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

R. v. Poole and others [1822] NSWKR 5; [1822] NSWSupC 5

R. v. Peacock

R. v. Cammell

R. v. Clensey

R v. Kanann

R. v. Webb

R. v. McCann

convict escape - accessory to offence - Timor, attempted escape to

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction

Wylde J.A., 7 October 1822

Source: Sydney Gazette, 11 October 1822 [1]

            William Poole, Thomas Peacock, Robert Cammell, and Michael Clensey, were indicted for the commission of various felonies: and Hugh McCann, Henry Webb, and Michael Kanann were arraigned as accessories before and after the fact. From the evidence of John Wiseman, an approver, it appeared that the four prisoners, viz. Poole, Peacock, Cammel, and Clensey, with himself, were crown servants to various individuals, and were employed in and about the new discovered country, and Bathurst. Some time in May last, about the 21st, they absconded from their various masters, and took to the woods: this act being at the suggestion of the prisoner Poole, who had been for some weeks previous storing the minds of his fellow prisoners with not only the probability, but also the possibility and certainty of making their way to Timor, through the trackless interior of New Holland; to which plausible tale they were the more readily induced to give credence, from their knowledge of the prisoner Poole being a seaman, and consequently an active and clever fellow, and therefore well capacitated to conduct his little party to Timor, in which event they had the prospect of becoming altogether, though remotely, relieved from captivity. Poole told them this tale; it was believed; and preparations were for a length of time carried on with great secrecy. Horses were stolen cattle slaughtered, and huts plundered, till they were (as was imagined) amply provided for the expedition; in which they were assisted, as proved by the approver, and confirmed as far as actions and words could possibly extend, by the other three prisoners at the bar, he who were hut and stock keepers to gentlemen in the interior. The party set out, and went on pretty rapidly, till a river, of which they had no previous conception, impeded their further progress. A consultation was called; and it was pronounced impossible to overcome this enemy to their fondest expectations; viz that of reaching Timor. The only expedient that appeared to be left, as not the least hope was entertained of tracing the river, was to fell some trees, and thus effect a pass, but, to accomplish this Herculean task, the adventures possessed no implement; and it was found requisite to remain, after having gone 200 miles from Bathurst, for an axel. The horses that had been stolen having been missed, together with the amazing quantity of property that had been purloined, Wm Lawson, Esq the Magistrate at Bathurst, sent a party in quest of them, under the command of Mr Blackman, district constable; and, after several weeks fatigue, this persevering officer succeeded in falling in with a part of the discoverers, who had only just before separated from their companions, and were in the act of about becoming concentrated, to renew their march to Timor. This caption (for such it may well be called) took place about 30 miles from Bathurst. The other prisoners were shortly after taken into custody. Such were the principal features in the singular case; which, however, is not unprecedented in colonial annals. Many of our Readers may remember the expedition to China about 20 years since! As for the property that the prisoners had managed to get together, it was truly astonishing, as well for variety as comfort. To afford some idea of the quantity of property, the enumeration of the articles nearly filled a side of foolscap: and, among the number, the prisoners had provided themselves with a Bible! Our limits will not permit us to say much more upon this trial. The defender of the prisoners went merely to weaken, and to endeavour to destroy, the testimony given by the approver; but that was too ably borne out to be shaken by unsupported assertion. The prisoners were found Guilty. Remanded.


[1] Of the many convict escape attempts, this was among the most ambitious. For other escapes, see Hirst, Great Escapes . On this case, see also in State Records N.S.W. Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Informations, Depositions and Related Papers, 1816-1824, SZ798, p. 492 (no. 36); Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Informations, Depositions and Related Papers, 1816-1824, SZ798, p. 1 (no. 37).


Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University