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

R. v. Lansdowne [1827] NSWSupC 65

stealing in a dwelling house, fieri facias, sheriff

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 14 November 1827

Source: Australian, 16 November 1827

William Lansdowne was put to the bar, charged with stealing in a dwelling-house, property above the value of 10s.

The indictment contained two counts - the first setting forth the house to be in the occupation of Mary Dillon; and the second laying the occupation of the said house to be in the Sheriff.  The prisoner pleaded not guilty.

From the evidence of several witnesses, it appeared that the prisoner was a subordinate in the Sheriff's department; in his capacity of sub-bailiff he was empowered, under an attachment issued from the Supreme Court Office, to take possession of certain goods and chattels, in the house of one Mary Dillon, an insolvent, and directed not to quit the premises till such time as the debt, for which execution was levied, should be satisfied.  Some part of his conduct, whilst thus engaged, gave rise to suspicions, and two constables were employed as a check upon his movements.  The constables, according to instruction, concealed their persons in a situation convenient to the premises, where they might pass unobserved.  Not long after taking up their station, the constables observed the prisoner coming out of the house, which he was not warranted in doing.  They followed him at a short distance, till the prisoner went into a house in Pitt-street.  He had a bundle in his hand at the time, which he took into the house with him.  The constables then rushed into the house, secured the prisoner and the bundle, which, on being opened, and afterwards shewn to the prosecutrix, she affirmed to contain property of her's, part of which had been given in trust to the prisoner in his capacity of bailiff.  Prosecutrix, on looking over her other shop goods, further discovered those articles to be missing.

The Jury acquitted the prisoner of the capital feature in the indictment, and found him guilty of grand larceny only.[1 ]

The Court then passed sentence on the prisoner of seven years transportation.


[1 ] The Sydney Gazette, 16 November 1827, said that Stephen J. ruled that there was no evidence that the place in which the robbery was committed was a dwelling house, as when the property was taken, no one lived there.

Ann Housley, "an elderly woman" was subsequently tried and found not guilty of receiving the property which Lansdowne had stolen: Australian, 21 November 1827.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University