brought into court, and the hearing of the case was consequently adjourned. The Chinaman has been consigned to the gaol, where he will be attended by the medical officer, and as soon as he is sufficiently recovered, the inquiry into his guilt will be initiated. At present he refuses to speak either to his countrymen or to anyone else. He appears very much injured, and it is not improbable that he will die of his wounds.