Booze, bullets and a body

Maley's Mill, 1860

Maley’s Mill, 1860

To prove Perth doesn’t have a monopoly on stupid behaviour, Dodgy Perth temporarily becomes Dodgy Greenough. It was there in 1879 a few young blokes got together to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night.

When they met up near John Maley’s mill (above), it turned out that one of the gang had brought along two shotguns, a rifle and a canister of gunpowder.

What could possibly go wrong when a group of drunk young lads has possession of firearms, you ask?

At first they amused themselves by firing a few shots in the air, but this quickly proved boring. So one youth decided it would add to the evening’s entertainment if he unexpectedly fired his gun between the legs of his companions.

When fourteen year old, John Cook, got hold of the rifle, he decided to copy his mate. Sneaking up behind Isaac Patience, John put the barrel between Isaac’s legs and fired.

But instead of going clean through, the bullet smashed into the young man’s left thigh, tearing away a huge piece of flesh and shattering the thigh bone. Blood flowed everywhere.

The panicking group carried Isaac to his home, and one of them ran to get the doctor. Unfortunately before the doctor could reach the victim, poor Isaac had breathed his last.

John Cook was tried for manslaughter and, presumably overcome with guilt, pled guilty to the charge. The jury, however, had sympathy for the kid and decided that he was not guilty, despite his plea.

This, as you can imagine, divided the local community between those who wished to see Cook punished properly and those who agreed with the jury.

So next time you want a night out, Dodgy Perth suggests bullets and booze don’t mix. Stick to one or the other.

Dodgy Greenough

Until 1967, when fireworks were banned in WA, a common sight was kids standing beside home-made Guy Fawkes, demanding, “A penny for the Guy!”. This image is from 1931.

Okay, so I’m a day late with this one. Sue me.

Dodgy Perth presents an 1879 story from Greenough to help us “Remember, Remember, The fifth of November”:

I hasten to give you a few particulars of the sad accident, attended with fatal consequences, which occurred near Mr. Maley’s mill on Guy Fawkes Night.

It appears that a party of young men and lads met together for the purpose of commemorating the time-honoured Gunpowder Plot. In order to do this the more effectively they secured two fowling pieces and an old carbine, and a canister of gunpowder.

After amusing themselves by firing in the air, along the ground, etc., one of the young men, by way of adding to the excitement, commenced firing off his gun unexpectedly between the legs of some of his companions.

One of the lads, named John Cook, who had possession of the carbine, unhappily attempted the same dangerous amusement, and, stealing up behind one of the young men, named Isaac Patience, put as he thought the barrel of the carbine between his legs and fired it off.

But instead of the charge going clear of the legs it unfortunately took effect in the young man’s left thigh, tearing away a great piece of flesh and shattering the thigh bone, causing a frightful wound, from which the blood flowed copiously.

The unfortunate youth was immediately carried to his home, which happened to be close by, and a messenger despatched for medical assistance, but before the doctor could reach the scene of the accident the sufferer had ceased to breathe.

Interestingly, although John Cook pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter, the jury still found him not guilty. Apparently, this verdict gave rise to some spirited discussion locally.