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Colonial Cases

R. v. Erskine, 1874

[forgery by trustees]


R. v. Erskine

Local Court, Palmerston
Ellison and Connor, 4 February 1874
Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 6 February 1874, p 2



Wednesday, February 4.

(Before Dr. Ellison, S.M. and M.L. Connor, J.P.)

Regina v. Erskine.

Mr. Smith who appeared for the complainant, Robert Patrick, stated that the complaint was laid under the 2nd Section 1, 1863, forging by trustees; and also under Section 51, No. 4, 1859, embezzlement by an agent. He would be obliged to ask for an adjournment when some of the evidence had been taken down, because Mr. Miller, a store-keeper at Southport, an important witness, was not present. This was not a case of his client against the accused. His client was simply the informer, and the Queen was the prosecutor. He was told that the witness had been served, but that he refused to attend unless his expenses were paid. Witness should have been informed that he would be compelled to attend. The troopers did not seem to know their duty, and they had not been taught their duty, but he hoped they would be. As a rule the police were jealous when any one became informer but themselves; and in these cases instead of assisting the Crown as they ought to do, they actually favored the accused. He did not allude to this Court particularly, but to a general feeling with the police. Even the Clerk of the Court had fallen into error, for he entered the case Patrick v. Erskine, when it should be the Queen v. Erskine. The Crown did not even guarantee to pay costs. The Crown paid witnesses' expenses, but not till after the cases had been heard. Mr. Smith after this introduction called his witnesses.

Robert Patrick, sworn, deposed-I am a miner residing in Palmerston; know the accused,Thomas Erskine. I gave him £20 at Captain Douglas' reef on the Howley. The whole of the money was mine. He was to go to Southport and buy goods with the money, and bring the goods up to the reef. He did not fetch the goods up. He got the money about nine weeks ago. Never saw him till I saw him in Palmerston seven weeks after that. I asked him to account for it. He did not do so.

Cross-examined by defendant-Captain Giles asked me to go into a prospecting party. I joined in that prospecting party, unfortunately. Authorised you to go as agent; never acknowledged you as partner. You were not fit to be a partner. I believe Mr. Cox appointed you manager and director of a prospecting party. I signed an agreement. You made us believe you could float the Company. [Informant here handed in agreement of partnership.] No other person put me up to lodge this information. Did more work in the seven weeks than ever you did in your life; sunk 25 feet. Left because we had nothing to eat. There was a little left in the camp. Did not leave to my knowledge before the expiration of term of agreement. I wanted to be paid for my labor. I was deceived by you blowing and telling lies. You made us believe you could do anything. Got £10 worth of goods from Nelson and put it down to you. Jones was sorry afterwards that you got the goods. I agreed that you should get the half of the claim transferred at Nelson's Camp. We agreed that you should give us our separate shares when you came up. Butcher afterwards offered me my account, but I said I could get it again in Palmerston. I never gave you a bill for the £20. My mates told me they never got accounts. To Mr. Smith-I gave £20 for goods he has not accounted for. To the Bench-The goods were for me and my mate. The Company was not debited with the £20. There were five men altogether; they were to give defendant £10 each.

W. E. Adcock deposed-I am a store-keeper residing at Palmerston. I supplied the accused with goods to the value of £10 on the 10th December last. He paid £8 8s. 6d., entered to the account of Erskine and Co., and £1 11s. 6d. entered to his private account.

Believed he purchased goods at the same time from other parties in Palmerston.

To defendant-The weather was boisterous about that time.

Case remanded until Monday for Mr. Miller's evidence.


Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 13 February 1874, p 2


(Before Dr. Ellison, S.M. and M.L. Connor, J.P.)


Adjourned case from Wednesday.

The defendant was charged with embezzling £20, the property of Robert Patrick and another.

Mr. Smith appeared for the prosecution.

Thomas Davidson, teller in the Bank at Palmerston, deposed to having cashed a cheque for defendant signed by Robert Patrick about the 26th December.

Robert Patrick identified the cheque as the one given him to the defendant. Witness did not charge the Company with the £20.

To defendant-You were expected to pay £10 yourself as well; but I did not consider you a partner. I did not commission you to float the claim. You and your partners were to have half the claim, but you took good care not to give us our share. Will not swear that you were not told to remain in Palmerston till we would see if the heavy goods could be brought up.

To the Bench-There was £50 altogether to be furnished by the party; each was to pay £10. No portion of these goods ever reached the claim.

J. Miller, a special witness, being absent the case was adjourned for a week.

Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 27 February 1874, p 4




(Before Dr. Ellison, S.M. and Mr. M. L. Connor, J.P.)

The adjourned case against Alex. Erskine for appropriating to his own use money belonging to Robert Patrick and others who were associated with him in a mining venture, was called on.

Mr. Smith appeared for the prosecution.

Erskine now called two witnesses-J. Jones and C. Butcher-to show that Patrick in his evidence had made false statements, and that defendant had not appropriated money as sworn to by the prosecution. It appeared from Butcher's evidence that Erskine and himself were instructed by Patrick and his two other mates to proceed to Palmerston and transact business belonging to their proposed Company, as well as to purchase goods for the use of the party. They accordingly, after receiving money jointly contributed, went to Palmerston, and were there detained a considerable time, purchasing and regulating on behalf of the Company. After a while they started, but were detained again at Southport on account of losing their horses, so that at last they were obliged to leave their dray and proceed up country with packs, containing a portion of the goods they had bought; some of the remainder they had been obliged to sell, and some were damaged. Altogether they were down from the country seven weeks, during which time they expended £137, out of which the witness

Butcher said his expenses amounted to £25, and the total expenses to £47. They took up boots and other things to their partners, and the goods not carried up had been left with Miller and Rickard, for sale, the proceeds from which had not yet been received. Every transaction, as the defendant paid, was "joint-stockly," and he produced a deed of agreement which constituted him sole manager and director, at the goldfields and "to and from the goldfields."

Mr. Smith called evidence to show that Erskine sold a portion of the goods and received the money; one witness, Boyd, stating that the dray load of goods had been abandoned in the bush beyond Southport, and that when he (witness) got a horse and brought them in, there was nobody looking after them. Defendant offered to sell the whole lot to witness, but a great many articles were damaged, and witness only bought a portion of them, for which he paid at least more than £2, though lie could not say exactly how much.

The Court dismissed the case, as the agreement showed the defendant was a partner with the plaintiff, Patrick, and the three mates.

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