The Case of James McDonald – Coronary Inquest #Axedale 1884

From: The Bendigo Advertiser (1855-1918), Tuesday 29 April 1884

THE CASE OF JAMES M’DONALD.

CORONER’S INQUEST.

The coroner (Mr. G. Webster, P.M.,) held an inquest at the Perseverance Hotel, Axedale, yesterday, on the body of James McDonald, whose mysterious disappearance was referred to in our issue of Saturday. Sergeant Fahey watched the proceedings on behalf of the police.

Henry Acott deposed: I am a farmer and publican, residing at Axedale. Knew the deceased, James McDonald. I last saw him alive on the 19th inst. On that day, he went with me and his wife into Sandhurst. We left to return home between three and four o’clock in the afternoon. We stopped at a public house on the road and had a drink. We then drove on to the Bull’s Hotel and there had another drink each. We then went on to the South Atlas Hotel and had a drink each.

After proceeding some distance, deceased asked me to let him drive, which I did. We came on to about a mile from here, about eight miles from Sandhurst. I then said to him, “Your wife is sick. You had better sit by her and look after her.” He did so, and seemed to behave in a very strange manner. He caught hold of her by the throat, and she sang out and I then said, “What are you doing?” He continued his conduct, and I then said, ” Are you going to kill the woman? ”

The deceased then struck me three times over the head with his fist. I hastened the horse on to get here (the Perseverance Hotel.) When we got out he struck me, knocking me down. I said, ” You ought to be ashamed of yourself to strike an old man like me.” He rushed at me again, and I ran into the bar of the hotel. Deceased followed me. I went outside again and told his wife to get out of the trap as I would not take her any further.

She got out and I immediately went home, leaving the deceased and his wife in the bar. This was about half-past nine o’clock at night. There were a number of people there at the time. I never saw deceased alive again. The deceased had at least two drinks on the road. There had not been any dispute or quarrel on the road except with me. I never had any quarrel with deceased before.

John M’Namara deposed: When the deceased, his wife, and the last witness, Acott, drove up to my hotel they appeared to be in a quarrelsome state. I heard Acott call out, “That — man has struck me twice; if there is any police about, I will give him in charge.” They both got out. De-ceased struck Acott, and he fell on the verandah. When Acott got up deceased struck him again and he fell, Some men interfered, and Acott went into the bar.

Deceased followed him and again struck him. I gave Acott some beer, and he went away. I did not see him again that night. Deceased was very quarrelsome afterwards with some men who were in the bar. I did not see the deceased struck by anyone. Deceased left about three quarters of an hour afterwards. He lost his hat, and proceeded in the direction of Sandhurst, which is by the creek, to find it. I saw no more of him. He went alone. He was mad drunk, but could walk well enough. I heard no threats made towards him by the men, who in fact were trying to pacify him.

Dr. MacGillivray deposed: I have made a post mortem examination of the body. I saw no marks of violence except a small abrasion on the right knee, and a little blood on the right ear. The internal organs were in a normal condition. The cause of death was asphyxia from drowning. I have not the slightest doubt as to the cause of death.

Elizabeth Nesto deposed that she was not the wife of the deceased, although she lived with him as such. Having corroborated the evidence of the witness Acott, she stated that the deceased did not follow her home from the Perseverance Hotel, which is about 2 miles distance. On the following morning, as the deceased did not return home, she went to the Perseverance Hotel, but did not see him alive again. Acott and deceased were always on friendly terms, so far as she knew.

Thos. Moffitt, one of the men referred to as being in the bar of the Perseverance Hotel when the deceased and Acott drove up, gave evidence of the assault on Acott.

Constable Feeley deposed that in company with Constable Luke, he found the body of the deceased under the Axe Creek bridge on the 26th, inst. There were marks showing deceased had been leaning over the bridge vomiting into the water. There was no trace of any scuttle.

The Coroner having summed up the evidence, the jury, after some deliberation, returned a verdict of “Accidentally drowned.”

punctuation

**Please note: Punctuation and paragraphs have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading

THE CASE OF JAMES M’DONALD. (1884, April 29). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved July 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88998756

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