Murder of a Youth

Yesterday morning the courthouse in Gheringhap-street was inconveniently crowded with persons eager to obtain a sight of George Burnett, the militia artilleryman, who on Wednesday morning shot the youth Walter John Jose, in Wellington-street, Geelong West.

When placed in the dock at the police court, the prisoner, who appeared to be much younger than the age which he told the police he was, looked downcast, and evidently realised the position in which he had placed himself. The wild expression of countenance noticeable on Wednesday when he was arrested had disappeared from the prisoner’s face, and in its place sorrow and anguish of mind were manifested.

Thecharge upon which Burnett had been arrested, shooting with intent to murder Walter John Jose, at GeelongWest, on the 3rd January was read out to the prisoner by the court orderly, Constable Curran. Inspector Roche at once informed the magistrates that since that charge had been preferred against the accused, the youth Jose had died in the Geelong Hospital. He asked for permission to withdraw the charge and substitute for it another one charging Burnett with having unlawfully murdered the youth.

As it would be necessary to bring the accused before the coroner’s inquest to be held on the following morning, he applied for the prisoner to be remanded to the inquiry at the hospital before the coroner and a jury. The charge of intent to murder was then withdrawn, and a charge of wilful murder was preferred against Burnett. The police magistrate stated that it would be necessary to have some evidence as to the arrest of the prisoner before he could be remanded, and Constable Morris was called.

The constable stated that at a quarter to eleven a.m. on Wednesday, 3rd January, two littlo boys told him in O’Connell street that a man named George Burnett was creating a disturbance in Mercer street near the Bay View Hotel. When he was proceeding to the locality the person in charge of the signal-box at the railway gates across Latrobe-terrace told him that a man with a gun in his hands was chasing some boys. He ascertainedthat Burnett had fired off the gun, and upon seeing him near Hawke’s-lane he rushed across Mercer-street, and coming upon Burnett suddenly he at once arrested him.

He arrested the accused on a charge of shooting with intent to murder a youth named Jose, who lived in Candover-street, Geelong West, but who had since died in the hospital. The police magistrate (to the prisoner): Have you anything to say to the court why you should not be remanded to the coroner’s inquiry ? The prisoner : No, sir. The accused was then formally remanded to appear at the coroner’s inquest to be held at the hospital at eleven o’clock.

George Burnett was tried in Geelong for the murder of Walter Jose, a youth, by shooting him with a rifle, when the accused was in an intoxicated condidon. The jury returned a verdict of guilty with a strong recommendation to mercy. The judge said he concurred with the jury, considering the great provocation given, and he would bring the matter before the Executive. His was sentence to be executed but it was commited to 15 years hard labour.

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