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

Donnison v. Fisher [1838] NSWSupC 31

Brisbane Water cases - criminal procedure

Supreme Court of New South Wales

In banco, Dowling C.J., Burton and Willis JJ, 24 March 1838

Source: Sydney Herald, 26 March, 1838[ 1]

Mr. Foster said he had been instructed by Henry Donnison, Esq., to move for a rule ordering Francis Fisher, Esq., the Crown Solicitor to furnish him with copies of certain depositions.  Mr. Donnison's affidavit set forth that he was committed to take his trial by Captain Faunce on certain charges of cattle stealing; that he believed the depositions in the case were in the hands of the Crown Solicitor, who refused to furnish him with copies thereof, although he had expressed his willingness to pay for the expense of copying them; the only object for which he required them, was to shew his friends in England the grounds upon which the Attorney General had placed him upon his trial.

The Chief Justice said that Mr. Donnison had been acquitted, which was proof to the whole world of his innocence; besides which he had recovered damages from Captain Faunce.

Mr. Justice Burton said that the only grounds on which they could order copies was, that he intended to bring an action against the committing magistrates for a malicious prosecution.

The Attorney General said he did not know what was meant by this flourish, but all who had heard the trials, knew that Mr. Donnison got copies of the depositions.  Any body that read the newspapers must know that Mr. Donnison had published a farago of nonsense, as it had been very properly called, from the depositions which he was applying for.



[ 1] See also Australian, 27 March 1838; Sydney Gazette, 29 March 1838; and see Bean v. Faunce, 1837; Donnison v. Faunce, 1837; Faunce v Cavenagh, 1838; Moore v. Faunce, 1838.

On these Brisbane Water Cases, see P.E. Tabuteau (ed.), The Brisbane Water Case 1837-8, Gosford District Local History Study Group, Narara, 1989.

In 1838, the British government announced its intention to end of the system of assigning convicts to work for private masters.  See Glenelg to Gipps, 30 June 1838, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol. 19, 461-462.  In the meantime, Governor Gipps was placing it under tighter restrictions, including the abolition of assignments of males in towns and as domestic servants: Gipps to Glenelg, 8 October 1838, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol. 19, 603-604, and see 616, 679 and 773 on the British government's approval of these restrictions.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University