306. Alfred John Field
Mr John Field's Death
At the Muswellbrook Court House, on Thursday last, Mr Thomas Border held an inquest into the cause of death of the above named John Field, who was accidentally shot at Overton, on Saturday night, January 11th. The following evidence was adduced:-
William John Field deposed: I am a boundary rider employed by Mr Le Couteur, manager of Overton Estate; remember Saturday night last, 11th instant, coming into town with Mr Le Couteur; it was fairly early; I rode and Mr Le Couteur drove; Mr Le Couteur stayed at Flanders' Hotel, and I took the sulky and horse back to Overton homestead; could not say what time I arrived at Overton; when I got to the big iron gate leading to the homestead house I saw a man near the gate about 5 yards on the left hand side; I said goodnight to him, but he did not answer me; I left the gate open and got up in the trap and said goodnight to him again; he did not answer but walked away in the direction of the flat between Overton house and a house occupied by Mr Budden; I left the gate open and drove to the homestead and took the horse and rode over to Mr Unicomb's on the Wybong road, about a quarter of a mile distant from the homestead; I told Mrs Unicomb and Mrs Edwards that I had seen a man and to look out; I then returned to my father's house about half a mile from Unicomb's, and rode up to my brother's bedroom window, and knocked; I see the plan produced and point out the bedroom window referred to; my brother was in bed; his name is Leslie Norman; my brother said "Who's that," I said it was me; he knows my voice; I told him I saw a man at the top gate and he was a funny man and I said goodnight to him and he did not answer, but walked away; my sister Ada came out to the back verandah and I gave her the reins of the horse to hold; I then went to my father's bedroom door and told him the same as I had told my brother; my father got up and came outside; I then went to a box in the second room next to my brother's and got a revolver; the revolver produced is the one referred to; it was loaded in five chambers; I put the revolver back in the box and then went to the back verandah and got on my horse again; I could not say who was on the verandah; I know my father was there; as I got on my horse I noticed a man walk out of a little shed and go down towards a tree; I got on the horse and rode after him, and when I got to the gate I heard a loud report from a gully towards the school; I galloped after the man and told him not to move but he ran away; I followed him and fired high, and following on a little further the man stopped and fired at me; the man was about 15 yards away; the report seemed a loud one, but I could not say what it was; I came back to the house and told them (next few words indecipherable) I galloped as far as the homestead when I heard a cooeeing from father's house, and I rode back and went straight to the gate and never pulled up at all, and heard someone say "Father's shot, go for the doctor;" I galloped straight away to Muswellbrook, no one told me how father was shot at the time; arrived at M and pulled up at Flanders' and called out to Mr Le Coutier who was on the verandah; I said "Father is shot;" Mr Le Coutier said "Go for the doctor" and I went for Dr May, and only remember telling him that father was shot; I then came to the police office and told Sergeant Donnelly; do not remember what I told him; the Sergeant told me to go and see if I could find another policeman; do not remember the Sergeant telling me anything else; did not find any policeman but met the Sergeant in the street afterwards; I followed Constable Russell out to Overton; knew the drill hall, but do not remember getting cartridges there; returned home sometime afterward, and the first one I met was Stanley Clark, I asked him how father was and he said "Dead;" do not remember Clark telling me father was killed; went inside and saw father lying in the passage near the dining room with his head towards the front door and his feet towards the back door; I felt his head, it was quite cold; he was lying on his back; I did not look for wounds; I think I then became unconscious; do not remember seeing the Sergeant and Dr May before I became unconscious, cannot say how long I was unconscious; when I awoke I heard them say they were going to take father to the morgue; when I went into Muswellbrook I was in a very excited state; the shot fired by me a little to the right of the tree was the first fired by any of the family as far as I know; heard a shot fired previously about 50 yards away; when I first fired at the man he was running away; followed him but cannot say how far; only saw the one man; but two shots were fired from the school when I was turning back, and sounded like gun shots; the shots were fired in about a minute; just before they cooeed out I heard a shot fired but cannot say where; do not remember hearing a rifle report; had a rifle but left it with the cook at the homestead; a piece of tin about a foot in width is nailed around the tree about three feet from the ground in the night the white band of tin would be easily seen; next morning just after daylight I was taken by the Sergeant and Constable Russell to show my horse tracks and other tracks, and the man's tracks that ran away; the horse tracks were very plain within about 8 or 9 yards of the tree on the western side going towards the gully; couldn't find any foot or boot tracks; made a good search with Constable Russell; my sight is fairly good; it rained on Saturday evening at Overton and the ground was soft on the following morning; it was not raining when I took the sulky away from Flanders' Hotel; went with Russell around the school and could not see any footprints; it would be possible for a man to run as stated to the gully without leaving a track, although the horse tracks were plain; there was no horse or cattle traffic in the place on Saturday night; the man ran fairly fast, although witness called on him not to move; I was half on the wheel when I heard a shot fired; I was present with the Sergeant when the tree was examined, and saw several fresh shot marks on the tree, and what looked to be a bullet mark also above the tin; the shots in the tin must have come from the direction of the house; there were no marks on the western side of the tree; examined the w.c. at the rear of the school and found that the screen was peppered with shot at one corner; there was an ironbark tree near the w.c. the shots there would have been fired from the yard of the house; it was a fairly dark night, you could not see any distance; previous to the man firing I did not see any arms with him; could not say what kind of weapon he had; I heard four shots altogether and they sounded like shotgun reports; my shot was the first fired near the tree and no man at the tree fired at me; there were bullet marks on the wall of the passage at the house; saw splashes of blood there also; I could not say whether the shots came from the rear of the house or the front; I assisted to make investigation, but could not find any tracks of any footmarks where a man went; the man seemed to be dressed in dark working clothes, and was not tall, but fairly broad, and he had a dark hat on with a broad brim; could not say what sort of a shirt he had on; could not say if there were any firearms in father's house on the night of the shooting; could not tell if the revolver produced was in the same condition as when I handed it to the police next morning; do not think that I brought it into town with me; do not remember getting off the horse prior to coming in to town; could not remember what transpired that night; do not remember being told how the accident happened; know the subject of the inquest was my father; the ironbark tree was about 60 yards away from the house, in which witnesses family lived, and the school house fully 100 yards away.
Dr Francis Hollingworth May deposed: I am Government medical officer for Muswellbrook and district; some one came for me on Saturday night, 11th instant, and asked me to go as his father was shot; I asked where he had been shot; he said he did not know; I asked him again and told him I wanted the information to guide me as to what appliances it was necessary to take out; asked him, who shot his father, and he made a rambling statement about his brother had been waiting for him and he was rushed off for a doctor; I can't say on oath, he said his brother shot him, but whatever he did say I went away with that impression; I believe he did say his brother shot him; it was 9.30 pm; I immediately motored to the surgery where I was joined by Mr Le Couteur who said he was going to the police and would come back for me in the car he had; the car returned with Sergeant Donnelly; Mr McIntyre joined us and we then proceeded to the scene of the tragedy; on arrival I found a man whom I recognised as Mr Field lying full length on the dining room floor; I examined the wound he had in the back of his neck; I was able to put my forefinger right through; the left side of his neck was blackened all round with gunpowder; on the right side of the neck two fingers could be placed in the wound; examined his heart and pronounced him dead and then examined the wound and found three or four of the cerebral vertebrae shot away and broken and crumpled also the spinal cord; the wound in my opinion was made by shot from a gun at close range, the wound was at a slight angle; I examined where the blood was and the guns; blood was near the back passage on the spot where deceased's head fell; saw a double-barrelled gun like one produced, also single barrelled gun, and found that both had recently been fired; there was a strong smell of powder; had had experience in the use of guns; the guns were loaded with No 2 shot; there was also a rifle there; also examined the walls of the passage at the back of dining room, there were marks of pellets of shot about the size of No 2 shot; the direction of the marks on the wall showed to witness's mind that the gun was fired from the boy's room door in the passage as shown on the plan; following the direction of the shot marks on wall searched for spent pellets, and one was found, which is produced; it was on the back verandah near the steps; various statements were made to me that a man had been seen and shot the father from the back part of the verandah as he rushed in or out; it was practically impossible to shoot from outside in direction of the wound in the father's neck; a son said he had fired a single barrelled gun from the boys' room; I suggested to him, from the direction of the shot, and position of the wound and marks on the wall that he might have accidentally shot his father, mistaking him for the man he had seen about; in consequence of his extremely agitated condition, I refrained from pushing my suggestion further, although I feel convinced that the father received his wound from a shot fired within the house.
To Senior Sergeant Donnelly: If blood and pellet marks were found on the tank that would support his theory of the occurrence; that discovery would prove that deceased was not shot from outside or from the back verandah; it would not be possible for a person rushing in the front door and firing to have shot Field in the manner indicated by the wound and the shots on the wall; had deceased been shot by any person outside the house the mark of the gunpowder on the left of the neck round the wound would not be there and the shots would be more scattered; the hole in the neck indicated that the weapon used had been held close to the deceased as the wound was a clean hole, the shot having gone through it like a ball; made a careful examination to ascertain the cause of the fatality and am of opinion the wound could not have been self inflicted; the position of the blood in the passage also confirmed his opinion that Field was shot in the passage and fell there; some of the flesh and spinal cord was missing, which donated (This looks like an error in transcription from the shorthand and it really should read "indicated") a short range shot, and would account for portions of the flesh being found on the side of the tank; it would not be possible for Field to have been shot between the boys' room door and the dining room door and the wound and blood to be in the position they were; if shots were fired from the back, the pellets and blood would be towards the front of the house.
Sarah May, wife of Dr May, stated: I remember Saturday night last; about 9:30 someone called for the doctor, and that his father had been shot; the doctor asked him who shot his father, and he said there were some men about the place, and his brother had been waiting for them and I think he must have shot him; the doctor asked him where he had been shot, was it in the feet, or head or where was it; he said "I don't know doctor, I only saw him fall, for they rushed me off for the doctor.
Leslie Norman Field deposed: I am a son of the deceased, John Field, the subject of this inquest, and am engaged working on a dairy farm at Overton; I am 18 years old, and reside with my parents; remember Saturday night last 11th instant, remember my brother Willie coming to my window about 9 o'clock and knocking; he told me to get up that there was a man prowling about; I got up, and went out on to the back verandah, and thought I saw someone walking down near a tree; Willie went down on horseback to have a look, and I thought someone fired at him; I heard a revolver shot and I thought it was Willie fired, and Willie came back soon after; I had a gun; The one produced in court, a single barrelled breech loader, which was loaded; I fired it off towards the tree, where I thought I saw the person, to frighten him; I was then in the little yard just below the verandah; the spot marked in black ink on the plan was the place I fired from; Willie was coming back when I fired the shot; know Albert Clark, but cannot say whether he had a gun or not; fired two or three shots (next few words indecipherable) the cartridges were Tellax No. 2; I was very excited; cannot say whether shots were fired by anyone else; all the family went inside, with the exception of Willie; could not say if any of the girls or his father were in the yard or the back verandah; when I returned to the house I went into my bedroom and still had the gun; could not say if Clark was in the room or not; could not say whether I reloaded the gun inside or outside, but I know it was loaded when I got inside the house; I heard someone call out while I was in my room "here they are on the steps"; it may have been one of my sisters who called out; I heard my father say, "Inside, quick, my girls," and they rushed in, and then father got shot; I think I shot him myself; I do not know what I thought, I suppose I thought I was shooting at the man; I did not see my father fall, and I can't say whether I reloaded my gun or not; I saw some people in the passage, but could not say whether they were my sisters or brother; could not say whether my gun went off accidentally or whether I fired it off; when I went out my father was lying on his back, and he looked at me and tried to say something; he was not quite dead then; I said when I came into the hall, "I shot father"; someone examined the gun and said, "No you have not your gun is loaded and cocked"; I could not say whether I reloaded the gun or not; saw the pellet marks on the wall opposite to my room, which were pointed out to me by Sergeant Donnelly; the shots appeared as if they had been fired from my room door; at the time I fired I really thought the man was following the family into the house; could not say whether mother was there or not; I fired four shots in all; do not remember where the last cartridge was thrown; remember making a statement to Sergeant Donnelly at the homestead; I made the statement so that no one else would be blamed for it; the double barrelled gun in the court was kept in the house; I left the belt of cartridges produced hanging on the wall of my room; I had two or three cartridges in my pocket; did not go down and examine the tree and the w.c. at the back of the school house, or look for tracks; I am quite satisfied in my own mind how the accident happened; I did not want my mother to know about it; was always friends with my father and never quarrelled with him; always worked together in a harmonious manner for the benefit of the family; we were milking 96 cows, which employed five men and boys, and sometimes two or three girls; two hands were employed in addition to the family; Willie was not in the house at the time of the shooting; he was called back afterwards and sent for the doctor; Willie was on the best of terms with his father; the tree referred to had a band of tin around it about four feet from the ground; do not know the distance it is from the verandah.
Matilda Ann Field deposed: The deceased John Field, the subject of this inquiry, was my husband; I resided at Overton with him, where he was engaged working a dairy on the shares for Mr Robey; remember Saturday night, 11th instant, I was disturbed, for we had gone to bed early, by my son Willie; he said, "Are you there Dad": the father said, "Yes, my son, what's the matter;" he said, "Just as I came back from town there was a man standing at the gate and I said good night to him and he never answered me;" my son then said that he went over and let the horse out and saw the man nearer to the homestead so he came over and let us know about it; I then went to sleep and did not hear anything more; I was disturbed by the children making remarks outside, and then I heard a report; I got out of bed and went out onto the back verandah and waited until Willie returned; when my husband said, "Did he shoot you my son?" and Willie said "He nearly shot me, I felt it whiz past my head"; Willie then said "I think I'll follow Mr Le Couteur and tell him;" his father advised him not to; but Willie said, "I think Mr Le Couteur would rather me go; my husband then turned to us all and said, "Go in, we are only making targets," and I turned and went in quick; all the children followed with the exception of the eldest daughter Ruby; when I got inside I heard another report and heard Ruby say to her father, "Oh! Willie's shot at again, let us wait and see if he is shot;" soon after I heard father urging the daughter to go in, and then there was a very loud report, which seemed like a volley and heard my husband say "I'm shot dead;" I rushed through the place and saw my husband lying near the dining room door, and raised his head; he did not speak another word; I then called someone to go for the doctor; someone called out from the front door "Go for the doctor, father is shot;" could not say how the accident occurred; asked the boys not to shoot; Norman replied that he was not going to shoot anyone, only wanted to show them they had a gun there; the doctor examined my husband and told me that he was dead; the body was removed by the police to the hospital morgue; deceased was buried at Penrith on the 13th instant; I am perfectly certain my husband was killed by a gun shot wound; he was a native of Penrith, and 46 years of age; his life was not insured; there has never been any quarrelling in the family; I could not say for certain what time the accident happened, but I think it was about o'clock. (What o'clock it was is omitted from the published report)
Matilda Ruby Field deposed: I am a single girl and reside at Overton with my parents; know the subject of the inquiry, my age is 25 years; (next few words indecipherable) Saturday night last, 11th instant; my brother Willie came to the house about 9 o'clock, and from what he said, we went out to the back verandah; while we were there Willie, who was on horseback, said there was a man at the back' and he moved towards the tree marked by the black spot on plan; my brother rode out to see who was there and asked who it was; there was no reply, and afterwards a shot was fired; I saw the fire from the shot; afterwards there was another shot; three shots followed in succession, which did not seem very far away; my brother rode back and said he was almost hit, that there were two men there and one ran from the tree to the gully, and the other ran towards the school, some of the boys then fired in the direction of the way in which they saw the men run; my father said, "you had all better get inside, we are only making targets for them here;" I said to father "come back and let us see if Willie is safely past the school;" while we were still listening some of the others came on the verandah at the back, and I heard a scream, and on looking round I saw a man standing about a yard away, near the steps; father said, "quick my girl, run;" he pushed me on before him; just as he turned round the corner I ran to the dining room door and turned for him to come in the door with me and as he came he fell at my feet, and said, "I'm shot dead"; I heard the report, it was a very loud one; could not say where it came from; did not see anyone in Norman's room, or anyone behind or in front of me; could not say where the report came from, or whether it was a rifle or gun shot; the man I saw at the steps was tall, with a dark suit, and a white shirt front; could not describe his features; did not see him with a gun; know Stanley Clark, he was at our place that night, and was on the verandah in the first part when father ordered them inside; did not know how many shots were fired; know the guns and cartridges produced were in the house; I heard mother say something on the verandah, and could not remember what it was; all the family were somewhat excited, as we thought there was some danger; saw my brother Willie faint when he came back and was told that father was dead; did not see any of the boys fire a shot, but shots were fired; was standing on the verandah when the shots were fired; could not tell the difference between a rifle shot and gun shot; the first shot that was fired seemed to be on the western side of the tree; as near as I can say; the man I saw was standing right in the corner of the left of the steps; could not say how many shots were fired off altogether.
Albert Clark deposed: I am 15 years of age, and was employed by the late Mr Field, the subject of this inquiry, and resided with them in the house, and occupied a room with Norman; remember last Saturday 11th instant, being disturbed by Willie who came and told us something and Willie also told the others; Norman and I went out after and someone said they thought they saw a man standing by one of the trees; Norman and witness went and got the guns and went with Willie; the guns produced are the ones we took; witness saw no one, but heard a shot go off near the tree near the school which sounded like a revolver shot; just afterwards another shot was fired; Norman fired his gun off down towards the tree with the tin on, and I fired in the direction of the school, both Norman and myself only fired one shot each; did not see any one during that time; I went inside and put the gun in the corner of the same room, and Norman then came in and loaded the barrel that he had just fired; where the police took the gun from was where I left it; can't say if Norman fired any more shots; I stopped in the bedroom and heard a row on the back verandah, and someone said look out, and those outside rushed in the passage and seemed to be in an excitable state; next thing I heard a shot fired; about a minute later I got out of the room and Norman was standing at the bedroom door, and the gun was lying on the floor, and Mr Field lying in the passage shot; heard Mrs Field say, "put the guns away"; did not see any one shoot Mr Field; could not tell where the report came from, on account of the noise that was being made at the back; I put my gun away when Mrs Field told me; did not see Norman reload his own gun; I was excited; my memory is pretty good; saw no man anywhere; witness's eyesight was not too good at night time; the night was very dark; the cartridge belt and cartridges are my property, and the cartridges used were taken from my pouch; the single barrelled gun is mine; the double barrelled gun is Willie's property, and the rifle belongs to my brother Stanley who was also employed at Field's; there was some excitement two nights previous to Saturday, but I did not hear it, as I was not disturbed.
Mounted Constable Russell deposed: remember going to Overton on Saturday night, 11th inst; on arrival there was the deceased John Alfred Field, the subject of this inquiry, lying in the dining room with his head towards the door; I saw the doctor and Senior Sergeant Donnelly there, and noticed that Field was dead; I heard certain statements made by the family about strange men being seen about who had shot deceased; I received instructions to prevent anyone going towards the back of the house to disturb any tracks; I left for the morgue with the body about 1 o'clock, on the 12th instant; I left the body at the morgue and returned shortly after daylight; in company with Senior Sergeant Donnelly and Mr Le Couteur, I searched for tracks right from Le Couteur's house to the gate, and the only tracks to be seen were those of a galloping horse from the house to below the tree and back again; I went about 20 yards below the marked tree; heard the Senior Sergeant tell Willie Field to go with me and point out which way the man ran from him; Field went with me and there were absolutely no tracks to be seen except those of the horses; rain had fallen on Saturday night, and the ground was so soft that a man could not have run upon it without leaving tracks; there was hardly any grass about; the soil is a chocolate colour and there is also some gravel; also looked about the bottom of the trees but could not find any tracks, also went over to the school; searched all over the place from the milking yard to the road but could not find any track; the gully was a couple of hundred yards from the tree with the tin on; and it would be about the same distance from the school; it would have been possible for someone to be shooting in the gully without interfering with anybody, saw dog tracks there quite plainly; I picked up the shell produced near the gate; the revolver produced was handed me by William Field, and was loaded in five chambers, and appeared to have been discharged recently.
Arthur Donnelly deposed: I am Senior Sergeant of Police stationed at Muswellbrook; about 10 pm on Saturday, 11th instant, I received a phone call from Mr Le Couteur that Mr Field had been shot at Overton and he thought it was accidental; about a couple of minutes later, William Field, a son of the deceased, called at the station, and said, "My father has been shot, and I want you to come out"; I asked who shot him, and he said, "I don't know"; I asked "Was it accidental?"' he said, "I'm not sure," and away he went; he was in a very excited state; I asked him if he had seen the doctor, and he said he had got Dr May; I waited a minute or two, and Mr Le Couteur came in a motor car; Dr May was called for, and also a magistrate, in case the man was alive, to take his depositions; I arrived there at 10.20 and found deceased on his back in the dining room, between the two doors and the passage way, and the family around him; the doctor examined the wound in my presence and pronounced life extinct; I inspected the wound and noticed it was in a slanting position, and that the surface round the wound was burnt with powder and came to the conclusion that the shot that caused the wound had been fired at close quarters; I made inquiries from the family, and it was pointed out to me where deceased had fallen, in the passageway leading from the back verandah; I then made an examination of the walls of the passage, and saw that 20 to 30 shot marks on the right hand wall going in from the back verandah, which all glanced in a westerly direction off the wall, which showed me conclusively that the shot was fired from inside the house; and I firmly believe was fired from the bedroom door occupied by Leslie Norman; I then interviewed Leslie Norman Field, and he denied having shot his father; as soon as I discovered the marks I gave instructions to allow no one to go out to the rear of the building, and these instructions were adhered to; next morning, on examination, we discovered portions of flesh and blood from the wound on the right hand side of the tank at the passage, as shown on plan produced; from the height of three feet to the top, and also pellet marks; and they further established in my mind that Field was shot from inside the house; shortly after daylight the following morning, Sunday, with Constable Russell and Mr Le Couteur, I cut the tracks right from the homestead; the only tracks being where some horses had been galloping about. I then called Willie Field, and asked him to come and show us where he saw the man that night and where he ran; we then past the tree marked on the plan with a black dot, at the rear of the house, and Norman (This appears to be a reporter's error - it seems more likely it was Willie) said, "He ran from there"; I said, "Now point out his tracks"; I sent Constable Russell with him; I saw his horse tracks quite plainly, where he went down and came back again, but could find no footprints; I afterwards made an examination in the little yard near the house, and found three empty cartridge cases lying near the fence and one just under the tank near the hall; they were all Tellax No. 2, smokeless; after that, from something I was told, I went over with Norman Leslie Field to the homestead; he made a voluntary statement, which I took down in writing, and in which he admitted having shot his father by accident; he did not want his poor mother to know, and made the statement so that no one else would be suspected; the statement is almost word for word as given in his evidence today; I measured the distance from the tree with the tin band around it, to the back verandah, which is 43 yards; found the tin contained some pellets in it, and some above it; the tin was 10 inches in depth, and 3 feet 6 inches from the ground; there was also what I took to be a bullet mark which would be made by the cartridge the size taken from William Field; this bullet was going in a westerly direction from the house; I also stepped to the w.c. into the screen of which I found 33 pellets had entered, and it was 66 yards away from the verandah steps; the result of my examination accounted for 5 shots and the revolver shot, which Willie admitted firing, and the whole of the shooting done there was done by the family; in my opinion the tree with the tin on was taken for a man and the school w.c. screen for another; the family when I arrived on the scene with the exception of Matilda Ruby, were in a very nervous and excited state; Mrs Field appeared to be almost heart broken, and Willie the same, and he was attended by the doctor; another daughter was hysterical; I believe they really thought they saw men about the house; but after the examination and investigations of the police, I am convinced that no man ran away from the tree with the tin on it as stated by Willie, and Willie's revolver (a few words are indecipherable). That accounted for Leslie Norman firing his gun off in that direction; the pellets in the tree and the w.c. both prove that the shots were fired from the rear of Mr Field's residence; the shot that Willie heard was the shot fired from the gun at the house at the tree; the width of the passage way where deceased was shot was 3 feet 8 inches wide, and the doorway in which Leslie Norman would be standing was seven inches above the floor of the passage; the two guns were fully loaded when I took possession of them, and both smelt of powder recently discharged; no other cartridges of any description were found on the place other than those mentioned.
The inquest was then adjourned until the next day. At 10pm (This looks like a reporter's error - 10am seems more likely) on Friday the Coroner delivered the following verdict:-
"I find that the said John Alfred Field, at his residence at Overton near Muswellbrook, in the State of New South Wales, on the 11th day of January, 1913, died from a gunshot wound in his neck, accidentally inflicted by his son Leslie Norman Field, who mistook him for another man, when he thought he was in danger, and fired in self defence. I also add the following rider: The fact of William Field seeing a man inside the gate near Mr Le Couteur's residence (if he did so) and speaking to him and not getting a reply did not, to my mind, justify him taking such extreme action, nor was he justified in indiscriminately using firearms, and in his present state he should not be allowed to use any."
The Coroner added the following remarks:- "I have looked very carefully into the evidence of this very distressing coroner's inquest, and to my mind there is no doubt whatever how the accident happened, and it appears to me that the son Willie Field had worked himself up into a nervous state and was over excited. The police must be complimented on the manner in which they conducted the case and the satisfactory evidence obtained." - "Muswellbrook Chronicle".
Source: From The Nepean Times, 25/1/1913
A Sad Affair
MR JOHN FIELD SHOT DEAD
Deep regret was expressed in the district when word was received that Mr. John Field, a well-known and highly respected one-time resident of Castlereagh, had been shot dead at Overton, near Muswellbrook, on Saturday night last. There were all sorts of rumours as to how the shooting took place. On Monday a representative of this journal had an interview with Mr. Norman Field, a son of the deceased. He said Mr. John Field (his father) was working for Mr. J Lecoutquer, of Overton, on the shares system, and the family resided in a house on the property. Mr. Lecoutquer resided about 100 yards away. About 9.20 p.m. on Saturday Normanâ€™s brother William (who works at Muswellbrook, and sleeps at home) returned, and as he came in through the gateway he noticed a man standing there, to whom he said a goodnight, but received no reply. On arrival at the house he informed the inmates, who came outside, and someone as noticed to be walking from tree to tree. Then William Field (the brother) proceeded to where the man was thought to be, but had not gone far when a bullet whizzed just past his hat. He came back, and Norman Field then got the gun from inside and fired a couple of shots in the direction of where the man was seen, in order to-see if they could frighten him away. William then started off with the intention of reporting the matter to Mr. Lecoutquer. The father (Mr. John Field) and his daughter Ruby came out on the veranda, just near the door, to see if he got along safely, when the former said to the latter "Quick, get inside, there is the man at the bottom of the steps". She had only just got inside the doorway when her father called out "I'm shot dead" and dropped down shot in the back of the neck. He only lived about half-an-hour, but could not speak although he seemed to understand portion of what was said to him. A Mr. Burke, who lives on the opposite side of the road, was called out to. He lifted his window to see what was wrong, and a bullet just shot by his head at that moment. He quickly put down the window, but shortly afterwards came over. Word was sent to the police, and the body was removed to the hospital morgue at Muswellbrook.
Another account of the shooting is sent to us by Mr. G F Rixon, of Muswellbrook Chronicle who states the police supplied him with the information: - One of the boys - the eldest - when passing through a gate on his way from town saw - or imagined he saw - a man standing nearby who did not answer his salutation good night. He told the household to be on the watch, as he had seen a man skulking at the gate. Later, the same lad was proceeding to town when he saw - really only imagined it - a man near the house. He fired a revolver at this object, and to the watchers at the house it appeared that the supposed man fired the shot. They had three guns there loaded with shot and they all blazed away at the supposed shooter. In the morning it was found that they had all fired at a tree with a band of tin around the trunk - the bullet and shot marks were there. A little later one of the girls - the family apparently were in the front - exclaimed that she saw a man near the veranda steps and they made a rush through the house from the front to the back. A bedroom opened on to the passage, and at the door was standing one of Mr. Field's sons with a loaded and cocked gun in his hand. As the father passed the door the son pulled the trigger and the charge passed through his father's neck. It is certain that the boy did not know he had shot his father. It is doubtful if he even knew he had pulled the trigger. But there is no possible doubt that this is how the accident occurred. The family themselves believed that the father had been murdered by the mysterious stranger whom they imagined they saw about the place. Their grief was terrible to witness they threw themselves upon the body, hugged it, spoke all sorts of endearing words, and were almost beside themselves with grief. The above are briefly the facts of one of the saddest accidents it has ever been my lot to record. I may state that rain fell on Saturday evening just prior to the tragedy, and if there had been any man or men prowling about they must have left tracks, but the police could not find any strange tracks at all, although they searched very carefully as soon as it was daylight. An inquest was to be held on Thursday, details of which we hope to publish next week.
The late Mr. John Field, who was 44 years of age, was born at Castlereagh, being the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Field. Nearly 26 years ago he married Miss Matilda Sutton, a native of Penrith - and sister to Mrs. Edwin Fragar (York Estate), Mrs. William Hollier (Orchard Hills), Mrs. William Gore (whose husband is Major at Salvation Army Headquarters, Melbourne), and Mrs. Lewin Best (Dulwich Hill). Besides the widow there are seven children left to mourn the loss of one they loved so well. These are - Ruby, Grace, Ada, William, Norman, Hilton and Victor - the youngest being three years of age. After Mr. and Mrs. John Field were married they live for some twelve months in High Street, Penrith, and then they went to Castlereagh, where they remained up to about three and a half years ago - principally on the land and dairying. A move was then made to Warialda, where dairying was engaged in on the share system for a little over twelve months. A dairy farm was looked after at Wyong for a few months, after which the family took up their residence at Overton, some four miles from Muswellbrook, carrying on dairying for Mr. J Lecoutquer on the shares as stated above. The remains were brought to Penrith on Monday by the train which arrives about 1.20 p.m. The interment took place in the Church of England portion of the General Cemetery at Kingswood. The service was conducted in an impressive manner by Rev Canon Archdall. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mrs. John Price and Son.
Source: Nepean Times 18 Jan 1913
308. George Edward Field
Dead on Line. Early morning discovery. Penrith Resident Killed.
At 5am on Tuesday the severed body of George Edward Field of Lemongrove, Penrith was found on the town railway line between the viaduct and Nepean Bridge. The discovery was made by Mr. Frank Daniels, who was proceeding from Emu to Penrith railway station at the time. It is believed that the death took place early on Monday evening. The deceased who was employed as an engineer by Emu Gravel Coy was 57 years of age. He was a native to Castlereagh, and was the second son of the late Thomas Field and Mrs. Field of Castlereagh. He had been employed by the Gravel Coy for 37 years as an engineer. He leaves a wife (daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Willett of Castlereagh) and the undermentioned children:-
Leaslie (Dripstone), Mrs. J. Knight (Temora) George, Linda and Arthur (at home), Mrs.H. Aubrey Jnr. (Liechhardt). Surviving brothers are Charles and Thomas (Penrith), Ernest (Sydney) and Mrs. G. Bellingham (Castlereagh) his sister.
The funeral which was largely attended took place on Wednesday afternoon the remains being laid to rest in the C. of England portion of Penrith general cemetery. Rev. H. N. Powys, Rector conducted the service. About 50 employees attended the funeral and the company was represented by Messrs. E. J. Hughes and J. Hamilton.
Source: Nepean Times 31 Mar 1928
William Crowder Nichols
Arrived 1848 Agincourt as part of Lacemakers of Calaise