Freeman's Journal

31 January 1857

Australia — Frightful tragedy in the Fortieth regiment

  We have received Melbourne papers to the 31st October and we regret that on this occasion the premenient topic is not the gold or the advancing prospariety of the colony, but an incident which has occurred in her Majesty's 40th regiment. The circumstances of the tradegy are these :— "His Excellency the Acting Govenor held the usual half-yearly inspection of the troops in garrison yesterday, at Prince's Bridge barracks, when the 40th regiment was paraded, and went through various evolutions.  The inspection being over the officers retired to their quarters, and Ensign PENEFATHER with others engaged in familiar amd friendly converation. — Shortly afterwards, between twelve and one o'clock, Ensign PENEFATHER rushed out of his room with a six-barrelled revolver in his hand, and meeting, just as he got outside of the house, Ensign KEITH, he presented the pistol and fired at him.  The ball passed through Ensign KEITH's cheek, and came out at the back of his neck.  At this Time Doctor M'COULEY was seated in an arm chair on the grass in front of his quarters, reading.  In consequence of the accident which he had within a few weeks since, by falling from the gallery upon the vestibule of the Theatre Royal, the doctor was an inbvalid, and crutch lay by his side.  After firing at Ensign KEITH, PENEFATHER ran to where Dr. M'CAULEY was sitting, and placing the pistol in the doctor's mouth, he fired, and the ball passed out at the back of his neck.  PENEFATHER then looked around as if anxious to find some one else to shoot; when Ensign LUCAS ran forward to wrench the pistol from him. On seeing him approach PENEFATHER fired and shot him in the jaw.   With a maniacial "Ha, Ha," the wretched man then placed the pistol at his own head and fired, the ball entering his right temple.  Such, as near as we can learn, are the brief but shocking incidents of this shocking affair.  Dr M'CAULEY is dead. Several persons ran to him immediately after he was shot, he was still sitting in his chair, but life was extinct.  Ensign LUCAS is severley, and Ensign KEITH dangerously wounded, but both are expected to recover.  The commission of so frightful as act can only be attributed to a fit of lunacy.  For the last three weeks Ensign PENEFATHER had been on the sick list, and it was generally believed that his mind was affected.  Only a few days since Dr. M'CAULEY is reported to have said to PENEFATHER, in a half-joking way, that if he didn't mend he should have to send him to the Yarra Bend.  Whether the frensy was prevoked by any temporary cause we have not been able to assertain; but in the absence of any such, the fit was probably owing to the sudden change in the weather and the excitement of the review.  Poor Dr. M'CAULEY died in his chair, there one or two ineffectual attempts to speak or respire.  As might be anticipated, the wretched maniac was dead before midnight, and subsequently an inquest was held on the bodies of Dr. M'CAULEY and Ensign PENEFATHER — The verdict was conclusive as to the insanity of the poor young man."

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