Skip to Content

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

R v Greg [1836] NSWSupC 55

highway robbery - bushrangers

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling A.C.J., 8 August 1836

Source: Sydney Herald, 11 August 1836[1 ]

John Greg, a ticket-of-leave holder, at Liverpool, was indicted for committing a highway robbery on the Liverpool road, and Margaret Lyons was indicted for receiving part of the property so stolen.  Not Guilty.

John Greg was then indicted for committing a highway robbery on Joseph Greenfield, and taking from him eleven half crowns and other money, at Cabramatta, on the 20th May last.

It appeared from the evidence of the prosecutor, that he is overseer to Mr. Gurner, at Cabramatta, that about eight o'clock of the morning laid in the indictment, the prisoner entered his hut with a gun in his hand, and asked him if his name was Joe, which he denied; but the prisoner said it was no use his saying so, for he knew that he had been giving information about bushrangers, and had been making himself busy about him, and he must come.  The prosecutor then left the hut with the prisoner, and when they had proceeded about a quarter of a mile, they came to a ``swag" of stolen property, which the prisoner made the prosecutor carry for him to a gully that was two or three miles off, where they remained all day.  Among the things which they had carried, was a keg containing rum, of which the prisoner partook, and gave some to the prosecutor, at the same time telling him not to drink too much, as it was a bad thing for a man to die in a state of intoxication.  When evening arrived, the prisoner, said he must have some money, and he knew the prosecutor had some, and they returned towards the hut, when the prosecutor went to a stump where had had planted some money, and gave the prisoner eleven half crowns and seven shillings, but the prisoner said that was only a trifle, and he must have some notes, and under pretence of going to get some notes, the prosecutor inveigled him to a tree a short distance from the hut, where he was apprehended.  When they came to the tree, the prisoner cocked his musket, and said that if he had been brought there under pretence of getting money and there was none, he would shoot him.  In order to gain time, the prosecutor commenced scraping the dirt away from the stump of the tree, and said that the money was so deep, he did not think he could get at it without a spade, and wanted to go to the house for one, but the prisoner said if he offered to stir, he would shoot him, and he kept scraping until the Policeman put his carbine to the prisoner's head, and asked him who he was.

Mr. Meredith, Chief Constable at Liverpool, stated, having been informed that Big Jack (the prisoner) had taken old Joe (the prosecutor) away from the hut; he, in company with a Mounted Policeman, went to the farm, and finding the intelligence to be correct, they turned their horses into the paddock, and determined to watch about all night.  They were standing near the house about nine o'clock, when they heard voices at a distance, and soon afterwards they saw a man standing at a distance; they crept down towards him, and were not seen until the Policeman touched the man with his gun and spoke to him; at the same moment the prosecutor, who was scratching the ground away from the root of a tree, and whom they had not seen before, jumped up and said take him, he is a bushranger, and wrenched the musket out of the prisoner's hand.  On searching him they found eleven half crowns and seven shillings in his breast, with fresh earth on them, as if they had been planted.

Constable Thomas stated, that on the 16th April, he received directions to go to Mr. Moore's house and bring a female Convict to the watch-house; when he arrived there, he found she had absconded, and he returned towards home; on his road he entered a public-house, and had not been there many minutes when the prisoner entered and called for a pint of rum, which was served to him.  As he was leaving the house he took up the musket, which was standing by his side, and said stand off, or I will shoot you, and ran away with it.  The musket now produced was the one.

The prisoner made no defence.  Guilty.

Mr. Justice Burton enquired of Meredith if he knew the prisoner.  Meredith said that he had only known him about two years, when he entered the district with his ticket.  Up to the 16th April, the day on which he stole the musket from Thomas, he had always been a hard working man, and had earned a deal of money at fencing.  From that day to the 20th May, when he was apprehended, scarcely a day passed that he did not commit a robbery.  Mr. Justice Burton then enquired if there were any other charges against him, and the Crown Counsel said three, but he did not consider it necessary to prefer any others; but His Honor said he should like to hear another case, and not the stealing of the musket from the constable.  The Court then adjourned.[2 ]



[1 ] See also Australian, 12 August 1836.

[2 ] Greg was sentenced to death: Sydney Gazette, 20 August 1836; Australian, 23 August 1836; Sydney Herald, 22 August 1836.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University