THE GAMING AND LOTTERIES ACT.
AN ALLEGED BREACH.
CHARGES AGAINST A BOOKMAKER.
The Supreme Court criminal sessions were continued at Christchurch before Mr Justice Denniston on Tuesday morning, when Matthew Barnett, under three indictments, was charged with having used his office for betting purposes. Mr Harper, with him Mr Cassidy, appeared for accused, who pleaded not guilty. The charges covered a. portion of 1901 and' January, 1902. Mr Stringer explained to the jury that the charges comprised, first, the general charge of keeping a common gaming-house. The other two were simply charges out of the main charge. A specified time was set out in the indictments, but the bouse had been used, the prosecution alleged, for a much longer period. The prosecution would prove that books and other documents were found in the office by the polioe which could be used foi no other purposes than for betting on hor^e racing, contrary to law. Mr Stringer pointed out that, though the law might be inconsistent in regard to betting, inasmuch as it permitted totalisator betting under the auspices of a racing club and private betting, flhe keeping of a house for betting purposes was illegal, and it was for the jury in discharge of their duty to bring in a verdict according to the law, uninfluenced by any idea that they might ientertain in regard to the law's consistency or otherwise. Detective Fehey said that he had known accused for some years, during which time he had been a. bookmaker. Accused had an office at 174 Hereford street, which he had occupied for some years. There was a front office and a back room. Under search warrant on January 29 witness searched these premises, and took away from them several thousands of letters, telegrams, and race cards, all relating to races. There were five or six •hundredweight in all. The letters and telegrams were on files, and all related entirely to horse Iracing and 'betting. The books contained entries of horse racing and dividends^ but the ledger contained entries of "^joods.' Produced a pamphlet relating to betting; it was entitled " Form at a Glance f " and there were thousands of copies found m the office. The lae'e cards produced were samples of large quantities found in the office. A cheque for £1 15s 6d was found on accused himself in his office, and attached to it was an account showing a balance due by a person named Groper of £1 16s 6d. It showed results of betting on several Taces, winnings, and losings, and a balance owine by the bettor of tho amount mentioned. The book produced showed betting transactions on races throughout the colony, and the items in the account put in by witness with the cheque attached were reproduced from the book. The ledger produced contained Groper's account. The entries purported to refer to goods, but they brought down a similar balance against Groper to that ehown in the account. Throughout the ledger there were a number of accounts crediting peot>le with payment for "goods," but in the ofrice there were no " goods " except -what witness took away. In the letter book found there w»b a copy of a. letter purporting to be written by accused, acknowledging receipt of £1, addressed to one G. SatcheTi ; and a letter was also found in the office signed " George Satchell," giving Barnett and Grant instructions as to the disposal of 20s (enclosed) on certain horses in certain faces, and the press copy in the letter book waa evidently a reply to George Satchell's letters. Witness also produced letters from E. Sutherland, G. F. Butcher, and others of th© same character as the one from Satchell, and for considerably larger amounts, replies to which were in the letter book. These were samples of many found in the office. Witness had had the premises under surveillance for some time, and on January 2 last there was a race meeting in Auckland. Watched the office that day and saw 80 or 40 men go in at different periods, and telegraph boys were coming and going. The men consulted race cards, and then went into the office, coming out again a few minutes afterwards. Documents referring to betting on this meeting were found in the office. Similar occurrences were noticed on January 25, on the occasion of a race meeting in Wellington, and again on January 29, on the day of the Taka-puna. races, and the day aleo on which the search warrant was given effect to. When no races were held there were no visitors to the office. When witness searched the office there were two clerks there, Whelan anfl Curne. The board produced was found in the office. It was similar to the boards usSd for showing totalisator results. Witness also found m the office £177 6s 8d in money, which was handed back to accused.
By Mr Harper- Found no documents in the office relating to private matters. Aroused was -walking out of the % ffico when witness went in, and did not know that witness was coming. Detective Marsack went down the street to Barnett, who had gone towards the bank, and Baroett came back with him. It was then that Barnett was searched, and tho documents referred to found upon him. During the time he had Barnett's office under observation the men paid their visits between 2.39 and 4 o'clock. Had seen, result "ooardß for football and cricket matches hung out before tobacconists' shops, but they did not have columns for the numbers of the races, " scratchiegs, ' and " dividends," nor a heading " Results." Had known Barnett as a bookmaker for five years. Arthur Currie, clerk to Barnett and Grant, objected to give evidence, on the plea that if Barnett were found guilty of the charge laid against him, witness might also be incriminated for assisting in the business. His Honor asked him if he swore that his evidence would be likely to incriminate himself, and on being answered in tho affirmative, witness was ordered to stand down.
David Stranaghan, commission agent, s>aid he knew Barnett's office, and occasionally made bets. Knew the difference between a straight-out bet and totalisator bets, and that straight-out bets were perfectly legitimate. Had made straight-out bet 3 with Barnett, but could net remember where. Refused to answer any questions as to \>eing in Barnett's office an Kovembor or December, as a true answer might incriminate him. He did not remember whether he made a straight-out bet with Barnett at his office in 1901.
William Wales, tobacconist, Lyttelton, declined to answer a question as to whether a cheque produced vras his, lest the answer ehould incriminate him in totalisator bettingHa h&d not maAjs. axa alxAJghi-czii hat*.
Frederick Blogg, baker, Christchurch, knew accused and his office in Hereford street, but dec-lined to answer questions in regard to his own betting transactions, as they might incriminate him. He had never made a straightout bet in Christchurch, and would not answer any questions about his visits- to Barnett, as true answeis might incriminate him in Barnett's alleged offence.
Mr Harper called no witnesses, and addressed the jury. He said that straight-out betting in itself wrs not an offence against the law, but the keeping of a house- for betting purposes was an offence. It was perfectly legitimate for Baxnett to be a bookmaker, but the offence charged against him was very grave, and he urged the jury to be very accurate in their examination of the evidence that had been given, the chief of which was the detective's, which he reviewed at length. Hemade a strong point of the fact that there had been no advertisement of Barnett's office at 174 Hereford street, as a place for conducting betting business, and in all the literature found in the office by the police there was no invitation to the public to come to 174 Hereford street for betting purposes. Barnett and Grant advertised that at Dunedin 'and Christchurch they did business, but the address given in the book " Form at a Glance," which was a perfectly legitimate book, was a box at the post offioe. He held that persons goinir into the office after races were run was no evidence against his client, neither was the finding of a result board in the office. But the essential want in the prosecutor's case was the absence of an advertisement asking the public to come to the office in Hereford street for betting purposes. Dealing with Groper's matter, he held that there was> no proof whatever that Groper had ever been near the place, or had ever paid any money to Bajnett for betting purposes. The cheque and account were not found in the office, but in Baxne-tt's pocket. The other letters were only records of bets, which were perfectly legal, and were not evidence at all that these bets were made in the office. In regard to witnesses who had refused to give evidence, it was their right to do so, if they thought their answers would incriminate them; and it was not for the jury to draw inferences adverse to Barnett from, their refusals, because the law was vastly different here from that in England. Mr Harper laid stress on the fact that the d«tectiye had known this office for five years, and said that it had been -kept for these purposes all that time, but Barnett had not been disturbed until last January. His Honor summed up, and said that the charges against Barnett were simply that he kept a common gaming-house, and that it was for the jury to consider whether there was sufficient evidence to prove that Barnett's office was a common gaming-house. The law in Wew Zealand made those visiting such houses equally guilty with the persons -who kept them. In England it was different, only the keepers being the offenders. In the box that day there had been several witnesses who had declined to give evidence because of possible inorimination of themselves by the answers they anight give. They were quite within their riglits, and if such evidence was ever to bo available to the court,_ the court must be authorised to give such witnesses an indemnity. Biis Honor reviewed the evidence, and explained the law at some length, and said that if, in the opinion of the jury, this place was known to be a place where people could go and bet, then the jury would bring in a verdict ticcordingly. The jury found a verdict of " Not guilty," and accused was discharged.
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