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A plaque commemorates Constable Joseph Delaney who was fatally wounded whilst on duty in September 1923.



Verdict of Manslaughter.

BENDIGO, Tuesday. - In the Bendigo Supreme Court to-day, before Mr. JusticeMcArthur and a jury, Frederick Joseph Smith, aged 15 years, a ward of the State, was charged with having murdered Constable Joseph Delaney at Tyntynder Cent ral, near Swan Hill, on August 30. Smith, who is of fine physique, listened attentively to the evidence, and, when the jury was being empanelled, freely exercised his right to challenge. He was defended by Mr.Luke Murphy. Mr. J. A. Gurner prosecuted for the Crown.

Story of the Tragedy.

The story of the tragedy is that Con-stables Delaney and Trevean on August 26 went to Tyntynder Central to investigate a series of thefts in the district.  They had a long interview with Smith, who was employed by Ernest Samuel Pickering, a farmer.  The constables were in plain clothes, but Smith knew that they were constables. On August 30 Constable Delaney rode to Tyntynder Central to resume his investigation into the robberies. The boy, in his story given in court, said that Constable Delaney rode into the yard and tied his horse to the fence. Smith then went to his room and secured a loaded breech-loading gun, and, as Delaney came to the door, he raised the gun to his shoulder and shouted to the constable, "Put up your hands."

Constable Delaney said, "Put your hands up,"' and rushed forward.  Smith fired, and Delaney fell at his feet in the passage of the house. Smith told how Constable Delaney, as he lay face downwards and bleeding from his wounds, asked to be turned over. Smith was so frightened, he said, that he did not  touch the constable.  

"I Died Bravely."

After the shooting, Constable Delaney, who was still conscious, said, "Tell my people I died bravely."  Running into the yard after the shooting, Smith mounted the constable's horse and galloped away, but later called at the Nyah West police station and gave himself up.  In the course of his evidence, Smith said he was born at Clifton Hill, and was a ward of the State. His father died, and, as his mother was unable to keep him, he was sent to the industrial school at Royal Park. Later he went to live with an uncle, who repeatedly flogged him, so that he ran away to Whittlesea, where he worked for six months. Last year he went to Swan Hill, and worked on the farm of Mr. Hannan for seven months. He entered Mr. Pickering's employ in January, and worked from 7 o clock in the morning to 6 o'clock in the evening every day. Mr. Pickering and his wife went away for a holiday on August 24, and left him in charge of the farm.

"Did Not Mean to Shoot."

Smith added that he had stolen the jewellery from the home of Walter Charles Crick, and had concealed it under his employer's house. He stole the cartridges from the home of Mr. Ernest Anderson Pickering, and had loaded the gun because he was frightened. When Constable Delaney first came to the house he said to accused that if it was found that he had stolen the jewellery from Mr. Crick he would get 12 years for it. He did not mean to shoot Delaney.

Robert Urquhart, farmer, said that he lived near the Pickerings. When he reached the scene of the tragedy, he asked Smith where the constable was, and Smith answered, "The 'john' is in the house." On opening the door witness saw Constable Delaney lying on the floor face downwards.

Ernest Samuel Pickering, farmer, stated that Smith had been in his employ since January 21. He was paid 10/6 a week as wages. The gun produced in court was the property of witness, and was kept in the room occupied by the boy. There were no cartridges in the house.

"Off His Head."

Elsie Emma Castles, wife of Constable Castles, who was in charge of the Nyah West police station, said that Smith called at the police station at about 7 o'clock on the evening of August 13. He said, "Did you hear of the shooting?" and declared, "I am the one who did it." Witness said. "Why did you shoot the constable?" and Smith replied that he did not know; he must have been "off his head." Accused then told witness that the horse on which he had ridden to Nyah West belonged to Constable Delaney.  Dr. G. Foster, of Swan Hill, said that the death of Constable Delaney was due to a gunshot wound in the neck, the spinal cord being severed. The wads of the cartridge were embedded in the wound.

Guilty of Manslaughter.

Mr. Justice McArthur, addressing the jury, said that the incapacity of children ceased when they reached the age of 14  years, and legally the accused was just  as responsible as a grown-up person.  The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and Smith was remanded for sentence.

The Argus, Melbourne, VIC.  24 October 1923


Address:Monash Drive, Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill, 3585
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.348407
Long: 143.564528
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:03-September-1923
Actual Event End Date:03-September-1923


Front Inscription

Erected by the residents of Swan Hill as a token of respect for Mounted Constable Joseph Delaney who was mortally wounded while in the execution of his duty

3rd September 1923.

Aged 28 years.

R. I. P. 

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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