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SUPREME COURT-CRIMINAL SESSIONS.

DUNEDIN. When we went to press yesterday the trial of George Falser and John Fitzgerald for larceny was proceeding. Detective M'Grath was the last witness for the Crown, Mr Stanford, who appeared for Palser, said he would be able to show by tho evidence of Mrs Palser and of another woman, an independent witness, that on the morning of the day on which tho crime was alleged to have been committed the accused took from a cheßt of drawers in his mother's room some money for the purpose of purchasing clothes and paying some debts. So far as the possession of money on that evening was concerned, he would show satisfactorily that Palser had come by it honestly, by his own hard work. Then with reference to the evidence of the witness Julia Collins, he would put acquaintances of hers in the box who would state that she said she "could not help it," and " she had to say what she was told." He submitted that the girl's story was absolutely made up, and was without a vestige of truth to found it. Jane Palser deposed that the accused George Palser was her only son. He lived with her and was her main support. Ho went shearing, harvesting, and doing any odd work. He gave witness his money to keep for him. On the Bth April witness was ill in bed, and Mrs Saunders was attending her. On the morning of that day her son took some money that he wanted out of tho drawer. She had a good bit of money there—about Ll3. Har son had L 7 of his own, and she told him that if he had not enough money he might take some of hers. She did not know how much money he took, but among it was a L 5 note. By Mr Haggitt: Witness's son gave her some money—between L3O and L4o—when he came back from shearing, and some more when he came back from harvesting. She could not Bay how many months ago it was when he returned from shearing. He went off in November, but she could not tell the month in which he came back. He went harvesting up Tapanui way, and was absent a month or two. She did not know how much money he brought back for her. She told him to put it in the drawer for her. He had worked since then for a good bit at his brother-in-law's at Hampden. Mary Saunders, professional nurse, gave corroborative evidence.

Joseph Saunders, son of tho last witness, stated that he was a laborer by business. He knew Julia Collins, and saw her and another young woman on the evening of the 10th April in Manse street. Two other young fellows—George Rackley and Joseph Pring —were with him. Julia Collins said she was sorry to hear about " poor George," but she could not help it; she had to say what she did. She did not explaiß why she had to Bay it. George Rackley also gave evidence in the same direction. Mr Stanford said that two circumstances had been narrated which, if proved, would have justified the jury in convicting Palser. The first of these was that, though he had no money when he first met Baxter, immediately after he left Baxter he seemed to be well supplied with money. Learned counsel submitted, however, that he had accounted for the possession of a considerable sum of money by Palser when he went out in the morning ; so that a most pressing cause (which often led to larceny and robbery) was wanting in his case. With respect to the evidence of Julia Collins, he invited the jury to dismiss it, as being ridiculously impossible. It was absurd, he contended, that the accused should miss the possibility of robbing the prosecutor when they could not be seen, and wait till they got into a house where there were witnesses. The verdict must depend entirely on the credibility of .lulia Collins's evidence, and if there was any doubt on the minds of the jury, the accused had a right to the benefit of it. Mr Cook, speaking on behalf of Fitzgerald, submitted that the evidence of the girl Collins not only did not implicate Fitzgerald, but absolutely exculpated him. The indicting of the accused for receiving was a legal quibble. If he was guilty of anything he was guilty of robbery, and there was not a tittle of evidence to connect him with that.

Tho Crown Prosecutor, in reply, asked the jury whether they could doubt that the woman Collins was the witness of truth. The way to test it, he submitted, was not to try to pick pinholes in her evidence, but to ask themselves what possible object she could have in coming forward to give evidence against these men—one of whom was a friend of hers of three years' standing, and the other a friend of some months' standing, while Baxter was a perfect stranger to her. His Honor having summed up, The jury retired at 6.30 p.m., and returned to Ccurt at 7.55 p.m. The Foreman (Mr Clement White) stated that the jury wished to know whother they could take the evidence of Julia Collins as being evidence upon which they could rely, having regard to her character ? His Honor: That is not a matter on which I can direct you, gentlemen ; that ia just the question you have to consider for yourselves. It ia for you to consider how far her character affects her evidence. Her character is, of course, one element which you have to consider in weighing the evidence.

The Foreman then inquired whether if the jury were not all agreed upon their verdict they were to remain out until an agreement was arrived at? His Honor: lam afraid I cannot take the verdict of less than the whole, the law does not allow it.

The jury, having again retired, returned to Court at 8.25 p.m. with a verdict of " Guilty" against Palser, with a recommendation to mercy on account of the age of hiß mother, and of "Guilty of receiving" againat Fitzgerald. The Crown Prosecutor stated that Palser was a native of the colony. He was tried on the 6th August, 1884, in that Court on a charge of assault and robbery, but was acquitted. On the 19th May, 1886, he was convicted of a breach of the peace, and fined L 5, or one month's imprisonment; on the 4th November, 1886, he received a sentence of seven days' hard labor for obscene language; on the 26th May, 1887, he was convicted of a breach of the peace and fined 20s, or four days' hard labor; on the 9th September, 1887, he was convicted on a charge of furiouß driving, and fined 40s, or four days' imprisonment; and he had been convicted three times of drunkenness. Fitzgerald was a native of Victoria, and was a slaughterman by occupation. On the 22nd October, 1888, he was convioted of a breach of the peace, and fined L 5, or one month's hard labor ; and that was all that was known against him. His Honor: The sentence of the Court upon you, Palser, is that you be imprisoned in the common gaol at Dunedin for the term of two years and kept to hard labor; and the sentence upon you, Fitzgerald, is that you be imprisoned in the common gaol at Dunedin for the term of eighteen months and kept to hard labor. HOUSEBEEAKINO. Otto Minhe (14) was brought up for His Honor said: Mr Haggitt, I have very great difficulty in respect to this boy. It seems to me undesirable to send him to gaol for a long term and have him brought up as a gaol bird, because the consequences of that imprisonment might be to have him turn out a felon, and the results would be exceedingly unsatisfactory. I shall send him to gaol for a short period, with part of the time in solitary confinement, but it seems to me that he ought to be punished for another offence which he has committed, but for which he is not indicted—and that is, breaking out of the Industrial School. It is not for me to try that case, but I think it would be well if the authorities were to copeider whether it is not advisable to proceed under seotion 67 of the Aot, in addition to

this present proceeding, (To prisoner :) The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned in the common gaol at Dunedin for the term of four weeks, and be kept to hard labor, and that you be kept in solitary confinement during the Thursday and Friday of each of those weeks. I think you will prefer the Industrial School to the solitary confinement. This concluded the criminal sessions, and the Court rose at 8.30 p.m. WELLINGTON. The Grand Jury returned true bills against all the prisoners accused. Henry Duncan and Emily Olsen were acquitted of the charge of passing counterfeit coin, and a second charge against Duncan also failed. Richard Taylor was found guilty of stealing Ll4 12s from R. C. Neville, who had taken compassion on him when without money, and gave him food and shelter in his house. Sentence was deferred. The Kaiwarra murder trial is fixed for Monday. CHRISTCHURCH. The following sentences were passed : Henry Birmingham, larceny, three years; Norman Augustus Hall, forgery (two charges), three years; William Rose, forgery (two charges), five years; Rasmus Oeorgensen, larceny, three years ; James C. Bagnell, larceny, two years; Lillian Ransley, forgery, admitted to six months' probation. Augustus May pleaded guilty to larceny. John Neilson, uttering a counterfeit halfsovereign, was acquitted. The Grand Jury found no bill against John Warren (forgery).

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890702.2.25

Bibliographic details

SUPREME COURT-CRIMINAL SESSIONS., Evening Star, Issue 7948, 2 July 1889

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SUPREME COURT-CRIMINAL SESSIONS. Evening Star, Issue 7948, 2 July 1889

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