SUPREME COURT—CRIMINAL SITTINGS.
Mommy, October 7. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams.) The quarterly criminal sittings began at ten o’clock this forenoon. THE GRAND JURY. The following gentlemen were sworn in as a Grand Jury Messrs George Joachim (foreman), Robert Wilson, R. T. Wheeler, jun., William Watson, Thomas Tomlinson, Benjamin Throp, William 0. Smellie, Arthur B. Sidford, Parquhar Proctor, Ralph S. Nicolson, George Munro, Henry B. Monkman, Michael Meenan, Bendix Hallenstein, James Christie, Alexander Dow, Everard J. Pinch, George Findlay, Charlie W. Kerr, James Leighton, sen., Gilbert C. Matheson, ins honor's charge, His Honor said: Mr Foreman and gentlemen of the Grand Jury,—None of the cases which you will have to consider this morning will, I think, present any difficulty ; nor are any of them of a serious character. There are several oases of larcepy ; there is one case where a number of charges are preferred against the same man for larceny as a bailee, he being a watchmaker, having received a number of watches and having pawned them ; there is a case of housebreaking, a case of perjury, and a case of wife-desertion. There is also a case of embezzlement by a person employed in the Post Office. The system of fraud employed seems to have been of an ingenious kind, and you will hear details of it from the witnesses. I do not think it necessary that I should go into the eases at all, Ido not think you will have any difficulty with any of them. If you will be kind enough to retire to your room the bills will be laid before you, TRUE BILLS. True bills were found against the following prisoners Daniel Ross, larceny as a bailee (eight indictments); Htnry Thomson, robbery from a dwelling; William Robert Waite, larceny at Romahapa railwaysiding j Mary Smith, larceny; Thomas Henry Richards, wife desertion; Samuel Fraser, housebreaking and larceny ; Oeorye Wallace, perjury; Thomas Easton Waugh, larceny of Government funds (three indictments); Sue Fook, stealing tools. The Grand Jury having no presentment to make, were thanked for their attendance and discharged. LARCENY ISA BAILEE. Daniel Ross pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with having, on May IS, stolen one watch, the property of David Luke. The prisoner, who was undefended, also pleaded guilty to seven other indictments charging him with a like offence about the same period. There were two other indictments for illegally pawning, but these were abandoned. Prisoner, on being called on, gave his age as forty. Mr Calvert: May it please your Honor, I appear for the prisoner, and in mitigation of sentence I would ask your Honor’s attention to one or two facts. The prisoner was a watchmaker, carrying on business in the Arcade; had been in business in Dunedin for some time, and up to the commission of these offences he held a very good character, and was respected by all who knew him. Unfortunately, latterly becoming pressed by creditors, the prisoner took to drink, and the result was that he so far forgot himself as to be guilty of the crime with which he is charged. He pawned watches which had been left with him by his customers. There are a number of charges, your Honor, but all were committed close to the same time, and almost within the same month. His Honor: Is that so ?
Mr Calvert: Yes, your Honor. They were pawned on April 30, May 7, May IS, again on May 18, May 21, and on June 1. The subsequent offences of pawning were really to stave off the effects of the first few oases. The prisoner bad to raise money to release the watches first pawned. Siuoe his arrest he has rendered every assistance in his power to the police to enable them to recover the watches—he has given up the tickets and told where the watches were pawned. Perhaps your Honor might also take into consideration the fact that the prisoner has been three months in gaol. I am prepared to give evidence as to previous good character if your Honor chooses to hear it.
His Honor: Very well. Hugh Gourley, mayor of Dunedin, said that he had known the prisoner for some years, and had always looked on him as a highly respectable tradesman. William Wood, confectioner and pastrycook, had known the prisoner for about four teen years ; and in the many dealings he had had with him found him honest and a good workman: Mr Calvert said that he had also intended calling Mr Young, watchmaker, in whose employ the prisoner had been for twelve years ; but that gentleman had had to go to Timaru. The Crown Prosecutor said that there were no previous convictions.' The prisoner’s only besetting sin was that of drunkenness, and that was the cause of his present position. It was hardly correct to say that all the offences were committed at the same time, as some of them dated back till January last. Mr Calvert: I may mention, your Honor, that he has a wife and seven children dependent upon him. His Honor: Were these all the charges against him ? The Crown Prosecutor: All that are known, your Honor. He has been in the colony since 1875, having come here direct from Scotland.
His Honor: How long has he been carrying on business, Mr Haggitt ? Mr Calvert: About two years, your Honor, he tells me. His Honor: Looking at your previous good character, I shall pass as light a sen. tence as I can consistent with the number of charges and the nature of the offences. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned in the common gaol at Dunedin for the term of twelve months and kept to hard labor. The sentence on each indictment will be the same, and will be concurrent. The prisoner: Thank you, your Honor. Mr Haggitt said that in this case the watches were in charge of the police, and the prosecutors claimed them from the police, and as they had prosecuted to conviction the learned Crown Prosecutor apprehended they were entitled to them.
Sir R. Stout said that he appeared for the pawnbroker. Several of the watches were not pawned by the prisoner, but by other people. Had tho prisoner pawned them all it might have made the pawnbroker suspicious ; but that had not been done. Under section 37 of the Pawnbrokers Act Justices of the Peace had power to order compensation to be given; but it was within His Honor’s power to order restitution summarily.
Mr Haggitt said there were no special circumstances in this case to warrant compen sation to the pawnbroker. His Honor: I think I ought to order restitution in a summary way. Ido not think the pawnbrokers have any equity in this case. It would be only in a case where the owners of the property had been guilty of negligence that compensation would be ordered.
Mr Haggitt: It is one of the risks the pawnbroker takes for the interest he gets. His Honor: Of course—property ordered to be restored to prosecutors. STEALING FROM A DWELLING.
Harry Thomson (aged 24) was charged with having, on May 28, stolen two rings, of the value of L 1 0; a brooch, of the value of L 3 ; and a pair of earrings, of the value of L2, the property of Emily Roberts, from the dwelling-house of Michael Cox, Dunedin.
1 he prisoner pleaded guilty. Mr Farnie, for the defence, submitted that this was one of the cases that came under the provisions of tho Probation Act. His Honor: Is there a report from the probation officer ? The Crown Prosecutor: There is a previous conviction for drunkenness.
His Honor: I don’t think that a previous conviction for drunkenness ought to take the case out of the Probation Act.
The Crown Prosecutor was of opinion that even a charge of drunkenness sufficed to do so. His Honor did not think that the mere fact of a conviction for drunkenness should debar a prisoner from the benefits of the Act,
Mr Farnie said that the prisoner had been in the colony for five years, trading as a sailor and a fisherman up and down the coast'. For the last two years he had been residing in Dunedin or Port Chalmers; employed for the greater part of the time in fishing. His Honor: Have you made inquiries as to the prisoner’s character, Mr Phillips ? The Probation Officer: I did not make inquiries, your Honor, I ascertained that the prisoner’s habits were not satisfactory, and, as he had been previously convicted for drunkenness, I did not make complete inquiries.
The Crown Prosecutor : The police report as to character is this: that he arrived in the colony from Norway in 1885, is a sailor by occupation, and was convicted on February ID, 1888, for drunkenness, and fined 20s; also, that he is a person of idle habits, and an associate of thieves ard vagrants. His Honor ordered the case to stand over till the following day for a report from the probation officer, LARCENY RY A DOMESTIC. Mary Smith (22) pleaded guilty to an indictment charging her with having, on August 13, stolen a brooch and a pair of earrings of the value of L 35, and a ring of the value of LIC, from the dwelling of George M’Gavin, Duke street. The Crown Prosecutor said that prisoner arrived in the colony from Scotland in 1875. There Were no previous convictions against her. She lived in a brothel for a few weeks, and was a reputed prostitute. That was the police report. She was in Mr M'Gavin’s employ, got something to drink on one occasion, ransacked her mistress’s drawer, found her jewellery, walked off with it, and pawned it. Nothing was known against hor.
His Hourr; She is not recommended as a first offender ?
The Probation Officer: No, your Honor; on account of her previous moral character, and not because of any previous convictions. Owing to her being a young girl and this being the first time she was in gaol, I made inquiries as to her character. Her parents are in Melbourne, and extremely anxious that she should be sent over. Arrangements are being made to that end, or for something else being done for her, if your Honor can see your way to let her out on her own recognisances. Her father is a plasterer and builder in Melbourne, whither he went about nine or ten months ago. He left her and her sister behind because be could not take them all with him. She vows and declares that she won’t get into gaol again. She has been kept away from the other female prisoners. The Crown Prosecutor explained that prisoner pledged the articles with two different pawnbrokers for ten shillings in each case, although the jewellery was worth respectively L 35 and Ll6. His Honor: Has any responsible person been in communication with her parents ? Mr Phillips : I received a letter from her father, which I handed over to Mr Torrance, who has promised to take care of the girl in the meantime.
His Honor said that if he sent the prisoner to gaol the probabilities were that on her release she would go on the streets. He would be glad to prevent that if he could. If it would be an unwise thing to send her to her parents, he failed to see why there should be any departure from the ordinary course. As the parties would get their jewellery back, and this was the girl’s first offence, it was not a case for heavy sentence. The case would stand over till Mr Torrance was present. The Crown Prosecutor mentioned that on the girl’s arrest she gave the detectives ai pound which she got from the pawnbrokers, and as this had been restored to them nobody suffered by the girl’s crime. LARCENY OF TOOLS. Sue Fook was indicted for having on July 7 stolen three saws, one spanner, one gauge,one chisel, and other tools, the property of Francis Arthur Cutten. Mr Gallaway appeared for the prisoner,' who pleaded not guilty. Tho case for the Crown was that the goods were stolen from Mrs Cutten’s house and sold by the prisoner to a man named Stone. For the defence It was admitted that the prisoner had sold them to Stone, but it was alleged that he got them from a European, not identified. This was the statement he made on his arrest, and consistently stuck to. Prisoner was found guilty, and sentenced to six mouths’ imprisonment, with hard labor. WIFE DESERTION. Thomas Henry Richards was indicted for having on July II last deserted lua wife, Elizabeth Richards, and with having gone to reside at Launceston, in the colony of Tasmania. Sir R. Stout appeared for the prisoner, who pleaded guilty -to the second count, charging him with having gone out of the colony without leaving bis wife adequate means of support, The Crown Prosecutor Intimated that this plea would be accepted. •Sir R. Stout: In this case I appear for the prisoner; and I submit that a similar case was dealt with by your Honor under the Probation Act about six months ago. He has already been some months in gaol, and we have, if necessary, a certificate of character from Mr Henry Guthrie, in whose employ he was for some years. The probation officer has also seen Mr Guthrie and Captain Stevens. Your Honor can either put him under the Probation Act, or ask him to come up to enter into his own recognisances to come up when called on. If he does not provide for his family, then he can be called on. The fact is that he had gone to Tasmania to look for employment. His Honor: I thought the depositions showed that he went away with someone else.—(Laughter.) Sir R. Stout: There have, I understand, been unhappy differences in the family for some years, one accusing the other of dtinking, I submit that it will do no good to send the prisoner to gaol. That will never make him support his wife and family, Captain Stevens, deputy.harbor-master, stated that he had known prisoner for some years as captain of the steamers Colleen and Shag. He had always borne a good character.
The Crown Prosecutor: There is nothing known against his character, your Honor. He has been in the colony since 1862. His Honor inquired whether Mr Haggitt had noticed the stringent terms of the Act. It fixed the term of imprisonment at twelve months, and did not say “ not exceeding ” that time, 1
Mr Haggitt reminded Hie Honor that in the case of Regina v. Philpott, heard here in January, 1888, the prisoner fwho was charged with deserting his children) was released on probation for a period of six months.
His Honor: If there \kas any security that he would support his wife in the future I should be very glad to let him out on probation j but, from what I can see, he wants to get clear of bis wife, and if let out on probation would go to Launceston, where he has employment, and we should probably hear no more of him.
Sir R. Stout suggested that the prisoner might be let out on his own recognisances, to come up for sentence when called on, on condition that he stopped in the colony. If he attempted to leave the colony His Honor: His occupation is that of a master mariner. If he gets employment at all he would
Sir R. Stout: He might get employment in the coasting trade.
His Honor : Even then it would be very difficult for the police to keep an eye on him. He seems to have had differences with his wife. I should like to know what his wife thinks about him. I suppose the prisoner could get sureties, be being a man of good character and well known. Sir R, Stout; I don’t know.
His Honor : I should have thought he could have found two sureties of L2O each for his good behaviour. That would cover any risk of his leaving the colony. Sir R. Stout: Of course, your Honor, the prisoner has been in gaol, and has not had the opportunity of seeing anybody. He does not know whether anybody would become security for him.
His Honor: Supposing he is let out on probation, what is he going to do ? Has he any prospect of employment? Sir R. Stout: He does not know of any at present, your Honor. He saysidie will try and get employment on the coasting trade.
His Honor ; It is one of the elements of the Probation Act that he must sleep at an address known to the probation officer, so that he may be at once found.
Sir JFt. Stout: If that was strictly construed it would mean that no seaman could ever be brought under the Probation Act. His Honor: That would be so, Hut the probation officer can approve of bis taking employment on board a vessel. Sir R. Stout; It could be made a condition that he should only take such employment as the probation officer approved. His Honor: Looking at the position, Sir Robert, I think I ought to have some guarantee that he will support his wife and children, or do his best to support them, That ought to be made reasonably certain; because from what has gone before, bis evident intention was to get rid of them. He seems to have friends, Captain Stevens came forward and gave evidence. If he intends to throw his wife and children overboard, he ought certainly not to be admitted to probation, but should suffer the penalty the-law provides. Sir R. Stout t Then your Honor desires that he should find two sureties of L2O each.
His Honor: I think that would do. If sureties were found for his good behaviour be might be admitted to probation for a period. The question is really this; if he goes back to Launceston, will he take his wife and children with him? If security could be given for that being carried out—--
Sir R, Stout: He says he has nob the means to take her, and does not think she would go if he had the means, She is living in Dunedin,
His Honor suggested that a reconciliation might be effected between the parties, but Counsel for the prosecution and the defence assured the Court that there was no chance of that. His Honor: I will think over the matter, and decide to-morrow morning what is to be done, RAILWAY SIDING -PECULATIONS. William Robert Waite pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with stealing a quantity of articles from the Romahapa railway station on October 24, 1887. Sir Robert Stout said that the prisoner, for whom he appeared, had been assaulted, robbed, and grievously maltreated last evening, and that those who had robbed him were now under arrest. Not only had his watch been stolen, but certificates of character which he held from Captain M‘Kenzte, Mr Watson Shennan, and Mr Robinson. Nothing previous to the present offence was known against him. The question was whether His Honor would allow him to go under the Probation Act. The prisoner had admitted his guilt in the lower Court, otherwise it was doubtful whether there was a case against him, the offence having taken place two years ago. The Crown Prosecutor said that prisoner was a laborer by occupation; had arrived in the colony in 1874. There were no previous convictions against him. Constable King, probation officer of the Tapanui district, said he had known prisoner for nearly seven years. He was a laborer, and a good workman. There had been several small robberies from the Romahapa railway siding, of which prisoner had been suspected. He had a wife and five children. His Honor: I do not think this a case where I ought to admit the accused to probation. The accused has pleaded guilty to the larceny of goods from a railway platform—a railway platform in the country in a rather solitary place. For some years prior there had been pilferings from that platform, of which the accused is suspected. Though this is the first offence of which he has been convicted, 1 am not at all satisfied that it is the first offence he has committed. Although this is the first offence sheeted home to him, it is more than probable The Prisoner: It is not for my own sake, but for my wife and family’s sake, that I plead. They are entirely dependent on me. I plead for them and for them only, because I am guilty.
Hie Honor: fdo not wish to send you tp gaol for a long time, r anjj thi» being" first offence of whigh you have been con? victcd, I ought qot to do so. But, as Isay, the natural inference is that where there have been a number of pilferings of which you were suspected, and finally one is proved against you, it is not your first offence Prisoner interposed by saying that he had not been identified in any way with the other robberies. He bad merely been suspected on account of his going backwards and forwards to the siding. He had suffered so much during the post eight weeks, while he had been awaiting trial, that he coaid not feel his punishment more even if he were sent to gaol for ten years. It made him sick at heart to think of his children inquiring after their father who was in gaol. His Honor: You should have thought of that before. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned in the common, gaol at Dunedin for the tpnp of si j gion|hg, apd kept to hard labor, * " * ■ HOUSEBREAKING. Samuel Fraser (24) pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with having, on the 2nd inst, broken into the countinghouse of James Gibson, Vogel street, with intent to steal. He also pleaded guilty to a second indictment charging him with stealing a crowbar and a hammer, the property of Thomas Kerr.
Mr Gallaway said that although the offence with which the prisoner was charged was undoubtedly a serious one, a careful perusal of the depositions would show that it was not the crime of the professional burglar or housebreaker. He directed special attention to 'the nature of the tools with which the offence was accomplished. Prisoner had .been brought up as a bootmaker. He was the sole support of bis mother, and while In Melbourne, till recently, he had remitted her money. Mr Haggitt said the prisoner was a native of New South Wales, and came to Ney Zealand with his 'parents in fß6fi.- 'He Van a bootmaker by occupation, and an associate of bad characters, although there was no previous conviction against him. His Honor: Have they got the other man who was with him?
Mr Haggitt: No, but if he were to tell us his name it would be evidence of contrition. His Honor: The sentence of the Court is that you be kept to penal servitude in the colony of New Zealand for the term of four years. On the second indictment the sentence of the Court is six months’ imprisonment, concurrent with the other Sentence. ■
I’ERJURY. (leorye Wallace was indicted for having at Dunedin, on April 24, committed perjury during the hearing at the City Police Court of a case of alleged stealing, Mr Haggitt, with' him Mr Solomon, appeared for the prosecution; Mr E. Cook defended. The case was proceeding when we went to press. WELLINGTON. The only true bill found so far is against Edward MTntosh, who is accused of being concerned in the assault and robbery of o. passenger by the Tarawera who was on his way to Nelson. Prisoner was given the option, under the Act of last session, of going into the box and giving evidence, but declined, on the ground that he had already embodied what he had to say in the statement that had been read in the lower Court. The Chief Justice, in his address to the Grand Jury, said that as the calendar was a long one it had been agreed, in order to save time, to put off the Napier cases arisingoutof the Broughton-Donnelly trouble until the 28th inst., and the Grand Jury would therefore have to meet again on that date, when bills would be presented. The list, His Honor went on to say, contained a charge of a peculiar nature—viz,, a breach of the Bankruptcy Act—C, E. Beckman, of Masterton, being charged, under section 164, with having disposed of property in a manner calculated to defraud his creditors, and with attempting to leave the colony with money. Accused’s explanation was that the money was the proceeds of the sale of a hotel which he had made over to his wife before the bankruptcy. There was a charge against the late Inspector Bullen of having broken into a house and stolen articles, and a second charge of assault. Accused had reserved his defence, so His Honor was notin a position to assist the jury in the case. His Honor commented at some length on the perjury charge against Detective Benjamin arising out of Chemis’s case. There were two separate indictments, one of which was that his statement that he had found a piece of paper in a drawer in a bedroom was false, and that he had therefore committed wilful and corrupt perjury. He thought it only fair to remind the jury that these charges were sifted by a magistrate in the lower Court, and after a long and patient hearing he had decided that there was no case to answer, Mrs Chemis then bound herself over to bring the indictments before the Grand Jury. The only material evidence, His Honor pointed out, that could be preferred against Benjamin was that of the convict Chemis, who had been sentenced to imprisonment for life, and he (His Honor) held, as also did an eminent English judge in similar oases, that he was not a competent witness. The same remark would apply to Mrs Chemis. In M’lntosh’s case a verdict of guilty was returned, sentence being deferred. CHRISTCHURCH. Judge Denniston, in charging the Grand Jury, made extended reference to the changes in the law of evidence made during last session, by which criminals may bo examined on oath, and wives and husbands give evidence for each other. He also drew attention to the dangerous ppsition in which Judges are placed by Acts coming inte force the very moment that they receive the Governor’s assent at Wellington. This might lead to most awkward results, and it was adr visable that a certain lapse of time should be allowed, so that it might be fihysically possible for a Judge to know the aw he was to administer.—James Stewart alias David Grey, for two charges of forgery and uttering, was sentenced to four years ; Charles Hillary Parker, for a similar offence (five charges), to nine months’ ; Joseph Earshaw, for horse stealing, nine months’.
Permanent link to this item
SUPREME COURT—CRIMINAL SITTINGS., Evening Star, Issue 8031, 7 October 1889