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

R. v. O'Neil [1842] NSWSupC 39

arson - Port Macquarie

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Burton J., 10 January 1842

Source: Sydney Herald, 11 January 1842 [1]

            This prisoner was placed at the bar to take his trial for setting fire to a barn, the property of Mr. William Cross, his master, living at Port Macquarie.

            William Cross, examined by the Attorney-General, stated that the prisoner had been in his service about four years at Port Macquarie; that about the last day of November, his barn was burnt down, then containing about a hundred bushels of maize. Witness's loss amounted to about a hundred pounds. Prisoner at the time, as witness supposed, was working in a chain gang.

John Walker stated that he was an assigned servant to Mr. William Johnson at Port Macquarie. Witness knew the prisoner at the bar, who, on the evening in question, called at witness's hut, and said he had escaped from the road gang, and had been over to Mr. Cross's where he had had a bonfire, by burning down Mr. Cross's barn. Prisoner stated at the same time, that he had done it as revenge on Mr. Cross, whom he would have shot, if he could have found a gun. Witness detained him in the hut, and took him the next day to Port Macquarie, and left him in the hands of the chief constable.

His Honor summed up, remarking on the very singular circumstance of a man of sane mind, (after the commission of such an act, as that for which the prisoner was being tried,) running to another, and fully communicating, what he must have reasonably supposed, would drawn upon him the legal penalty of his offence. There being no very satisfactory evidence respecting the prisoners state of mind; - at the suggestion of the Attorney-General, after the prisoner had been found guilty, he was remanded.


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

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University