Skip to Content

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

R. v. Connell [1842] NSWSupC 32

military defendants in crime - forgery - drunkenness

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 10 January 1842

Source: Sydney Herald, 11 January 1842 [1]


            Thomas Connell, private soldier belonging to the 96th regiment, was indicted for having, on the 28th October last, forged and had in possession an order for £5, purporting to be drawn by James Chambre, Esq. Another count also charged him with having uttered the same with intent to defraud the Cashier of the Commercial Bank. The prisoner, after being cautioned, continued to adhere to a plea of guilty, which he had put in, when it was recorded.

His Honor inquired of the prosecutor what was the previous character of the prisoner, when Lieutenant Chambre stated that until the prisoner had taken to drinking, his character had been unexceptionable; so much so that, although he had only been between three and four years in the service, he had been promoted to be corporal, and would soon have been made sergeant.

The prisoner informed the Court that he had to attribute his commission of the forgery entirely to his having fallen into drink, and that he was under the influence of liquor at the time he committed the offence. He was ashamed of himself for what he had done, adding that it was for this reason he did not wish to put the Court to the trouble of trying him.

His Honor said there was but one sentence which he could award for the offence, but he wished to know if that should be commuted whether the regiment would receive the prisoner back again?

The acting Adjutant of the 96th informed the Court that if the punishment was not transportation but imprisonment, the prisoner at its expiration would be taken back; but no felon who had undergone transportation ever was taken back.

His Honor stated that he would represent the facts of the case to his Excellency the Governor, as well as what the gentleman had just informed him of; and ordered the prisoner to be remanded. - The court then adjourned till to-day.

Burton and Stephen JJ, 15 January 1842

Source: Sydney Herald, 17 January 1842 [2]


Thomas Connell, late Corporal of the 96th regiment, who had pleaded guilty, before Mr. Justice Stephen, to an indictment charging him with forgery, was placed at the bar; in reply to the usual interrogatory by the Acting Clerk of Arraigns, the prisoner informed the Court that he had nothing to say, except reminding His Honor of the length of time he had been in the service without having been guilty of any offence. He hoped the Court would also consider the good character he had received from the officers under whom he had had the honour to serve, particularly the prosecutor, Lieut. Chambre; he also reminded the Court that he had confessed his offence before he was taken into custody, he had also pleaded guilty, and begged his Honor to remember that the offence had been committed by him while labouring under the influence of liquor, and that as soon as he became sober and discovered what he had done he made all the reparation in his power.

His Honor considered it a painful duty to be called on to sentence one so young, holding the station in her Majesty's service which he did, and who had previously borne a good character. Had there been but one offence of this kind charged against the prisoner, there might have been some grounds for mitigating the sentence as much as possible; but unfortunately for him, by his own admission he had committed three different acts of the same kind, the documents in two of which had been produced in court against the prisoner. In these circumstances, every one must be convinced that it is due to justice, and to the community, that such crimes, as those the prisoner had been convicted of, should be repressed. There was but one sentence which the law authorised the Judges to award to such an offence; but it gave them the discretionary power of recommending that the sentence of transportation might be mitigated to a shorter period. He thought that in the present case justice would be done by the sentence being mitigated to ten years; at all events, he would not recommend that it should be for a less period than seven years. The usual sentence was then recorded.


[1]  See also Sydney Gazette, 11 January 1842.

[2]  See also Australian, 18 January 1842.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University