“Pially” of the upper Portland Head Tribe is stabbed

“Pially” of the upper Portland Head Tribe is stabbed on the arm with a knife by a European labourer at Lower Portland Head who is not personally held accountable for his violence. The stabbing occurs at a Licensed House kept by John Cross and “Assaulter Hauttey” of Mangrove Creek is under the influence of alcohol. During a subsequent inquiry, the shortcomings of the legal system and ways that some magistrates overcome them are made clear. Magistrate Benjamin Sullivan explains to his peers why he chose not to take the case to trial:

“from the want of sufficient Legal Evidence owing to the testimony of an aboriginal unconverted to Christianity, not being admissible in a criminal prosecution, I found that it would have been useless to have committed the assaulter Hauttey for trial; nevertheless sufficient evidence was elicited to morally convince me that that offence had been committed by him…and perpetrated whilst under the influence of drink…there were many others at the time who neither assisted the poor Black nor would remember at the examination any thing about the matter…”

Sullivan seeks to attain some justice through other means. He requests The Bench of Magistrates to ensure that henceforth Licensed Public Houses prevent people from getting drunk and committing such offences, and that they not grant anything other than a basic licence to the House to which he “solicits their attention”. (Letter by Benjamin Sullivan, Police Magistrate, MacDonald River to Bench of Magistrates, District of Brisbane Water, 7 April 1847, courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).