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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R. v. Leary [1816] NSWKR 9; [1816] NSWSupC 9


Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Garling A.J.A., 26 June 1816
Source: Sydney Gazette, 29 June 1816

The Court this day met, and proceeded to the trial of Miles Leary, for uttering three forged notes of two pound sterling each, in April last, at Newcastle, purporting to be drawn by D. Allan, Esquire.
Thomas Johnson, in support of the charge deposed, that he was a seaman on the Lady Nelson Government Colonial brig, and had had occasional dealings with the prisoner at the bar while he resided at Newcastle from whom he received the three notes described, at the beginning of April, in payment of goods sold to him; that upon his return to Sydney in the vessel he exchanged two of those notes for currency to a Mrs. Browning on the Rocks; and the third to John Ryan, a poor man, labouring under the affliction of blindness. The notes being produced to the witness, he said he thought one of them to be one of the three he had received from the prisoner at the bar: he was certain the three notes he had exchanged with Mrs. Browning and John Ryan worth identically those he had taken from the prisoner; from there and he had also received 25s in currency at the same time; a 5s bill of which was returned upon him at Sydney as a forgery, and he in consequence gave it up to the Chief Constable. He further stated that he had always considered the prisoner a man of fair character, or should have had no dealings with him.
John Ryan deposed having exchanged currency with the witness Johnston for a sterling bill of £2 and that he had put it by and locked it in his box, and some days afterwards gave that identical note, when demanded by Mr. Robert Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Police.
Mrs. Browning deposed her exchanging currency for two notes of £2 each, with the witness Johnston; and added, that a Clerk of the Commissariat had a few days afterwards called upon and demanded those notes of her, stating them to be forgeries circulated from Newcastle. Three notes were produced to her, to which she thought were the same she had had, as one was a little torn, and she had pinned it.
Mr. Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Police, deposed, that the prisoner at the bar was brought from Newcastle on a suspicion of his being connected in forgeries there; that he was held in close custody after his arrival, and closely searched, repeatedly; on the last of which occasions two bills were found between a paper lining and the crown of his hat; one was Mr Allans for 1l the other a currency note. Prisoners said they were only bits of paper, and might be looked at, but afterwards said some other person must have put them into his hat for some base purpose, as he had not done so. Mr. Jones considered both these notes to be forgeries. He was also the person who had taken a note from Ryan, which fact was also proved by Jos Davis, in whose house Ryan constantly lived, and Johnston lodged whenever he came to Sydney.
Mr. J. Jex, a Clerk in the Commissariat, deposed to his receiving the two bills from Mrs. Browning, which he had now sworn she had taken from Johnston - but when the bills were produced to him, he said he could not identify them, owing to a severe indisposition; and it was hinted to the Court that the witness had but lately recovered from a state of delirium. With respect to those two notes the chain of evidence he became imperfect; and the third had been produced by a man who had lost the blessing of sight.
A confidential Clerk attended from the Commissariat to prove that the bills were all forgeries but as from the imperfection of the evidence a doubt was necessarily involved, that doubt was growing into the scale of mercy, and the prisoner was acquitted.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University