The Execution of Charles Hines 1897

charly hines

The Execution of Charles Hines 1897

The township of Maitland in New South Wales on the tidal extreme of the Hunter River, established in 1820 took 23 years to warrant the construction of a Gaol for the uses of the whole Hunter district.

From 1843 through to 1897, sixteen men were executed on site at the Maitland gaol. Although Public hangings had been outlawed in New South Wales in 1855, Maitland Gaol appears to have not received that particular memo and continued to hang people publicly until 1861. I will endeavour to find an account of that last public hanging in future blog posts.

This post is the circumstance of the last man hung at Maitland Goal, Charles Hines.

The public hangings were held in the area at the front gates and when hanging were no longer a public event, they were held in the north western corner of the main exercise yard of the gaol.

The Hangman was Robert Rice Howard and was one of his better jobs.

 mailand courthouse

Trial and Verdict

 1 April 1897

 Newcastle Miners Herald

A Capital Charge.

Charles Hines was charged that he did at Gundy on 1st May, 1890, without her consent ravish and carnally know Mary Emily Hayne.

Mr. Gannon, instructed by Mr. J. A. Shaw, appeared for the accused.

Matilda Davidson, a married woman, residing with her husband at Spring Yale, near Gundy, said she was acquainted with the accused. She had known Mrs. Hayne, who was now dead, but who formerly lived with the accused.

Witness also knew Mary Emily Hayne, who had lived with Mrs Haynes and Charles Hines. The girl was now 20 years of age. By Mr. Gannon: At the time of her death the girl’s mother and the accused were married.

By the Crown : Hines’ children appeared to be afraid of him.

By Mr. Gannon: She had never seen the accused ill treat the children. He appeared to be kind to them. He left Eaglevale with his family seven years ago, and she had seen very little of the family since.

Matthew Hayne, a resident of Wet Creek, near Bell Trees, stated that his mother and accused had resided together for three or four years. They were married. He had lived away from home for 15 years.

Last November he received a letter from Mabel Hayre, in consequence of which he gave information to the police. He had been athome on short visits occasionally. The girls always appeared to be afraid of the accused. Constable Williams, of Scone, stated that the read the two warrants produced to the accused, who made no reply.

Mary Emily Hayne stated that she was 20years of age. Last August she was delivered of a child. On 11th November last she sent her brother Matthew a letter. Sh. had resided in the house with her mother and the accused from the time of her childhood. The witness gave evidence of an alleged assault upon her when she was 13 years old by the accused, and said he told her that if she spoke to :any one about it he would kill her.

The witness added that she was frequently assaulted by Hine subsequently, and that she had submitted through fear. She remembered her sister Mabel writing to her brother. Witness also wrote to him, and the letters were dispatched in one envelope Accused committed the offence against her consent several times. By Mr. Gannon: She lived at Hine’s house, and was on friendly terms with him until his arrest. She had also been on friendly terms with her mother and sister Mabel. She was living at Ellerston when 14 years of age, and was now residing with Mrs. Lewis, her step-sister, at Wingen. Mrs. Lewis had visited her mother at Ellerston, but she(witness) did not complain to her.

The child was born on 10th August last. In the month of June last a young man named Arthur Cram remained at the house  one night. Mr. Lewis, her brother-in-law, also visited the house. After June she went to stay with Mrs. Lewis She remained four months, and upon going home she wrote a letter. She complained because accused was not nice to her.

He refused to let her marry a young man. She was annoyed at the refusal, and afterwards wrote the letter. On one occasion she said she would give evidence against the accoused, and get him out of the way. She had complained, and felt- annoyed because Hines would not let young men visit the house.

In answer to the Crown Prosecutor, the witness stated that she had not been intimate with any person but the accused. She had been annoyed with Hine about a dress, and it was for that reason she wrote the letter. The intimacy was continued against her wish from the time she was 14 years of age. She was in fear of her life. Mabel Hayne stated that she was two years and seven months younger than her sister Mary.

She (witness) was frightened of her stepfather. The witness gave evidence as to the relationship which had existed in the house, of the accused, and stated that there had ·been regular intimacy between herself and the accused from the time she was 12 years of age. The witness gave a number of details in her evidence which are unfit for publication, and stated that it was on her information that Hine was arrested. She had written friendly letters to him since his committal. This concluded the evidence for the prosecution. The accused, who gave evidence on his own behalf, stated that he was a grazier and farmer, and was 62 years of age. 

Mary Hayne was not his daughter. He did not deny having been intimate with her. The intimacy commenced about five and a half years ago while he lived at Ellerston. The girl’s mother was alive at the time. He had never done anything indecent against the girl’s will. Had never threatened or terrified her. The children had never had reason to be afraid of him.: Hoe had always treated them well-too well.

On one occasion he had a dispute with Mary about a dress, and told her she had Liven him enough trouble, and he was done with her. The letters were then written. The girls were friendly with him after he was taken. By the Crown: He could not say that Mabel was not his daughter. He had frequently been intimate with her.

He understood that he had been the moral ruin of the two girls. In the first instance he suggested the intimacy to the prosecutrix. This concluded the evidence for the defence. Mr. Gannon, in addressing the jury, said the case was really a serious one. It had been put fairly by the Crown, and the accused would have the knowledge that he had been given an impartial trial. The evidence was of a kind to shook the sensibilities of every right-thinking person.

It was a capital charge, and if the case were considered proved the consequences to the accused might be dire. He could say nothing for the morality of his client, but even a brute as the accused was he was entitled to the closest consideration of the jury. The man had allowed his passion to run riot and had polluted the girls he should have protected. Any decent man would despise him, but seeing how easy it was to scorn such a creature, the jury should remember that they were trying him on the most important charge an English jury could try a man upon.

They must also recollect that they might rob him of his eternal soul. If; the case was true that the accused had taken advantage of the girls whose bodies he should have held sacred, his life might pay the forfeit, but the jury must consider the quality of the evidence brought against the man. The surroundings of the home must be remembered. What could come from a home of so much pestilence and sin ? Morality had not been regarded; the occupants were caged there like wild animals. Under these circumstances, was it not probable that the girls were willing instruments? The proseoutrix was at the time the alleged intimacy first took place residing with her mother. Counsel submitted that if any violation had taken place the mother would have been informed; the brother or Mrs. Lewis would have known of it. The advocate drew attention to the fact that the girl Mary was away from the accused for some time and that she returned to him without coercion. Referring again to the period of the mother’s life, Mr. Gannon strongly submitted that the deceased woman must have been cognisant of any impropriety, and would have fought like a tigress for the safety of her children. Counsel concluded a powerful appeal by saying that although the accused might be a moral monster who’s every appearance is just be loathsome to every decent man in the country, the jury should remember that his moral degradation imperilled his life unless they he old the scales of justice with thorough impartiality.. They must dismiss from their minds any preconceived notions of the case, and see justice done.

The Crown Prosecutor said he agreed with counsel for the defence that the jury had to consider only whether the accused had committed the crime with which he was charged. The man had in the witness box absolutely supported the girls in the story that they had been attacked. He had had some education, some experience, and if his evidence were true, had endeavoured to escape by six months the age which rendered him liable, with or without consent. Counsel drew attention to the evidence of Mrs. Davidson, who had testified to the terror  the children seven years ago, and submitted that this agreed with the statements of the girls.

The Crown Prosecutor added that never previously had he known of such a case. The jury were informed that there might be submission without consent and were reminded that their duty was to sift ‘the evidence ‘carefully, and return a verdict thereon, no matter what the results might be. His Honor, in summing up, said it was a case which required perhaps as much care on the part of the jury as any ease ever heard in the colony. The story of the girls and of the accused was a sobering one. The jury must not allow their judgment to be carried away, however, by the natural horror with which the evidence of the accused must have impressed every person who heard it.

The jury must dismiss the story of the girl Mabel from their minds, so far as the present ease was concerned. It was quite possible, and might be extremely probable, that what had taken place during the past five years was with the consent of the proseontrix; but the question was whether she consented on the first occasion.

Was it done with her consent, even though she might have submitted. His Honor referred to the evidence of the prosecutrix regarding what she alleged took place when she was ,between 13 and 14 years of age, and also dwelt upon the version the accused had given of the girl’s action. She had stated that she was 13 years old, he (the accused) stated that she was 14 years of age. If the jury said the girl was immoral, they must ask themselves how she became immoral. If they concluded that the girl was not a consenting party on the first occasion, no matter what her age might have been, they must convict the accused on the capital charge. If there. was a reasonable doubt on the question of the consent, the accused was entitled to the benefit of it.

If the girl were under the age of 14 years, it mattered nothing whether she consented or not, as far as the carnal knowledge was concerned. The case was, as the Crown Prosecutor had stated, a’ unique one. No other case of the kind had overcome before a jury in this colony, and it was to be hoped that admissions of the nature of those made by the accused would not be made again in a court of law.

The jury retired at 6 o’clock, and returned at 7.25 to ask what was the difference in the crime in the case of a girl under 14 years of ago with and without consent. His Honor pointed out that in the matter of carnal acknowledge it was of no moment whether there was consent or not.

His Honor, in answer to another question. said if there was not consent it was rape. If there was consent, it was carnal knowledge. The jury again retired, and returned to court at 9 o’clook with a verdict of guilty, and prisoner was then sentenced to death.

front maitland gaol

The Hanging

21 May 1897

Sydney Evening News








(From Our Special Reporter.)

EAST MAITLAND, Friday.— For the first time in twenty-six years an execution took place in Maitland Gaol this morning, when a resident of the Scone district named Charles Hines, for a serious offence against morality, suffered the extreme penalty of the law.

Death was well-nigh instantaneous, and, on life being pronounced extinct by Dr. Alcorn, the visiting medical officer, the body was cut down, and removed to the gaol morgue.

Subsequently Mr. Scott, P.M., local coroner, and a jury of twelve freemen, held an inquest in the gaol, when the usual verdict in cases of judicial hanging was returned.

Hines bore up well towards the end, and walked to. the gallows with a firm tread. Once or twice he appeared to falter, but he quickly recovered himself, and stepped forward again. At 9 o’clock Mr. S. Guy, the under-sheriff, made a formal demand for the body of the condemned man, and he was immediately handed over to Howard, the executioner, and his assistant, who pinioned him in the cell. Hines was attended by Archdeacon Tyrrell, to whose spiritual ministrations he appeared to pay the utmost attention.

He last night expressed himself as resigned to his fate. He spent many hours in reading his Bible, and did not retire to bed until late. His slumbers were fitful and broken. At Hines’s urgent desire Archdeacon Tyrrell wrote letters to several of his step children, bidding them farewell, imploring their forgiveness and commending them to the care of a higher Power, He is said to ‘have other friends in Sydney, but with these he declined to communicate.

After the final decision of the Executive was made known. Hines was visited by his son, who is engaged in agricultural pursuits near Scone. But few persons were permitted within the precinets of the prison to witness the execution.

The little group of spectators that stood beneath the scaffold as the condemned man mounted to his doom, comprised of these representatives, Dr. Alcorn, (medical officer), Mr. Scott (visiting justice),Mr. Graham (governor of the gaol), and a few other prison officials. The scaffold was erected close to the north-west wall of the gaol, and distant about forty yards from the wing, wherein Hines had been confined since his conviction. The drop was reached by a flight of wooden steps, about fifteen in number. Suddenly turning an angle of the prison building, the condemned man’s face blanched as he beheld the instrument of death. He was assisted up the scaffold steps in the midst of a heavy shower of rain.

Hines, addressing the spectators, in a few words, protested his innocence of the crime for which he was to die. The intervening walk from the cell in a wing !to the scaffold -was a trying ordeal for the unfortunate, it would have been much, better if the gallows had been erected in one of the wings.

At the foot of the steps leading to the drop, the Venerable Archdeacon took his leave. ‘Have courage,’ said he, and Hines, nodding his head in acquiescence, mounted to meet his doom. . Upon reaching the fatal platform he was placed upon the drop by Howard. Then facing round, Hines, in a voice that displayed not a trace of emotion, said: ‘Gentlemen, I am innocent ‘of the crime. I told the judge so at the time. May the Lord Jesus have mercy upon, my soul.’ ]The rope was then affixed, the white cap drawn over the face, and, at a signal from the hangman, the assistant pulled the lever, and Hines, who had been given a drop of 7ft 6in, dangled lifeless in the pit beneath. The man never moved after the bolt was drawn, his neck being dislocated instantly.

The body, later lying in the prison morgue for the statutory eight hours, will be handed over to the friends for interment. Owing to the heavy rain last night it was feared that the timbers of the scaffold might swell, and throw the apparatus out of gear.

Mr. Guy, the Under-Sheriff, as a precautionary measure, had the mechanism of the drop covered with bagging. This morning ‘ a final test was made, and it was found that everything worked smoothly. The trap fell at eight minutes past 9, and twenty minutes later the body was cut down. Last night the Rev. Mr. W. H. Tarrington, vicar of St. Mary’s Church of England, West Maitland, wired to the Acting-Premier, Mr. Brunker, asking that a respite might be granted, with a view of inquiring into the question of Hines’s sanity. A reply was received from Mr. Brunker to the effect that the case had already been fully dealt with, and very fully considered by the Executive, and that It could not be reopened. The old scaffold in the gaol was last erected fifteen years ago for the execution of a prisoner named Sinclair. He was, however, reprieved at the last moment, and tile structure has not been required since.

 Sinclair, whose sentence was commuted to a long term of imprisonment, suicided subsequently in Parramatta Gaol. A man named McMahon, for murder, was the last, prior to Hines, to be hanged in Maitland. The scaffold was erected under the supervision of Mr. Lewis, the local representative of the Government Architect’s Department. Owing to the uprights resting upon the asphalt yard, it was found necessary to excavate an oval-shaped pit beneath to receive the body. Mr. Guy yesterday had this deepened to 6ft.



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