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

R. v. Hammond (1829) NSW Sel Cas (Dowling) 321; [1829] NSWSupC 37

robbery, slight force - death recorded


Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., Stephen and Dowling JJ, 6 June 1829

Source: Dowling, Select Cases, Vol. 2, Archives Office of N.S.W., 2/3462

[p. 194] [The slightest struggle on the part of a person robbed, to retain his property when assaulted will sustain a charge of robbery.]

Saturday 6 June 1829

Rex v Thomas Hammond

The prisoner Hammond was tried and convicted of a robbery before Forbes CJ.[1 ]  It appeared in evidence that the prosecutor was met after nightfall in Sydney by the prisoner who ran against him purposely, the prosecutor was thrown down by the prisoner and they had a struggle.  Some other persons came up and the prisoner ran away.  The prosecutor immediately discovered that his watch chain was broken, and part of the chain and the seals gone.  next day he found the broken chain near the spot.  He had felt the prisoner snatching at his watch where the prisoner was now brought up for judgment.

Rowe objected that there was not here sufficient force or violence proved to [p. 195] constitute a robbery in as much as the prisoner had only snatched at the prosecutors watch.  He cited Rex v Baker 1 Leach 290 and the cases thereof referred to in notes.

Per Curiam  The slightest struggle in obtaining the property or resistence on the part of the prosecutor is sufficient to constitute a robbery. 

Dowling J. cited the modern case of Rex v Mason R & R.417. as quite decisive.

Sentence of death was recorded.



[1 ] For an account of the trial, see Sydney Gazette, 23 May 1829.  Hammond's sentence of death recorded was noted by Sydney Gazette, 9 June 1829; Australian, 9 June 1829.

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