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Colonial Cases

R. v. Nagoo, 1839

[stealing in dwelling house - transportation]

R. v. Nagoo

Supreme Court, Bombay
25 March 1839
Source: The Bombay Times, 27 March 1839



Before the Acting Chief Justice.

   The Court re-opened this morning at 10 o'clock for the first time since its adjournment on Friday last, and was occupied will a few minutes past one p.m. with the trial of Pandoo Nagoo for stealing in the dwelling house of a dancing girl at Girgaum.

   From the substance of the evidence it appears that shortly after the last Dewalee holidays the prisoner called to see his brother Bapoo who was in the service of the prosecutrix as a coolie, and, being without employment, obtained permission to reside in the house for a few days. - Having shortly after succeeded in obtaining employment elsewhere the prisoner left the house but generally visited his brother every three or four days.  On Friday evening in in the month of Posh (corresponding to the 10th January last) he called about six o'clock and said that he would remain there for the night as he had leave from his master in consequence of the holidays.  Bapoo then cooked the evening meal, his mistress partook of it and went up stairs to sleep, leaving him and the prisoner below, she had then upon her person all her ornaments consisting of two necklaces, a pair of gold armlets, a pair of earrings, a pair of boogers and one nose-ring, which she took off with the exception of one small necklace, locked them in a box in her bed-chamber and placed the key under her pillow. - Upon awakening next morning about seven o'clock she went below to the cookroom, where Bapoo prepared a hookah for her. - The prosecutrix did not see the prisoner at this time, but only Mahadoo the fiddler whom she called down to smoke also. - She then went to a neighbour's house, in the same range, where she remained about half an hour. - When she returned she found the backdoor fastened so that it could not be opened from without.  She then opened the front door, and entering the house she saw no one in it. - She called for her servant, but received no reply.  She proceeded up stairs, and looked for her key where she had left it, but it was not there.  The box was still locked - Mahadoo who had gone out to make up his turban now came in; and prosecutrix, having by this time come down stairs, desired him to go to the neighbours and procure their keys. - Several were brought, one of which, after many trials, fitted, and the box was opened. - The contents being examined a necklace, an armlet, an earring and anklet were missing. Mahdoo immediately started off in search of the prisoner and Bapoo; and after the lapse of two hours, returned, with several who had accompanied him, having the former in custody.

   The prosecutrix entering into conversation with him, the prisoner produced one earring, an armlet, and the key of a box all of which she knew to be her property.  From an impression that, if she received the articles which were then ion the prisoner's possession, she would be obliged to let him go and thus lose the more valuable ornament which were still unaccounted for, as well as from a wish to have no further trouble about the matter provided she could recover her property, the prosecutrix refused to take what was produced and promised to pay the prisoner the sum of nine Rupees which he demanded as wages due to his brother, if he would recover the remainder for her. - He accordingly took the prosecutrix, Mahdoo, and some others to a house in Nagpara Street where they asked a woman whom they saw there for the ornaments, according to the directions they had received.

   The woman having replied in his hearing that she knew nothing of them, a police sepoy was called in who took him to the Chokie. - Being called upon for his defence the prisoner said that he had no hand in the theft that the portion of the ornaments found in his possession were given to him by his brother from whom he had received them most unwillingly, and that he would readily have given them up to the prosecutrix had she paid him the wages due to his brother as she had promised when he was brought to her house by Mahdoo. -

   The Jury after a very brief consideration found the prisoner GUILTY of stealing in a Dwelling-house. -

   On passing  sentence Sir John AWDRY, observed that whatever might have been the conduct of the prosecution in endeavoring to entice him to give up her property by promising to pay him his brother's wages, it was  quote clear that he had be comer unlawfully possessed of that portion that had been found with him. - Had his brother forced them upon him, as the prisoner said, his first act as an honest man would have been to take the earliest opportunity of returning them without attempting to drive a bargain with the owner. - But his Lordship was clearly of opinion that he had been an accessory to the robbery, if not actually engaged, by conspiring with the servant of the prosecutrix, from his being so shortly found with what clearly seemed to have been given to him as his share of the plunder.

   Although he was comparatively less guilty than the servant who had swerved from his duty to his mistress, still as the prisoner had shown great ingratitude, in robbing a person in whose house he had always received hospitality, his Lordship saw nothing that could induce him to mitigate his punishment to any other than that about to be pronounced.

   The Sentence of the Court was that the Prisoner Pandoo Nagoo be transported to Singapore for the term of 14 years.  The Sessions were then adjourned to Tuesday the 2nd proximo.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School