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

R. v. Hoyle [1827] NSWSupC 33

forgery, sentencing discretion, death recorded

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 28 May 1827

Source: Australian, 30 May 1827

Alex. Wm. Hoyle, for a forgery on the Bank of New South Wales, was placed at the bar to receive judgment.

The prisoner (a young man of genteel appearance) came to this colony some years ago as an emigrant, and shortly after his arrival was appointed by the Colonial Government to an office under the Provost Marshal; however, during his continuance in this office, some impropriety of conduct manifesting itself in the prisoner, his accounts were inspected, when a defalcation therein appearing, he was discharged from that situation.  From that time his habits of life became unsettled, and at length brought him to ruin.  It appeared on the trial of this misguided young man, that he left his associates in Sydney, and went to Bathurst; he put up at the New Inn in that neighbourhood, and representing himself to be a traveller in the employ of a firm of extensive business in Sydney, stayed there several days; at length expressing a wish to depart, he requested to be furnished with the bill of his reckoning, and in payment of the same, tendered a cheque for £5 15, purporting to be drawn by Mr. Grose, of Parramatta, on the Bank of New South Wales.  The landlord entertaining no suspicions of the genuineness of the cheque, unhesitatingly cashed it, and gave the prisoner the change; he then went away.  In course of time the cheque was stopped at the Bank, being declared a forgery.  The prisoner said nothing in arrest of judgment, and the Court proceeded to pass sentence.

The Chief Justice said, that the crime of forgery had of late become so common, that it behoved that court, by its judgment, to enable the executive to make an example of such dangerons [sic] characters.  There were three instances of forgery then within the knowledge of the court, the whole of which had been committed very lately; and something was required to be done which would, if not effectually, at least check the increase of crime.  The sentence of the court was that the prisoner be hanged by the neck until his body be dead.  The Judge, however, assured the unfortunate young man, that whatever circumstances of a favourable nature appeared in his case, they should be laid before the proper quarter.[1 ]


[1 ] The Governor. 

Under (1823) 4 Geo. IV c. 48, s. 1, except in cases of murder, the judge had considerable discretion where an offender was convicted of a felony punishable by death.  If the judge thought that the circumstances made the offender fit for the exercise of Royal mercy, then instead of sentencing the offender to death, he could order that judgment of death be recorded.  The effect was the same as if judgment of death had been ordered, and the offender reprieved (s. 2).

Having sentenced Hoyle to death, Forbes C.J. sent his notes on the trial to the governor on 9 June 1827 (Chief Justice's Letter Book , Archives Office of New South Wales, 4/6651, p. 102) for consideration of Crown mercy.  He made no recommendation as to whether the sentence should be carried out.

See also R. v. Emerson, 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University