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

R. v. Saw [1842] NSWSupC 46

stealing - drunkenness - insanity

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 10 January 1842

Source: Sydney Herald, 11 January 1842 [1]

Watch Stealing

            John Saw, of Port Macquarie, was indicted for having on the 28th of November last, stolen a silver watch, the property of William Henry Geary, Esq., J. P. The prisoner pleaded not guilty.

            The Solicitor-General, who conducted the case for the crown, called Mr. Geary, who identified the property as his, and stated that the watch had been taken from his mantle-piece about mid-day on the day laid in the indictment.

            Mr. Cohen, publican of Port Macquarie, deposed that soon after the robbery the prisoner left the watch in the hands of his barman, to whom he had sold it. When the witness saw the prisoner he asked him where he got it, when he stated that he saw it in a house near the residence of the pilot, when he thought he might as well take it as another.

The prisoner was taken into custody a few minutes after. When called on for his defence, the prisoner stated that when in liquor he was always out of his mind, that he had been drinking in the house of the witness Cohen for several days before he was taken into custody, and that was the reason why he told such a foolish story about the way in which he got the watch, which he now accounted for by alleging that he had purchased it from a man unknown to him for 30s.

The witness Cohen, being recalled, identified the prisoner as a person he had seen frequenting his house; he also knew that spirits so affected him as to deprive him of his reason; a pint, or even a glass of porter would produce this effect on him. The prisoner had been drinking on the day when he first showed the watch.

In putting the case to the Jury, his Honor left it to them to say whether the prisoner had taken it while in the possession of his reason.

The jury found the prisoner guilty, but recommended that the state of his mind should be ascertained from a medical witness.

The prisoner was remanded until a surgeon should examine him.

Burton and Stephen JJ, 15 January 1842

Source: Sydney Herald, 17 January 1842 [2]

John Saw, an aged man, who had been convicted of stealing a watch, before Mr. Justice Stephen, was then placed at the bar, when his Honor stated, that it was distressing to see an old man like the prisoner brought up to receive the sentence of the Court, for an offence committed while labouring under the influence of drink; for that such was the case came out in the evidence given against the prisoner on his trial. As he had already been subjected to considerable punishment by imprisonment for some time previous to his trial, he was sentenced to be imprisoned in Sydney Gaol for one calendar month, the first and last week to be in solitary confinement.

[1] See also Australian, 13 January 1842; Sydney Gazette, 11 January 1842.

[2]See also Australian, 18 January 1842; Sydney Gazette, 18 January 1842.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University