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

R. v. Thorn [1834] NSWSupC 48

stealing, cattle - witness, absence of - magistrates, action against - Parramatta

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Burton J., 1 May 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 5 May 1834[ 1]

James Thorn alias Taylor, stood indicted for stealing six, head of horned cattle, the property of Mrs. Elizabeth Piesley.

Mr. Sharp, a butcher, residing in Sydney, deposed that he purchased six head of cattle from the prisoner, who informed him that he had purchased them from Mr. Lowe; the prisoner gave his name on that occasion as James Wilmott; there were five bullocks and a heifer; the sum paid to the prisoner for the cattle was £15; witness slaughtered the cattle save one, when a person named Snowden, came and identified it as one which had been stolen out of his paddock; witness afterward saw the prisoner at Parramatta, as soon as he saw witness he run off; Mr. Curtis, a butcher, who accompanied witness from Sydney, followed and apprehended him; witness reproached prisoner with selling him stolen cattle, but he persisted in stating that that they were his own; the hide of the beast which Snowden saw alive in the possession of witness, was identified by him at Parramatta.

The prosecutrix deposed that she had deposited six head of cattle to the care of Snowden, about one mile and a half from Parramatta, but was unable to speak as to the description of them.

George Gardner saw the prisoner paid for some cattle; the receipt given on the occasion was in witness' hand writing.

The witness Snowden not appearing when called on, His Honor directed his recognizance to be produced in order to their being estreated, but on their production, to the surprise of the Court, it appeared that the names of the Magistrates had not been subscribed.  His Honor observed that, perhaps it was some unpaid Magistrate who did not wish to take too much trouble in the public service.

The Solicitor General - No, you Honor, it is Captain Wright, the Police Magistrate of Parramatta.

His Honor - Mr. Solicitor General, I feel that I should not be doing my duty, if I did not direct you to take out a rule returnable on the 10th May, calling upon Captain Wright to shew cause why he should not be fined; for, although the Act, 7 Geo. IV., cap. 64, gives to Magistrates a discretion as to the taking of recognizances, yet it enjoins that when taken, they shall be taken in legal form.

Henry Snowden who now appeared, deposed that he had had six head of cattle in his possession; they belonged to the prosecutrix; they were missed out of the paddock in March last; had no knowledge of the prisoner; in answer to some questions put by the prisoner, witness stated that there was a charge of highway robbery preferred against him, but it was dismissed; was never tried for cattle stealing.

The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty, when His Honor passed upon the prisoner sentence of transportation for life.



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 3 and 22 May 1834.  Contrary to the claim by the Sydney Herald, the trial was held before Burton J., not Dowling J.: see Burton, Notes of Criminal Cases, State Records of New South Wales, 2/2414, vol. 11, p. 3.  See also Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3280, vol. 97, p. 1.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University