Court of Assize Before Chief Justice Needham

[ D. Babbington Ring ]

D. Babbington Ring, Livingstone, Lorna, 1997, This Website

The Daily British Columbian, June 3, 1869

Wednesday, June 2nd.

Regina vs. John [Tom], an Indian -- This was an action on an indictment for the wilful murder of William Robinson. The Attorney General for the prosecution, and Mr. Ring, instructed by Mr. Green, for the prisoner.

The Attorney General, in opening the case to the jury, stated that in the month of March 1868, William Robinson was murdered in his house, by being shot in the back, whilst sitting at his meal; and that, by direct proof, and a chain of circumstantial evidence, he would make clear to the jury the guilt of the prisoner.

The first witness produced was Henry Sampson, Constable at Salt Spring Island, who testified as follows: -- Early in the month of March, 1868, I received information that William Robinson, who lived in a house on Salt Spring Island, near the steamboat landing, was murdered in his house. I went to the house and found the door locked. I forced one of the logs in, of which the house was built, and passed into the house. I saw Robinson lying on the floor on his back.

The house was built of logs; it stood east and west, north and south. The door was in the north side and about in the centre; there was a bed in the west end; there was no window in the house. The fire place was in the east end and a plank, which served for a table, was fastened against the south side of the house, near the east end. I saw blood on the floor under the back of Robinson, and there was congealed blood round his nose. His clothes were burst at the back. I did not move the body. Deseased held in his left hand a case knife. There was a plate and a cup and saucer on the table. There was some food on the plate, and it appeared as though he was eating when he was shot. I looked round the house and observed that a good many things were missing that I had frequently seen in the house. The articles that I missed were a gun, a chest, an axe, a coat of the deceased, and several other familiar articles (An axe was produced in Court which witness identified as having been the property of Robinson).

I found on the floor a ball, which I now produce. I saw a mark on a log as if a ball had struck it and glanced. There were two holes in the body, one in the back, just below the shoulder blades, and the other in the breast, a little higher, as if the ball had passed through the body inclining upwards. The mark in the log in the side of the house was in range with the two holes in the body, if the man was sitting at the table when he was shot. From the appearance of the holes in the body, and the mark on the wall, I would judge that the man was shot from the fireplace whilst sitting at the table eating.

Cross examined by Mr. Ring -- The Coroner was sent for as soon as I was, but did not come till next day. I stopped in the house until he came. All the settlers on the Island were there. The inquest lasted about three hours. There were two men arrested for the murder and acquitted. I arrested the prisoner in a small house. I did not search the house I arrested him in. I did search another house belonging to him on the Indian ranch. I found a pair of fetters and a policeman's staff.

John Morton, a farmer on Salt Spring Island testified to the facts as given by the first witness; but nothing more was elicited from his evidence except that he saw the prisoner a short time before the murder, and he did not seem sick; he also saw him three or four months after, hunting deer.

The case was adjourned until to-day at 11 o'clock, a.m.

Source: "Court of Assize Before Chief Justice Needham," Daily British Columbian, June 3, 1869

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