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Colonial Cases

Lee v. Smith, 1874

[wrongful arrest]


Lee v. Smith

Local Court, Palmerston
Ellison SM, 20 May 1874
Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 22 May 1874, p 3






(Before Dr. Ellison, S.M.)

Lee v. Smith.-Claim for £20, damages on account of being wrongfully arrested.

Mr. Rudall for plaintiff; Mr. Smith for defendant.

Trooper Raff produced the warrant under which he arrested Mr. Lee on the 27th April last, it having been sworn by the defendant, V. F. Smith, that he (Mr. Lee) was about to leave the settlement in the Contest, taking away with him a watch belonging to defendant, and of which the plaintiff was the bailee. Witness deposed to arresting the plaintiff at Fisher's, whilst working at his bench. His tools were there, and he had watches and clocks and jewellery there. Read the warrant to plaintiff', and defendant, who was present, claimed and obtained his watch, which was on the bench. Took plaintiff into custody, and took him before the magistrate; but nobody appeared against plaintiff, and he was dismissed. Plaintiff was in custody about an hour and a half.

By Mr. Smith-He was not at home the first time witness called with the warrant; but he was at home in about three quarters of an hour, when witness arrested him. It was half-past two then, and at a quarter to three plaintiff was brought before the Magistrate, and when the case came on he was discharged, no one appearing to prosecute.

Mr. L. P. Lee, watchmaker, said that on the morning of the 27th April, at about 10 o'clock, he saw defendant, who brought him a watch which had stopped. Defendant left the watch to be repaired, and went away. At that time watches, jewellery, a clock, and the tools were on the bench. It was a bedroom, and there was also a box of clothes there. Trooper Raff afterwards arrested him. Was put in a sleeping-room, where Trooper Miller was. Then went with the trooper and gave up the watch. Was afterwards marched back to the Police-station, and taken before the Magistrate, where the charge was dismissed, as no one appeared in support of it. Was seen by a great many people, and suffered a great deal pain of mind. Was never on board the Contest, and never intended going by her.

By Mr. Smith-On the morning of arrest "sent some boxes down to the Contest in his own name. A lady on the beach enquired about her jewellery. Told her he would bring lier jewellery in 20 minutes: It was about 11 o'clock then. Did not take the jewellery back. It might have been earlier than 11 o'clock; perhaps between 8 and 9 o'clock. The boxes were taken on board the Contest. They belonged to Mr Willmott, although they were in plaintiff's mime. Was in his workshop by 12 o'clock. Could not remember where else he went that morning.

By Mr. Rudall-The boxes were taken from Edwards's. Told the carter the boxes belonged to Willmott. When he said he was not going by the "boat," meant the Contest. Did not return the jewellery in 20 minutes, because he went for a walk with Mr. Willmott.

Mr. Smith addressed the Bench on the law of the case, and then called the defendant, who detailed the steps which he took on the morning of the arrest.

The people at Fisher's did not give straightforward answers as to the whereabouts of the plaintiff; and from what he heard about jewellery, gave information to the police, and caused a warrant to be issued.

Mr. Gardiner was also called to say that plaintiff did not bring back the jewellery at the time promised.

Mr. Berry, carter, gave evidence to the effect that plaintiff gave him instructions to take two boxes on board the Contest on the day in question. He gave the name of Lee, when he told him about the boxes, and did not say anything about Willmott. There was no address on the boxes. Mr. Lee did not say he was going in the Contest. Mr. Lee accompanied witness to the beach with the boxes.

After addresses from the counsel, a verdict was given for the plaintiff, damages, £10.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School