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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Alice Parkinson - An Early NZ Shooting:

Some 100 odd Years ago - on 25 April 1915 NZ Truth (Issue 514) ran a report of the two day trial and included medical-evidence about the Napier shooting of Albert West - by a (26 year old) "foolish girl" Alice Parkinson.

Alice, penniless, without employment, and with her character stained by an illegitimate pregnancy, was desperate to marry the father of her dead baby - and had rented and furnished a home for them both - but Railway worker Albert West had changed his mind and rejected her. -  Alice bought a .22" caliber revolver in Hastings.

Alice Parkinson (With Her Later Family) in 1930.

2nd March 1915 - Alice had waited for her man after he finished work for the day and fired four shots into him before turning the gun on herself & firing one "stinging" round into her own head.

Immediately following the shooting - "A Mr A Otten took from her hand a small seven chambered revolver, in which there were five shells and two live cartridges."

Unknown Gun may have been Something
 Like This Iver Johnson .22" Revolver?

Bert West - having been shot three times in the body and once in the head, died three days later in hospital - but Alice Parkinson - although being found semi-conscious with a bullet in her head - recovered to be tried and found guilty of manslaughter.

 Chief Justice Sir Robert Stout sentenced her to life imprisonment with hard labor .. despite the trial Jury strongly recommending mercy.

Alice had given birth to a stillborn child during her long term relationship with West - who had then deserted her. - Following her trial - Chief Justice 'Sir' Stout - who was also Head of the Appeals Court - and therefor judging his own decision - refused her appeal - and Alice was sent down to Addington Prison in Christchurch to serve her life sentence.

However this trial and sentence caused widespread outrage and eventually - following THREE wartime petitions  Alice was - after six years in prison released in mid 1921 - still with that bullet in her head.***

The good news is that Alice met and married Charlie O'Laughlin a carpenter and they went-on to have six kids together. She died in Auckland in July 1949 - her husband having passed away earlier in 1942.

To this day - the personality of a judge can still greatly affect the sentencing outcome on conviction.

***  A further 1919 story in The Truth (Issue 721) about a 60,000 name petition for her release - contradictorily reports that Alice had "suffered a lot of pain in having the bullet extracted from her head."

Marty K.