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

R. v. Mayne [1855] NSWSupCMB 11

contempt of court

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Moreton Bay

Stephen C.J., 30 May 1855

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 2 June 1855, p. 2

The Attorney General applied to the Court for a rule calling upon one Patrick Mayne to show cause why he should not be found guilty of a contempt of Court. In support of the application, the Attorney-General called W.H. Collard, a witness in a case tried on the previous day, who deposed that just outside the door of the Court House the said Patrick Mayne asked the witness if he had got his blood money.

His Honour directed a rule to issue, returnable on Friday morning at 9 o'clock.

Stephen C.J., 1 June 1855

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 2 June 1855, p. 2

This morning Mr. Patrick Mayne, who had been summoned to show cause why he should not be dealt with for contempt, on the complaint of W.H. Collard, made his appearance before the Chief Justice, and on the motion of the Attorney-General, his Honour made the rule absolute. The affidavit of William Harman Collard was read, deposing that the defendant on two occasions had used insulting language to him with reference to his evidence. Defendant denied the charge, but the Attorney-General; prayed judgment remarking that there had been sufficient time for the defendant to rebut the charge, and that he, the Attorney-General, would absolutely feel ashamed to pray for the estreatment if the recognizances of any witness in that court, unless he did his utmost to get such witnesses protected. His Honour concurred in the necessity for the protection of witnesses, and expressed his determination to punish vigorously any person shown to be guilty of intimidating them. The case should stand over until ten o'clock to-morrow morning, when the defendant might be prepared with his affidavits.


Stephen C.J., 2 June 1855

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 9 June 1855, p. 4

Mr. Purefoy then moved that the Rule Nisi calling upon Patrick Mayne , to show cause why he should not be found guilty of a contempt of court be discharged. In support of the application Mr. Purefoy handed in the affidavit of the said Patrick Mayne, and the joint affidavit of Mr. R. [?] Coley, Mr. Daly, and Mr. A. Eldridge, and moved that several witnesses who were in attendance be examined.

The affidavits were then given in and read. That of Mayne stated inter alia , that to the best of his belief he did not use the expression "well have you got your blood money," imputed to him in Collard's affidavit; that Collard came into a room where Mayne was, in Bond's public house, with a bundle of dirty clothes, a portion of which he threw towards Maybe, accompanying the act with the expression "now I have him" which the deponent believed was applied to him. The affidavits of the other parties proved the good character, and repute of the defendant.

The Attorney-General objected to the examination of witnesses, as being a most irregular course, and also as it might be drawn into a precedent. So many instances had been reported to him of witnesses having been blackguarded and reproached by the friends of parties against whom they gave evidence, that whenever a case came before him in a shape in which he could place it in the bounds of the Court, he was determined to do so. Such an offence struck at the administration of justice in its very foundation, and so long as he occupied the position which he now held, he was resolved to afford to witnesses before the court, the full and complete protection which the ,law allowed them.

His Honour said that he quite agreed with the Attorney-General, that an offence like that charged, affected the administration of justice at its very source. So ample was the protection afforded by the law to witnesses, jurors, and all persons assisting in the administration of justice, that a Supreme Court had jurisdiction not only in a sea [scene?] of contempt committed in its immediate precincts, but gave security to persons in the above capacities if bona fide travelling on their way to, or on their return from a court of justice even against a writ of attachment, no matter how great the distance.

His Honour further said that he had read over the affidavits of both parties two or three times, and had arrived a\t the conclusion that the contempt was proved. The defendant's appearance was very much in his favour and he was a man evidently of respectable character and position. He was disposed to pass a very lenient sentence in the present case, in the hope that it might operate as a salutary warning, but if it had not that effect, and any similar cases were brought before him, he should award a much more severe punishment. The defendant was then sentenced to pay a fine of £10 to the Queen. The money was immediately paid.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University