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FATAL RIFLE ACCIDENT..
Whilst three men employed 0n the Muswellbrook-Denman works, named Matthews, Roberts and Perkins, were scooting rabbits with rifies near the
two-mile camp,' on Wednesday even ing last the rifie of Roberts went off accidentally and Matthews wa.s shot in the back. The wounded man was promptly conveyed to Dr. May's Surgery, thence to the Hospital, where
he died on the same night. The district
Coroner (Mr Q, H. TindaleJ held an inquest on the occurrence at the Court House on Thursday evening when the following particulars were elicited and a finding of accidental death recorded:
Francis Hollingsworth May deposed: i am a duly qualified medical practictioner and Government Medical Officer know the subject of this inquest James Matthe.ws; on Wednesday af ternoon 30th inst, about 5 o'clock 1 was summoned to iny surgery ].o see a man said to have been shot; he was lying on my surgery couch lace downwards, with u, bullet wound in his back which w.us not clean'; he seemed seriously injured, and I advised
his removal to the hospital at, once, where I followed and examined
him more .carefully; he complained of | much pain in his lower limbs and had partially lost the movement of both ! legs, bolt reflexes being absent; his
Pulse was feeble; he was somewhat I blanched in appearnace; on probing the wound which .was 2 inches from the spinal column, one could not de tect the whole course of the bullet or feel it as he was in great pain and in such a dangerous condition; there was no sign of the bullet exit;
I administered restoratives and strychnine
I and advised him to be quiet
or a time and I would see him
again and when better have him X
rayed; about two hours afterwards
I was summoned to the hospital, having left
word to send for me if his
condition altered; upon my arrival formed
the opinion that he was past human aid and practically dying; he died shortly afterwards; I am of the opinion that the track of the bullet severed a blood vessel, and he died from internal hemorrhage and that the bullet damaged his spine. I do not think he had a possible chance from when he was first shot.
By Sergeant Donnelly: The bullet produced, a 22 long, would make a
wound similar to the one I saw; saw
the coat and shirt produced with hole
through each, which in my opinion could be caused by bullet produced and correspond with the position of the wound of deceased; the wound was 2 inches away from the spine;
I am of the opinion the shot was fired
practically at right angles from behind
could not say who was present
when I saw the patient first: a man who accompanied the deceased said he had been accidentally shot, and the deceased who could talk did not contradict him; I did see or smell any trace of drink on either the man who was shot, or the man who was with him.
Senior Sergeant Donnelly deposed:
am senior sergeant of police station ed at Muswellbrook; on the 30th in stant about 6' p.m. a young man named Geoffrey James Roberts, now present in court, came to the police station and told me that Dr .May had
sent him to inform me had
accidently shot James Matthews at the - mile camp about 4 o'clock that evening I asked him was there any immediate danger. and (he said no, but
ha had lost the use of his limbs; i
kim X will /lake a statement ox facts down in w writing from you,
iu. ,case Matthews should die, he,
said alright; X produce the statement marked exhibit A; I then said to him Where is the rifle you had.?" he re plied that they eacJi had; a rifle and threw them down just where the ac cident occurred on, yi© foamk of fcixe river; he said b,e was going out again and would bring the rifle up; I asked him .what sort of cartridge he was shooting wit'n; he replied 22 long and that he had a job ;to put the nrs.t one in; X asked who was .with him, and he said a man named Harry Perkins; x told him ttt get Per kins to come with Xiiiu and bring his rule also; at 8 o'clock, both v.yere wait uig outside my gate; Roberts han ded me the rifle produced, .and the empty shells in it now.; he said he did not hear, it and did not know how it went off; tha bullets produced
t0 me by Constable Mur phy, all 22 s; 1 then went down to
? a two mile camp with Perktas and w.ent to a tent occupied by the decea sed, and obtained .the shirt and coat produced in court;, referred to by Dr. May, and which a. man named Char les Olsen identified as those he had
taken off deceased at ihe hospital;
14 f^oduce the rifle which jRer
kins handed to me and the one used
by thg deceased on the occasion ths» he was shot; Roberts seemed very depressed and upset; and owing to tha* 1 took certain action; there was no sign of drink oa. Roberts or p0r Kin3; x saw the deceased at, S o'clock
1 ^,aa h the doctor .when, he
probed the wound and saw; no other I marks of violence 0n the body
Ellen Ethel Mtotthews deposed: 1 am id married woman and reside at the li mile cam/,), near Muswellbrook; with, my late husband, the subject ot this inquest, 'Kept a boarding house there; 1 last saw my husband alive on Tuesday, and he wsa in good health; I hafg been up to the hospi tal; saw. th«i body and identified it as the bod,'/ of my late husband," know Roberts now present in court; and he and my husband were on the best of terms; they never had a quarrel;, my husband's age was 31 years and he was la fettler; his life was not uasured and he did not own any property; he did not make a will; Roberts and my husband went rabbit shooting a few times before; my hustiand did not have a rifle; he was 'a native of Barraba.
Charles Olsen deposed:) 1 ana a
navvy employed on the railway con- I struetion works, and refiide at the 2 mile camp near Musjy.ell brookji reman* ber the 30th instant; know Matthews the subject of this inquiry and saw him u.bout 4 p.m.; I was sitting in the camp when Roberts came and asked ine to give him a .hand with the horse; X said yes, what 'stiie mat tor; he said, Jim Matthews was shot; we got the horse and went to a gate near where the accident occurred; I saw -Matthews lying on the ground; hfl dii not speak to me; I assisted to lift him Into the sulky and brought him in to Dr. May, and then went to the hospital with him; I assis ted 'o take deceased's clothes off, and took them hack to his camp, and handed them to Senior Serg eant Don nelly at 11 p.jn. last iright; Roberts was with me all the time; he seem ed anxious to do what he could for deceased; dtfl not hoar deceased say how he was shot; saw th\om out shoot ing together before; thoy were al ways good friends; have) know.n Ro berts abou t six weeks y.nd .lie is of a very quiet disposition.
Harry 'Perkins deposod: I am a labourer employed on title construc tion works and reside at tho 2 mite camp, r,ear Muswellbrook; know tho subjcct of this Inquiry; d eceasod. lloburt/i, mid myself woro Out shoot ing y'wtonlay about i p.m.; each
had pea rifles with us, and the rifles produced are the ones we had; Rob erts had the repeating rifle; we were 100 yards away from the camp and Roberts had the first shot at a rabbit on the aide of the river soon after we started 1 heard a re port and thinking Roberts had shot a rabbit; I looked ahead and saw Matthews fall down; he said "I am shot." We both threw! down our rifles and picked him up and cor'riedf him to the gate;- Roberts and I went after tile pony and sulky while ' Powers was looking after Matthews;: when we Picked Matthews uP, Roberts . said, "Who shot him?" I replied "Your gun went off!"; I did not notice in what posijtion Roberts watj carrying his gun; know that Roberts and Mat thews were very friendly; had been out shooting before with Roberts.
To the Coroner: They had no in toxicating drink.
To the Sergeant: There was no
cartridge in my gun. as I was put ting my hand into my pocket to get one; from where Roberts was stand ing if the gun went off the bullet would make a wound in deceased's
Alfred rowel's deposed: 1 am a railway labourer and reside at the 2 mile camp, near Muswellbrook; re member yesterday and know decea sed subject of this inquiry; was talk ing to deceased between four and five; and he was in a wounded con-, dition; a small hole was in the small of the back like a pea rifle bullet hole ;1 was asked by Roberts to look after Matthews; he said "Jim's shot'' and you mind him while I get the horao and sulky; 1 had accommodation with MatUiews; ,1 asked "How did. this happen Jim," he said little Georgfl (medning RbbertsJ was holding his rifle, and it went off and shot me; asked him if he. was jn front or be hind Roberts; lie said lie was in. front Matthews said that Robert's gun had gone off accidentally; and after that his trouble seemed to be about his wife and family; saw each of them go out shooting with a' pea rifle 10 minutes before; know Roberts well, and Matthews and they were great friends, and had no quarrela and had been out shooting before; Roberts is a very decent chap; whendeceased told him about the accident he was perfectly sensible.
Geoffrey James Roberts deposed : 1 am a railway labourer residing at at thp 2 mile camp near Muswellbroolj about 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon,
(Wednesday) Matthews, Perkins and myself went out. shooting rabbits with pea lifles; I fired one shot, and walk ed on a bit further and I heard a re port; deceased turned round. and said : "I'm shot," 1 dropped my gun and ran .to him and picked him up; Perkins and I carried him to a gate; then asked a man named Powers if he would look after him while 1 went after 'the pony and sulky; I came in the sulky and took Matthew^ into Dr. May's surgery; Dr May examined; him there and told mo to take Mm up to the hospital; I did so, and helped to undress decceased; the doctor ex amined him and told me that I had better send for his relatives as soon as I could;, previous to this he ask ed me >vho shot Matthews; I said 1 did accidentally; he then said have you been to the police; I said no; he advised me to go; I went and saw the sergeant and .told him all about the cnse; he said if I did not mind he .would take a statement; 1 said alright; he asked me did I think deceassed was going to die; I said no 1 did not think so, although he had lost the use of his legs; he then asked me where £he gun was I had and if there was any body else wi.th me; I told him there w;as a man named Harry Perkins with me, and that the gun was out where the ac cident happened; 1 said I would bring the gun in;'lie asked me if Per kins had a gun, and I replied yes; he told me to tell Perkins to bring his gun in also; we did so and arrived here at 8 o'clock; the rifle produced is the one I used; the bulle.t used was a 22 extra long; deceased and I had been out shooting several times before, and we were the best .of friends; did not know, what gun went Off .when Matthews fell; Perkins told me it must have been my gun, be cause his had no cartridges in; I did not examine the rifle till 1 went back at 7 o'clock after I had been to the hospital; X found an empty sholl in the rifle; and I have no doubt that I accidentally shot him; I was carrying the rifle with the butt un der my arm; I was about right angles in direction from Matthews and the wound could have been made by the rifle; none of us had any drink, we were perfectly sober; prior .to the ac cident I had trouble with the bullets as they were rather long and hard to get in; the bullet produced is the same class as the one I was using
The statement tendered by Roberts was the same in every particular as
The Coroner's verdict was as fol
I f:nd that the said James Matthews at Muswellbbrook, in the Hospital, in the Police Diotrict of Muswellbrook, in the State of Now South \yales, died from the effects of a pea rifle bullet wound in the back accidentally inflicted on him on the 30thl December 1914, at the two mile camp, near Mus wellbrook, in the said State, while rabbit snooting, by one Geoffrey James Roberts.