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

R. v. Stokes, Bright and Sloper [1838] NSWSupC 5

highway robbery - Lapstone Hill

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Willis J., 13 February 1838

Source: Sydney Herald, 15 February, 1838[ 1]

Felix Stokes was indicted for assaulting James Fox, on Lapstone Hill, on the 30th December, and robbing him of £107 14s. 3d., in money and orders; and John Bright and George Sloper were indicted for being accessaries before the fact.

The prosecutor is a sergeant of the 80th regiment, stationed at the stockade at the Seventeen-mile Hollow on the Bathurst Road.  The prisoner Stokes is a sawyer residing in that neighbour hood, and the other prisoners were convicts attached to the stockade.  Fox is in the habit of making a monthly visit to Penrith for the purpose of purchasing supplies for the use of his men.  On the 27th December, the prisoners Bright and Sloper were despatched from the stockade to Penrith with a a [sic] dray, followed the next day by the sergeant, who made his purchases, and in presence of Bright and Hoper received upwards of £100, which he put into his breeches pocket, and proceeded part of his way back that night; at the place where he stopt, both Bright and Sloper made excuses for leaving the house, and Fox did not see either of them until he awoke at six o'clock the next morning, when the prisoners had harnessed the  bullocks and were ready to start.  They proceeded on their journey and began to ascend Lapstone Hill, when the dray was stopped to give the bullocks time to breathe; they proceeded on again until they came to the level road before entering on to Lapstone Bridge, when the dray was again stopped, and the wheels chocked on level ground; Fox walked slowly on, and proceeded about fifteen yards from the dray, when two men with cloth masks on their faces, suddenly stepped from behind the wall of the bridge, and one of them told him to stop, and put the muzzle of the gun close to his chcek, [sic] while the other came round him and put a pistol close to his breast, and very deliberately undid the trousers pocket and took out the money; the man with the musket then hit him a violent blow on the head which stunned him, and the other man took him in his arms, and, after a struggle, threw him over the parapet of the bridge, doubtless intending to throw him in to the gully, but he was not quite clear of the bank, and only fell a few feet.  Neither Bright nor Sloper attempted to assist him, but they went down and helped him up from the place where he had been thrown; when he got up he was one of the men looking at him, and the mask having shifted on one side he saw that he had very high cheek bones, resembling Stokes; indeed, so accurate was the description given of him that Proctor, the Chief Constable, apprehended him on his information.  An old man, named M'Donnough, who had charge of a cottage belonging to one of the stockade officers stated that on the night of the 27th December Bright and Sloper slept at his place; Stokes came there soon afterwards and was followed by his mate Williams, and they all had a conversation respecting the sergeant having so much money; on the Friday night they were there again.  On the Monday Stokes offered him a pound to say he had not been at the cottage.  The jury found all the prisoners guilty.  Remanded.[ 2]



[ 1]See also Australian, 16 February 1838; Sydney Gazette, 17 February 1838.

[ 2]Stokes was sentenced to death, Bright to death recorded, to be commuted to transportation for life, and Hoper (Sloper) to death recorded, to be commuted to one month's solitary confinement and two separate whippings of fifty lashes each: Sydney Gazette, 22 February 1838.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University