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In an editorial dealing with the Kaiwarra tragedy, the ' Timaru Herald,' which coneiders that the prisoner has rightly been convicted on circumstantial evidence of the strongest possible kind, mentions a case that occurred in Victoria in 1858 or 1859 that is exactly similar to the present one. A ganger on the railway then in course of construction near Sandhurst was shot dead at his tent door in the night. Under his body was found a piece of the 'Argus' newspaper, which had evidently been used as wadding. A man named Nihil was at once suspected of the crime, as he had recently had a quarrel with the murdered man. On searching Nihil's tent (he lived several miles from the place where the murder had been committed), some firearms were found, and amongst them a gun and revolver, the charges of which were wadded with ' Argus' of the same date as that picked up under the body. On one side of the paper was an article on irrigation, and a piece was found which just at one pointone letter—fitted exactly to part of the wadding found under the body. There was very little other evidence. One jury could not agree, but a second convicted Nihil and he was sentenced to death. There is a strange sequel to the story. Within an hour after the conviction a baker called at the Judge's lodgings and insisted on being admitted. He told the Judge that the evidence of the police in reference to the 'Argus' wadding was absolutely false in regard to the revolver which had been found in Nihil's tent. He said that he had called one morning at the police station and had been asked into the sergeant's cottage. The sergeant was about to unload a revolver, and told his visitor that it was the one from Nihil's tent. The eharges'were there and then drawn, and the wadding, so the baker solemnly declared, was not pieces of the ' Argus' but was whitey-brown paper. The statement was forwarded to the Government, and a Royal Commission appointed to investigate the facts. Everything that could be done was done to find out the truth. The sergeant, a man of excellent character, stuck to his testimony that the wadding was ' Argus'; the baker, also a man of excellent character, whose trade with the police and many others was destroyed in consequence of his connection with this affair, stuck to his testimony and swore to the wadding having been whiteybrown paper. The mystery never was cleared up. lo this day none but themselves know which of the two men told the truth. But the Government thought it wise not to hang Nihil. They did not let him go, but they commuted his sentence to penal servitude for life. It was an illogical compromise, but it seemed to satisfy the public of Victoria. A few years ago we heard that Nihil was still in Pentridge, and he is probably there to this hour, unless death has released him.

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Bibliographic details

CHEMIS'S CASE OVER AGAIN., Evening Star, Issue 7963, 19 July 1889

Word Count

CHEMIS'S CASE OVER AGAIN. Evening Star, Issue 7963, 19 July 1889