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

R. v. Langton [1827] NSWSupC 29

forgery, confession, currency, usury

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 14 May 1827

Source: Sydney Gazette, 16 May 1827

Henry Langton was indicted for forging and uttering a bill of exchange for 5l. 15s., 6d. sterling, purporting to bear the acceptance of Mr. Matthew John Gibbons, with intent to

defraud one James Crisp, of George-street, Sydney.

It appeared in evidence that the prisoner, who is a clerk in the office of the Civil Engineer, brought a bill drawn on Mr. Gibbons, of the Lumber-yard, for 5l. 15s. 6d. payable when he (Mr. Gibbons) should receive the prisoner's salary, on the 1st of July, to the prosecutor Crisp, who is a publican, in George-street telling him that he was in immediate want of some money, and offered it to him at a premium.  Crisp agreed to purchase the bill, which had then two months to run, of 5l. 15s. 6d. sterling, for 3l. 10s. currency, that is, at a discount of something about 47 per cent. for the two months, and 550 per cent per annum, but stipulated that it should be guaranteed by the acceptance of Mr. Gibbons.  The prisoner went away, and shortly after returning with the bill bearing the required signature, M. J. Gibbons, received the money, and Crisp received the note.  This occurred on Saturday.  On Sunday, however, the prisoner, as he stated in his defence, felt considerable remorse for the act of which he had been guilty, and on Monday morning, went to the house of Crisp, and having seen him, said that he had something with which to acquaint him, but begged that he would take no advantage of his communication.  Crisp at once informed him, that he might rely on it, if he (the prisoner) put himself in his power in any way, he would prosecute him.  The prisoner, however, confessed that he had forged the acceptance of Mr. Gibbons, but that, notwithstanding, the note was sure to be answered when presented, according to the tenor of its date, as Mr. Gibbons, who pays the salaries of all persons employed in the Engineer Department, would, on the day specified, have that amount in his hands to pay over to the prisoner or his order.  Crisp, however, refused to come to any terms of accommodation, but gave the prisoner until the following morning at eight o'clock to refund the money he had advanced him, or that he would then give him in charge of a constable; and the prisoner, failing to make his payment good by the allotted time, was given in charge to a constable.

Witnesses were examined to prove the endorsement a forgery; but the prisoner, who conducted his own defence in a very ingenious manner made it appear, from the evidence of Mr. Gibbons, on whom the note was drawn, that had it been presented according to its date, it would have been regularly paid, and the Jury believing, from all the circumstances of the case, that no intention to defraud Crisp existed, acquitted the prisoner, who, after a feeling admonition from His Honor Mr. JUSTICE STEPHEN, was discharged.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University