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SUPREME COURT-CRIMINAL SITTINGS., Issue 8033, 9 October 1889
SUPREME COURT-CRIMINAL SITTINGS.
Wednesday, October 0. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams.) SENTENCES. George Wallace (62 years), who was convicted yesterday of perjury, was brought up for sentence. Mr E. Cook mentioned that the prisoner had been twenty-two years in the colony, was a farmer and cattle dealer for many years, had an invalid wife, and had a grownup family, sbthe of whom Were tharried, and, of course, felt very much their parent’s present position. His wife, who had been suffering from an internal complaint for the past three years, had been greatly shocked by her husband’s conviction, and was, he (counsel) had been informed, never likely to recover. He reminded His Honor of the jury’s strong recommendation to mercy, and was prepared with witnesses as to character, and would call a witness to prove the state of the wife’s health, if His Honor desired to hear him. Perhaps His Honor might be able to see his way to give the prisoner the benefit of the Probation Act, seeing that it was his first offence.
His Honor: Is anything known about him, Mr Haggitt ? Mr Haggitt: There are no previous convictions against him, your Honor. I don’t know whether my learned friend was serious in his suggestion about the Probation Act, because under these circumstances your Honor might consider what it was that the prisoner tried to do. His Honor: Oh, yes. I suppose it is admitted that the prisoner has been a farmer and cattle dealer, and has not been convicted before ?
Mr Haggitt: That is so. His Honor : Ho has been in much the same position as any other cattle dealer ? There is nothing special in his case ? Mr Haggitt: No, your Honor. He has been carrying on cattle dealing for a great many years past—for more than twenty years to my own knowledge. He has been a small farmer.
His Honor having expressed his willingness to hear witnesses as to character, Mr Cook called
Hugh Gourley (Mayor of Dunedin), who said that he had known the prisoner for twenty years, and had had business transactions with him. He had known him during that time to be as straightforward and honorable as anybody else—as the average run of mankind went. Henry Driver had known the prisoner for the past four or five years, and had had business transactions with him to a considerable amount. Had always found him straightforward, and on no occasion had fault to find with him.
William Watson, coal merchant, had had dealings with the prisoner to a considerable amount, and had always found him straightforward.
Robert Saunders, draper, had known the prisoner for twenty years, and had always found him straightforward. His Honor : The offence is certainly not one to which the Probation Act should be extended. It may bo reasonable enough in a case of perjury to allow an accused the benefit of that Act where the false oath was taken to get himself out of a scrape, or to shield a woman’s character, or something of that kind; but where tho false oath was taken for the purpose of causing an innocent man to be convicted, that is quite another matter. The maximum punishment that can be inflicted for this offence is four years’ penal servitude. I shall not inflict that punishment in the present case, looking at the age of tho accused and at the previous good character that the witnesses have given him. But tho offence is a very serious one. It is one which is very common indeed, unfortunately, and one in which very seldom a conviction can bo secured; therefore it becomes my duty to pass a substantial sentence. (To tho prisoner ;) Tho sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned in the common gaol at Dunedin for the term of two years and kept to hard labor.
Thomas Fusion Waugh (aged 26), convicted last evening of embezzling funds of the Bust Office Savings Bank, was next brought up for sentence. Mr Sim : I appear for the prisoner. There are several witnesses who can testify to tho character of tho prisoner, and I would ask your Honor’s permission to call them. Rev. Alfred North, Baptist minister, had known the prisoner for five or six years, and had never known him to do anything dishonorab’e. Had always regarded him as upright, reliable, and a well-conducted man. R. T. Wheeler, sen., publisher, said that prisoner was in his employ twelve or thirteen years ago for a period of two years. He was straightforward and upright, and witness had absoluto|oonfidence in him. Mr Sim asked his Honor to release the prisoner under tho Probation Act. He submitted that in view of the recommendation of the prisoner to mercy on tho jury’s part, that was a proper course to adopt. At any rate, if his Honor did not feel inclined to assent to that course, due consideration should be given to the recommendation to mercy with reference to the mode of keeping the accounts in the Post Office. The jury said in effect that undue facilities were given by the Post Office officials for tho commission of the crime of which Waugh had been convicted.
His Honor: No; that they should take more care. But Ido not think an employer is blamcablc because he does not assume that his employes will commit forgery. Mr Sim; It is very often the case that opportunities being afforded make men criminal rather than that they are of evil disposition. His Honor: In this case there is something more than taking advantage of the opportunity. It was a very clever scheme. That is what it comes to. Very few persons would have thought of it, though tho facility existed. Mr Sim ; At any rate, I ask your Honor in dealing with the case to take into consideration the fact that great facilities were offered, and the jury’s recommendation to mercy on account of his youth. The Crown Prosecutor: Allthatis known of the prisoner, your Honor, is that he came here from Victoria when quite a child; that he was employed, as you have been informed, with Mr Wheeler, and afterwards with Mr Jacobs, the tobacconist; that ho got into the Post Olfico some seven years ago, and has been there ever since. There was considerable confidence placed in him ; he was sent away in charge of the mails to San Francisco more than once, and he was just about starting again in charge of the mails when these offences were discovered.
His Honor: Has any reason been suggested for these defalcations—gambling, betting, or what ? Mr Haggitt: None has been found out. He is known, in addition to these moneys, to have borrowed largo sums of money which he has not repaid. Where they have gone is a mystery. His Honor: In considering whether in any case the Probation Act should bo applied the Court is bound to look at the circumstances, and if it be the case that other charges have been made against the accused, which give reasonable ground for suspecting that tho offence of which ho has been convicted is not a solitary offence, that consideration ought to weigh with the Court, even although the evidence in support of those other charges might not be sufficient to justify a conviction. One has to deal with the Act with the help of common sense; and one must conclude if an offence, being
part of a scheme, has been proved against the prisoner that thefe are other cases of a similar kind, and that it is highly probable that the person who has been convicted bn the one Charge had something to do With tire others. That, I think, is a right 1 do not think 1 ought in the present base to giVe the prisoner the benefit of the Probation Act. I shall, however, take into consideration the recommendation of the jury, and the fact that the prisoner has not been previously oon* victccl, and that for years he had borne a good Character, t shall pass as light a scnti-iictj as I can Consistent with the nature of the offence of Whidh he has beeh convicted. The accused was placed in a responsible position a position which required that he be a man of good character ; and it was on account of his character that he was trusted. That trust ho has abused. It is, therefore, a somewhat more serious offence than a simple larceny. I shall, however, take into consideration the recommendation of the jury, and the fact that there are no previous convictions, and shall give a comparatively light sentence. (To Waugh:) The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned in the common gaol at Dunedin for the term of twelve mouths and kept to hard labor. This concluded the criminal sittings, WELLINGTON. Williams, for forgery, was to-day sentenced to eighteen months’ hard labor. Charges of breaking and entering against Bullen, ex-police inspector, are proceeding.
SUPREME COURT-CRIMINAL SITTINGS., Issue 8033, 9 October 1889
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