ON THIS DAY – June 21, 1887



Before Dr. Youl and a jury, an inquest was held at the hospital concerning the death of James Joseph Reddan, aged 25 years, accountant, Fitzroy. Mr. Neave watched the inquiry on behalf of Henry Legg, bricklayer, who is in custody on the charge ot causing Reddan’s death. The deceased was the son of Derby Reddan, of the Oddlellows’ Hotel, Little Lonsdale street east. Shortly before midnight on June 21 he lett the hotel, worse for liquor, along with James Duffy, labourer, Fitzroy. The two stood talking in the street until half past 12, and then went in the direction of Spring street. It is alleged that near the latter street a number of young men, including Legg, came behind the deceased and commenced to laugh at his staggering gait. Fearing a disturbance, Duffy urged them to be quiet, and, with the exception of Legg, they agreed. Immediately afterwards, according to the statement of one of the witnesses, the deceased and Legg were seen in a “sparring” attitude. The latter had a knife in his hand, and having struck the deceased a blow on the head ran away. In his flight he aimed a blow at Duffy, who endeavoured to intercept him, and struck him with the knife behind the ear. He also struck a man named Hayes, and tore his coat. Reddan, on receiving the blow on his head, fell, and commenced to bleed, and assistance coming to hand he was removed to the hospital. There he was found to be suffering from a wound on the temple, about an inch and a half behind the left eye, half an inch in length, and extending down to the skull bone. Six days afterwards an operation waa advised, but the parents retused their consent, and death ensued on the 6th inst. A post mortem examination revealed a slit in the skull bone under the temple wound, which had evidently been caused by a narrow bladed weapon with a sharp edge The cause of death was compression of the brain from extravasation of the blood, the result of the wound upon the membranes of the brain Had the desired operation been performed, the medical testimony affirmed, it would probably have saved the man’s life. Legg, when apprehended, made a statement to P. C. Maxwell to the effect, that he had struck Reddan in self defence, as he and his companions had knocked him down and kicked him. Legg’s clothing at the time was very dirty, as though he had been in the mud. He had no knife upon him when searched, and none was found in the street. The jury found that the deceased was stabbed by Legg, and that Legg was guilty of manslaughter. Legg was accordingly committed for trial at the Criminal Sittings ot the Supreme Court, the coroner stating that he would accept bail in two sureties of £200 each.