The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas et Prevalebit. TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 1881. A Strange Decision.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 4.35 p.m.]
The decision given at the Police Court this morning in the alleged case of larceny against the man fielding, although at first it only apparently recognises an old and respected precedent of conferring on the prisoner the benefit of the doubt, when any such exists, on further examination, and to our reading thereof, is a strange freak of justice. In fact, we might term Mr Wood’s judgment a piece of justice’s justice. To our view of the proceedings, it entirely negatives itself; for, if the accused was not guilty of the theft, then the property found Op him at the time of his arrest, and which corresponded in all particulars with the sum stolen, was his, and consequently he was entitled thereto on his liberation from custody. If, and as we are led to presume, his Worship considered it proven that the money was the property of the prosecutrix, and by his order, merely refunded the same to her, the prisoner was guilty of theft, and it was the duty of the Bench to enter such conviction even though in leniency he made the accompanying punishment merely nominal. The one portion of the decision is at extreme variance with the other.
Oar Defences. That the defences of our colony in the case of an outbreak of war between England and a foreign power would prove of a very gingerbread character, cannot for a moment be doubted; and that the dependencies of the British Empire would prove the weakest spot, and consequently most probable to attract attention at the hands of a belligerent power, is equally certain. With these facts before us, we had thought ere this the matter of home defence would have received greater consideration from the powers that be. As it at present stands, a declaration of war in the directions mentioned, would find New Zealand in a most uncomfortable position. It is all very well in times of peace to play at knocking imaginary gunboats to smithereens, with aged ordnance, as is now the case in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Lyttelton, but the inevitable result, in the event of real service, would be an utter and complete failure. The facts pointed out recently by the New Zealand Hetald in connection with the facilities our German cousins would have for appropriating this colony, were war declared between that power and Great Britain, are deserving of more than passing consideration from our legislators. True, this constitution of a German South Pacific Naval Station looks flattering enough at first sight to the ex-capital, but the line should be drawn somewhere, and peaceable-look-ing as are both the German men-of-war now in Auckland waters, they would prove ugly customers*were they to show their teeth. The thing is not to heal the dog-bite, but to prevent the animal’s inflicting on one an ugly and lasting wound.