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

R. v. Walker, Barlow and Jackson [1834] NSWSupC 49

robbery - convicts, gaol gangs - convict escape - Liverpool - Lansdowne Bridge

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 1 May 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 5 May 1834[ 1]

ROBBERY BY CONVICTS IN THE

GOVERNMENT GANGS.

Thursday.  -  Before His Honor Judge Dowling, and a Civil Jury.

John Walker, John Barlow, and Wm. Jackson, were indicted for a robbery in the dwelling-house of John Stubbs, at Liverpool, on the 19th February.  It appeared from the evidence of the prosecutor, that himself and wife were at their residence in the evening of the day named in the indictment, but did not retire to rest at the usual time, as a traveller with some cattle was expected, and they wished to be prepared for his accommodation; about twelve o'clock a sound of footsteps was heard at the door, and the prosecutor arose from his bed, where he had lain down in his clothes, and asked ``Who's there!" a voice outside then ordered the door to be opened, which was done accordingly, when the prisoner Walker entered, and turning to the others said ``do not fire:" they then commenced pillaging the house of every article that was moveable; Jackson rifled the pockets of prosecutor's wife; having tied up the plunder they departed.  The prosecutor immediately gave information of the robbery to the Mounted Police, describing the dress of the prisoners, and their general appearance.  The prisoner Jackson was described as a Welchman.

Patrick Dunn, of the Mounted Police, deposed that on the morning of the 19th of February, about two o'clock, the prosecutor gave information of a robbery which had been committed at his house, by three men, whom he described; on receiving the information, witness and a comrade, of the name of Hoy, (who is now in the Hospital), proceeded to the Lansdowne Bridge party, about two miles distant, and on mustering the gang, three men were absent; the policemen remained at the overseer's hut awaiting their return, orders being given to the assistant-overseer to give immediate information of their approach; in about an hour the two prisoners Jackson and Barlow returned, their dress exactly corresponding with the description given by the prosecutor; the night was very wet and dark; on being interrogated as to where they had been, Barlow said he had been fishing, Jackson, that he had been taking a walk; their clothes were saturated with wet; they had no fish, fishing tackle, nor other instrument with them.  While the policemen were securing them, the prisoner Walker arrived at the camp, and entered his own hut by the chimney, but understanding that the police were there, he returned by the chimney, and effected his escape.  The prisoners attached to these gangs are not allowed to be absent from the camp after their return from work.

Richard Newman, Principle Overseer of the Lansdowne Bridge Party, corroborated the testimony of the last witness.  The prisoners put some questions to this witness, the object of which was to account for their being wet by shewing that the huts were in a bad state in wet weather, and that they had been obliged to get up from their beds in order to repair them; the witness admitted that the rain came in through the huts, but not to the extent alluded to by the prisoners, they were tenantable.

Sergeant Quigley, of the Mounted Police, deposed that the met the prisoner Walker on the Old Prospect-road, on the 23rd of February, about two miles from Parramatta; the prisoner on seeing him went to the rear of a hut to evade him, suspecting he was a runaway, he apprehended him; he had on a straw hat, a grey jacket, and Parramatta trousers; the prisoner said he was a runaway from the New Country, but it was ascertained at Parramatta, that he had absconded from Lansdowne Bridge Party; at the Police Office, Parramatta, the prosecutor recognised him as one of the three men who had robbed him, he made the statement in the presence of the prisoner, but he made no reply.

Isaac Smith, now gate keeper at the Prisoner's Barracks, Parramatta, was in Lansdowne Bridge Party; on the 19th of February, remembers Walker entering his own hut by the chimney, but returning the same way immediately; witness's hut adjoined that of the prisoner's, and the opening in the bark (of which the huts are composed) enabled him to see him, there was a fire in the hut that made a good light.  The prisoners cross-examined this witness at some length, tending to impeach his credibility.  The prisoners Barlow and Jackson made no defence, further than to declare their innocence; Walker accounted for absconding, by stating that no assignment of servants were ever made from Lansdowne Bridge Party, and as he wished to get a master, he thought by absconding he might get some slight punishment, and have a chance of being transferred to some other gang.  His Honor recapitulated the evidence, and left the case in the hands of the Jury, who returned a verdict of Guilty against all the prisoners, but recommended them to mercy, on account of their youth, and not having used any violence in committing the robbery.

His Honor acting upon the humane recommendation of the Jury, ordered sentence of Death to be recorded against them.

 

Notes

[ 1] See also Sydney Gazette, 3 May 1834; and for the trial notes, Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3278, vol. 95, p. 187.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University