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

R. v. Field [1838] NSWSupC 104

animals, maltreatment - animals, trespassing - gentleman, criminal prosecution of - Burragorang

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Willis J., 12 November 1838

Source: Sydney Herald, 14 November 1838[ 1]

Before Mr. Justice Willis and a Military Jury.

George Bridges Plantagenet Field, Esq., was indicted for maliciously and feloniously killing a horse, the property of Andrew Murray, at Burragorang, on the 16th September.  A second count laid the horse as the property of Walter Rennie Davidson.  The third and fourth counts charged the prisoner with maliciously wounding the horse.

The prisoner is a settler residing near Burragorang, and was formerly an officer in the East Indian Army.  On the 18th September, a mare belonging to Mr. Murray was found dead in a waterhole, and on examination it was discovered that she had been shot in the side.  An assigned servant to Captain Field swore, that on the night of the 16th September he was awoke by the report of a gun, and on getting up he found his master driving the mare which he knew as Farley's mare out of the wheat, and as the mare got over the fence, one rail of which had been taken down, his master fired a second time, but could not have hit her as the near side of the mare was towards him, and on that side there were no injuries.  A female servant swore to hearing her master say that he would shoot the horses that were in the wheat.

The defence set up by Captain Field was, that the whole case was a conspiracy got up by his assigned servants and others.  He acknowledged having fired at the mare on the night in question, but alleged that it was with powder only, for the purpose of frightening her, and on this circumstance he concluded that the whole affair was planned, and that some one else afterwards shot the mare.

His Honor told the Jury that if they believed the prisoner did shoot the mare, they must find him guilty, for where an act of this kind is wilfully done, the law presumes that it is done maliciously.  With respect to the trespass that the mare was committing, for that the prisoner had the usual remedy.  The Jury retired about ten minutes, and returned a verdict of Not Guilty.



[ 1]See also Sydney Gazette, 17 November 1838.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University