from "South Australian Register", Thursday 5 December 1861



Wednesday, December 4.

[Before Mr. Justice Boothby.]


     Peter Starr, aged 60, was charged with the wilful murder of William Simpson Lawless, otherwise William Simpson Macgregor, at Springfield, near Gawler, on the 12th of November. The prisoner pleaded not guilty.

     The Crown Solicitor, with whom was Mr. Ingleby, conducted the prosecution. Mr. Andrews and Mr. Boucaut appeared for the defence.

     The Crown Solicitor, in opening the case, said it was one of the greatest gravity, and demanded of the Jury the greatest possible attention. The prisoner was a farmer, residing about seven miles from Gawler Town, and on the 12th November last his household consisted of himself, his wife, a female servant, and a male servant, whose death was the subject of that enquiry. On the evening in question three friends called upon the prisoner. They had something to drink, and took leave about 9 o'clock, having parted on good terms with the prisoner and the deceased. About that time the prisoner pushed the female servant into her own room; but she did not remain there. She went outside, when she heard a rumbling noise in the sitting-room, and thinking that something wrong was going on, went in and saw the prisoner and the deceased struggling upon the ground. The prisoner's wife was near them, and said to the deceased, 'William, take my advice.'' The deceased replied, "It is too late; I am stabbed." The servant girl stooped and took up a bayonet, which from the resistance must have been then in the side of the deceased. The girl, in a state of great alarm, ran out with the bayonet in her hand, which she threw down at some distance outside of the house. Assistance was procured, and the deceased, who had gone outside of the house and fallen down, was removed to the house, where he lingered until the next day, when he died. The learned gentleman said the evidence would leave much to conjecture, and while it would be his duty to suggest probabilities, they would no doubt be asked by counsel for the defence to take different views from those which he would submit to them. He defined the crime of murder to be the wilful and malicious taking of the life of a subject of the Queen, and that in law the use of such a deadly weapon as a bayonet would infer malice. Supposing, however, the evidence left a doubt upon the minds of the Jurors as to the prisoner's intent, it would be competent for them to find him guilty of manslaughter.

     He called Sergeant F. Hunt, of the Mounted Police, who produced a plan which he said correctly delineated the prisoner's house and the ground adjacent. Witness had been called to the prisoner's house on Wednesday morning, the 13th November. Saw a person who usually went by the name of Macgregor lying upon a sofa in the kitchen. He was unconscious. A wound in his left side had been dressed. There were two other wounds on the man's left arm. There was a wound on the left side of the chin and a slight abrasion on his forehead. Witness produced the clothing which he took from the body of Macgregor after his death, and before the inquest, which took place on Thursday, the 14th November. (The clothes were in some places thickly covered with blood.) When witness first saw the prisoner he came out to meet him. shook hands with him, and said "This is a bad job." He afterwards became excited at times, and went about the house saying he wished he could find out who had done that deed. Witness could not undertake to repeat exactly the words he used. The prisoner was not at this time in custody. He came to the kitchen where the deceased, while still living, was lying. He pushed up to the sofa, laid hold of the arm of the deceased, and began to shake it. Witness laid hold of prisoner to remove him. He demanded to know who witness was, and, when told, he said he did not care for a sergeant of police, and that he had no right to interfere with him in his own house. Witness ordered a trooper to remove him, that he might not further interfere with the dying man. The prisoner at that time had a clean shirt and apparently his Sunday apparel on. Produced clothes found in the prisoner's bedroom. The shirt was torn, as if in a scuffle, and there were recent blood-stains on the trousers. A towel found in the same room had, when seized, the appearance of having been used by a person who had washed blood off his hands — the faint stain had disappeared, but there were still marks of two drops of blood on the towel. Produced a bayonet. Catherine Flannery, the servant, was with him when he found it, on the 13th November, by the side of the creek near the prisoner's house. Observed three spots of blood on the blade, and thought at the time that a stain, perceptible on the socket, had been made by blood.

     By Mr. Boucaut — The bayonet was very rusty. There had been no attempt made to conceal the trousers: the shirt was found with other dirty linen. The wound on the chin of the deceased might have been occasioned by a fall upon a log; but he (witness) inclined, from its appearance, to think it had been done by the bayonet. When the prisoner shook the deceased by the arm he did not do it in an unfriendly way. His excitement was not that of hatred to the deceased, nor did it appear to be that of drunkenness.

     By the Crown Solicitor — There were blood-stains on the floor of the sitting-room. It was a boarded floor, but verv dirty.

     William Hamlin stated that he lived about three miles from the prisoner's house. Had been at his house on the night of Tuesday, 12th November, with a man named Blencowe and another named McMillan. Arrived there before candlelight. Saw the prisoner standing at his door. They had two cans of rum in the cart, and witness asked the prisoner whether he would have a nobbler. He said he would with all his heart. Witness then handed to the prisoner a can containing a gallon of rum. The prisoner invited the party in to take tea. They did so. The servant man (deceased) and servant girl were at that time at some distance from the house milking the cows. Witness and party had rum and tea with the prisoner and his wife. About a quart of the rum was consumed from the can. The prisoner produced a bottle of spirits for comparison with the rum. Some time after tea the deceased and the female servant joined the company. They had singing and dancing. Witness was the first to go out. Blencowe and McMillan followed. The deceased took down a slip-panel. Witness had mounted his horse, and rode on ahead of the cart. The prisoner when tliev parted was like the rest of them — not sober, but there had been no quarrelling. Witness replaced his run-can in McMillan's cart when he left the prisoner's house.

     By Mr. Andrews— The servant girl had something to drink, but he could not say how much. He and his party left about 10 o'clock, he thought, but did not take notice. The prisoner and deceased appeared to be on friendly terms.

     Francis BIencowe, farmer, stated that he accompanied the last witness and McMillan to the house of the prisoner. The deceased joined the party in the sitting-room at the invitation of the prisoner. [This witness corroborated the previous evidence up to the deceased having put up the slip-panel.] While the deceased was at the slip panel the prisoner called to him. He said he would be back in a few minutes. The prisoner said he would make him obey his orders. Witness and party went on, and saw or heard nothing more at that time. Witness heard that the deceased had been stabbed, and returned to the prisoner's house again that night. He saw there the prisoner and his wife, his son and his wife, the servant girl, Mr. McKenzie and his wife, and the deceased, who was lying on a bed in the kitchen. The prisoner was in the sitting-room : his son and Mr. McKenzie were holding him. He seemed to be outrageous. He afterwards came into thu kitchen, and said :Poor Bill" to the deceased.

     By Mr. Boucaut — Had known the prisoner and deceased. They were not on unfriendly terms, so far as he knew. He heard the prisoner say, ' Bill, comeback; I'll make you obey my orders.' He said that all at once, and he (witness) did not hear any more.

     Willian McMillan, farmer, stated that he went with the two previous witnesses to the house of the prisoner. [This witness described thu carouse in the prisoner's house in nearly the same terms as Hamlin and Blencowc.] The deceased looked after witness's horse when they were leaving. When at the slip-panel the prisoner called to witness, but he took no notice. The prisoner then called to the deceased, 'Bill, come back.' The deceased said, 'All right,' and returned to the house. Witness drove off, and saw no more of them that night. Next day witness went, about 11 o'clock, to the prisoner' shouse. The deceased was lying on a sofa in the kitchen. He appeared to be sensible, but unable to speak. Witness afterwards saw the body of the deceased at the inquest. Had been on good terms with the prisoner lately.

     By Mr. Andrews— Had been drinking a little rum in Gawler Town. Was not drunk when he left the prisoner's house. Met his (witness's) wife on the road, and passed her. Hamlin and Blencowe rode before him.

     Catherine Flannery stated that she had been in the service of the prisoner on the 12th Novemlier. The witnesses Hamlin, BIencowe, and McMillan came there about half-past 4 o'clock that evening. The prisoner came out and shook hands with them, and they went into the house. Witness and deceased were milking the cows. There were 22 cows to milk, and while so engaged witness heard singing and dancing in the house. It was between 6 and 7 when witness and deceased went into the house. The deceased was invited by the prisoner into the sitting-room. Witness afterwards went in. They all seemed to be happy, and to have been drinking. There was no quarrelling. The visitors went away between 9 and 10 o'clock. The deceased shook hands with BIencowe; the prisoner and McMillan were at that time talking about horses. The prisoner approached the deceased and gave him a push, saying that anybody who belonged to his family should go into the house, as he did not want them to be with that black mob. Did not know what he meant by that expression. The deceased began to dance and sing. The prisoner said witness had no business to be outside, and she ought to go in to her own bedroom. The deceased said not until he liked. He addressed that to the prisoner, but witness said, "Yes, I shall,'' and went to her bedroom. The prisoner followed her, and she felt a blow on her slbow. Did not know what she was struck with; but her elbow be came black afterwards from the efi'ects of the blow. Mrs. Starr was close to the prisoner, urging him to retire to his bedroom. When witness felt the blow she rushed out of the house. As she passed she saw the deceased in the kitchen between the sitting-room door and the outer door. It was a bright moonlight night. As soon as she went out she heard a noise on the opposite side of the creek ; supposed it to proceed from the party that had left. She soon after heard a noise on the boards in the sitting-room. Ran into the house. The prisoner and deceased were struggling on the floor with their heads near the door, and Mrs. Starr was standing near them. .The deceased was uppermost. Mrs. Starr said, "William, take my advice." The deceased said, "It is too late; I'm stabbed." Witness stooped and picked up a bayonet. As she lifted the bayonet, it felt as if there was a weight upon it. Witness ran out of the house, and went to the residence of Mr. Francis Starr, the prisoner's son. Went by the cart-shed and the creek in a direction opposite to that taken by Hamlin and his party. After she left she heard two gun or pistol shots, and some person cried out Catherine. Carried the bayonet in her hand some distance unconsciously, and threw it down near the creek. Mr. F. Starr went to the prisoner's house in consequence of what witness told him. Witness and Mrs. F. Starr followed. Witness took charge of Mrs. F. Starr child. As she approached the prisoner's house heard a noise as of a firearm missing fire twice. Remained at the creek, and let Mrs. F. Starr go to the house. Mrs. F. Starr afterwards accompanied her (witness) to the house of a person named Graham. Witness returned to the prisoner's house, and there saw the deceased lying on a sofa, apparently in great pain. Mr. F. Starr was holding his hand upon the left breast of the deceased, who was moaning. The prisoner was going about the house as if crazv. He said, "Poor William, who stabbed you?" Witness went to the house of a neighbour of the name of McKenzie. and returned with him to the prisoner's house. Witness went next day with Police-sergeant Hunt to the creek, and saw him pick up the bayonet. Thought it was a bayonet that used to hang at the head of the prisoner's bed.

     By His Honor — There was a door leading from the sitting-room to the prisoner's bedroom.

     By Mr. Ingleby — There used to be a gun in the house. Did not sleep at all on the night of the 12th November. Left the house the next evening. Was in the kitchen when the police removed the prisoner. Before that the prisoner came into her room, closed the door, and asked her something to the effect of what she was going to do with tiim.

    By Mr. Andrews — The deceased was very tipsy; so was the prisoner. Had been living with the prisoner (with a short interval) for about five years, the deceased had been keeping company with her. Had heard the prisoner at times say that she was the same as his daughter, but he did not that night or at any time object to her being out of doors with the deceased. Mrs. Starr did not take her to her bedroom that night. [Mr. Andrews read from her deposition before the Coroner — "Mrs. Starr took me into my bedroom. I came out again.''] Mrs. Starr did not take her to her bedroom, nor did she (witness) say so before Mr. Murray. She came out of her bedroom. Had only gone in at the door. Stood a minute or two. Went out because there was no light, and because she was afraid, as she had been struck upon the elbow. The prisoner's room had been white washed about the beginning of November. Could not say that she had seen the bayonet in his room after that time. Was in a fright, and did not know why she threw the bayonet down at the creek. The deceased was about 24 years age. Did not know the prisoner's age.

    W. H. Popham, qualified medical practitioner, stated that he saw the deceased about 4 o'clock on the morning of the 13th November. He was in a state of collapse. There was a quantity of blood on the clothing around his chest. There was a punctured wound on his left side, immediately below the apex of the heart. It was a triangular wound, but in the first instance it appeared an incised wound. It was about five inches deep, and penetrated the pericardium, or sac of the heart, and would cause inevitable death. There were two triangular wounds on the man's arm, both superficial. There was also on the chin a long ragged wound. The bayonet produced would cause the three triangular wounds. After death there was a wound apparent on the forehead of the deceased, which might have been occasioned by a blow with the obtuse angled edge of the bayonet. The deep bayonet wound entered the side towards the back and inclined slightly upward and forward. The prisoner said it was a bad job, and that he wished he could find the man who did it.

     The Crown Solicitor said Mr. Francis Starr, a witness, was suffering from measles, and could not attend. He cited a passage from a recent edition of Roscoe, to show that it was doubtful whether depositions taken before a Coroner could be read at a trial when the deponent was kept away by contrivance or was unable to attend. The test seemed to be that, a prisoner should be present and have an opportunity to cross-examine the deponent, and it appeared that the prisoner in this case was not present at the inquest when Mr. Murray, the Coroner, examined Mr. Francis Starr. He therefore would not in a case of that importance ask to put in Mr. F. Starr's deposition.

     Dr. Popham, in reply to His Honor, said he had seen Mr. F. Starr the previous evening. He was suffering from measles, and could not without danger attend that trial. He noticed marks on the door leading from the kitchen to the sitting-room in the prisoner's house such as the point of a bayonet would make, and a curved mark, as if the socket of the bayonet had been forced against the door.

     By Mr. Boucaut — The wound on the chin might have been occasioned by a fall on a log. There was a very slight abrasion on the forehead, which might have been occasioned in the same manner; but there was an indented wound higher up which could not have been so occasioned. Did not think, from the nature of the fatal wound, that it could have been inflicted by the deceased himself. [The witness's former deposition was put in his hand.] What he had said was that in a struggle with another it was possible for a man to fall on a bayonet and be wounded in the manner described; but that was not probable. The prisoner, in a state of great mental excitement, said he would give £50 to find the man who had stabbed "Poor William." It was not solely excitement from drink, but the prisoner had evidently been drinking.

     By the Crown Solicitor — The wound was such as could be given by an adversary at close quarters. Could not say that this was the more probable cause of the wound.

     Counsel for the prisoner submitted that it was the province of the Jury to consider probabilities.

     His Honor — It will be for the Jury to decide, having the advantage of the witness's evidence.

     By the Crown Solicitor — Taking the three trian gular wounds into consideration, he would infer that the death-wound was received in a struggle.

     John McKenzie, farmer, South Para, stated that on the night of the 12th November he saw the deceased lying on a sofa in the prisoner's house. He could not speak in reply to witness. The pri soner complained that the servant girl was not so dutiful as she had been, and pointed out a man named Bagster, who had just come in, as the person who had stabbed 'Bill Macgregor' (the deceased).

     That was the case for the Crown.

     Mr. Andrews said the absence of a witness whom he considered most material had taken him by surprise, and he hoped, as the case could scarcely be concluded that evening, that he might not be called upon to address the Jury until the morning.

     His Honor said a correct decision in that important case would greatly depend on a careful summing up, a proper statement of the law, and a careful consideration of the evidence by the Jury. He thought that neither himself nor the Jury were equal to their duty, after having sat eight or nine hours in Court, and therefore he would adjourn tho trial. He could not discharge the Jury, but he would take care that reasonable accommodation would be secured for them. An officer would be sworn to see that no person held improper communication with them, and he would advise them to form no opinion among themselves until the whole case was before them.

     Officers of police were sworn to take charge of the Jury, to remain with them in the Supreme Court Hotel, to produce them in Court next morning, and to allow no improper intercourse with them in the interval.

     The witnesses examined were warned that they might yet be required.

     Court adjourned until 10 o'clock next morning.

next day . . .

     Peter Starr was again placed in the dock, and the trial, adjourned from the previous day, was resumed.

     Dr. Popham re-examined by His Honor, stated that the deceased was, when he saw him, incapable of making a written declaration. Believed that such a thing had been suggested by the police; but the deceased had (in witness's opinion) neither mental nor physical power to do so, owing to his great loss of blood. As the orifice of the wound was not very large, it was probable that an hour would have elapsed after the wound was given before that extreme debility resulted from the loss of blood. The deceased appeared to have been an athletic young man, and in good health until wounded. Witness thought the deceased was about five feet nine inches in height.

     His Honor, at the request of the Jury, read over the evidence of Catherine Flannery, who did not answer when called this morning.

     The Jury intimated that His Honor had the information in his notes which they desired to have elicited from the witness.

     Mr. Andrews then addressed the Jury, contending that it was impossible to find the prisoner guilty of the offence fairly and properly defined by the Crown Solicitor as maliciously and wilfully taking the life of one of Her Majesty's subjects. He went over the evidence, and submitted that the prisoner and deceased were proved to have been friends. There was no cause of quarrel shown, and, in the absence of any thing to show ill-feeling he scarcely saw how the Jury could go further than to find the prisoner guilty of manslaughter. He cited a case where, on a man having a contest with another, went away for a few minutes, and returned with a knife and killed his adversary; yet Lord Tenterden instructed the Jury that if they were of opinion that the prisoner's mind had not cooled, and that he had not at the outset intended to take his antagonist's life, they would only be justified in returning a verdict of manslaughter. The present case was still more favourable to the prisoner. There was no evidence that he first resorted to the use of the bayonet. It was consistent with the evidence that whatever the prisoner did he did in self-defence; and if so, a verdict of manslaughter on that ground would be virtually a verdict of acquittal. The learned gentleman's recapitulation of and comments on the evidence occupied nearly two hours in delivery.

     The Crown Solicitor submitted, in a careful review of the evidence, that the Jury were bound to take a common-sense view of the facts admitted or proved before them. They ought to have a high sense of their duty, and that should teach them not to strain any point against the prisoner on one hand, or to fritter away on insufficient grounds the criminatory evidence against him on the other.

     His Honor, in addressing the Jury, said the enquiry having extended over part of two days he felt it necessary, in a case of such importance, not withstanding the attention they had given to it to read all the evidence, commenting on it as he proceeded, and then he would give such general directions as he considered the case required to assist them in coming to a correct conclusion. He thought there was no bad feeling exhibited by the prisoner in his manner of calling the deceased back when he accompanied the visitors to the slip panel. While reading the evidence of the witness Flannery, His Honor said — Suppose the bayonet to have been within reach, and its being taken in the heat of passion and used, and death resulted from its use, the offence of using it would not amount to murder. It would, however, amount to the offence of manslaughter. The absence of all evidence as to how the bayonet came into use threw great difficulty in the way of a correct conclusion. The Jury would have to consider the probabilities of the case, and in doing so they would have to take into account the age of the deceased —24 years— his greater strength and stature as compared with the prisoner— an old and feeble man— and then say whether it was probable the deceased would, unless they had evidence of a very wicked disposition on his part, be likely to have resorted to the use of such a weapon in a contest with the prisoner. Some inference might be drawn from the language of the prisoner's wife, 'William, take my advice,' and the answer of the deceased, 'It is too late, I'm stabbed.' Would that be what a woman would say if deceased had assailed her husband with a deadly weapon, or were her words and the answer more consistent with the supposition that she had advised him to get away from danger, which advice he had unfortunately not acted on? It might also be proper to consider that the bayonet had been kept at the head of the prisoner's bed, and to which of the two, the prisoner or the deceased, its whereabouts would be most likely to occur upon the occasion of a quarrel and personal encounter. Had the prisoner deliberately armed himself with the weapon and entered into a conflict with the deceased, and death resulted from the use of the weapon, it would be murder. Should, however, the Jury be of opinion that the prisoner had with his own hand fetched the weapon, not intending to use it, but in the course of the conflict did use it, there being no time for his blood to cool he would be still responsible for the result, and the crime would be manslaughter. The use of theweapon deliberately which occasioned death would be murder. The sudden use of it in the heat of blood would reduce the crime to manslaughter. The law cast the responsibility of deciding that important distinction upon the Jury, and if the evidence left any reasonable doubt upon their minds they were bound to give the benefit of that doubt to the prisoner. There were, unfortunately, many newfangled notions abroad about improving the laws which had been sanctioned by the wisdom of our ancestors; but he hoped that no change of the law would ever allow a wife's evidence to be taken for or against her husband, or that a husband's evidence would be admissible for or against his wife in criminal cases. Were such a change to be made, it would lead to great and frequent failures of justice. Our forefathers knew that all human laws were imperfect, and their system was wisely adopted to secure justice, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, by allowing Juries to draw reason able inferences from facts rather than to em barrass them with unreliable testimony. Some remarks had been made by counsel for the defence with a view to throw suspicion on the removal of the bayonet by the girl Flannery. She herself said she was frightened and scarcely knew what she did or why she did it; but certainly the wisest thing that could be done was to remove from two struggling men a weapon so deadly. It was a well-known fact that persons often acted on a sudden emergency with greater wisdom than if they were allowed time to confuse themselves withdoubts as to what they ought to do. Whether the sense of emergency suddenly nerved the brain to an intuitive perception of the proper course to pursue he would not venture to say, but the fact was proved beyond doubt by experience. Some strange behaviour of the prisoner's was spoken of, and the girl used the word 'cranky,' which was understood to mean crazy; but there was nothing to show that the prisoner was in such a state of mind as would render him unaccountable. 

     Mr. Andrews — The doctor spoke also of his aberration of mind.

     His Honor — He spoke of excitement; and there again experience went to show that such was the horror of taking human life that men generally became intensely excited, and, as with the prisoner's trousers, neglected to remove evidence of the commission of the crime. That might be regarded as one of the wonderful provisions of Divine Power that the human mind should lose itsbalance on the commission of great crimes, and thus, by rendering detection more easy, operate to prevent their frequent repetition. It had been suggested that the fatal wound might have been given by accident; but how did that agree with the conduct of the prisoner, who spoke of 'Poor William' having been stabbed, and saying he would give £50 to know who did it? If the Jury found that the prisoner introduced the bayonet in the contest he would be responsible even if death resulted from the deceased falling upon it; for it was an unlawful weapon to introduce, and the death of the young man was consequent upon his unlawful act. In that case it would be their duty to find the prisoner guilty of manslaughter.Whether they found the prisoner guilty of murder or manslaughter, the consequences to him must be most serious; but it was their duty to return 'a true verdict' without regard to consequences. It would be a frightful usurpation of powers which did not appertain to them were Jurors to say we will not convict although we think the prisoner guilty, because of the punishment that must follow conviction. Was such an usurpation to be made all the advantages which society enjoys from trial by Jury would be abolished; but he was quite sure the intelligent gentlemen he was addressing would respect their oaths, and "a true verdict give according to the evidence." In weighing the question as to murder or manslaughter, it was scarcely proper to say that the prisoner was entitled to the benefit of any doubt. He had heard Lord Cranworth say that this was a most unfortunate expression, inasmuch as it implied a favour to the prisoner, who was entitled to demand, not only as a right that he should have the benefit of all reasonable doubt but that the Jury must be convinced of his crime before they could be war ranted in returning a verdict of guilty.

     The Jury retired for a quarter of an hour, and returned with a verdict of guilty of manslaughter.

     His Honor — Peter Starr, the Jury, after a patient and attentive investigation, have returned a wise and a most merciful verdict. It is most grievous to see, from the facts which have been proved in evidence, that length of years has not taught you the value of temperance and prudence. It is most painful to think that a man of your age should indulge in such drunken carousings as took place in your house on the night when this crime was committed. The evidence gives indeed a picture of rural dissipation which reflects no credit upon South Australia. It is shocking to think that four or five otherwise respectable neighbours should assemble and indulge in such disgraceful excess! I trust that your unfortunate case will be a lesson to all persons who are conscious of a disposition to indulge in the immoderate use of strong drink, and that they may be warned by the unhappy result to you to avoid the certain consequences of unrestrained indulgence. I see you are an old man; but I can make no difference in your punishment upon that account. The forbearance of Judges is often implored in consideration of the innocent families of convicted offenders; but that, like age in your case, is a consideration which should have prevented the commission of the offence; it cannot in justice to others, be admitted as a ground for mitigation of sentence. The law has no vindictive end to serve; its severity has the merciful object inview of restraining by example crime in others rather than the infliction of punishment on the convicted. For that sufficient reason I cannot take account of your age, and, although the period of penal servitude to which I am about to sentence you will not in words embrace the whole remainder of your life, yet in all probability that will be the effect of it. Your crime has been a frightful one; its consequences must be fearful. A young hale man in the flower of his age, in the bloom of manhood, was by your crime suddenly hurried before the bar of his Maker and Judge. You will now have time upon this earth to repent of your crime committed against society, and against that Great Judge, before whom both youand I shall in His good time have to appear. But had the Jury found you guilty upon the awful charge of murder, you must have been left for execution, so far as I am concerned; I could have offered no recommendation in your favour. The Jury, as I have said, have mercifully and wisely given you the benefit of whatever doubt was involved in the circumstances; and it is my duty now, for the protection of human life, to deal with you as the law requires. The sentence of the Court is that you be kept to penal servitude for the term of nine years.