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

R. v. Jefferson [1834] NSWSupC 12

perjury, law of - pillory - alcohol, rate of consumption

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 20 February 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 24 February 1834[ 1]

Thursday. - Before His Honor the Chief Justice, and a Civil Jury.

Lowther Jefferson, was indicted for wilful and corrupt perjury, in swearing on the trial of the King v. James Lacey, for striking William Shean with an axe; that the said William Shean was walking away, when constable Barlow came to his assistance, when in truth and in fact, the said William Shean was lying senseless.

William Shean was examined, and deposed that he saw Jefferson sworn on the day named in the indictment, who gave his evidence on the part of Lacy.  The evidence on that occasion as adduced by the defendant, was as stated above; but the witness recollects nothing of the transactions of that day, after the blow was given, until on coming to himself, he found he was in his house, lying on a bed.

William Barlow, constable, examined - stated that he saw defendant examined on his oath, and that he swore he saw Shean walking to his own house: the witness recalling him; he gave him into the hands of the persons who were collected about him, whilst he went for a surgeon.

Peter Duffey deposed that he was in Bathurst-street on the day in question; that Shean on being lifted from the ground, walked into the house with the assistance of those about him.

Mr. Rowe then quoted Russel on Crimes, 2d vol., p. 792, and the 3rd of Stanley on Evidence, to prove that the allegation contained in the information, charging the defendant with corrupt and wilful perjury, and had not been borne out; he was, therefore, entitled to acquittal, as there was nothing on the face of the evidence to bring the case to go before the Jury.  He considered the evidence adduced by defendant, to have been facts, in support of which he alluded to the testimony of Duffey.

This the Judge over-ruled, as he considered it a proper case for the Jury.[ 2]

Anne Western, on the part of the defendant, was then called, and deposed that she assisted Shean into his house; that he walked in a stooping positions, being weak from the loss of blood.

Robert Collins also deposed to the same facts.

Henry Jennings, John Reed, and Richard Holmes, were then called, who gave the defendant an excellent character for honesty, though a little addicted to liquor.

The learned Judge then summed up, touching most minutely on the different testimonies brought before the Court.  He explained the law concerning perjury to the Jury,[3 ]and instructed them to consider well and deliberately the nature of the allegation; and to consider whether upon the evidence adduced, the defendant was guilty or not guilty, of the crime imputed to him.

The Jury retired for about twenty minutes, and then returned, giving a verdict of Guilty, but recommended him to the mercy of the Court, from the testimony that had been received of his general good conduct.


Forbes C.J., Dowling and Burton JJ, 24 February 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 27 February 1834[4 ]


Lowther Jefferson, indicted for perjury - Transportation for seven years.

Judge Burton then addressed the prisoner - On your trial it appeared that an information had been laid against James Lacey, for assaulting a man by the name of Shean.  On that occasion, you swore that when the constables came up, Shean was walking away; whereas, in truth and in fact, Shean was lying down insensible.  Your evidence, was, therefore, given with an intent to poison and corrupt the source of justice; the crime you are accused of, is of so aggravated a nature, that I, and my brother Judges, have come to a determination to punish such offence to the extent of the law.  The sentence therefore is, that you be transported for seven years.



[ 1] See also Sydney Gazette, 22 February 1834; Australian, 21 February 1834.  On perjury, see also R. v. Tracey, R. v. Reynolds and R. v. Whiley, Sydney Gazette, 20 May 1834.  In the latter, Whiley was sentenced to be imprisoned in Windsor gaol for one month, during which he was to be publicly exposed in the pillory, and then to be transported for seven years.  The evidence in that case showed that six people consumed twelve gallons of beer in two hours; they were all servants at the Windsor hospital.

[2 ] According to the Sydney Gazette, 22 February 1834, Rowe argued that the information charged that Sheehan was in a different location than had been proved.  Chief Justice Forbes held, however, that the place was immaterial to this charge, which concerned time.


[3 ] This included that the false-swearing had to be wilful and corrupt, not inadvertent: Sydney Gazette, 22 February 1834.

[4 ] See also Australian, 28 February 1834; Sydney Gazette, 27 February 1834.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University