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

R. v. Bretner [1859] NSWSupC 21

stealing, from employer

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Moreton Bay

Milford J., 10 January 1859

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 12 January 1859, p. 2 


Davia Bretner was charged with stealing one coat and two waistcoats, the property of Simon Mayer, his employer, on the 13th Nov. at Brisbane; a second count in the indictment charged the prisoner with receiving.

Simon Mayer: The prisoner was an assistant in his shop when he was in business, and he, the witness, had his suspicions excited, watched the prisoner, and found the coat and two vests under the flooring in a room where the prisoner slept. The coat was worth £2 and the vests £1 5s., each. Knew the goods by the private marks. Accused the prisoner of taking the goods, and told him that if he did not tell all about it he would send for the constable.

By the prisoner: It was about six or eight months since I employed you in Sydney . You were to assist in the shop. You kept one little day book. We all worked together when we were taking stock. Had stated the same in the Police Court as he stated here. There were a great many goods he would not swear to, as the marks were taken off. Did not know what was in the bundle when he saw him going up stairs with it. The servant girl slept next room to you, and she had access to that room to clean it. The door was a good one. Recollect the fire when you were with me. Brought an action against the Insurance Company. Do not recollect the declaration you made about the fire. You never told me you made a mistake about the fire. You never told me to take you as a witness. There was no one but you in the shop when I was away in the country. The girl might have gone into the shop---she never had any order from me to stop in the shop. You asked me to let you off, and said you could hide yourself until the next steamer to Sydney . Told you I had no objection to let you go if the constable would; but I knew he would not do so. The conversation took place in English. Did not see you take the goods. You confessed you took them and hid them.

By Mr. Pring: Taxed prisoner with taking the goods, but did not hold out any threats after the constable came, or even before.

By Mr. Reeve: The girl could not have taken the clothes. It was not possible that the clothes could be pushed from one room to the other under the floor.

By the prisoner: It was not likely that the servant girl would pitch the clothes over the partition.

By Mr. Reeve: Did not keep a cash sale book from the time of stock taking to the time of the loss of the goods. Did keep an account, but not regularly, and told prisoner always to make his entries in the day-book.

Mr. C.J. Heussler detailed the visit he made to Mr. Mayer's shop, and what he heard. Prosecutor told prisoner he had stolen the goods.

By Mr. Reeve: Mr. Mayers did speak moistly in German before the constables arrived.

Constable M'Gourke: Prisoner was crying when he went to take him. There was some conversation carried on in a foreign language, indeed, a good deal.

By the prisoner: Mr. Mayers told me I might let you go if I liked, after the conversation had taken place. I said it was more than I dared.

The prisoner addressed the jury and said, it was all spite on the part of the prosecutor. He called Mr. Hargraves who took him home a pair of boots which he, the prisoner, took up stairs. He also called for a little German girl, but she did not appear.

His Honor said they must in the case leave out all idea of a confession, and summed up in a doubtful manner as to the commission of the offence by the prisoner.

Verdict---Not Guilty.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University