Murder at Axedale 1894

The Society of One Place Studies have put out the challenge of posting using their 2022 blogging prompts. Following is my post for the January prompt, #oneplaceblacksheep

The Stabbing Affray at Axedale

from: Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918) Tuesday,16 January 1894



At the City Police Court yesterday before Messrs. Keogh, P.M., Faul and Wilson, Js.P;, the young man Ernest Dow. was brought up on four separate charges, viz., unlawfully and maliciously wounding James Crossley; unlawfully and maliciously wounding a horse; furiously driving and larceny of £1. Prisoner pleaded guilty to the last charge. It was decided to hear the charges of unlawfully wounding first, and the following witnesses were called:-

James Crossley, marine dealer, residing in Bernard Street, stated that the prisoner came to him on 8th inst., and asked witness to go with him for some stuff he had collected at Axedale. Witness consented and they started with the horse and cart between 9 and 10. On the road, they called at the South Atlas hotel, and each had a glass of beer there. Prisoner then said they would take a near cut through the bush. They had got about three or four miles when witness dropped his pipe, and was stooping to pick it up when prisoner caught hold of his head with one hand. Witness asked him what he was going to do, and he replied “I’m going to murder you.”

The next thing he felt was the stab in his neck. Prisoner then made another blow at witness but missed, and witness pushed him out of the cart over the wheel. He then got up and started stabbing the horse in the neck. At this time blood’ was running down witness’ back from the wound in his neck, and the horse was also bleeding. Witness asked prisoner what he was doing, and he replied ” I want blood and I’ll have it.” Witness then told him if it was money he wanted he had none, at the same time throwing prisoner a shilling.

There were 16 or 17 wounds on the horse,, besides which prisoner had tried to cut its throat. Witness then being afraid the horse would bleed to death, persuaded prisoner to get into the cart. Witness followed and they drove to the Farmers’ Arms hotel, where they went in and had a drink, for which prisoner, paid. Witness called Mr. Queally and directed his attention to prisoner, who by this time was again stabbing away at, the horse. Everybody seemed frightened to restrain him. Prisoner then jumped into the cart and drove off towards Bendigo and Mr. Queally rode over to Strathfieldsaye for. the’ police. Constable Bowden came, and witness was afterwards taken to the hospital. Witness had never spoken to prisoner before the day of the occurrence. The horse was still alive, Mr. Aked, the veterinary surgeon, at tending it.

John Queally, hotelkeeper in McIvor Road, about five or six miles from Bendigo, deposed that prisoner and the last witness came to the hotel on 8th instant, and the latter asked what could be done to the horse as it had met with an accident. Witness saw the horse, which., was bleeding freely from a gash on tho neck. Prisoner asked for some sticking plaster and witness replied that that would be no good. All the time Crossley did not speak. Prisoner then said they would have drinks and witness noticed that his hands were covered with blood. Prisoner then went to the trough and washed his hands, and after having drinks both got into the cart. They had some words in the cart, and then got out, and prisoner made a lunge at the horse, but witness could not say if he had a knife.

Jane Keast residing in Moran Street, stated that on 8th instant, she was at McIvor Road railway gates, at about 1 o’clock. The prisoner came driving along with a horse and cart, and asked her to hurry up and open the gates, as, the horse was bleeding to death. Witness saw the blood on the horse, and asked prisoner what he had done to it, and he said he had stabbed it, out in the bush.

Elizabeth Spittle, licensee of the South Atlas hotel, stated that at about 11 o’clock on 8th instant, prisoner and Crossley called and had a drink of beer. About an hour later, prisoner came back by himself, and the horse was then bleeding freely from wounds in the neck and chest. Prisoner said that Crossley was in the bush and that the horse was hurt in the bush.

John Aked, veterinary surgeon, stated that on the 8th instant, he went to the livery stable to examine a horse there. He found several punctured wounds on each side of the neck. Two or three of the wounds, on the near side penetrated through the muscles. The knife produced would cause the wound.

Dr. Long, assistant resident surgeon at Bendigo Hospital, stated that Crossley was brought there on the 8th inst. He had a small punctured wound on the back of the neck, about half an inch wide, and one and a quarter inches deep, just over the region of the spine, but it did not reach the spine. The wound was not serious.

Constable Kelly stated that at 1.55 on the 8th inst. he was on duty in Hargreaves street, and arrested the prisoner for furiously driving a horse attached to a spring cart. The horse was bleeding freely from several wounds on the neck. On the way to the watchhouse witness asked prisoner why he treated the horse so, and he replied that he wanted to commit suicide. On searching prisoner, witness found a knife covered with blood and hair. Charges of furiously driving, also of unlawfully and-maliciously wounding a horse were entered against prisoner. Subsequently, from information receivod, witness engaged, a cab and proceeded to the South Atlas hotel, where he found Crossley in company with Constable Bowden. Witness brought Crossley to the watchhouse, where a third charge of unlawfully wounding Crossley was entered against prisoner. Prisoner was slightly under the influence of drink when arrested.

Mounted constable Bowden, stationed at Strathfieldsaye, also gave evidence.

This concluded the evidence on the first two charges, and prisoner, who had nothing to say, was committed for trial at the next sittings of the Supreme Court on 20th February.

The charge of furiously driving was withdrawn and prisoner pleaded guilty to the.lar larceny of £1 from a ladnamed Henry Hemmingson at Kangaroo Creek on 7th instant. Evidence regarding the theft-was given by the complainant, a lad about 15 years of age. Constable W. Riley informed the bench.that prisoner had been before the court on .eight previous occasions, the first, being in May, 1889. Since then, he had been fined for stealing wood and convicted on charges of being drunk while in charge of a dray, insulting behavior, obscene language and other minor offences. Prisoner was then sentenced to two months’ imprisonment with hard labor on the charge of larceny.

“THE STABBING AFFRAY AT AXEDALE.” Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918) 16 January 1894: 3. Web. 4 Jan 2022 <;.

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