It was a big shock for Leonard Collinson, owner of a scrub-cutting company in South Wairarapa, New Zealand, when he learned that his newly-hired employee James Ellis, 39, had served 12 years for rape and had been flogged. When Ellis then began poaching on Collinsons land, the boss decided to fire him.
Ellis slunk off, vowing revenge. In February, 1904, Collinson and six of his men began a scrub-clearing job at Coles Creek. Suddenly a single shot, fired from distant woods, rang out and Collinson fell dead.
The killing was the work of a marksman, and James Ellis was not only known to be a crack shot, but he had vanished immediately after the murder. He was eventually caught after a series of burglaries in Wakarara and although the jury at his trial for murder recommended mercy, he was hanged in Wellington on Tuesday, February 28th, 1905.