Fatal Stabbing at Northcote, 1902
On Thursday 8 November 1902 Michael Wynne and Patrick Gibbons exchanged heated words which led to blows being struck and Wynne being fatally wounded. The two men shared a house at 395 High Street Northcote and in the night in question the pair began to quarrel with Wynne taking offense at the vulgar language Gibbons directed at him. Wynne, 35 years old, then struck the 55 year old Gibbons. In response Gibbons stabbed Wynne once in the stomach with a large knife. The wound perforated the intestines and led to Wynne dying the next day from septic peritonitis.
Before he died Wynne made a a statement to the police
'My name is Michael Wynne. I am a railway employe (sic), and live in High-street, Northcote. I know the accused, Patrick Gibbons, now standing before me. I know I am in a dangerous state and in fear of death. Patrick Gibbons stabbed me with a knife in the stomach. The knife I see is similar to the one he stabbed me with. I saw the knife before at Gibbon's house. I struck him first, but he aggravated me by using bad language. The language was obscene and referred to me. I had a couple of glasses of beer during the day. Gibbons appeared sober but excited. It was a little before 8 o'clcok p.m. when he stabbed me.'
An inquest was held on the 10th November, Mr Chandler, the City Coroner leading the enquiry. During the inquest it was revealed that Wynne and Gibbons had been quarrelling on and off all day. At one point Gibbons had protested that he was '...and old man' with Wynne responding '...it's a good job for you.' A number of witnesees reported that Wynne had charged at Gibbons and punched him on the jaw. Gibbons fell to the ground and it was noticed that his arm was bleeding when he got back to his feet. It was after this that Gibbons stabbed Wynne. The knife was later found in the street outside. Gibbons was subsequently charged with wilful murder.
Gibbons was committed for trial on the 25th November 1902. During the trial Gibbons stated that during a quarrel between the two men Wynne had attacked the older man and gave him '...a shaking and subseqently knocked him down.' Wynne attacked a second time and Gibbons stated that during this second assault he accidently stabbed the victim. The Judge, Mr Justice Hood, informed the jury that whilst the victim was a young man in his prime and the accused an elderly man, the jury had to be convinced that the fatal blow was struck in self defence. The judge went on to say that the jury needed to consider whether Gibbons had any other means of defending himself, short of using the knife.
The jury considered the verdict for two hours before returning with a verdict of not guilty.
Inquest. Herald (Melboure, Vic. 1861-1954), 10 November 1902, p.1
Northcote stabbing case. The Cornoner's inquest. The Ballarat Star (Vic. 1865-1924), 15 November 1902, p.1
The Northcote tragedy. The Arugs (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1957), 25 November 1902, p.6
Northcote stabbing case. Death of the injured man. The Age (Melbourne. Vic. 1854-1954), 8 November 1902, p.11
Victoria. Trial for Murder. Day Dawn Chronicle (WA. 1902-1909), 26 November 1902, p.3