THE SHOOTING SENSATION DOWNES BE

 

Warrnambool Standard
Saturday 14th July, 1917

 

THE SHOOTING SENSATION.

 DOWNES BEFORE THE COURT. COMMITTED FOR TRIAL ON TWO CHARGES.

Thomas Joseph Downes, a farm  laborer, about 20 years of age, who created a sensation at the Warrnambool Corporation Saleyards, on Wednesday 4th July, by discharging a revolver at Mr. Michael Lane, was brought before the local Court of Petty Sessions, Thursday morning, and a good deal of interest was taken in the proceedings.
 The bench was
occupied by Messrs S.Giffen Russell and W. Ferguson J.P.
Inspector McLoughlin conducted
the prosecution and Mr. R.A.Molesworth appeared on behalf of accused.
 SHOOTING WITH INTENT
 Accused was first charged that on 4th July he shot at Michael Lane, with intent to murder.
Michael Lane, farmer, residing at
Farnham said:-"I have known the accused for the last 6 years. He was in my employ for 5 years and 3 months, and left me just twelve months ago. After leaving me I believe he went to Melbourne and he recently returned. Since his return he visited my house on two occasions. On Sunday, 1st July, he was at my home and remained about 10 minutes. He then appeared to be staggering and suffering from the effects of drink. but otherwise he was all night. I next saw him on Wednesday. 4th July, at the Warrnambool Saleyards, during the stock sales. Accused came up and tapped me on the right shoulder and said "Surrender or I'll take your xxxxx life." Knowing that he had been drinking I .thought he was only joking and I coaxed him out to the right-of-way. I heard something fall, but I did not see what it was. I noticed then that  he appeared to be under the influence of drink. I said "what's wrong Tom?" He said: "Are you going to surrender?" and he caught hold of .my coat and I heard the report of a revolver and felt a stinging pain in my right arm. I saw something in his hand which I took to be a play toy. It was that, that caused the report.. I heard 'four reports.' It was after the first report. that I felt the stinging pain in the right arm. I then grabbed accused by the throat. While 'I was struggling with him he fired the second shot which went through my coat and overcoat. I then became stupid and dazed and was spitting blood. While I was struggling, Mr. Officer, auctioneer, came to my assistance and he and others took accused away. I was taken across to the hotel and Dr.Littlewood was telephoned for to examine me. Before .the doctor arrived I took off my coat and found that the bullet had. passed through my clothing and that the skin of my right arm. was broken and discolored I don't know that accused had any animosity against me. He was a quiet man and good worker and I think of no motive whatever for his attempt to take my life. The clothing I am wearing is the same I had on that day and the holes were made by the revolver shots.
 Dr. F. E. Littlewood deposed that
he examined the last witness at Russells Hotel on the afternoon of 4th July and found a wound on the inside fleshy part of the upper right arm, showing a slight abrasion and a I good deal of discoloration. The wound could have been caused by the means described by Mr. Lane. He did not regard the wound as serious.
 G. J. Officer, grazier and sales
man for A.P. Officer and Coy. said he remembered seeing accused at the saleyards on 4th July and also Mr.M. Lane. He heard accused say to Lane "Are you going to surrender?" He thought it was a joke. He .then noticed that accused had a revolver in his hand. and after Lane and accused had gone out into the race he saw accused standing with the revolver in his hand, facing Lane. Accused threw his hand down and .fired in the direction of lane. Witness walked across to accused and caught hold of him round the neck and by the right hand. A struggle ensued and during the struggle two more shots were fired promiscuously from the revolver. If accused had wanted to shoot Lane he could have done so twenty times as he was standing at point blank range. The second and third shots were purely promiscuous shots while they were struggling for the possession of the revolver.  Witness held accused's right arm to prevent him taking aim at anyone. He could not say whether accused was drunk or not.
 Henry Mason.. farmer, residing at
Woodford. said he was at the saleyards about 2.40p.m. on the 4th July and he saw Mr. Lane and the accused there. they were standing within two yards of witness and he heard accused say to Lane '"What are you going to do? Surrender or I'll blow your lights out." Lane said "what do you mean?" Accused then took the revolver out of his pocket. pointed it at Lane and fired. A second shot followed directly afterwards. Mr. Officer then caught hold of accused and Mr. Officer said "you brute, what do you mean by this?" He did not hear accused reply. During the struggle between Officer and accused for the possession of the revolver he heard a third shot and felt it too (laughter). He felt a stinging in the right leg. He next saw accused on his back on the ground held down by Mr. Officer. Accused looked like a man who had been drinking for a week or two and appeared to be under the influence of drink at the time.
   Henry Thos, Allwood, farmer, re
siding at Cassidy's Bridge said he saw accused put his hand on Lane's shoulder, and pulling a revolver up from his side fired at Lane. A second shot followed immediately afterwards, and then Mr. Officer caught accused.
 Edward E. Smith, laborer, residing
at Wangoom, said he heard three shots fired and hurried to the spot. He found accused lying against the fence and picked him up and escorted him, towards the watch house. After going a. little way he met Constable Dollman. As he raised accused from the ground, accused said "I am going to take a life. I am going to do for Lane."
To
Mr.Molesworth-These remarks were made after the shots had been fired. Accused had not the revolver at that time. He appeared to be exited but knew perfectly well what he was doing.
David.P. Jackman, farmer, Wood
ford, said he first saw accused on 4th .July, about 12.30 pm. in. the yard at the rear of . the Royal Archer Hotel, and accused, who was very drunk, asked him if he had seen :"Mick" Lane and witness said he had passed him a few minutes before. Accused said he wanted to see him about getting work. The groom in the yard said that Mr. Lane usually put up there, when he came into town. Witness was at the yards in the afternoon when the shooting  took place.. After the shots wore fired he saw accused with a revolver in his hand. The revolver (produced) was the one used and it was handed to witness by M. Gibson.
 Constable Dollman deposed that he saw ,a crowd of people leaving (not legible) market and following them he found accused held by the witness Smith and another man. Accused appeared to be under the influence of liquor and was struggling with the revolver (produced) was handed to him by the witness Jackman. On the way to the watch-house, accused said 'Yes, 1 came here today with the intention to murder 'Mick Lane and he is a lucky man to be alive today." Witness said to accused "Be careful what you say." He had not previously warned him. Accused said "I don't care what I say. I meant to murder this man, I hate him. He is a (not legible) of a man and I meant to murder him." At the watch house he examined the revolver which was a 6 chamber one. It contained three loaded cartridges and three empty shells. He afterwards visited the scene of the shooting and found a small hole in the woodwork of the building similar to one that would be caused by a bullet from the revolver produced. On the 6th July, he saw accused in the watch-house. Constable Croagh spoke to him and accused made a statement at the suggestion of Constable Croagh.
Mr. Molesworth formally objected
to the admission of the statement and in reply to him, witness said that Constable Croagh told accused that he need not make a statement unless he wished. Witness then read the statement, which was to the effect that accused had known Lane and worked for him for 5 years. About five months ago Lane dismissed him as he said he did not suit hint. During the time he worked for him Mr. Lane had treated him fairly well, though they had a few cross words at times. He bought the revolver in Melbourne. About a week ago he called on Lane and asked him to re-employ him. Lane asked him to wait for a month. On the 4th July he went to the sale yards with the revolver. He had had a few drinks. He saw Lane there and touched him on the shoulder and Lane said "Go away, you're drunk." He then drew the revolver. and fired two shots on the ground. He did not intend to shoot Lane, but only to frighten him. He loaded the revolver on the way in to Warrnambool that day. He did not intend to shoot Lane. Accused pleaded not guilty and was committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Warrnambool, on 14th August next.

 SECOND CHARGE. Accused was then charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding Henry Mason, with intent to inflict, grievous bodily harm.
Henry Mason gave evidence simi
lar to that handed in the previous case as to- the shooting and said that after the third shot he felt a sting in his right leg. Accused was struggling with Mr. Officer and another man at the time. Witness hurried over to Dr. Holmes surgery, where he was examined by the doctor, who advised him to (not legible) Yearwood's Hospital and the bullet was extracted.
To Mr. Molesworth -: accused did
tot try to shoot me. It was an accident I got shot.
Henry Allwood said that
after the third shot was fired he noticed Mr. Mason jump round. Mr.Officer caught accused before the third shot was fired.
E. E. Smith said that on the way
to the lock-up he heard accused say, 'I shot the other fellow but I intended it for Lane."
Constable Dollman said that on the
4th July, accused made a statement in which he said he did not know, Henry Mason and did not intend to shoot him. It was an accident.
To Mr.Molesworth- The statement
was made in answer to questions put to witness by Constable Crough.
Dr. H. Holmes said that he
examined Mr. Mason on 4th July and found a wound on the front of the thigh, near the junction of the middle and lower ribs. He subsequently removed the bullet from the thick of the thigh. The wound was not serious.

 Accused on being formally charged pleaded not guilty and was committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Warrnambool, on 14th August. Bail was allowed, (not legible) aoilsed in & )nd of 100 and two sureties o - 50., or one of 100 in each oose.