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

R v Pritchard, Cooper, Rawson, Hunt and Brookes [1826] NSWSupC 42

piracy - convict escape - Newcastle - perjury

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 14 July 1826

Source: Australian, 15 July 1826


Joseph Pritchard, John Cooper, James Rawson, Thomas Hunt, and Thomas Brookes, were severally indicted for pirating a vessel, called the brig "Garnet,"[1 ]in the month of April last on the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the admiralty of the Supreme Court - being within a half-mile distance from Newcastle, on the Eastern Coast of New Holland, and putting in bodily fear William Wossell, master of said brig.

It appeared that the "Garnet" brig was cut from her moorings at Newcastle, by some men, prisoners of the crown there, who put out with her to sea, but being bad seamen, and finding their incompetency to retain her, deserted the vessel and the men went on shore.

The evidence intended to be offered to affect the prisoners as being the pirates - was, that of two men admitted approvers.

JOHN LEE sworn - examined - Knows nothing about the seizure of the Garnet schooner by the prisoners - did say something about it before the Magistrates at Newcastle, but was then laboring under the effects of inebriety.

GEORGE WILLIAMS was called, and spoke to the same effect.

The Attorney-General[2 ] gave up the prosecution.

The Judge observed, that there was something particular in that conduct of the two witnesses - His Honor thought that the men had given wilfully corrupt evidence. - If the Attorney-General was of the same opinion, it would be advisable that the parties should be proceeded against.  In any other case than the present where a witness would not be called on to give evidence, that would affect himself. - The Court in the exercise of its authority, would commit the offenders, at once, for wilful and corrupt perjury.

The Attorney-General expressed his determination to proceed against the two evidences - they were then detained in cust[od]y.  The five prisoners were acquitted. 



[1 ] Called the "Gurnett" by the Monitor, 28 July 1826.  The trial was also reported by the Sydney Gazette on 15 July 1826.

[2 ] Saxe Bannister.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University