The British Colonist

Friday Morning, Jan 4th, 1861

The Esquimalt Murder

Yesterday nothing was talked of in Esquimalt, usually so quiet, but the killing of Robert Coombs on Wednesday morning, as is alleged, by Wm Millington. Groups of men gather together and talked over the horrible affair; each on expressing his opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, quite freely and openly. The excitement ran high all day, and when the Coroner, Dr. Dickson arrived, a desire was manifested by most of the residents to assist in the official inquiry.

The Inquest

A jury was impaneled about one o'clock and witnesses were examines as to the circumstances attending the killing. Mr. Williams, a saloon keeper, testified that Mrs. Millington sent for him on Wednesday afternoon and with the assistance of the nurse contrived to tell him that her husband had killed a man the night before. Mrs. Vine (the nurse) told Williams that she has sent he body a short time before. Williams then went out behind the house and saw the body lying between two logs, partially covered with bushes. Peter Williams, living near the Millington's house, testified that a little after one o'clock on the morning of the murder, saw Millington pass his house, he was staggering drunk at the time. Shortly afterwards, head a quarrel, and Millington's voice, saying - "I'll fix you." Then heard the report of a pistol, and the cry of "murder!" three times in succession. After that, all became quiet. In the morning, in passing near Millington's house, he picked up a cap, and the accused saw him and said, "You'd better leave that alone, a sailor took mine last night, and I want that one." He also said, 'I shot a man last night that tried to steal my horses, and I got my face scratched in a fight. Mr. Crittle another witness was also examined; but his evidence was detailed a conversation he had with Millington, amounting to the same as testified by the previous witness. One or two persons refused to give evidence, and summonses will be issued for them today. Mrs. Vine, we understand, says that Millington came in and got his pistol, and went out again and that immediately after she heard the report of a pistol and the cry of murder.

A post mortem examination was held yesterday by Drs. Forbes, Bell, Wallace, and Ramsey, where it was found that the ball - and elongated one - such as are often used in a Colt's six-shooter, had entered the left side, glanced off the tenth rib, and passed through into the chest, it then grazed the lower lobe of the left lung, struck the large vein that carries the blood to the heart and lodged in the spinal column. Death must have been almost instantaneous. The inquiry will be resumed as 10 o'clock this afternoon.

Search for Millington

Yesterday morning before daybreak, a posse of the police, under Chief Smith, proceeded to Esquimalt and searched every locality in which it was supposed the accused might have secreted himself - but no trace of him could be discovered - and the posse returned to town about nine o'clock. During the night, several citizens of Esquimalt were also engaged in the search, assisted by some of the sailors belonging to the HM ships. The woods and surrounding bushes were thoroughly explored, and a watch was set to see that no boat left the harbor during the night. There was no fear, however, felt of his crossing the straight, as the wind was blowing fresh from the south-west, and would have rendered any such attempt extremely hazardous. The citizens and sailors finally came to the conclusion that Millington had left for the Interior of the Island, and accordingly ceased their efforts at an early hour yesterday morning.

the Accused Surrenders Himself

Almost daylight yesterday morning, two brothers, named James and Robert Fish residing in Sanich Road, about four and a half miles from Victoria, and eight miles from the scene of the murder, were astonished to see Millington - who is an old acquaintance - enter their house. They had not heard of the murder, and were at a loss to account for his appearance until he told them he had killed a man at Esquimalt, and was fleeing from officers of the law. In answer to their inquiries, Millington said that he and deceased had a difficulty that the latter, having threatened to cut his throat, he had drawn his pistol and shot him dead. He then asked what should he do? and the brothers advised him to surrender himself at once. This he concluded to do and being very much fatigued and worn out (having, as he says wandered all night in the bushes and woods to elude his pursuers) he partook some refreshments and rested until about eleven o'clock, when he started into town on horseback - his hosts accompanying him on foot. They arrived at the Police Barracks about one o'clock P.M., and Millington addressing Judge Pemberton, said "I am accused of having killed a man and have come to give myself up." He was then locked up in the prison; but a few moments there after was brought into court for a

Preliminary Examination

The prisoner seemed haggard, careworn and very nervous. While waiting for Mr. Pemberton to take the bench, he was compelled to lean upon the railing for support and his eye wandered from one to another of the few spectators present, as if seeking sympathy. He bore upon his forehead the mark of a blow, evidently made with a stick or some other weapon, and upon his left cheek, on a line with his mouth, appeared a flesh wound about half an inch long, apparently received at the same time as that on his forehead. His whole appearance was that of a man laboring who had dome something fearful, and fully realized the position to which he stood. When Mr. Pemberton took his seat, the accused stood up straight, but in a moment resumed his reclining position on the railing. The magistrate said he had surrendered himself on a charge of having killed a man belonging to the H.M.S. Plumper; and that as there were no witnesses present, he would remand the hearing of the case for three days, in the meantime he should sent him to prison, Millington made no reply, and left the court-room with an officer, and was locked up in one of the cells.

He Declines Making Statement

Last evening Mr. Dickson visited Millington at the prison, and after having assured him that whatever he might say would not be used against him on the trial, asked if he had any statement to make. The prisoner answered that he had not a word to say in regard to the affair, that all was now in the hands of the law, and did not wish to commit himself in any way.