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

R v Radcliff and Jones [1825] NSWSupC 19

larceny - principal and accessory

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 23 May 1825

Source: Sydney Gazette, 26 May 1825


Thomas Radcliff was indicted for stealing 4 pieces of India print, 1 piece of handkerchiefs, a piece of long cloth, and various other articles, from the house of James M'Goverin, at Parramatta, on the 24th day of January.  Ann Jones was also indicted for receiving the property, knowing it to be stolen.

James M'Goverin examined by Mr. W.H. Moore; resides at Parramatta; was robbed on the night of the 24th of January; the robbers entered through a window, which witness neglected to fasten; knows the property in Court to belong to him.

William Wells examined; is a constable at Parramatta; received information that Mr. MacGoverin's house had been robbed; found the property in the possession of Radcliff, who was carrying it down the street in a bag; he said he was carrying it for Ann Jones; searched the dwelling of Ann Jones, and found some of the goods in her box; took the prisoners into custody.

Hugh Taylor, a constable, corroborated the evidence of the last witness.

Mr. John Thorn examined; is chief constable at Parramatta; on the 28th of February, Ann Jones sent for witness to the gaol, and said that ``she would not be punished for any body;" that she did not commit the robbery; but that she would tell who did; Radcliff told the witness, that if he would place himself in a particular situation, he would overhear a conversation between him and another man, which would convince witness that he was not the robber; heard a conversation between Radcliff and two other men, who were since punished for this robbery.  Radcliff appeared to be the receiver.

The Chief Justice.  ``This is an information against Radcliff as the principal, and Jones as the receiver, for a simple grand larceny.  It is necessary, first, to consider the offence as affecting Radcliff, and then against Jones, for it is a principle in law, that if you do not establish the guilt of the principal, you cannot that of the accessary.  Applying then the law to the case before you, you will judge how far it affects the prisoners in their several characters of principal and accessary; wherever a person is found in the possession of the property of another, it is for him to account for how he came by it; if he cannot, then the law attaches to him the culpability of having stolen it.  The case for you to consider is, whether the property was stolen by Radcliff; if so, then we go on to enquire into the guilt of Ann Jones; if, however, you do not think the case made out against Radcliff, then Ann Jones must be discharged as a consequence."

The Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.

The Chief Justice.  ``As this appears not to be a case free from imputation, I do not think that I shall exercise an unsound discretion in holding the prisoners to bail for their appearance on the 1st day of the next sitting of the Supreme Court, in case an indictment for receiving should be preferred against them

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University