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

R. v. Smith [1840] NSWSupC 34

highway robbery, soldiers, criminal defendants, Pennant Hills

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling C.J., 3 July 1840[1]

Source: Sydney Herald, 7 August 1840[2]

John Smith.  William Martin and John Chapman, three soldiers were indicted for having on the 6th of May last committed a highway robbery on John Eyles of Pennant Hills near Parramatta.

            From the evidence of the prosecutor, it appeared that he was a native of the Colony, and had erected a bark hut for himself on a piece of ground belonging to his father, where he carried on the business of a sawyer; that on the day laid in the indictment, he was proceeding to Parramatta by the road leading through Poll Bowman's Flat, when the prisoners sprang from behind a bush and compelled him to give them what property he had about him, consisting of two One Pound Notes, on Colonial Banks and two silk handkerchiefs.  After he was robbed, Eyles returned to his hut, and from thence went to the Stockade, and gave information, when the military being mustered it was found that the three prisoners were absent.  A report of the robbery having reached Parramatta on the following day.  Mr. Hunt the chief constable went in search of the robbers and found the three prisoners in Mr. Walker's, Thistle Tavern, where shortly before his arrival, they had had some refreshment, and paid for it by changing a One Pound Note and paying for what they had received.  On being taken into custody, the prisoners told the Chief Constable that they might as well be lagged as be soldiers in this Colony, for although they had plenty of money they had not time to spend it.  The Chief Constable in giving his evidence on this point stated, that he knew that soldiering was worse here than in other countries, and at the same time stated in answer to question by the Attorney General, that he had heard of an order having come out from the Home Government to increase the pay of Soldiers in New South Wales.

            The Jury retired for about five minutes, returned verdict of Guilty, recommending the youngest of the three, Chapman, to mercy; Smith and Martin were each sentenced to be transported for fifteen years, and Chapman to be transported for ten years.

            John Smith was found guilty of stealing a Mare the property of John McDonald, at Pitt-Town and received sentence of transportation to a penal settlement for ten years.


[1] This appears to be an error.  The correct date was more likely to have been 3 August.

[2] See also Australian, 4 and 6 August 1840.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University