A REMARKABLE SRIAL.
(From tho Aiious, Nov. 21) One of the most remarkable criminal trials which ever look place in Victoria came to an end on Saturday last, when Patrick Geary was condemned to death for the murder of Thomas Bronkhouse on the 28th February, 185-1. We often hear it said that " fact is stranger than fiction," and no one can read the account of this trial without acknowledging the justice of the proverb. We learn from the evidence brought forward that somewhere about seventeen years ago the convict was in the employ of the late Mr Hugh Murray, of (Jolae. He was acting as a shepherd, but it is evident that he was merely *' acting," for we find by Mr Andrew Murray's evidence that " he and his brother both lost a considerable number of sheep the year Brookbousc was missing. They lost from 300 to 500 sheep each that year, and their neighbors were similarly unfortunate." Naturally enough, Mr Murray made inquiries concerning liis missing sheep, and his suspicions at once fell on Geary. "I have seen Mr Hugh Murray watching Geary from the top of the Warnon-hills through a telescope," said Mr G-eoige Peck, a farmer now living at Golac, but at the time of the murder a police sergeant in charge of tiie station at that place. Tho unfortunate old man Brookhouse appears to have given his employer some hints concerning the road which his stock was taking, and Geary, according to his own confession, warned him that if ho did not keep a silent tongue "he'd see him for it." The narrative he gives of what foi lowed is enough to make any man blush to think that he belongs to tho same species. " He theu went into the hut, and I followed him in. I capsized him into the fire, and kept him there for a time. I suicl to myself that I was not ebarp enough to make away with him. I pulled him out of the fire, and he went out of the door. I followed him out, and got an axe and hit him with it, and knocked him down, and killed him. I then went for my horse" (mark the deliberation of the scoundrel), " and when I came back ordered my wife to fetch me a bag quickly. She brought me a bag, and helped me to put the body into it. We both put it upon tho horse, and I took it nway and buried it amongst the rocks." It would be almost impossible to find any more cold-blooded, brutal murder in all the annals of crime. Jt sickens one (o think of the victim half-burnt, aud then deliberately butchered. The usuul inquiries were made, and although some suspicion appears to have fallen on the Gearies, nothing was brought to light which warranted their being taken into custody. Thomas Brookhouse had gone, nobody knew whither. When those who were in search of him went to his hut, " it looked as if he had left it early in the morning, intending to come back to breakfast." There was, however, to bo no more breakfast for him, and for sixteen long years Thomas Brookhouse lajr buried "amongst the rocks." The mauner in which his remains were discovered was so simple, yet remarkable, as showing the danger of discovery which dogs the footsteps of the murderer, that we cannot do better than describe it in one of the witness's own words. James Ball said — "On the 26th August, 18G9, I was employed by Mr Hugh Murray to build a stone wall near Lake G'orangamite. I remember my stepson running after a rabbit, I followed him to the side of a large stony rise, and he showed me a skull that he had picked up. . . ,
It looked as if the stone had been first removed in order to make room for [ho body, which was then covered over with stones." A boy chases a rabbit, and a crime is discovered, of which doubtless the criminal thought all traces were obliterated. 'We congratulate the colony on the fact that this case has shown that the strong arm of the law can reach the criminal irrespective of time or distance, and that although villanous deeds may bo done in the silence of the bush, the chances are greatly against the escape of the culprit. So much for the narrative, and the consideration of it brings us face to face with the fact that we have living in our midst a number of creatures to whom it would be a farce to apply the prefix "human." Of late years it has been the fashion to imagine that every man has something about him of the Divine essence, which only needs cultivation nnd encouragement to secure its development. The theory is pretty, but it certaiuly does not square with the teachings of experience. In the case under notice, we find a man who, because he thought a fellow- laborer had been giving some information which might result — may be in his discharge, may be in his imprisonment — deliberately plotted his murder, lie throw him into the fire, thinking that that would kill him ; but when he found, after holding him in the? flames for some time, that the man had sufficient life in him to get up, and go out of the hut. lie followed him in the most matter-of-fact way, and " finished " him wi;h an axe. For some time after the commission of this crime he continued to reside in the neighborhood, and only removed when it suited his comenience. Afterwards we find himin Now South Wales,consoi ting with men who, judging by the evidence, were little better than himself, and relating to them the^ story of his crime with us little compunction as a fast man would speak of his latest liaison, or a forward boy of a recent "spree." Imagine the mental condition of v man who could treat such a subject in such a way. We see nothing in his case of that proverbial remorse which we nre told torments the murderer — nothing of that dread of vengeance, that starting at a shadow, which imaginative persons have always associated with the lot of those who have 9pilt innocent blood. On tho contrary, ho appears to have stilled his conscience in the most satisfactory manner to himself, and to have regarded the future with philosophical indifference. JNTow, we would ask those who believo in the pcrfectiblity of human nature, especially as far as the criminal classes are concerned, what chance there is doing anything in such a case as this? It is evident that the man's eature is hoplossly depraved. He was a theif first ; but, as far as we can sec, there was no special cause to excile his thievish propensities ; he had enough to eat and drink, and was furnished with lodging and clothing. But so strong were his criminal instincts, that, not content with robbing his employer, he brutally murdered an inoffensive old man simply because he thought he had informed against him. To talk of reformation in such a case is childish.
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Wellington Independent, Wellington Independent, Volume XXVI, Issue 3366, 8 December 1871
A REMARKABLE SRIAL. Wellington Independent, Volume XXVI, Issue 3366, 8 December 1871
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