BRIBERY CHARGE FAILS
The trial in the Supreme Court of two Government officials on charges of demanding money with menaces and of corruptly accepting a bribe, held before Mr. Justice Cornish, concluded this afternoon. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on both charges. Accused were two rationing inspectors Joseph Walshaw Harvey, aged 58 (Mr. Trimmer), and Anthony Charles Lockery, aged 30 (Mr. Henry). They were charged that on June 29, at Herekino, they demanded money from Steve Lunjevich with menaces, and that they corruptly accept a bribe of £50 from Lunjevich with a view to interfering with the administration of justice. Evidence was given that the accused found Ltmjevich, a young man managing the store for his father had a serious discrepancy in his sugar returns. Lunjevich said accused stressed the fact that one grocer had been fined and imprisoned for such rationing offence, and suggested the payment of money to "squrre" certain higher officials He said he offered £50 and informed his solicitor, who had police watch from concealment when the money was handed over. Accused denied making any suggestion of a bribe, and said they arranged to take the money and i pay it into the public account as evidence against Lunjevich in connection with the rationing regulation inf lf?lr e Mr nt Trimmer and Mr. Henry had submitted that the evidence showed no intent on the part oi accused to keep the money, and Mr. G S R Meredith (for the Crown) had stressed that all the implications of the evidence and of accuseds actions were inconsistent with innocence, his Honor summed up. Danger of Bribes The burden of proof, said the judge, was entirely on the Crown, and the accused were entitled to the benefit of any real, commonsense doubt. The question of intention bv accused to keep the money for themselves was a matter entirely for the jury to judge. Dealing with the count as to menaces, his Honor said the question was whether the accused worked on the fears of Lunjevich to get money from him. The jury might ask whether the mention of the =rocer who was imprisoned was a process of "softening" Lunjevich to scare money out of him, or whether it was just a casual remark. If the jury found accused guilty on the first count they had no need to consider the count alleging bribery- . Touching on the evidence, his Honor said ail the talk about conferences, in his view, did not help accused at all, because the bribe was not taken in the circumstances allegedly fixed on as proper for that act. There was no need for taking the bribe to prove Lunjevich's guilt of rationing breaches. Also, there was not a tittle of proof that the taking of bribes had the approval of any responsible official of the Department or the Government. Properly so. The country could not have self-constituted unofficial police; that would lead to anarchy. The question of conferences and bribes could be entirely disregarded by the jury. Question of Demeanour Carelessness was not criminality, proceeded his Honor, and if the jury found that the accused acted stupidly but honestly, then they should be acquitted. Touching again on the evidence, his Honor said the whole set-up suggested the taking of a bribe, and the police naturally acted, accordingly. No doubt the police were not cordial to the accused, or particularly cooperative. ' On the other hand, the accused did not at once produce their inspector warrants. Harvey went to pieces and Lockery said he got so wild he would not keep trying to convince the sergeant that things were not what they seemed. It was curious that Lockery did not refer the police a*, once to the local postmaster about the arrangement alleged for depositing the money. The accused had a perfect right to reserve their defence, but they could not complain if the jury thought the defence now was not fresh. The jury had to consider whether it was necessary for them in the conscientious performance oE their public duty to act as they did. Accused, said his Honor, were found going through all the motionsof a crime, and if the matter ended there the Crown case was complete. But the defence came forward with an explanation, and this left the case to the jury to conjecture what the real truth was in the matter of accused's intention about the money. Mr. Trimmer submitted that the accused had been appointed inspector by the law of the land and consequently could not be called self-con-stituted unofficial police. His Honor said that in acting to secure evidence on a criminal offence the accused were acting as unofficial police. The jury retired at 11 a.m. and returned at 2.50 p.m. with a verdict of not guilty on both counts. They added a rider that as a matter of public interest they were alarmed to hear that rationing officers were not better acquainted with their lawful authority.
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NOT GUILTY, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 181, 2 August 1945
NOT GUILTY Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 181, 2 August 1945
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