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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

WILFUL MURDER.

On Friday, December 22, Mr. A. Stow, J.P., held an inquest at the Reservoir Hotel, near Payneham, on the body of John Guerin, of Bull's Creek, labourer, who was shot dead by a

German named Ernest August Boehm, a market gardener, on the previous evening, December 21. Mr. C. Sanders was Foreman of a Jury of 14. The accused was present in the custody of the police. The first witness examined was John Benson, medical practitioner, who said — I examined the body of the deceased, and found extensive gunshot wounds in the chest. Have no doubt as to the cause of death, but consider it would be more satisfactory to make a post- mortem examination. Having been instructed to do so he retired, and, on being recalled, said — I have made a post-mortem examination.   Externally there are about 50 or 60 gunshot wounds, extending from the chin to the last ribs, and on each arm as far as the elbow joints. On removing the skin found the   cellular tissue over the whole chest full of blood. Opened the chest, and discovered that three or four shots had gone into the windpipe. Both lungs were full of shot, and three or four had gone through the heart. Found two shots in the liver, but none in the heart. The whole cavity of the chest was full of blood. Both the lungs and the heart were empty of blood. The other viscera were were all healthy. There were no marks on the bowels or the other viscera of the abdomen. The stomach contained a large quantity of food half digested. The cause of death was internal hemorrhage from the lungs, which in itself was quite sufficient to cause cfeata even if the heart had not been wounded. 1 produce five of the shots which I extracted from the lungs.

James Guerin, labourer, deposed — I live at Bull's Creek. ? Deceased is my brother. I remember being in the company of deceased yesterday evening at about S o'clock. I and deceased were coming from our work, which was to cut the channel near the New Reservoir. We came a good part of the way together, and I then left him and went ahead by myself. I came to the house where the prisoner stops, lie was sitting outside, and I was speaking to him. I asked about a knife and a pipe which I had left there, and afterwards where the young men where, and he told me they were bathing. I enquired of him subsequently where I could meet them, and he said I might do so over at the stables or near the haystack. Went to the stables and found no one, and I called out to .see if there was any oue in the stables that would hear me. Sat ? there till two men — I coald not be sure they were men — came up. I spoke to one of them about a quarrel I had had the evening before at the same place. lie said, ' I will show you where they are,' or words to that effect. 1 went along with him through the garden, and saw oue'of the men (referring to Herman Boehm) 1 had quar relled with coming up to a paddock. Deceased came up after me. I spoke to the man about the quarrel we had had, but had no angry word with him. I do not know his name. Deceased and he then quarrelled. They struck at one another, and the other man ran away. De ceased ran after him, and I saw the prisoner run from the fence with a gun in his hand. He ran after deceased and the other man — came across in a rather slanting direction, and stood and fired the gun. By Sergeant-Major Saunders — The gun produced is the same gun prisoner fired. By the Coroner — I know the gun by . the mark on it, 'John.' Deceased fell as soon as the gun was fired. Saw him fall. Prisoner ran back to the fence from which he came — in the same direction. I ran to meet him before he went to the fence. I made a blow at him, and both of us fell. Took the gun from him, and he made hi» escape. Gave the gun up afterwards to a district con stable, John Farmer. When I came over after taking the gun from prisoner deceased was breathing very heavily, but he did not speak. My brother Michael went for a doctor and a policeman. Deceased died a few minutes after that. By Mr. Saunders— I am not acquainted with the prisoner. The first time I ever saw him, to my knowledge, was the evening before yesterday evening. I was near prisoner's house on that evening. I and those with me brought him with us. Deceased was not with us then. Some of us had a quarrel. The prisoner was present. When the guu wan fired I believe I was about a chain

from the prisoner, or perhaps a little more. The deceased was about 15 or 20 yards away; that is what I judge the distance to have been. I fancy it was after 7 o'clock when the gun was fired. I recognised the prisoner when [ took the gun from him. From the time that the prisoner fired the gun till the time I took it from him I did not once lose sight of him . I looked at the breast of deceased after I took the gun. By the Coroner — Have seen the young man (Herman Boehni) before, but f am not acquainted with him. I did not know his name. By Mr. Saunders— The blows were struck about three or four minutes before the gun was fired. I did not see the prisoner present when the blows were struck. Herman Boehm was about eight yards from deceased when the shot was fired. De ceased was 26 or 27 years of age. He was in trood health up to the time he was shot. When I took the gun from prisoner he was sober. He said nothing when I took it from him. By the prisoner— I asked you yesterday if you did not find a pipe or a knife. You did not tell me to go dowu by the wheatstack. I did go down to the wheat or hay stack. You did not go with me. I did not see anybody by the haystack when I got there. I stopped there till I saw somebody. I don't remember whether I enquired of the young chaps there for tte knife. I did not have a row with the young chaps down at the stack. I might have been talking loud with them., but I had no quarrel with them. I was not by myself the evening before. There were two others — Martin McMahon and Michael Fleming— with me. I came to your house by myself last evening, and the others came up after. I came last night to leok for the knife and pipe. You said something to the effect that I ought to come in the day, and not when it was dark. I had no particular reason for coming at one time more than another. The reason was not that I wanted to make a row. We spoke about the row we had the night before. I cannot say the words we xised. You said something to the effect that I had better go home, and perhaps some one would find the knife, and I would get it again. You were not drunk then. After that I asked you who the young men or young fellows were. You said something about them having gone to bathe. Very soon after that I went down to the stable. I believe that was when all my mates were coming. I did not hear any row between the stable and the house, where the row was the night before. I did not ?o home theR. I did not stop for the young chaps, but went to meet them. Did not hear or see any disturbaace between the house and the stable, and did not hear you say ' You ought to be ashamed of vourself, wanting to fight an old

man. x-y flir. aaunaera — aau wmx ouwu nmc, but I was not drunk when I got to the prisoner's house. I knew what I was about. Michael Guerin, of Bull's Creek, brother of last witness, having deposed to going down to the stable a little behind his brother, who was in company with John Clancey, said— I saw the prisoner about halfway between the stables and his house. I think I heard deceased speak to prisoner as they passed one another. The prisoner said he had firearms in the house and he would load them. The stables are, I think, two or three hundred yards fromthe place where my brother was shot. I think it was about a quarter of an hour from the time the prisoner spoke to my brother to the time when he came back to the place where he was shot, and during that time there was no row there at all. I saw the gun fired at my brother, and believe the prisoner was the man who fired it. As soon as he fired the gun, he ran back to his own house, and I ran towards my brother, when I saw him falling. He was all covered with blood. Ho said 'I am shot dead,' and died three or four (minutes afterwards. Deceased and a young man named Herman Boehm, prisoner's eldest son, struck at each other. Prisoner was not presentwhen this row took place. Prisoner was quite sober. Decased had taken a little wine, but he was not drunk. Immediately after the deceased was shot I saw my brother James with the gun, and heard him say 'I took it off him.' By the Foremaa— My brother Jwu9» aad decdwed were

going straight home when the latter was shot. The deceased was not in prisoner's hou--e at all, but went |-ast it. Oon't believe the prisoner knew the deceased at all. , ? . John Clancey, of Mount Barker, labourer, gave corroborative evidence.   Martin MacMahon, having also given confirma- tory testimony, said, in answer to prisoner — I came past the place where you are living, with two of my mates. I was drunk, and can't say whether you persuaded us to go home quietly. It is very likely you helped my mates to get me over the wire fence, but I don't remember it. I can't say whether I began to fight. I can't say whether I offered that same night to fight your second son for £5. I did not want to fight you last night, nor did I ask you to fight. When I came up to your house you were sitting on a box talking to Jim Guerin. I believe I came up by the west side of the house, but I did not make a dreadful noise whilst doing so. I had a big coat and my tucker-bag under my arm at the time, and was going home. By Sergeant-Major Saunders — Had nothing under my arm belonging to the prisoner when I was crossing the gully towards the stables. Edward Lorenz, of Athelstone, farmer, said— I know the prisoner, and was at his house last night about 7 o'clock; also the prisoner's sons, Ernest and Herman Boehm. Whilst in the house I saw a gun, but I do not know whether the one produced is the same. Herman Boehm in the presence of his father took up the gun to shoot a little bird which was running after a magpie, but at my request he did not fire it. The prisoner must have heard the words that passed between his son and myself. The conversation took place before the deceased was shot. Was in my house adjoining the prisoner's between 7 and 8 p.m., when I heard the report of a gun. Never

saw the gun in the prisoner's hands. Did not   go out to see what the shooting was at, but afterwards heard from my man that a man had been shot. Think three-quarters of an hour passed between the time the conversation took place about shooting the little bird and when I heard the report of the gun. By the prisoner— When I asked your son Herman not to shoot the birds I did not hear your other son say any thing. John Miller, of Athelstone, farmer, said — The prisoner came to me between 8 and 9 p.m. last night whilst I was searching for the district constable to arrest him. The prisoner said — 'Mr. Miller, I want to see you to tell you that it was me that done it, but that I did not intend to kill the man.' Understood him to refer to the shooting of the deceased. Advised him to give himself up, and told him that if he did that I should consider it the duty of the district constable to arrest him. He offered no resistance when arrest ed. By the prisoner— You said when you came to me, ' I thought there was only powder in the gun, which had been put in to frighten the birds from the fruit-trees.' John Farmer, district constable of Campbell town, said— I arrested the prisoner between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. last night on a charge _ of shooting John Guerin. Did not caution him. He said — e: 1 did not think there was any shot in the gun.' The gun produced, which I have known for years, I received from James Guerin. Handed the prisoner over to the charge of Ser geant-Major Saunders. By the prisoner— I have seen your sons with the gun produced for many years. Have never seen you with it. You told me your son Ernest had said there was no shot in the gun.

Ocrgcaul/'iMujur ouuuuem aum uv upjuc hended the prisoner, who was in the custody of the last witness, on the charge of the wilful murder of John Guerin. Cautioned him very carefully, but he made no statement. Examined the left 'barrel of the gun produced; it appeared to have been recently discharged, and there was an exploded cap on the nipple of the barrel. Examined the body of the deceased, which I found lying in a paddock near the prisoner's residence. The deceased was lying on his back, and his breast exposed more or less. Blood adhered to his shirt and chest. Had the body removed to the Reservoir Hotel, and examined it more carefully, and found great quantities of shot buried in the flesh, extending down the ribs on either side. The body appeared to have received a full charge of shot at what I consider point-blank distance. Paced the distance from where the shot was said to have been fired and where the body lay, and found it to be about IS yards. The paddock

where 1 found the body of the deceased is known as Section 350, aud is situated north east of the old reservoir. Searched the prisoner's house, ' but discovered no shot. By the Foreman — When I arrested the prisoner he appeared in a very morose state aud much troubled about the occurrence, and showed a strong disinclination to hold conversation with any oue. As far as I could judge, he was sober, but I could not swear that he was. The shot was of small size. The Coroner, in summing up, reviewed por tions of the evidence, and directed the Jury that if they thought the prisoner fired the gun at the distance stated in the evidence believing it to be loaded, and not in self-defence, they must find him guilty of wilful murder. The Jury then retired, and on reassembling, The Foreman, before giving in the verdict, asked whether a rider recommending tho prisoner to mercy would have any effect. The Coroner said they had merely to return a verdict saying whether they believed the accused was guilty of murder or not. The Foreman— We find the accused guilty of wilful murder. The prisoner, having been cautioned, made no statement, and was then committed to take his trial at the next Criminal Sittings. The enquiry, which commenced at 7 o'clock in the morning, concluded about 3 p.m.

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