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

R v Bowen and others [1831] NSWSupC 3

robbery in dwelling house - approver, evidence of - convict escape - bushrangers - information, error in - criminal procedure - capital punishment

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 12 January 1831

Source: Australian, 14 January 1831

Edward Bowen, Charles Westbury, John Mason, Hugh Duffy, Morgan Browne, Patrick Donelly, and John Donovan were again indicted for stealing in the dwelling-house of John Rotten, at Liverpool Plains, and putting the inmates in bodily fear, on the 20th September, 1830.[1 ]

John Jones, the approver, said; in September last, I was a runaway prisoner from a Mountain iron-gang; I accompanied Bowen, Duffey, Finney, Mason, Westbury, and Coffee, to within twenty miles of Rotten's; four of them, Bowen, Duffey, Mason, and Finay, left us at a place called Terrina; they said they would go towards Liverpool Plains, among the stations there, amongst others.  Mr. Rotten's place; I, Coffee, and Westbury remained at Terrina until the other returned; at the end of thee [sic] days, they brought with them five horses and a mare; a fowling piece cut down, an iron pot, some duck trowsers, and shirts, and several other articles; they had not these things with them when they started for Liverpool Plains; they had only one horse and a mare; I got a share of what they brought back, three days after, when they were divided; I had a horse and a musket; there were seven of us at one time all mounted and armed; we intended to go as for as we could into the bush and remain there quiet and contented.  I was one of those who laid that plan; we brought one black woman with us from Liverpool Plains; our design was to break up some ground, and sow what wheat we had; we had two or three hoes with us, and a tomahawk; I myself was concerned personally in robberies, at Mr. McDonald's, Mr. Lawson's, Mr. Holmes' and Mr. Towns'; I also received part of the produce of various other robberies there was a vast quantity of property concerned in the robbery of Mr. Walker's station, in the Bathurst district; when we were going to Mr. Walker's, we stole a horse from Mr. Cox's station, belonging to Mr. Ross.

Bowen, Duffy, Finney, and Mason, guilty; the other prisoners were remanded on the motion of the Crown officer.

Sentence of death was then passed upon the four prisoners, to be carried into execution on Saturday next.[2 ]


[1 ] On 11 January 1831, these men were also put on trial accused of robbery in the dwelling house of John Rotten.  Justice Dowling told the Attorney General that they would have to be acquitted because the place named on the indictment was wrong, as in this case the place was the essence of the offence.  It would have been sufficient to state the place as New South Wales but since a specific, wrong, place was named, the information was bad.  They were then retried the next day, as this report shows.  On these two days, they were tried for several crimes of this kind.  SeeAustralian, 14 January 1831; Sydney Gazette, 13 January 1831.

[2 ] For accounts of the execution of Bowen, Duffy, Finney and Mason, see Sydney Gazette, 18 January 1831; Australian, 21 January 1831.  Duffy announced on the gallows that he had been guilty of a robbery in Ireland, for which another man was presently undergoing transportation.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University