Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trove Tuesday: George Smith attends court in Perth

Part six. The diary of George Smith continues. Great-grandfather George has left the work gang on the Great Southern Railway and travelled by train to Perth.

1 July 1889 On the train for Perth and very thankful to God for his Grace. Stopped at Pingelly Station road up from Broome Hill with witnesses on a murder case they all being drunk. At Pingelly worked one half day sinking trial holes for a dam.
2/7 Started for Beverley 8 A.M. arrived at 9 P.M.
3/7 Left Beverley for Perth 8 A.M. passed through York and Guildford arriving in Perth at 2 P.M. rode with farmers most of the way. nearly missed the train at Guildford. The country the Darling Ranges between York and Guildford very pretty. Perth also favorably  impressed me.
4/7 Called on Henry Wright. Attended the morning Perth Sessions. Afternoon went to Fremantle had a look around its jetty's and streets returning with the six o'clock to Perth.
5/7 Attended the Session. Jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.

Fremantle, 1898
I wondered why George would have gone to visit the Perth court sessions. He doesn't provide any names in his diary but a search through the newspapers on Trove gave me a few answers. It turns out that the drunk witnesses from Broom Hill George had met on his trip to Perth were involved in the case he went to see. It concerned an altercation (that ended in a death) among some members of a gang collecting sandlewood along the railway line near Albany. George had probably heard or read about the case before he met the witnesses and then decided to attend the court sessions.

Western Mail, 20 Apr 1889
Old Supreme Court, Perth (now the Burt Law Museum)
The Perth newspapers published the proceedings of the court case in great detail but I'm only posting the summary here. The sentence of 15 years for manslaughter seems a bit tough to me because the sandlewood cutters were all drunk at the time and gave conflicting witness accounts at the time. And, according to George, were still drunk three or four months later on their way to the trial!! I hope they had sobered up before they attended court. It would be interesting to know what happened to William Kelly after he got out of jail.

The Inquirer and Commercial News, 10 Jul 1889
The Argus, 8 July 1889
And for our George? He left Perth the next day to explore some other areas of Western Australia. 
To be continued.

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