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THE STRONVAR MURDER, NZ Truth, Issue 752, 15 November 1919
THE STRONVAR MURDER
JAMES RESIDE STANDS HIS TRIAL Medical Evidence that lie is a Paranoiac HIS PECULIAR DELUSIONS AND WHAT THEY LED TO The Story of the Shootiiag of Christopher Carr Accused Found ie he Menially Diseased and Not Responsible
■• "James Reside, prisoner at the bar, you stand indicted that on or about ■ \ the fifth of September m the year ol our Lord, 1919, at Stronvar, near Masterton, m the Dominion of New Zealand, you did murder one Christopher Cam How do you plead?" \ To these fateful words, uttered "by \ the sheriff In the WelUnsrton Supreme Court, James Rsstdo, a middle-aged returned soldier, and a 'single man, un« concernedly replied, "not guilty," and propped himself up oomfortably m the dock to hear his case tried. • Mr. Justice Chapman was on the bench, Mr. P. S. K. Macassey prosecuted on behalf of the Crown, and Mr, T. M. Wilford and Mr. D. C. Pragn'ell appeared on behalf of accused. Mr. E. T. Bengo was foreman of the jury; Mr. Macassey, m opening the Crown's • case, briefly outlined the DETAILS OF ■ THE TRAGEDY. Accused was a returned soldier, but •he 'had not reached the front. A plea of insanity was sot up, said the Crown prosecutor. All the Crown proposed to do was to establish the facts of the case, and the onus was on accused of * proving whether he was responsible I'or his actions. Medical men would be called to give evidence, and it was lor the jury to say whether accused was suffering from delusional insanity. THE FATHER'S STORY. | Alexander Reside, father of the accused, was the first witness. He said he was • a farmer, at Stronvar, near Masterton. Prior to his son James's return from the front, witness had another son, Alexander and a man named Christopher Ciiir working on the farm. Accused, J nines Reside, had returned from England a week before the shooting. Witness met him m Wellington and returned with him to Masterton. Next morning- (Saturday) he hired a car to drive out to Stronvar, 25 miles away. A man named Eastwood drove the car, and m front •with him sat a man named Knowles. On the- way out m the car his son James suddenly took to the man Knowles, who was sitting m front _ with the driver, and "hauled off" and hit him. The only reason he gave for his action was that Knowles, he said, HAD A BOMB IN THE CAR and was going to blow the car up. James- Reside then refused to fctay m the car and got out, Witness said he stopped the car after it had gone a mile and set out to look for his son. As he could not find him he went back to Masterton m another car, James Reside eventually arrived at Stronyar early m the Sunday morning. He must have walked. His Honor: Have yon ever noticed strangeness m- his conduct Dfcfjare? — Yes. Long before he went .'..way he went just the same as his mother went. Mr. Wilford: His mother was m the mental hospital, your Honor. Continuing, witness said that his son James and the deceased Carr, slept m a large room at the homestead con- , taining three beds. James Reside and Carr slept m beds a little over two feet away from each . other. There was no liquor m the house whatever. On the night of. September 5 there was only witness, his son James, and Carr m the "house. .Witness slept m a room Just off the kitchen. Reside' sle^t m the same room with Carr. After tea James Reside read a paper lying m his bunk, and Carr commenced a game of "patience." Then James Reside came into the room and said he would play Carr a game of crib. They had four games. Witness had never noticed any difference between the two men. At 9 p.m. witness made some tea and then suggested at 10 o'clock that it was time to go to bed. Carr and James Reside went to their room first and then witness went to his own room. At 11 p.m. witness was wakened by THE REPORT OF A GUN. There was an ordinary breechloadlng . . gun m the house. Getting out of bed quickly witness rushed into James Resides room. His son was standing beeide Carr's bed with a gun m his hand, witness said;" "Good God! What have you done!"': Witness did not remember what James Reside replied, owing to the excitement of the moment. He tried to get the gun away from him, but he replied: "I've got another cartridge and there's two more outside "I'm going to get" With this he put a new cartridge m the gun. Witness said to his son, "Give me the gun, you could not want that." "He still refused, and repeated that he. was going to get the other two outside. James then went outside the back door and walked towards the woolshed. He went down, stayed two or three minutes and then returned. Witness then said to him that he would have to ring up for the doctor and; the police. His ton made no reply. Then witness suggested that his son Alex, should be sent for. He lived m a whare. about +hree miles away from the homestead. James Reside, said he would go with witness. Witness suggested that his son should ?,o for the doctor, James replied, "No; you had better come with me as I MIGHT SHOOT ALEX." Witness' said that he discovered Carr lying on his right side m the bed. Their nvas a clean hole m the back of his head as if a shot-gun had been fired at very close range. He was not dead, but did not speak. ' Witness did not speak to him as he thought it would be no use. On the way to the whare witness tried to prevail on his son to leave the gun, but he refused to do so, saying. "No, I might see some of those up the gully." On arriving at the whare, Alex, was m bed. James told his brother that he had shot Carr. Aiex., James and .witness then walked back to the homestead, and Alex, rang up the police and doctor from the next farm. James remained at the homestead until 5 o'clock m the morning, but would not wait until his brother returned. He still had the gun m his possession and was anxious to get away. He had threatened to shoot himself during the night, saying: "They'll never take me alive. I'll shoot myself." ' Witness did not see James again until ■ 1 p.m. that day when he accompanied the doctor to the whare. The police brought James out. of the whare on a stretcher. He was alive, but that was Ml. He had OUT HIS THROAT WITH A RAZOR. When the stretcher arrived at the homestead James said: "Throw another blanket over me, I'm cold." James was then taken away to the hospital. Witness said his son had some drink from tho time ho arrived at Wellington, but "nothing to hurt." Mr. Wilford (m cross- examination) :, When you went into the bedroom, was your son fully dressed ?— Yes. . Have you any idea what ho had been iiolng from 9.30, when he v.-ent to bed. until" you discovered him at II p.m.? —No. ■.■."■.• Was your son very excited when you rushed m? — Yes. What was his facial appearance? I>!d you notice anything about his eyes? —I yjns too excited to notice. Do you. know who these men were
' that he imagined were trying to injure him?— No. Had he any fixed delusion? — No, except for the bomb idea. He had got the bomb idea?— Yes, all along. He was quite .satisfied that Carr-was m league with somebody to blow you all up?— Yes, but he would not give m about it when I triad to argue It out. i Eastwood, the driver or th» motor oar, and Ifnowlee, >who sat alongside him were strangers to your son? — Yea. Your son asked Eastwood for a fill of tobacco? — Yes, and then he grabbed hold of Knowlaa, pulled his head back AND PUNCHED HIM VIOLENTLY. Eastwood overcame him. after a struggle. . . . Where did he disappear to when he got out of the car? — ladon't know, but he told me afterwards that ho waa watching me from a hiding place. Had he ever ran away and hidden before? — Yes, he ran away one time and we thought he had gone to drown himself m the dam. He came back laughing after two hours, andt said he had been watching \is looking for him. Did he ever threaten to commit sui-cide?—^-Yes, on one occasion he gave himself up to the police to save him taking his life, as he said. His mother suffered mentally? — Yes. What was her delusion? — She thought the Masons were persecuting her. She had a terrible set on -the Masons, and as I am one, that did not make things any better. She went to a mental hospital for some weeks. Witness said that Ms grand-aunt had also suffered mentally. He said that when he first saw his son down at the troopship he thought he was. not the same James Reside that went away. He had A WILD LOOK IN HIS EYES, and did not seem to care if he came back cfr not. He had gone away. with the 40th Reinforcements on the s.s. Tahiti, and the dreadful outbreak of influenza that broke out at Sierra Leone seemed to prey on his mind. Ho had been ill. After ( reaching England lie went to witness's sisters at Glasgow to recuperate. Did he complain about the way the Glasgow people stared at. him? — Not to me. Did he say that the masonic frater*nity m New Zealand had communicated with the Glasgow masons about him? — Not to me. •Can you assure the jury that he was on the most perfectly friendly terms with the man he shot? — Yes. Who won the card games 7- 1 — Jim won three out of the four games. EVIDENCE ON COMMISSION. The evidence of Alexander Reside, accused's brother, had been taken on commission, and was read by the registrar. It mainly corroborated his father's story. POLICE EVIDENCE. Constable Gurden, of Masterton, said ■ that he went out to Stronvar m re-
•sponse to the 'phone message: "Jim has shot Chris, Carr and blown off the top of his head." Witness with Constabl&s Penson and Phillip and Dr. Cook -went out In a car. We reached the homestead at 7.85 o'clock on the Saturday morning. Reside, senior, told them .what had happened, then they went into the bedroom and discovered Carr's body. Then a search party was formed and the country was searched, m the direction of the whare. James Reside was eventually discovered m the whare, after the door was smashed • m. He was lying on a bed, unconscious, bleeding freely from a wound m his neck. Dr. Cook was .brought, and he dressed the wound. Witness saw accused m. the hospital on September 8, when he said: "I don't care if I have shot ten men, but it was HIS LIFE OR MINE, and I got In first and they can say what they like." Constable Phillips also gave evidence. He said that on arriving at the whare he found it barred. He smashed the .door m and found it had been barred with an Bft raiL Witness described finding Reside under the blankets on a bed with a. double-barrelled gun containing two live cartridges lying at his side. He was lying, in a pool of . blood. A razor was lying m the pool of blood. Constable Penson gave evidence along similar lines. He said accused made the remark m the hospital, "If I had done what I intended s to do I would have been well over the other side of Jordan. I intended to use the gun but the barrel was too long. I intended to use my bootlace, but got bustled and went to sleep. Then I woke up, heard you outside the whare, and I jumped up, grabbed the razor and slashed myself." Witness said he formally charged accused with the murder. Accused made no reply. ; Constable Lethbridge said that accused said to him: "I shot him. I was playing cards with him for an hour before I did it." ' INJURIES OF A TERRIBLE NATURE. Dr. Cook, of Masterton, described the deceased's Carr's head injuries, which were "of a terrible nature. Describing the injuries to accused's neck, witness said the latter appeared to have made several attempts to cut his throat. " Mr. Wilford: Were accused's actions consistent with the theory that he was a paranoiac? — Yes. What form does paranoia usually take? — Delusiqns that a subject Is being persecuted. This closed the ca3e for the Crown. THE DEFENCE. Mr. Wilford, m opening, said he had flrst»to thank tho Crown Prosecutor for the assistance .he had given m having accused mentally examined by Dr. Gray Hassell and Dr. Prins, .and had handed him their reports. "The defence m this case," said counsel, "is under section 43, Crimes. Act." There was no dispute about who did the murder. Accused was m the •motor car, and he attacked a man he did not know (Knowles). Asked why he did this, accused laughed and said, 'If I had not done this he would , have xaurdare.4 uaJ Reside had
the same Idea about the man he murdered. Accused appeared to be suffering from delusional insanity. There was no doubt as to who had committed the deed- James Reside did it But, the law says this: 'A person laboring under specific delusions, but m other respects sane, shall not be guilty on the ground of Insanity, if the delusions cause him to believe m the existence of some state of things which, if they existed, would justify or excuse his act.' It would be proved that accused was suffering from delusional insanity. Therefore, although Carr had lost his life, our law was gracious and generous, and if we believe a man did not know what he did or was incapable of. appreciating his position it was not a question of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth/ but such a man was IttJT AWAY AND LOOKED AFTER. Counsel had every confidence the jury could accept the mental experts' evidence. EXPERT EVIDENCE. Dr. W. KJngdon FyTfe said he had examined accused three times at the Terrace Gaol. He found him to be reticent and not to realise his position. He stated he had been a heavy drinker and' had had delirium tremons. He made a statement that when he went home he found' that his relatives m Glasgow knew he had had an attack of venereal disease, and he was sure this information had been given by the masons of Ma3terton, who were persecuting him. Dr: 'William Baxter Gow said he had 26 years' experience m mental hospitals. He had spoken to accused. Reside averred that the masons of Masterton were banded together to kill him. He said CaiT "was one" of this j gang. That was why he shot him. i Accused smiled unconcernedly while he told witness this. These symptoms were, m witness's opinion, due to brain disease. Dr. Litchfield gave similar evidence. EVIDENCE OF RESIDES PECULIARITIES. Ernest James. Eastwood, the taxidriver, described accused's actions m j the motor car. David Harris Knowles, Club steward, of ' Masterton, described how accused "took to him" m the motor car. Wit-, ness said it was very lively while it lasted, Horace Nevsman Joyce, plumber, residing at. Masterton, said he was on the s.s. Tahiti with accused during the epidemic at Sierra Leone. Eight hundred out of the eleven hundred' troops aboard went down with the. sickness. Witness said accused "got the wind up" when he saw so many bodies buried over the side. Accused ! complained aj)out pains m his head and changed m his demeanor and would not speak until spoken to. Reside contracted influenza twice, the j last time very badly and was delirious. Witness saw Reside m Glasgow. He was dressed m "civvy" 4 * clothes and set out to get witness a "feed," but ) accused tramped him all over the city, and no "feed" was forthcoming. Alexander McNab, tailor of Masterton, who also sailed with accused, m the Tahiti, corroborated the last witness's story about accused's peculiar behavior m England and Scotland, j When accused arrived at his aunt's place he went inside, sat down on the ; floor and refused to say who he was ! until they threatened to send for the | police. Witness warned Reside, senr., on his return, to go down to the boat and look after accused. ADDRESSES TO THE JURY. This closed the case for the defence, j Addressing the jury, Mr. Wilford said , that he felt it was a waste of time ! discussing the case. It was one of those cases which somehow or other could not be prevented. It was clear from the expert evidence that accused ; did what he did, automatically, under j an impulse, produced by a mental j state which was m no way his own • fault. He was more rather to be pitied ; than blamed. If Reside had escaped j from Porirua and committed the deed ! he would have been pitied. There was I no motive for the crjme or any suspicion of one. Tlj.e law' was not out for revenge. It was regrettable that it was not discovered earlier that accused was suffering from this fell disease. Now he would be taken care of by the people appointed b^, the State for that purpose.. . TWO QUESTIONS FOR THE JURY. His Honor summed up. He said he would put two questions to the jury: (1) Was accused, James Reside, insane at the time of the commission of the. offence charged? (2 Do you acquit him on account of his insanity? His Honor practically directed the jury to answer these questions m the affirmative. WITHOUT LEAVING THE 'BOX THE JURY DID SO. His Honor said that the order of the court would be that accused be kept m custody m the public prison m Wellington until the pleasure of the Minister for Justice was known.
THE STRONVAR MURDER, NZ Truth, Issue 752, 15 November 1919
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