On 15th May 1882, shortly after breakfast, John Deans II (pictured here with his family in 1890) made his way from Riccarton House into Deans Bush. He was to select a tree to be felled so new railing could be made. As the morning was chilly, he put a few more layers of warm clothing to make his walk more pleasant.
Working his way through the bush, he stooped down to push past a thicket when he came face to face with a stranger. Completely taken back, Deans asked the man what he was doing there. The stranger’s reply was so rude that Deans immediately demanded that he was to get off his property.
Those who were already working away in Riccarton’s grounds suddenly heard repeated gunfire crackle through the air. Quickly heading towards the Bush, they were shocked to hear more gun shots radiate from out between the trees.
They soon found their boss on the forest floor, the gun he always carried – in case there were dogs bothering his sheep – in his hand. Quite in shock, he informs his employees of the man fleeing from the scene and he was pretty sure he had shot him. Those who remained with Deans discovered two bullet wounds. One had struck the lower left rib while the other had hit his left shoulder. Thanks to the extra layer of clothes that morning, Deans escaped with only bruises and a good story to tell.
It came to light that the stranger had just pulled a jewellery robbery and was hiding his loot in a tree stump when he was come across. He now had attempted murder charges against him too. There are no reports of him ever being captured.
*image courtesy of the Deans Family*