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

R v Spooner [1832] NSWSupC 94

women defendants in crime - receiving stolen goods - sentencing discretion, doubt as to guilt

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 24 November 1832

Source: Sydney Herald,  26 November 1832[1 ]


Beatrice Spooner having been placed at the bar, the Chief Justice observed that she had been convicted of receiving a certain brooch, alledged to have been stolen by some person or persons unknown, being the property of William Blackwell.  A point had been raised at the time of trial by her Counsel, to the effect, that the only evidence against her was presumption, arising out of the fact of there being found in her possession, a brooch lost three years before.  He (the Chief Justice) pointed out to the Jury, this as a circumstance in favor of the prisoner, and that the length of time which had elapsed, made the case one of doubt and difficulty - of doubt, because it might be doubtful how far a person could speak after a lapse of three years, to a brooch which he had no mark upon it - of difficulty, because it was an article sold in the market and passing from hand, it was difficult after so many years, for a party to show how she came possessed of it.  The Jury, however, had found her guilty, although he thought, justice might have been satisfied by a verdict the other way, at the same time, he had not the slightest doubt as to the propriety of the verdict, for if the Jury were satisfied as to the facts of the case, they were justified in finding that verdict.  Since the trial, he had had the assistance of his learned brethren, and they were all of opinion justice would be satisfied by her being placed before the bar of the Court and fined a light fine, which was, that she should pay a fine to the King of one shilling, and be discharged.



[1 ] See also Australian, 30 November 1832; Sydney Gazette, 27 November 1832; Dowling,Proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 78, Archives Office of New South Wales, 2/3261, p. 205.

For another receiving case in 1832, see R. v. Kain, Dowling, Select Cases, Archives Office of N.S.W., 2/3466, p. 133 (summarised at pp 133-134 as follows: ``Where a prisoner was indicted for knowingly receiving goods stolen by TL who was convicted of that offence before the summary jurisdiction as a prisoner of the Crown.  Held that the record of his conviction was not necessary to be produced, if the fact of stealing can be proved by an eye witness in order to support the case against the receiver."); Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 63, p. 38, Archives Office of New South Wales, 2/3246.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University