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

R. v. Dick and Jasper [1829] NSWSupC 31

receiving stolen goods - convict evidence - convicts, attitude of Dowling J. towards


Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 26 May 1829

Source: Australian, 30 May 1829


Mr. Justice Dowling having taken his seat, Alexander Dick and Thomas Jasper were put to the bar, and indicted as the receivers of a certain quantity of plate, the property of A. McLeay, the same being stolen, of which fact they had acknowledged.[1 ]

The Solicitor General appeared on behalf of the Crown, and Messrs. Wardell and Wentworth on the part of Dick.[2 ]

It appeared in evidence, that an assigned servant of the name of Robertson lived with Dick in the latter part of the year 1826, who directed him to purchase some spoons from the prisoner Jasper, for which purpose he gave him a Spanish twenty dollar note -- the spoons were paid for, and taken home -- they appeared to have been rough filed, for the purpose of taking off some crest or ornamental work.  When Dick saw them, he remembered that they were part of the plate stolen from Mr. McLeay.  Being questioned, he said a notice had been left at his house, describing the plate.  Mr. Hyndes had given an order to the prisoner Dick for some spoons.  Part of that order was completed with the spoons bought of Jasper, who expressed a wish on selling them, "that Dick would melt them down."  Dick stamped his own dye upon the London Hall mark, and sent the spoons, according to agreement, to Mr. Hyndes's, two or three days afterwards.  After the spoons were brought to Dick's house, they were filed, 'neeled, pickled, &c. -- that is, the handles went through the process, although the bowls remained in their former state.  They were half polished and half burnished.

Here the robbery was proved by the testimony of Mr. McLeay, who with other witnesses deposed, that the crest on these spoons was a stag's head and ornamental shell.  They were of English manufacture.  The crest &c. was obliterated, and the remains of the English Hall mark were visible.  Other punches had been made over it.  The remains of a lion mark can also be traced.  R. P. was also quite perceptible, which denoted R. Pearce, a noted spoonmaker in Banner-street, Bunhill-row, London.  Those spoons are not in the same state.  When first made they were polished.  Since which they have gone through the process of kneeling.  No English manufacturer would send spoons out in such a state.  The bowls were hard and the handles soft.  This was the evidence produced on behalf of the Crown.

The prisoner Jasper being called on for his defence, stated, that the period alluded to in the course of the proceedings, was 1826, at which time he was an assigned servant to Mr. Myers (since dead).  That he never had any dealings whatever with the witness Robertson, and knew nothing of him.

Dick being asked by the Court, if he intended making a defence, replied, "I leave all to my Counsel."  The following evidence was then given in his favor. -- That the witness Robertson had declared he would be revenged of the prisoner Dick.  That he would make him lose all he had gained, on account of the punishment he had got him.  That Dick had bought some spoons of Myers, which were stolen from Mr. McLeay, and that he would not forget to gratify his animosity against the prisoner, if it were five years hence.

Several witnesses deposed, that they would not believe Robertson's oath.  Mr. Malcolm stated, that he believed him capable of swearing that the moon was made of "green cheese," if it was possible to gain any thing by so doing.  That he had known Dick for several years, and believed him to be an honest and industrious man.  Mr. Robertson and Mr. Roberts deposed to a similar effect.

The following gentlemen were called on, viz -- Messrs. Kinghorne, Terry, Gibbons, and Barker, who deposed that they had known Dick for many years, and always considered him strictly honest, and deserving of support.  Mr. Kinghorne particularly gave testimony as to his knowledge of the prisoner, who came to this colony in the same vessel with him.  That during the voyage he had frequent opportunities of observing his conduct, which, connected with his behaviour in this country, he had every reason to be satisfied with.  He believed him to be an upright, industrious young man.

Here the defence closed, and the learned Judge proceeded to sum up the evidence, on which he commented at considerable length.  The Jury retired for half an hour, and returned into Court, having found both prisoners guilty.[3 ]

With the sincerest satisfaction we record (Mr Justice Dowling remarks), in reference to the evidence given by two persons on the part of Dick, who, it appeared, had been formerly prisoners.  His Honor observed, "that he felt a sincere pleasure in bearing testimony to the respectable and honest evidence given this day by witnesses who had arrived in this Colony under particularly unpleasant circumstances.  That the character of men so circumstanced, who had shewn after their arrival in this country a desire to atone to society and the laws for the commission, perhaps in youth, of a slight offence, should never, so long as he had the honor to sit in that Court, be subjected to reproach or vituperation.  That where such men had evinced a disposition to become good and upright members of society, he would feel called upon to protect them from insult and domination."  These observations were delivered with much energy, and received by a crowded court with manifest tokens of regard.



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 28 May 1829.  Dick was a silversmith: Australian, 2 June 1829.

[2 ] Jasper was undefended: Sydney Gazette, 28 May 1829.

[3 ] Dick was sentenced to transportation for seven years, and Jasper to three years on the roads in irons: Sydney Gazette, 9 June 1829; Australian, 9 June 1829.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University