Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

R. v. Kaufmann, 1874



R. v. Kaufmann

Police Court, Palmerston
Price SM, 28 September 1874
Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 3 October 1874, p 3




(Before Mr. E. W. Price, S.M.)


James Cholmondeley Kaufmann was charged on the information of M. L. Conner, Chief Warden of Gold Fields, with having fraudulently obtained possession of certain interest in a mining property by false pretences, and with intent to cheat and defraud.

Mr. Smith appeared for the prosecution, and said that Mr. Conner took steps in this prosecution purely as a matter of duty. The document which had been obtained by defendant was the transfer of the 24th part of claim No. 2 north, Union, which purported to have been given in consideration of value received; but which, as would be shown, was obtained by false pretences.

M. L. Conner said that defendant registered the transfer (produced) signed by Ernest Bieber on August 15, 1874. Witness effected the registeration [sic] and gave the certificate to defendant. On 17th August Mr. Bieber cautioned witness against transferring the share. Witness told this to defendant; told him that Mr. Bieber, in the presence of Messrs. Frew and Cartwright, had said that he (defendant) had obtained the transfer by fraud. Also told him that the memorandum was on the back of the transfer, and that some parties should take steps, or that he (the Warden) would have to deal with the matter, as it was a serious charge, and ought not to remain disproved on the records. Defendant replied, "Let the other party deal witn it," as he should take no steps in the matter. The 24th share therefore still stood m the name of J. C. Kaufmann on the registry.

By Dr. Kaufmann-Could not say who held the interest; had made no enquiries; supposed it was the man who held the transfer. Did not remember any further conversation with the defendant, beyond what had been stated. Witness was an informer under the Mining Act, for a certain class of offences, and it was his duty to lay informations for fraud in his department. Was not instigated by others; have held conversation with several persons on the subject. None of them asked him to lay the information. Asked Bieber to take proceedings, and did his utmost to make him substantiate what was on the records. Had no interest in any claim on the Union or Lady Alice; but only in the Nina, which he held before he was appointed Warden, and which he was unable to forfeit, though he had tried. Had not been promised any interest in the Union or Lady Alice.

"Did you ever advise any person to jump a claim?"

"Find out for yourself."

"Did you ever ask Starke to jump a claim on sharing the interest?"

"I shall answer no more impertinent questions. Declined to answer such questions because if the accusation were true there would be a remedy in the mining department."

Mr. Smith said that Starke had already given this the lie; but he was absent now.

The Magistrate did not see what this had to do with the present case.

Witness remembered saying that defendant was said to be the person who picked up the letter about "meet me by moonlight alone"--(laughter) --and still believed it. Was not angry at the time, and did not threaten any one. Had informed in this case-(by Mr. Smith)-because the transfer is a public record, and because neither of the parties would take proceedings. A public document had been obtained by fraud, and the fee of 2s. 6d. for the transfer had to be accounted for. Had never directly or indirectly suggested to anyone what defendant had just stated about jumping claims.

Ernest Bieber had seen the transfer (produced) at the Shackle. It was written by witness, excepting the name of Dr. Kaufmaun at the bottom. It was written on Sunday, 14th July. Defendant then spoke to witness in reference to the quartz claim now referred to, and which had been heard in the Court and decided in favor of Ravenscroft and Frew. Witness was Ravenscroft's agent, and defendant told him to read a paper which he produced. Witness though it was a notice of appeal, and reminded him it was Sunday. Defendant said, "Oh, there it is; I have served you with it." Complained to defendant about the course he was taking as he held a general retainer for witness. He replied he was only acting on information received, and said that it might not be too late yet for witness to retain him; but if he did so he would have to pay defendant ten or fifteen guineas. Objected to pay such a high retainer without consulting the other shareholders. Defendant said that was the charge, the same as in Lawrie's case; and he exhibited a cheque with that amount marked on it. Witness said he was sick and tired of litigation, and was willing to come to terms. Defendant then wanted to know what witness could give him to settle everything, and have no appeal or further dispute? Went into figures and agreed to give a 24th of the claim if the other shareholders would be agreeable. Then completed the transfer which had been produced; and defendant said everything would be settled all right. Defendant did not say whose signature was on the cheque which was produced; but represented that the appeal would not go on if he was retained and the interest transferred to him.

On cross-examination Mr. Bieber said that when the other shareholders objected to the transfer to defendant, he offered to give it up rather than have any misunderstanding , and he ultimately re-transferred the interest to witness on being told of the feeling of the shareholders.

Mr. Smith said a remand would be necessary to obtain the evidence of Lawrie as to whether an appeal, as pretended, was ever contemplated. The Magistrate pointed out that as this was merely a case of misdemeanour it would be quite unusual to press it on when the person supposed to be injured (Mr. Bieber) was willing to withdraw.

After a short adjournment Mr. Smith stated that the prosecution would be discontinued.

Case withdrawn.

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