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

R. v. Love [1816] NSWKR 7; [1816] NSWSupC 7

stealing property of the Crown - cattle

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Wylde J.A., 4 December 1816
Source: Sydney Gazette, 7 December 1816

John Love, Joseph Jones, Charles Pickering, and Patrick McGannity were arraigned on the charge of stealing a bull in the district of the Cow Pastures, the property of the Crown, on about the 12th of October last; and the three first named prisoners were found Guilty - Death; Patrick McGannity acquitted. It appeared in evidence that the prisoner Love was a seller, living in the Cow pasture District, to whom the prisoners Jones and McGannity had been allowed as servants, and that Pickering was a trader; that many of the cattle composing what are denominated the wild herds, known to be the property of the Crown had been at different times slaughtered, and conveyed away by horses and carts to various parts of the settlement, and from the defence set up on behalf of the prisoners, disputing the possibility of identifying in these cattle the property of the Crown, it would appear that the depredators upon these herds had generally presumed upon this difficulty, and hence considered that they might [?] in security. This suggestion afforded to His Honor the Judge Advocate an ample occasion of explaining away the criminal and erroneous conception; and that clearly demonstrating that the cattle in those pastures were to be identified with much greater facility and certainty than those of any private individual, whose herds might casually inter-mingle with others, and frequently occasion doubt in their identity. Whereas, that in the present case there could be no doubt, because it was to all well-known that all the cattle in those pastures belong to the Crown, and that it was even a severely punishable trespass for any man to go where they were, without an especial Permission from His Excellency the Governor: which measure had been long since adopted for the prevention of such practices as those for which the prisoners at the bar were to answer. That the very acts of trespassing upon those pastures being known to be criminal, it must be necessarily inferred that no man would there trespass without a criminal intention. In the present melancholy instance the criminal intention had been carried into full effect, and an actual crime perpetrated. This fact being proved, the question of identity was far less difficult, because it was generally known that all the cattle in the place where the offence was committed belonged to the Crown; and that none could be withdrawn from thence that were not clearly known to be so. The practice of cattle stealing was in general too prevalent: and the depredations committed upon these herds, particularly, required to be restrained; which the event of this trial His Honor had no doubt would tend considerably to effect.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University