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OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7927, 7 June 1889
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER.
(From Our Melbourne Correspondent.] May 28. THE CHINESE murder case. A curious complication has arisen oyer the cases of alleged perjury which resulted from the trial and acquittal of a young man named Cutler on a charge of murdering a ChTnaman in a lane off Little Bourke street. The circumstances of the murder, it may bo remembered, were that an inoffensive Chinaman named Ah Gayong, a cabinetmaker by trade, was making his way along the lane when he was set upon by a band of larrikins, who had picked a quarrel with some other Chinamen, and one of them knocked him down and jumped on him. Inflicting such injuries as afterwards proved fatal. The perpetrator of this act was supposed to be Cutler, and his identity was sworn to by several Chinamen. In his defence, however, a large number of witnesses gave such evidence as to establish an alibi* Cutler was therefore discharged. When it was decided by the police to take proceedings against ten of the witnesses who had given evidence on his behalf for perjury, it was remarked that he occupied a very unenviable position. Either he was a guilty man, who had escaped the doom which justice demanded by the “skin of his teeth,” or being innocent he had by the force of circumstances been in a most cruel position, the shades of which might darken the whole of his future career. If he were innocent, however, the of mind which he must have suffered is nothing as compared with that of five out of the ten menmentionedwho, having been convicted of perjury, have already begun a sentence of nine years’ imprisonment. The peculiarity of the present position of matters is that while these five men, being undefended by ounsel and placed on their trial before Mr Justice Williams, have been sent to gaol with the bitterest words of condemnation from the Judge ringing in their ears, the other five, who were defended, and were tried before the Chief Justice, have been acquitted on exactly the same testimony. The whole of the circumstances of the case are perhaps unprecedented, and the present situation is a very awkward one for the Executive to consider. Upon them, the * Argus ’ points out, the duty is east of deciding either that guilty men have escaped conviction or that five innocent men have been unjustly sentenced to undergo exceptionally heavy punishments. “ It is impossible,’’says this journal, “to be content with a situation which leaves five men to go free and converts five men into felons on exactly the same testimony. The sixty jurymen who first heard the cases believed that there was a conspiracy to obtain an acquittal, and the sixty jurymen last in the box believed that if there was a conspiracy it was to obtain a conviction. The latter juries have undoubtedly been swayed by the argument of counsel that if Crown witnesses are to go free, and the witnesses for the defence are to be liable to be one and all tried for perjury, prisoners may in future be placed ataseriousdisadvantage. Underthe circumstances, we should imagine that Ministers would have an immediate conference with the judges who heard the cases, and if those jadges are of opinion that the convicted men should be liberated, no one would dream of criticising the decision. If the judges do not see their way to make such a recommendation, we would certainly suggest a royal or judicial commission of three or five judges, who should be able to bring up a report in a fortnight that would satisfy the moral sense of the community. If tho commission were empowered to report afterwards on any reforms required in the administration of criminal justice so much the better. We want to make as sure as possible that we neither absolve the guilty nor brand and ruin the innocent; and these late Cutler cases shake our confidence in the success of our system. A commission, it may be submitted, is the more called for, because those who choose can now make serious imputations on the good faith of the police. In high public interests the whole matter seems to require a thorough sifting.’ contempt of court, Mr A. D. J. Daly, who acted for some of the accused in the case mentioned above, has been subjected to what is considered severe punishment for contempt of Court. In passing sentence on the five prisoners who were found guilty of perjury, Mr Justice Williams had made remarks which were commented upon by the newspapers. Mr Daly wrote letters referring to these remarks and to these comments, and it was contended for tho Crown that Mr Daly had thereby intended to influence the_ trial of the remaining cases. It was urged in reply on his behalf that there was no intention to commit any contempt of Court, that Mr Daly’s letters were meant as a counterblast to Mr Justice Williams’s remarks and to the newspaper criticisms, and not to influence the future juries. The Chief Justico postponed his decision till after the trial of all the Cutler cases, and as they have now been concluded he yesterday gave his decision. He held that Mr Daly was guilty of contempt of Court; that as a solicitor he ought to have known better than to write such letters as he had done. He therefore sentenced Mr Daly to one month’s imprisonment, to pay a tine of L 25, and to bo imprisoned till the fine was paid. Mr Daly was committed to the Melbourne Gaol on the warrant of the sheriff. He will be kept apart from the ordinary prisoners, and will not be required to wear prison garb. None of the usual indulgences granted to prisoners in his situation will be denied him. [The sentence was afterwards commuted to a week’s imprisonment.] The Chief Justice also dealt with an application by the Crown to commit Mr S. V. Winter, one of the proprietors of the ‘ Herald,’ for contempt in publishing comments relating to the Cutler case, which, it was said, were calculated to affect the fair trial of some of the prisoners then awaiting trial. The Chief Justice said that this case differed from that of Mr Daly, inasmuch as he accepted unreservedly Mr Winter’s statement that he had no intention to prejudice or interfere with any of the trials that had theretofore or were thereafter to take place in connection with the Market lane murder. Some of the statements that were communicated to the public conveyed an erroneous and misleading impression, tending strongly to induce the belief that the previous trials had resulted in a complete failure of justice, and thus to prejudice a fair and impartial trial of the persons yet untried. This, he considered, amounted to a contempt of Court; but under the circumstances of tbe case the infliction of a small fine would be sufficient to vindicate the of the Court, and to remind him of the strict, but necessary, obligations which devolved upon the Press. Mr Winter was then sentenced to forthwith pay a fine of L 5 to Her Majesty. Mr Winter paid the fine to the sheriff and left the Court. AN IMPORTANT CASE, A case of considerable importance was decided by the Chief Justice of Victoria yesterday. It was a claim by the Attorney-General to set aside a Crown grant issued to Mr W. Williams for three acres of land on the north bank of the Yarra, near the Gasworks. The grant which it was sought to set aside was issued in 1872, and it was contended by the Attorney-General that it was issued illegally. In 1862 a lease of the land was issued to Mr Williams for seven years for the purpose of his erecting a factory on it. Mr Williams subsequently applied to have the land put up to auction with a valuation for improvements. The then Government consented to this, Mr Williams surrendered his lease, and the land was advertised for sale. It was afterwards withdrawn from sale, but it was subsequently again advertised for sale, and was purchased by Mr Williams. The conditions of sale, which were afterwards embodied in a Crown grant, Eided that the Crown might resume the on paying the purchase money with 10 Kr cent, and the value of tho improvements, r Williams purchased the property for L3OO, but he complained that he did not understand the condition as to the right of the Grown, to resume the land, and alleged that it was against promises made to him by the then Minister of Lards, the late Mr J. M, Grant. He repeatedly asked to have the Crown grant altered, but it was not till February', 1872, when Mr Grant was again in officopthat he obtained another Crown grant, fMm which the condition as to thought of the Crown to resume the land was excised, It was this Crown grant that the present
Attorney-General sought to have set aside as having been issued impi’ovidently. In 1878 the Registrar - General lodged a caveat against Mr Williams dealing with the land, but no steps were taken for ten years, either by the Crown or by Mr Williams, in respect to this caveat. In February, 1888, Goldsbrough and Co, bought the property from Mr Williams for L' 25,000. Proceedings were then taken by Goldsbrough and Co. to have the caveat removed and the certificate of title issued to them. 1 his led to the action by the Attorney-General to have the second Crown grant, which had issued to Mr Williams, cancelled. The Chief Justice held that neither the first nor the second Crown wns_ illegally issued, and he therefore decided in favor of the defendants.
THE IJI.IOU THEATRE FIRE. The finding of the jury who considered the circumstances attending the fire which recently destroyed the Bijou Theatre in Melbourne, together with some remarks from the coroner retlecting on the Central Board of Health, caused considerable commotion at the last meeting of the Central Board of Health. The charge which was inferentially made that the Board were neglecting their duty in not exercising complete supervision over tlm places of amusement in the metropolis was indignantly repudiated. The president, Mr A. 1. Akehurst, in a lengthy report, traversed the statements made by Dr \oul, and expressed the utmost astonishment that that gentleman should have been so oblivious to the law and the facts of the case as to make charges which he must have known he could not substantiate. The president dissented from tbe commonly accepted view that it was the duty of the Central Board to exercise a detailed supervision over all places of public amusement. veiy spirit of the Health Act showed that it was the duty of the Board to exercise a general supervision, leaving the more immediate control in the hands of tho local bodies interested. The president’s views were warmly endorsed by the members, who stronglv resented the predilection on the part of the public to raise a “ hysterical outburst ” against the Board whenever it was believed that body w'as guilty of an omission. A STUFID HOAX. _ A rumor has been current in Melbourne to the effect that “ Jack the Ripper,” the Whitechapel murderer, is in our midst. What lent color to the report was the fact that the evening papers stated that on tho police force being paraded at the Russell stieet Barracks last week a general order was read cautioning them to be doubly vigilant, and describing the appearance of tho murderer. Such a rumor was bound to affect a certain class of people; and it is not surprising to hear that an excited female has reported to the police the news that “ Jack the Ripper ” has paid her the honor of visiting her. She described him as a tall, sallow man, pointed features, and wearing a cape overcoat. He called and asked for lodgings, intimating that he would require a place where he could come in at four in the morning. The lady thereupon boldly said: “You are Jack the Ripper”; upon which the mysterious individual smiled sardonically. The sardonic smile seems to have been proof positive as to the maffs identity in the lady’s estimation ! The origin of the rumor has been traced to an anonymous communication, similar to others that were received by the police some time ago, and is regarded as a hoax. CAPTURE OF TWO BURGLARS. A clever arrest of two comparatively young criminals, whose depredations in the city and suburbs have hitherto been attended with success, has been effected by Plainclothes Sergeant Ward and Plain-clothes Constable M'Manair.y, under the direction of Inspector Kennedy, of the Criminal Investigation Department. Acting on information received, the officers proceeded to Grattan street, Carlton, where they noticed two men, who subsequently gave the names of Charles Phillips and Joseph Rogers, and whoso appearance tallied with the descriptions of the two persons who broke into the dwelling-house of Mr , IT. Bradshaw on the 21st inst,, and stole a quantity of jewellery. Mr Bradshaw’s residence is at Kingsley street, Camberwell, and during his absence from home the house was broken into between the hours of 11 a.m. and haltpast 3 p.m., and tho property which was abstracted was offered for sale at a pawnbroker’s establishment in the city on the same evening. Inquiries instituted at other pawn Offices elicited a complete identification of the two prisoners as having been concerned in several recent robberies ; Mr Mendel Cohen and Mr Abrahams, of Russell street, and Mr Phillips, jeweller, of Bourke street east, testifying to the men having offered portions of tho missing goods for sale at their places of business. According to their accounts, the men are connected with a burglary which took plane on the premises of Mr J. Fryer, at Kew, on the 20th inst., and also with a successful raid on the house of Miss Wilhelmina Rule, at 31 Murray street, Prahran, jewellery in both eases being the proceeds of the robbery, which was effected at Prahran by breaking a square pane of glass in tho front door while the inmates were out. Jewellery to the value of LGO was carried off on March 22 from the dwelling-house occupied by Miss Forsyth at Ascotvale, aud is traced to the same two men, who effected an entrance by breaking a window ; while the proceeds of a robbery at the house of Mr H. Taylor, Railway terrace, Williamstowu, on April 4, were of the value of about L3O, and are also put down to the prisoners, who gained admission by a similar method to that adopted on the other occasions. The house of Mr Arthur Strongman, in the Commercial road, i'ootscray, was apparently visited by them on April 30 ; and they have been identified as having stolen Ll2 worth of goods from the premises of Mr Charles F. Martin, 1/ Cunningham street, South Yarra, on the 29th ult. Mr William Robinson, a carter, living at Jordan street, Footscray, suffered the loss of a small quantity of jewellery owing to their visit to him on tbe 30th ult., and they are suspected of having been concerned in several other cases of suburban robberies. A large quantity of goods and jewellery, valued at LIOO, stolen from Mr T. Parvis, a seedsman, of Male street, Brighton, was lately pawned by the same men at the Mont de Pi(H6, in Swan street, Richmond, Charles Phillips stated that he was twenty-five years of age, and a native of America: while Joseph Rogers gave Warrnambool as his birthplace, and his age at twenty-five. ROBBED IN THE STREET. A daring street robbery was committed in Elizabeth street about 7.30 o’clock or^ Wednesday evening. Mrs Florence Christie, the wife of a detective employed in the Customs Department, was walking towards the Hobson Bay Railway Station with her sister (Mrs Elmore), when a youth snatched a handbag belonging to Mrs Christie, which her sister was carrying. The owner followed, crying “ Stop thief! ” and tho robber was stopped in Little Flinders street and handed over to a constable. The bag, which contained a pair of diamond earrings and a small sum of money, was recovered. _ Tho thief gave the name of Leonard Hill, his age as eighteen years, and his occupation that of a hawker. THEATRICAL AND MUSICAL. Messrs Williamson, Garner, and Mus grove have arranged for the Folly Theatre Company to accompany Mr J. L, Toole, the great comedian, on a visit to Australia. ‘ Boccaccio ’ is to succeed ‘ The Yeomen of the Guard ’ at the Princess’s Theatre. A new dramatic company, which has been imported by tho triumvirate, is appearing at the Theatre Royal in ‘The Pointsman,’ a domestic and sensational drama, tbe representation of a railway collision forming a great feature, Messrs Brough and Boucicault, who were such large losers by the fire at the Bijou Theatre, have been presented with LI,OOO, which has been raised by private subscriptions and two benefit entertainments in Melbourne. The sum of LSOO has also been subscribed in Sydney. Mr Santley has given some very successful ballad concerts at tho Melbourne Town Hall during the past week. To-night he will take part with the Melbourne Philharmonic Society in ‘ Elijah.’ An organ recital was given by Mr W. J. Turner at the Melbourne Town Hall last evening in aid of the Plaisted family fund. Tbe proceeds realised L6116s 9d. Mr 6. C. Miln is now appearing in ‘ Richelieu ’ at the Melbourne Opera-house.
M. Kowalski has resigned his position of conductor of the Sydney Philharmonic Society. During an interregnum, before the officers for 1889 had been duly elected, M. Kowalski advertised an orchestral rehearsal for the ‘Elijah’ on his own authority, in order that no time might be lost in preparing for Mr Sautley’a shortly expected arrival. The Committee resented this, and their resentment took the form of barring M. Kowalski’s entrance to the practice room when he readied the place with his young players. general. The Queen’s Birthday was celebrated in the usual way in Melbourne by a levde at Government House, a review of volunteers, and sundry sports. The leading social event of an official character was an evening party given by His Excellency the Acting-Gover-nor and Lady Robinson at Government House, fully 1,000 ladies and gentlemen being present. The reception took place at nine o’clock, in the ball-room, which was tastefully decorated for the occasion; and afterwards a musical programme was performed by the following artists; —Signora Cecile Bentami (who is at present in Melbourne singing with Mr Santley in the Town Hall), Madame J. Herz, Madame Christian, Mr Armes Beaumont, Herr A. J, Friedman (vocalists), Mr Max Klein (violinist), Mr Theodore Liebe (violoncellist), Mr W. J. Lundhorg (clarionettist), Madame Tasca (pianiste), and Mr Edwin Smith (harpist). Professor Robert Wallace was a passenger by the Orient steamer Orizaba, which reached Adelaide last Tuesday morning. He is Professor of Agriculture and Rural Economy in the University of Edinburgh, and was formerly professor in the Cirencester College. Professor Wallace intends to travel throughout Australia and New Zealand with the object of observing the methods of farming and stockraising in the colonies, and the peculiar characteristics of colonial agriculture. In 1887 Professor Wallace performed a similar tour through India, and the result of his observations is embodied in a volume treating exhaustively of tho varieties and management of cattle and horses, of agricultural methods, In the Indian Empire. Professor Wallace disclaims any intention to publish the notes of his Australian and New Zealand travels in book form, but he intends to make use of the information he gleans in his lectures to his students of the Edinburgh University. The death of a young man named John Howard was caused on the St, Kilda road on Friday night by what > appears to have been a case of reckless driving on the part of a cabman who has not yet been identified. Howard, who was a volunteer fireman, and had taken part in tho torchlight procession, was walking to his home at Marlborough street, Balaclava, in company with two other firemen. When they had reached a part of the St. Kilda road opposite Commercial road, a hansom cab coming from the direction of St. Kilda drove upon them, and Howard was knocked down. The cabman drove off, and Howard was carried to tho Alfred Hospital, where it was found that he was dead. AN OLD IDENTITY. On the 25th inst. there died, in his seventy-seventh year, Thomas Monahan, who was one of the pioneer settlers of Melbourne, and who was undeniably one of her wealthiest citizens. A native of Dublin, he sailed from Kingston in 1831, and originally settled in Sydney ; but in 1840, having married, ho took uj> his residence in the southern province. The rule of his life was to invest his savings in city freeholds, with the result that he died a veritable millionaire. He built tuo famous bostelrlea —tbe Port Phillip Club and the Queen’s Arms Hotel —and his numerous city properties include that valuable frontage to Swanston street, from the Town Hall Hotel to Champion’s, at the corner of Little Minders street, Doth inclusive.
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7927, 7 June 1889
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