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

R. v. Mulligan and Harrup [1834] NSWSupC 87

highway robbery - bushranging - rewards - convict escape - convict clothing - hat making - ticket of leave, as reward - Kissing Point - Bedlam Point - Mounted Police

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 7 August 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 14 August 1834[1 ]

Thursday, August 7, 1834.

Before His Honor Mr. Justice Dowling, and a Military Jury.

James Mulligan and Anthony Harrup, stood indicted for a highway robbery, committed on the person of Samuel Power, at the Bedlam Point road, on the 15th June last, putting him in bodily fear, and forcibly taking from his person one watch, value £5, three keys, one £5 note, and eight £1 notes of the Bank of Australia, and one order or warrant for the payment of money, the property of the said Samuel Power.  The prisoners pleaded Not Guilty.

Samuel Power examined. - I am a horse dealer, and reside in Sydney; on the 15th June last, I had occasion to go to Kissing Point on business; was accompanied on that occasion by a person, named Charles Crowther; we were in a one-horse chaise; after transacting our business, we returned to proceed to Sydney; I cannot tell the precise time of our departure from Kissing Point, it was about the middle of the day; after dinner, we dined at the house of a Mr. Burke, at Kissing Point; it was on Sunday, the 15th June; in returning, we had crossed over the water by the punt, at Bedlam Point, and were proceeding along the road, towards Sydney, when about a mile from the road gang huts, we observed a cart at a short distance on the road, from which a sound of voices proceeded, which impressed me with an idea that some accident had happened, and I observed, to the person who accompanied me, that I thought the cart had been beset with bushrangers; our chaise appearing in sight of the persons at the cart, two men left it and proceeded towards us, one of whom, the prisoner Mulligan, took hold of horses head; the other man, the prisoner Harrup, took a knife out of his pocket, which he sharpened on the tire of the wheel, and holding it towards me said, ``we'll have either your life or your money;" Crowther jumped out of the chaise and gave them a few shillings in silver out of his pocket, when the prisoner, Mulligan, pulled his jacket of; after which, he jumped up behind the chaise and caught me by the back of the neck and held me, while the prisoner, Harrup, unbuttoned my clothes, from which he took my watch, a £5 note, and eight £1 notes, together with an order drawn by Mr. Cox, in favor of Mr. Burke, for £5 6s. 10d., and a set of phleams for bleeding horses; I had good opportunity for observing both the men attentively; I swear positively the prisoners at the bar are the men; the prisoner, Harrup, had a pistol and a large pocket knife, with a buck horn handle, which he flourished about and said, ``your bloody head's off if you speak a word;" the other man held a bludgeon in his hand, which he held over my head, and with which I really believed he would have knocked my brains out, had it not been for the entreaties of Crowther to spare my life; they were with us a considerable time, at least a quarter of an hour; no blows were given, threats were only held out to us; I never stirred out of the chaise; if I had attempted to so, or endeavoured to resist them, the horse would have dashed off with the chaise; the prisoners were dressed in the usual dress of prisoners employed on the roads, &c.; I observed that Mulligan had a black eye; it was a rainy dull afternoon; I don't know whether the sun had set or not; there had been no sun visible that day; it was not dark when the robbery was committed; it might have been an hour and a half after we dined; it was quite light, sufficiently so to allow me to notice the features and persons of the prisoners; after the prisoners had left us, we proceeded on and overtook the cart, which had been first stopped, when the driver informed us that he also had been robbed.  (His Honor here expressed his surprise, that three stout able bodied men had calmly submitted to be robbed by two youths like the prisoners, without offering resistance; had they acted in concert, they could easily have captured them.)  I afterwards saw the prisoners at Parramatta, in custody, on the Saturday following the robbery; I immediately recognised them as the men who had robbed me; I described them on that occasion by their voices, as Lancashire men; I have travelled over a great part of England, and have some experience in that particular; I distinctly observed the mark on the prisoner Mulligan's eye; the prisoners were not dressed when I next saw them, as they were at the robbery; but that did not matter, as they were so long about my person that I could readily have recognised them under any disguise; the robbery was committed about a miles from the road gang, in a lonely part of the road; there was no house nearer than the one we had quitted.

By the Prisoner Mulligan. - The robbery took place before evening; the day being a rainy heady day; I could not well tell whether the sun had gone down or not; we dined at Mr. Burke's a little below the church; and had something to drink after dinner; there was about a pint of rum drank amongst five persons, after which we had a drink of milk each; I went to the gang to which you belong the same night; the constable caused the muster-roll to be called, when it was ascertained that you both were absent.  I picked a man out who I said resembled you, but I did not say he was the man; my companion was perfectly sober, he also was robbed; I believe his loss amounted to a few shillings; he can swear that you were the men as well as I can, if he thinks proper, you are the man who said you you [sic] would blow my brains out; I told you not to take my watch, as it was a family piece; you said at first that you would not take it on that account, but you afterwards did do so.

Charles Crowther. - I am a stable keeper, and hold a ticket-of-leave; I remember going in a one horse chaise, in company with the last witness, on the 15th of June last, to Kissing Point, we were stopped by two men; I think I could know them again if I saw them; it was a dark stormy night, and rained very hard; we dined at one o'clock, at the house of a man named Burke; it was long after dinner we had a gloss of grog each; the robbery took place about an hour after we left Mr. Burke's; one of the men had a knife which he sharpened upon the wheel of the chaise, and addressing himself to me, said, he would cut my head off; the other man was armed with something which I supposed to be a pistol; I gave the man who talked of cutting my head off a few shillings out of my pocket, when the other pulled my jacket off; I was very frightened, never more so in my life; I cannot swear they are the men; I have no objection to prosecute, if I could do so with certainty as to their identity; Mr. Power was sober and so was I; I never saw the men at the bar before; I don't know the description of the men who committed the robbery; they wee something of the size of the prisoners; I did not look at their features; when the man got in the chaise to seize Mr. Power, I begged they would spare his life; the men had neither jackets not waistcoats on at the time; I don't know what sort of shirts they had on; there was not light enough to enable us to distinguish their countenances; the person who had the pistol was about the size of Mulligan; I cannot say he is the man; I thought they were both Irishmen, by their voices; before we were attacked, I saw a cart a little distance before us, and heard the screams of a woman, we thought some accident had occurred; when we came near we saw two men apparently searching a woman in a cart; on seeing us, the man who were in the cart immediately left it, and stopped our chaise, and the cart proceeded onwards; I recognised the female in the cart as Mrs. Isaac Williams; when the men left us I cannot say what direction they took; I was heartily glad of their departure, I assure you; I will not swear that the prisoners at the bar are not the men; to my knowledge I I [sic] never saw them before I saw them at Parramatta, but I will not swear I never saw them before; if one of them had had a black eye, I could not have seen it; I was perfectly sober; I was not disposed to fight under such circumstances. - The man with the cart went away as soon as we came up; his name is Mr. McIver.  This witness underwent a very rigid cross-examination by the Solicitor-General, it appearing that he was unwilling to give his testimony against the prisoners.

John McIver examined - I am a free subject; I was driving my cart on the Bedlam Point Road on the 15th June last; my wife and two children accompanied me; I remember seeing Mr. Power and Crowther, on that day; I was stopped by two men on the road about dusk, and robbed of half-a-crown, and three-half-pence, together with a knife, and some keys; I afterwards saw them stop a chaise on the top of the hill; do not think I should know the persons of the men again; Mulligan is nearly the size of the man who held the horse's head; I had a good opportunity of seeing them; the other man, the smallest of the two, had a pistol in his hand, and searched my pockets; he man who held the horse's head had a stick in his hand, which he raised in a striking position, but no blows were given; they frequently used threats; I think they were dressed in red frocks and light trousers, such as are issued to Government hands, and had straw hats on; they remained ten or twelve minutes; on hearing the approach of the chaise, I told them to take care of themselves, as there was somebody coming; my object in doing so, was in order to get rid of them, as I was apprehensive of danger; in about of a quarter of an hour afterwards, Powers and Crowther overtook me; Power said he would know the men again, I do not recollect Crowther saying that he would not know the persons of the men; the prisoners are nearly the size of the men, but I cannot say they are the same; I saw the prisoners the day or two afterwards at Parramatta, the dress they had on did not correspond with that of the men who robbed me; Mr. Power was perfectly sober when I saw him at Ireland's.  Some astonishment and disapprobation was expressed by the Court and Jury at the conduct of this witness, in not rendering assistance to the persons behind, having been robbed himself, and therefore aware of the object in stopping the chaise.  Witness said I did not hear any alarm behind, and therefore did not consider that my assistance was required.

George Shepherd - I am a corporal of Mounted Police; I apprehended Mulligan on the high road near Longbottom, on the 16th June last, on a Monday, about four o'clock in the afternoon; before I took him, a man came for me, and I went and apprehended him about three quarters of a mile from the Barracks, on a dray; the man who came for me belonged to Mr. Marr, of Sydney; I saw another man run across the paddock as I approached Mulligan, apparently making his escape; he was about the height of Mulligan; I cannot say the prisoners Harrup is that man; Harrup was apprehended the same afternoon; Mulligan could not run away, as he was secured on the dray; I did not tell this to the Magistrates at Parramatta, as I did not think it was necessary; I did not conceal it in order to get the £5 which is the reward for the apprehension of bushrangers; when I apprehended Mulligan, he had two suits of clothes on, one of which was new; they are now produced; I do not know of his having a black eye, I did not take notice, I never take particular notice of such things; he might have had; the outer dress of the prisoner, consisted of a straw hat, blue trousers, white shirt, blue jacket, and the other a sort of slop clothing; I received a certificate of apprehension, on which I am entitled to ten shillings as a reward; I am not aware that a further reward of five pounds will be paid to me on their conviction; I do not conceal the fact of the apprehension of Mr. Marr's man, in order to gain the credit and the reward to myself.  His Honor the Judge, here expressed his extreme disapprobation of the conduct of this witness, whose testimony was extracted with the greatest difficulty, from his evidence disposition to conceal such facts as led to the exposition of the circumstance of the prisoners having been apprehended and secured previously, by the meritorious conduct of a man, who, by the manoeuvering of the witness, is not included as an evidence in the case, although of great importance.  His Honor then directed that the man be sent for to Mr. Marr's.

William Wilson - I am a private of the Mounted Police; I apprehended Harrup near Iron Cove Bridge, on the Parramatta Road, on the 16th June last; he had gone under the Bridge in order to wash himself, when I saw him; on interrogating him, he said he belonged to Grose Farm establishment, and had absconded; it was about four o'clock when I took him; on reaching Longbottom, I was informed that the corporal had apprehended a runaway named Mulligan, who was then in the cells; the prisoners appeared to know each other; the prisoner Harrup had on a black hat, blue waistcoat, white trousers, brown jacket, and a small stock, on which was written the name ``Rowland Hassel," Mulligan had a black eye when I saw him; I think it was the right eye.

James Clarke. - I am an assigned servant to Mr. Henry Marr, of Castlereagh-street; I remember being at my master's farm on the 16th of June last, where I went for a load of fire-wood for my master, about eleven miles from Sydney; I was in the hut, on the farm, when the prisoner, Mulligan, came in and asked if I was the master, I told him I was not; this was about twelve o'clock in the forenoon; the assistant overseer of a road gang, near Parramatta came up and said the man was a runaway from his gang; we immediately secured him, and I pulled my neckerchief off my neck and tied his hands; after which, we put him on the load of wood and secured him with a rope, as he refused to walk; I drove the horse, and left the overseer on the cart to take care of the prisoner; we then brought him to Longbottom, and I went for the police stationed there to take charge of him, and the corporal came and lodged him in the cells; another man overtook us on the road, and told me to stop my horses, and said, if I did not he would stop them himself; he insisted on having the prisoner off the dray; I then leaped over the fence and called the police; when I returned the other man was gone; the prisoner at the bar, Harrup, is the man; he was dressed in blue jacket, white trousers, and black hat; I was not examined before the Magistrates, at Parramatta; I never heard any thing further about it until now; I lived in Sydney at that time, and do now; I told the corporal where I lived; Mulligan had a black eye, but I can't say whether he had it or not when he first came to the hut; the overseer struck him a blow on the mouth, because he was in the act of pulling out a knife; I cannot say for what purpose; I have been five years with my present master, and have never been in any trouble.  His Honor expressed his approbation of the witness's conduct, and recommended him to submit a memorial to the Government for a Ticket-of-Leave, which should be accompanied by His Honor's recommendation.[2 ]  The Solicitor General also intimated to him that the reward of £5, for the prisoner's apprehension, should also be given to him.

The case being closed, the prisoner, Mulligan, in his defence said, that having accumulated a little money by making hats he had left his gang for the purpose of purchasing clothes in Sydney, and was on his return when apprehended.  The prisoner, Harrup, denied being present at the robbery; he had absconded for the purpose of seeing his grandfather, who he found was dead, and was on his return when taken.  His Honor summed up briefly and put the case to the Jury, who pronounced the prisoners guilty.

Sentence of Death was then passed upon the prisoners, his Honor holding out no hope of mercy.[3 ]



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 9 August 1834; and for the trial notes, see Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3283, vol. 100, p. 114.

[2 ] Tickets of leave were an early form of parole, under which convicts were taken ``off the store" which meant that they no longer received government rations.  They were no longer required to work for assigned masters, and could live freely and work for themselves.  The system was introduced by Governor King in about 1800, often as a reward for good behaviour.

The Sydney Gazette, 5 February 1829 said that the ticket of leave system "has in this Colony operated more effectually than any other human expedient, for the restraint of crime, and the promotion of reform".  The newspaper argued, however, that until a new regulation was issued on 1 January 1827, it was a passport to fraud.  Under the new system, prisoners were entitled to a ticket of leave at a fixed period.  Before then, masters played a role in decision to grant it, leaving the system open to personal influence and gratification.  (See also Sydney Gazette, 12 February 1829.)  There was a further new regulation on 17 March 1829, under which females on a seven year sentence of transportation could received a ticket after two years.  Those on a 14 year sentence received one after three years, and prisoners for life were granted a ticket after four years.  According to the Gazette, this was the first time that female convicts received tickets: Sydney Gazette, 19 and 21 March 1829 (twice); and see 1 December 1829.

On 28 October 1834, the Australian argued that the ticket of leave system was like feudal villeinage.  No other issue so clearly divided the conservative press (especially the Herald) from its competitors.

In 1832, the New South Wales Legislative Council passed a new statute to regulate convict escapes and rewards: see Australian, 20 April 1832.

[3 ] Mulligan and Harrup were hanged on 11 September 1834: Australian, 12 September 1834; Sydney Gazette, 13 September 1834.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University