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

R. v. Threlfo, Wood, Sheppard and Wilson [1827] NSWSupC 72

stealing, bill of exchange - Newcastle - sentencing discretion - death recorded

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 28 November 1827

Source: Australian, 30 November 1827



Henry Threlfo, William Wood, Samuel Sheppard, and John Wilson, were indicted;[1 ] the three first as principals in stealing a bill of exchange for 18L 8s. 4d., and the other for receiving the bill, knowing it to have been feloniously acquired.  The indictment contained two counts; one laying the property of the bill in George Streker and John Bromley; the other in John Bromley only.  The bill in question purported to be drawn upon Mr. William Carter, by his overseer of a farm at Hunter's River, a person named Howe, which as the latter had frequently before, and by authority, drawn upon him, Mr. C deposed, that he paid, when presented to him at Newcastle, by Streker and Bromley without bestowing particular attention upon other features of it than the amount and signature, which at that time appeared to him to be genuine, but they had since been considered as forged.

It further appeared, from the evidence of James Clark, a labourer residing at Newcastle, that three of the prisoners, in the month of April last, were drinking together in a house with George Streker, who, becoming deeply intoxicated in the course of the evening, laid down upon a bed in a senseless state.  The prisoners William Wood and Samuel Sheppard walked over him and searched his pockets. - The witness, Clark, said that he observed to the prisoners, Streker had nothing of value about him, but a bill which they would find a difficulty in passing, when Threlfo, said "Oh, yes, we can take it to Mayo, and make some use of it there."  The three prisoners, according to Clark's evidence, then assisted in taking every paper out of Streker's pocket, selecting, from among them the bill in question; possessed of which, they left the house, and threlfo then proceeded to the house of John Mayo, from whom they procured, pen, ink and paper, assigning as a reason, that they wanted to send a letter up the country.  Between 7 and 10 minutes the prisoners were employed in writing, and Mayo happening to rest an eye upon the paper, decyphered from it the word "Carter" and the figures 17, which he swore were written by none other than the prisoners, and to be precisely similar to the note produced on trial.  Here the prisoner Wood addressed Mayo, with, "Pray, do you not know that my name is Carter?"  Mayo, "I do not!"  Prisoner - "Would you swear that my name is not Carter?"  (Great laughter.) - On returning home, in about an hour and a-half after, they put another order into the pocket of Streker, who had not yet slept off the effects of his hard drinking, which order Clark swore was not the one previously taken out of Streker's pocket.  In June last, the stolen order was deposed to have been presented by the prisoner Wilson for payment; at the house of Mr. Boucher, of Newcastle, where it was in the common course of business cashed.

STREKER swore that he had received the order in question from Mr. Carter's overseer, and that it had been stolen from him while in the prisoner's house.

The prisoners called witnesses, who proved nothing in their favor, and the Jury returned a verdict, against all the prisoners, of guilty.  Remanded.[2 ]



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 30 November 1827; Monitor, 3 December 1827.

[2 ] Threlfo, Wood and Sheppard received a sentence of death recorded, and Wilson was sentenced to transportation for 14 years: Sydney Gazette, 3 December 1827; Australian, 6 December 1827.  Death recorded meant a formal sentence of death, without an intention that the sentence would be carried out.  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).

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University