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[by telegraph.] Christchurch. April 5. The Supreme Court criminal sessions opened to-day. Mr Joynt informed his Honor that the libel cases against the “Otago Times and Witness” Company and against the “ Ashburton Mail” would not be proceeded with. A youth named John O’Brien, for horse stealing, got two years. The Crown Prosecutor refused to proceed in the case against the notorious usurer, Michael Murphy. The prosecution was to have been undertaken privately, but no bill was presented. In the case of the two lads charged with obstructing the Methven railway line by placing a log of wood, there was some doubt as to whether the offence was really an obstruction, and as the lads pleaded guilty, his Honor said he felt in a difficulty, and would hold the case over till he could consult his brother Judges. Justice Johnston expressed a determination to treat this sort of offence very severely. The father of one of the lads was in Court, but refused to defend his son. Frederick Sandberg pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing sugar and other articles, the property of his employer Mr. Sorenson, betwen Oct. 1 and Deo. 10, 1879. Mr. Sorenson gave evidence as to the character of the prisoner. Witness believed him to be of weak intellect, and recommended him to the mercy of the Court. The gaoler said prisoner had been in confinement since Feb. 2. His Honor, under all the circumstances, sentenced prisoner to imprisonment with hard labor for one day. John O’Brien, another lad, pleaded guilty to taking away a horse an Feb. 8, from the yard of the Ashburton hotel. Evidence similar to that given when the case was heard at Ashburton was adduced. The jury found the prisoner guilty, and his Honor sentenced him to imprisonment with hard labor for two years. Wellington, April 6. The Supreme Court sittings commenced this morning. The Chief Justice, in his address to the Grand J ury, said the calendar was of the usual average for the district, and the cases were of a class which required no particular comment. Frank Hooke, for larceny, was found guilty and remanded for sentence. True bills were found against Samuel Jackson for attempted suicide ; A. Weber, obtaining money underffalse pretences ; and against Charles Stewart Burns, for larceny. The indictment against the latter was withdrawn, owing to the prosecutor attending Court while under the influence of liquor. Samuel Jackson, on a charge of attempted suicide, and A. Weiber on one of obtaining money under false pretences, were acquitted, Jas. Harris of larceny, and George Vickorstaff of stealing a letter were found guilty and remanded for sentence. The bills against Caroline Goodwin for arson, and Henry Beattie for indecent assault wore thrown out. Alex. M‘Gregor, charged with larceny, pleaded guilty and was remanded for sentence. True bills were found against J. Thompson for the larceny of a cash-box, and against Geo Ward Berrie for fraudulent bankruptcy, and Geo. Longhursh for rape. Dunedin, April 5.

The sittings of the Supreme Court opened this morning. Judge Williams, in his charge, regretted that the calendar was the heaviest for many years. In a considerable majority of the cases, the crimes committed were as usual traceable directly to the drunken habits which were unfortunately prevalent in the colony. He spoke of Butler’s case as one standing alone in its horrible pre-eminence. Crimes of the kind Butler was charged with were exceptional, fortunately for human nature, and could not be accounted for by any of the social forces and influences that operate upon the ordinary run of men. The Grand Jury returned true bills in the following cases, the prisoners pleaded guilty, and were sentenced as under : Ernest Sydney James and Henry Conway, both lads, robbery, three months each. Edward Featherstone and James Murphy, also robbery, one year. Henry Fell, forgery, two years. James Midgeley, cutting and wounding, eighteen months. James Gibson, for larceny, got six months. The Grand Jury threw out the bills in the cases of William Chalmers and John iVlowat, robbery, and David M'Neill, highway robbery. They also discharged the bill against Robert Sewell for cutting and wounding. William Mathieson was convicted of robbery, and got two years. Butler’s case will be taken on Thursday. Auckland, April 5. The Supreme Court was opened to-day by Mr. Justice Richmond, who, in charging the Grand Jury, regretted the heaviness of the calendar, in which twenty-six persons were on trial, excluding the five natives charged with misdemeanor. Referring to the case of forcible entry at Ohinemutu, his Honor said that persons might commit this offence by violently entering upon a tenement though they have a legality to it.

It appears that amongst, or in some way connected with the forcible entry, was a bailiff, who pretended to distrain. The right of distress was a somewhat barbarous remedy, and the landlord availing himself of it must do so in a peaceable manner. The persons who ' forcibly entered were natives, and the nations entered upon were Europeans, jfuiich showed the danger of such proceedings. But, as representing the magistracy of the district, he felt it his duty to say that if violent proceedings were instigated by European movers in the business, they deserve censure, and should they .be found to come within the reach of the law, they should receive exemplary punishment. . It was intolerable that private persons, in pursuit of private gains, should jeopardise the peace of the country. He hoped publicity would be given to the matter, so that the guilty persona might receive public reprobation. Sydney Beetham (breaking and entering) and Frank Foxton (embezzlement of the funds of the Bank of New South Wales, Auckland branch) pleaded guilty, and sentence was deferred till to-morrow. John Dods Rentin, for bestiality, got six years.

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Bibliographic details

SUPREME COURT SITTINGS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 83, 6 April 1880

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SUPREME COURT SITTINGS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 83, 6 April 1880