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

R. v. Simmons and others [1820] NSWKR 17; [1820] NSWSupC 17

burglary - stealing in a dwelling house

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Wylde J.A., 24 November 1820
Source: Sydney Gazette, 25 November 1820

Jeremiah Simmons, James Tyler, and John Mayo, were indicted for feloniously entering the dwelling house of Mr John Croaker, in George street, on the evening of the 9th of August last, and stealing there from a box, containing £15 in cash, and a quantity of women's wearing apparel, the property of Mary Coppinger. The prisoner, Jeremiah Simmons, pleaded guilty to the indictment.

           Mary Coppinger, the prosecutrix, on this occasion deposed, that she lived in the family of Mr Croaker, as servant, prior to the robbery; and that one of the prisoners at the bar, John Mayo, who was a prisoner of the Crown, lived also in the same family, being an assigned Government servant to Mr Croaker; and that he was at home on the evening of the robbery. The witness also stated, that she had seen the box in question about five minutes before its removal had been effected. A number of articles of wearing apparel before the Court were sworn to as forming part of the property the box contained when stolen.

           Mr Croaker deposed, that hearing an alarm made by the prosecutrix on the evening already stated, and discovering the cause, every effort was immediately made to trace the thief, in which they were apparently joined by the prisoner at the bar, John Mayo, but that all the search proved fruitless; that no violence to effect an entry into the dwelling was that all visible; and from the situation of the prosecutrix's room, together with the nature of the bolt that secured the door, which no stranger knew how to open, more than ordinary suspicion became excited on the occasion against the prisoner John Mayo, which, from circumstances that transpired during the evening and following morning, became so strong, that he was taken into custody on the charge about noon on the days subsequent to the robbery.

Jane Long, a woman stated that she came free into the Colony, deposed, that the prisoner Jeremiah Simmons, who had pleaded guilty, lodged at her house at the time of the robbery, and stated that habits of intimacy existed between the three prisoners, Simmons, Tyler, and Mayo; that Tyler frequently visited Simmons, and that the latter had been employed by Mayo to make him a pair of shoes about a month before, which was his trade. On the morning that the robbery was committed the same evening, Mayo came and particularly enquired for the prisoner Simmons, who was then from home, but was directed by the witness where he might be found; and that, in the evening, between the hours of 8 and 9, the prisoner Jeremiah Simmons came home, in company with James Tyler, having a quantity of wearing apparel, now before the Court, concealed about their persons, which they tired in a bundle in her presence, accounting for the possession of it by saying they had found a box on the Race Course; that the bundle containing the spoil was then thrown upon the loft; and next forenoon the prisoner, John Mayo came to the house in company with Simmons. [Here Mr Croaker stated that the prisoner Mayo had been absent the morning after the robbery, which, of course, tended to increase the two well grounded suspicion entertained against him.] Jane Long's testimony went on to state, that for the purpose of security, she removed the articles in a few days to a neighbour's of the name of Simpson, where they were found by Dalton, the constable; but, upon her cross examination it became apparent, so far from evincing any honest intention in the transaction, she had actually, and immediately subsequent to the robbery, altered and cut up some of the apparel for her own use, of which articles she was stripped in the watch - house. His Honor the Judge Advocate commented in the strongest terms upon the infamy that had developed itself during the examination of this witness, Jane Long, and severely regretted, with the Members of the Court, that instead of being an evidence on the trial, she had not been placed at the bar of that tribunal as a felon, being as much entitled to the justly incurred vengeance of the law as her companions were, who now awaited the issue of their trial.

Further testimony was adduced, which went chiefly to criminate the prisoner who had pleaded guilty. The prisoners at the bar, being put upon their defence, declared their innocence of the charge alleged against them. No doubt existed as to the intimacy between the prisoners, Simmons and Tyler; but it was requisite, for the ends of justice, to prove the connexion of Mayo with them, as he doubtless had been the planner and adviser of the robbery, whereby his fellow servant was to be deprived of her all. His participation in the crime, however, was too apparent to be capable of being disapproved; as it was proved by the testimony of Jane Long, infamous as her character appeared to be, that he was anxious to partake of the ill gotten wealth by his visit next morning to Simmons, which fact was indubitably supported by Mr Croaker; that circumstance alone being established, clearly proved that the robbery had been pre-concerted; and, although the prisoner Mayo was at home on the evening it happened, and exactly at that time as was proved, yet for all that it was too apparent he had been the promoter, as well as a participator in the crime. The charge being substantiated against the prisoners, they were found guilty - 14 years to Newcastle.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University