They were forced to abandon their ship and were stranded in a small emergency boat with two others including a young cabin boy. They had been stranded for 18 days.
Dudley and Stephens The real title of the case is: Her Majesty The Queen vs. Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens.
The Dudley and Stephens case was decided in in a very Victorian England, where Queen Victoria ruled a society that was incredibly devout in its Christianity and had a very conservative view of the world.
Its ruling established one of the most important precedents in common lawwhich is that necessity is not necessarily a defense against a charge for murder.
Dudley and Stephens were shipwrecked when sailing on the English yacht Mignonette, which was a foot cruiser that had been built in This was long before the days of air travel and campervan hire. The owner of the vessel was John Henry Want, who was an Australian lawyer.
He wanted to sail her from England to Sydney, Australia. Because of her size and obvious incapability to survive such a long voyage, it was hard for John to find a suitable crew who would be willing to take the risk of steering her.
But he finally did in Tom Dudley, the captain; Edwin Stephens; Edmund Brooks and Richard Parker, the cabin boy who was a very inexperienced seaman, an orphan and only seventeen years old.
When the yacht finally hit the northwest of Cape of Good Hope on July the 5th, a gale was carrying the sailboat. The weather was relatively normal, nothing was out of sync with the boat. Everything was going well.
When the crew completed the heave to, the cabin boy, Parker, was sent below deck for tea. Right then a wave struck the yacht and washed away the lee bulwark.
Dudley knew right then and there that the yacht was a goner. He ordered the one lifeboat to be lowered.
Despite this, the crew obeyed orders and climbed into it. The Mignonette sank within five minutes of being hit. Dudley and the crew were able to fortunately get a few navigational instruments along with some turnips, but no fresh water. And the bad luck kept coming. The crew survived a shark attack that night.
Being nearly seven hundred miles away from the nearest land, they were losing hope minute by minute. The first two days the crew survived on turnips, and then Brooks saw a turtle and they ate it. Because there was no other freshwater they resorted to drinking their own urine.
According to Dudley, the crew discussed cannibalization openly between them during this period. According to this testimony, the crew decided to draw lots to choose who would be the victim of cannibalization to keep the others alive.R v Dudley and Stephens () 14 QBD The two defendants became shipwrecked by a storm.
They were forced to abandon their ship and were stranded in a small emergency boat with two others including a young cabin boy.
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