Supreme Court, Part 1

Reprinted from the Evening Telegram, 
March 19, 1925

Supreme Court
(Before full Bench)
The King vs Albert George Benson

The charge against the accused is that he did on 21st, Jan, 1925 at St. Jones Within murder Walter John Sheppard his nephew.

Mr. G.F. Bradley appeared for the defence.

Mr. C.E. Hunt and C.J. Fox for the crown.

The following special jury was sworn:- Samuel Noseworthy, Alfred Moore, Patrick Burke, Francis Leamey, Herbert Barnes, John Forsey, Wm. Blackler, Alex Oke, W.S. Moulton, Arthur Tilley, Leo McFarlane, Thomas Humphries.

Mr. Fox opened the case for the crown and addressed the jury on the charge of which the prisoner is arraigned. He said that evidence would be produced to prove that on Jan. 21st, the accused with the deceased went into the woods and in the evening he returned alone, reported that he had left the dead body there. The deceased was a healthy lad of 9 years of age and showed no sign of physical weakness. The medical evidence would show that there was various injuries on the body and also testify to healthy state of the boy’s internal organs. Evidence of the accused telling conflicting stories about the boy’s death would also be submitted. The constable who arrested the accused would testify to finding blood marks on the snow, where the boy met his death. At the conclusion of Mr. Fox’s address the first witness, Allan Long was called.

Examined by Mr. Hunt, witness, who is land surveyor, told of making certain plans of the land in the vicinity of St. Jones Within known as “Benson’s Scrape” (plan submitted to jury).

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradley, witness said he made the plans on Feb. 20th, and conditions were as they found them on the ground that date.

Robert Miller examined by Mr. Hunt, said he was a resident of St. Jones Within and recognized the prisoner at the bar. He knew Benson 28 or 30 years – since he was an infant. Witness knew Walter John Sheppard, whom he described as a boy of 10 years, mentally good of nice size and tall for his age, but rather slight. He last saw him alive in the first week in January and he was then in very good health. Witness on Jan. 21st was in the woods but did not see the accused. The first time he saw him was at his brother David Benson’s house on the 22nd, inst. David told him that they decided to trim the coffin he, witness, made for the little boy, and they had been up all night at the work. Witness with his son and Albert George Benson went to the latters home, saw the body in the coffin. He removed the cloth from the dead boy’s face and saw the lips were swollen, with fractures – sorts of cuts on the temples. He then told the accused that it was a wrong thing to have the boy in the woods and he should have been at school. He advised him to send a message to the boy’s father. In further conservation, he told Benson to go with him in the woods to see where he picked up the boy. Witness with the accused went in the woods along the Baley’s Cove path, until they came to a place near a bunch of dogwood on the left hand side of the road which the accused pointed as the spot where he found the boy lying face downwards and dead. There was snow on the ground which had fallen a few days before. There was only the prints of the Albert George Benson’s feet found on the snow, and despite a close examination by himself, his son and Gideon King, who accompanied them they found no print of the boys form nor spots of blood. He remarked the fact to the accused, who said he did not bleed. Benson told witness that he had left the boy to haul out some junks whilst he went in over the hill to cut some more junks. Witness then went about 50-60 feet to where they came to a stump of a tree. Benson said he had cut this tree and had two chops in it when he sang out to the boy and got no answer. He then came out and found the boy with but little life in him. He took the boy out to the end of the path, and laid him on the slide. He then went back to wood to look for his brother David.

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradley, witness said he was not familiar with the place where the boy was found, there was a marsh about 100 feet more or less away from the dogwood trees. Witness helped to haul out the tree that Benson was cutting, it was about 30 feet long and was made into two junks. At the butt it was 9 inches in diameter. There were no branches on the first or second junks, most of the limbs were on the top but there were knots on the middle junk showing the limbs had been cut off. He thought that the fracture or cut on the boys temple might probably be made by the limb of a tree.

Re-examined by Mr. Hunt, witness said that when he went in for the tree they found the top 14-15 feet from the trunk. It was not anywhere near the dogwood bunch, probably 70 or 80 feet from it.

Re-cross-examined by Mr. Bradley, witness described the dogwood tree as up the hill, the stump further up and the top further up still.

Benoni Robins examined by Mr. Fox, said he lived about three miles from St. Jones Within. On Jan. 21st last, he went in the Bayley’s Cove path to see where he heard an accident occurred. Going up over the scrape he came to a dogwood bunch, but found nothing. He then came down over the hill to Bayley’s Cove path and then turned in and away from St. Jones Within. About 30 to 40 feet in he found some blood stains on the snow in the path. The place appeared to be scuffed around in an area 8 x 6 feet. There was a young growth of trees in the area.

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradley, witness said there was just a spot of blood here and there on the right side of the path. Witness did not go up the scrape beyond the dogwoods.

Re-examined by Mr. Hunt, witness said he thought there would be about 6 or 7 blood marks scattered around.

Dr. Anderson examined by Mr. Hunt remembered holding a post mortem on Jan 29th on the body of a boy named Sheppard. He was average active boy of about 10 years. He found the vital organs healthy. On the outside of the body he found bruises around the face, two small marks near the left eye, a bruise at the left side of forehead, a scrap across the upper lip, and a loss of tissue on the under lip. Viewed from the back there was behind the left ear a mark like a small puncture. The bones were not hurt or broken. On the lower and under surface of both forearms there was scratches with discoloration extending from the elbows to the wrist. There were also some abrasions on the upper top of the thighs just below buttocks. Witness said he gave a certificate that death was caused by shock, following the injuries to the head and neck.

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradley, witness said the marks behind the ear was deeper than a scratch and marks on the forearms showed slight loss of tissue. In addition to the abrasion on the left temple, there was discoloration fading away into the hair, but there was no damage done to the tissue of the brain. Asked if the scratches were individually the cause of death, directly, the witness said no. Asked if taken collectively would death have resulted there from, witness said there was no individual injury sufficiently severe to cause death. All the blows caused shock, which interfered with the functions of the heart and caused death, he explained.

Re-examined by Mr. Hunt, witness said the immediate cause of death was to all intents and purposes the blows received.

Adjournment was taken at 1 p.m. until 2:30.

 

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These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.