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

R. v. Robson [1842] NSWSupC 45

assault - rape - stealing

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling CJ, 12 October 1842

Source: Sydney Gazette, 13 October 1842

            William Robson was placed at the bar charged with assaulting one Maria Swaine, with intent to commit rape, on the 19th of June last.

            The Attorney General stated the circumstances of the case, and called.

            Maria Swaine -, who deposed, that she was a single woman, and resided in Prince's Street, living on an annuity: she had been in the colony more than five years; she knew the prisoner at the bar, and recollected that on the 19th of June she went to see a person named Smith, when she saw the prisoner for the first time, who was then sitting on a table: this was between the hours of 12 and one o'clock in the afternoon, and as she was returning home at about half-past seven o'clock the same evening, two men met her and she came out of the house, and carried her into a weather-boarded place, a few yards from the house she had just left. She had not dined that day, but she had a slight meal at Mrs Smith's, where a bottle of wine and two bottles of Porter which the witness had sent for, from her house, were drank. Witness, however, drank very little, and the remainder of the liquor was drank by the inmates of the house. In carrying her into the house, one man held his hand on her mouth, while the other opened the door and got a light; they then carried her in by her head and feet, and the prisoner, who was one of the men, asked her to take off her bonnet and shawl, which she refused to do, that he (the prisoner), dragged them forcibly off. The witness then went on to describe the manner in which the prisoner and the other man, whose name was Child, had attempted to violate per person; one of the men, holding his hand over her mouth, while the other committed the assault; finding they could not succeed, one of them went out and procured some spirits which they endeavoured to pour down her throat; but finding all attempts ineffectual, the day at length let her go, having first robbed her of a gold brooch which you wore in her habit shirt. In the struggle, her clothes had been much torn, and she was greatly hurt; after getting away from the men, she went first to Mr O'Brien's, and then to Wandey's, and subsequently went to the station house, where she complained to the Police of the treatment she had received, in consequence of which the prisoner was afterwards taken into custody.

            The witness was cross-examined at considerable length by Mr Windeyer, who appeared on behalf of the prisoner, but nothing material was elicited.

            Sergeant Adams, of the Sydney Police, deposed, that the last witness had informed him of the manner in which she had been treated, and he accompanied her to the house in question, where Ghild was taken into custody; the prisoner was apprehended about a month afterwards.

            Mary O'Brien corroborated the evidence of prosecutrix, by stating that she had heard the screams of the latter, for upwards of two hours on the evening in question; subsequently, she saw a prosecutrix come out of the house, much disordered, when she told witness's husband that the two men had forced her into the house and attempted to it you will use her; the witness afterwards saw her return to the house in company with two constables.

            The prosecutrix was recalled, and stated that she had never told any one that the charge was false, or that she had a wish to make it up.

            Mr. Windeyer then for the defence address to the Jury at great length, endeavouring to show that the prosecutrix was a woman of light character, and had preferred the charge against the prisoner from revenge for having lost her brooch, while in his company.   He then called seven or eight witnesses in support of those statements, and a great deal of conflicting evidence was given.

            The Attorney General, then replied at great length, and contended, that nothing had been elicited to shake the credibility of the prosecutrix, and the witnesses brought former defence work, according to their own account, a set of most worthless characters, nearly all of them having been transported to the colony.

            His Honor summed up, and the Jury, after a quarter of an hour's absence, returned a verdict of guilty, against the prisoner, who was remanded to sentence.

            The trial of this case, lasted until half past eight p.m., when the court adjourned till Friday (to-morrow).

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University