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

R. v. Hitchcock and others [1838] NSWSupC 54

Port Phillip - Melbourne - stealing from dwelling house - convict escape

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Willis J., 4 June 1838

Source: Sydney Herald, 7 June, 1838[ 1]

William Hitchcock, William Lavender, William Trigg, William Bamfield, George West, and James Luff were indicted for stealing one gun and one pistol from the dwelling-house of James Simpson, at Melbourne, Port Phillip, on the 11th of March, one Richard Plummer being therein put in bodily fear.

The prisoner were all runaway convicts, and went to the station of Mr. Simpson, where a free man named Plummer, resided; and after promising not to hurt him if he remained quiet and made them some tea, they pillaged that and the adjoining hut of a great quantity of property.  After remaining for three or four hours in the hut they went away, and the following morning Hitchcock and Lavender returned, and asked whether Tobin, the master of a small cutter called the Childe Harold, had come to the hut, and being told he had not they said they would wait until he did; and in a few minutes afterwards when he arrived, Lavender clapped a pistol to his head, and told him that if he attempted to stir he would blow his brains out.  Hitchcock then went for the other men, with whom he returned in about an hour.  The property they had stolen being too heavy to carry they went to Mr. Wedge's, a neighbouring station, taking Plummer with them for fear he should give an alarm.  When they got to Mr. Wedge's the bullock driver was yoking his bullocks, and they made him take his dray to Mr. Simpson's station, where they loaded it with the property they had stolen, which they conveyed several miles through the bush until they came to the river where the cutter Childe Harold was lying; they seized the cutter, took the property on board, and got under weigh.  The Revenue Cutter Ranger was immediately sent in pursuit by water, while a party of Mounted Police, that had arrived overland the day before, was despatched along the beach, to intercept them if they attempted to land.  The Ranger overhauled them so closely that they were obliged to quit the vessel and go on shore, and were taken by the police about sixty miles from the settlement.  A large quantity of the stolen property was found in their possession.  They were well armed, having between them six guns, some of them double barrelled, and ten pistols; but they did not attempt to make any resistance.  Bamfield was the only prisoner who made any defence; he said that the only object they had was to obtain their liberty; the arms they took to protect themselves from the natives, and had no intention of injuring their fellow-subjects; they all acknowledged they had broken the laws of their country, and threw themselves upon the mercy of the Court.  The jury, without retiring from the box, returned a verdict of guilty.  Death recorded.



[ 1]See also Australian, 8 June 1838; Sydney Gazette, 7 June 1838.  Along with other trials from Melbourne, this trial was held in Sydney on 4 June 1838.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University