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

R. v. Browne and Cordingly

stealing in dwelling house

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 8 February 1827

Source: Sydney Gazette, 9 February 1827

John Browne and David Cordingly were indicted for stealing in the dwelling-house of James Nigh, and putting in fear his wife, Catherine Nigh, at Cabramatta, on the 23d of December last.

Catherine Nigh stated, that on Saturday, the 23d of December, about 12 o'clock in the day, three men armed, whom she at first took to be constables, came into the house, when one of them, telling her not to be frightened, said they came to look for arms; witness said there were no arms in the house, and told them they might search, when the tallest of the three, who wore a white hat with a green ribbon, began shaking a partition that divided the two rooms, at which witness remonstrating, thinking he was about to pull it down, the prisoner Browne came forward, and said he would blow her b--dy brain out if she said a word, at the same time presenting a pistol at her; after they had searched every part of the house they went away, taking with them some wearing apparel which was hanging on the pailing outside the house.  Witness identified the property shewn.

Frederick Meredith, Chief Constable of Liverpool, deposed, that he, in company with two of the mounted Police, apprehended the prisoner at Cabramatta Creek, on the morning of the 25th of December; there were three men, the two prisoners, and one tall man who made his escape, leaving a white hat with a green ribbon behind him.  The property before the Court was found with the prisoners, together with some other articles.

James Turner, one of the mounted Police, accompanied the last witness in pursuit of the prisoners; was not present when they were apprehended; was in the Police-office at Liverpool when they were brought up for examination.  Catherine Nigh identified Browne, as the man who presented the pistol.

The CHIEF JUSTICE, in summing up, told the Jury that the information against the prisoners was under a particular statute which took away the benefit of clergy from the offence of taking property being in the inside of a dwelling, and putting any person therein in bodily fear.  It was, however, in evidence before them, that, in the present case, the property was not taken from the inside, and the offence, therefore, was reduced to a simple grand larceny.  If they were satisfied that the prisoner took the property in the way which had been stated by the witness, they would find them guilty of stealing the articles laid in the information.  The Jury returned a verdict accordingly.

The same prisoners were again indicted for a similar offence, committed in the dwelling-house of James Shady, at Cabramatta, on the 23d of December last.  Guilty.  Remanded.[1]


[1] They were sentenced to be hanged.  Governor Darling ordered that the executions take place at Liverpool: Darling to Forbes, 22 February 1827, Chief Justice's Letter Book , Archives Office of New South Wales, 4/6651, p. 94.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University