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Horse stealing charge

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Saturday 18 September 1847, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

Edward Roberts was indicted for having stolen a mare, the property of Michael Quinlin, at Armidale, on the 3rd February, 1847.

Mr. Purefoy appeared for the defence.

The Solicitor General having stated the circumstances, called Michael Quinlin, who deposed that he was a storekeeper, residing at Armidale, New England, and that in February last he lost a black mare, which had been at his door on the evening of the 2nd, but could not be found next day. Witness had never seen her since, and he believed she was now dead. Witness had had her about eighteen months; she was a black mare, between thirteen and fourteen hands high, branded (upsidedown-B)E on the near shoulder, having a white stripe down the face, and a little white on one of the hind feet, just above the hoof, with a large head, a roman nose, a shortish black mane, and a thick neck; the tail had been docked, but the hair had grown long again ; she had been bought by witness as a five-year-old mare ; she was broken in to draught and saddle, but had no saddle marks ; she was smooth and in good condition when witness lost her, but was not shod ; the prisoner was at Armidale about that time, in Mr. Odell’s service, witness believed ; witness never saw him there. Tamworth was about seventy miles from Armidale.

This witness was cross-examined at great length by the jurors and Mr. Purefoy as to marks, shape, &c. distinguishing the mare.

Edwin Whitfield deposed that he lived, in February last, at Mr. Dangar’s station of Moonboy, on Liverpool Plains ; this was about twelve miles from Tamworth, on the New England side. “Witness bought a mare from the prisoner in February last; the receipt produced was the one witness got from prisoner ; it was dated 27th February, which was on a Monday, when witness paid £13 for the mare, and prisoner delivered her by telling him to go and take her out of the stable. The bargain was made on the Thursday previous. The overseer of the station was present when witness paid for the mare. Witness rode her away to where he was working, seven miles off, and tethered her, but in the morning he found the rope was broken, and the mare gone; he traced her a short distance in the direction of New England, and went about eight miles to the McDonald River, searching for her, but could hear no tidings, nor had he ever since seen her. About a fortnight before witness bought the mare, he saw the prisoner riding on what he believed was the same mare, past his place from the direction of New England ; prisoner told him he had found his mare at last, after he had lost her two years, and that a man had ridden her from the McLeay River to Armidale, where Mr. Odell had seen her and claimed her for him. A few days after witness lost the mare he saw prisoner at the McDonald River, and told him of his loss, and asked prisoner for a more exact description than the receipt gave, that witness might advertise the loss. Prisoner told him she had, he thought, a little white on the off hind foot. Witness bought her as being branded (upsidedown-R)E, and remarked to prisoner that the R turned in like a B, but prisoner said the brand had run. The witness was then examined at some length as to her marks, but his answers were given with the qualification that he had not particularly observed her ; he was sure she was a black mare with white on forehead.

The witness was cross-examined further by Mr. Purefoy and the jurors as to the marks, and by Mr. Purefoy as to the persons present when witness saw the prisoner at different times, and to the circumstances attending the interviews.

Stephen Parrott deposed that he was overseer at Moonboy, and recollected Whitfield buying a mare or horse from prisoner ; witness saw the money paid, but did not see the animal ; witness shortly after saw a black mare or horse tied up to the verandah, but did not notice it particularly ; witness had seen prisoner riding a similar animal about a fortnight previous ; did not know whether it was branded ; it had a long tail. The mare was sold on a Monday. Prisoner stopped there that night, and left next morning after breakfast.

John Bainton Smith deposed that he was clerk of the bench at Tamworth, and that on the 13th and 14th of February he rode from Murrurundi to Tamworth, in company with James Grady, then acting as mailman ; Grady had a little black mare with him, which he offered to sell to witness; she was from 14 to 14½ hands high, coarsely bred, heavy head, roman nose, with a blaze of white down her face, and a white rim round the off hind fetlock ; she was branded (upsidedown-B)E, Captain Biddulph’s brand ; was plump, with a long tail. Grady did not claim the mare as his.

James Grady deposed that in February last he rode the mail two trips between Tamworth and Murrurundi, and back again, for prisoner, who was then mailman, but was laid up by a kick of a horse ; the black mare seen with him by Mr. Smith on his first return trip was given to him by prisoner to take the mails for him while laid up. Witness did not much notice her marks or brands. Witness got her shod after his first return from Murrurundi to Tamworth.

Mr. Smith was here re-called to prove that certain statements of the prisoner attached to the depositions were made by him before the committing bench, but as Mr. Smith could not swear they were written down in the very words of the prisoner, although he knew they were written in the sense he (witness) understood him, Mr. Purefoy objected to the statement being put in, and his Honor sustained the objection.

David Lumden deposed that he was chief constable of Tamworth, and apprehended prisoner at Moonboy on the 21st March ; witness told him on what charge he was arrested ; on the way to Tamworth witness asked him some questions relating to the charge, to which prisoner replied that he got the mate in truck from a man whom he did not know, two years before ; that he had no receipt ; that he did not know what brand was on her when he got her, but that he put his own brand on her, and that he was sure to get out of this trouble, as the mare would be forthcoming, and he knew where she was ; that he had sold her to a man named Whitfield ; prisoner did not tell witness he had lost her for two years.

By Mr. Purefoy : Witness had a good recollection ; his memory was as good now as when he was before the magistrates. [The witness’s deposition was then put in and read.] Witness thought he did tell the magistrates that the prisoner told him he had sold the mare to Whitfield, and that he knew where she was, although it was not so stated in his deposition.

William Walker deposed that he lived at the McDonald River, and that in February Whitfield came to his place about a mare he had lost, and that about a fortnight after Mr. Quinlin came ; while about a fortnight before either came the prisoner was at his place, but he could remember nothing particular about either.

John Barnes deposed that he knew Mr. Quinlin’s mare, having broken her in three or four years ago, since which she had been sold two or three times ; at the latter end of February or beginning of March witness saw a black mare, which he then and still believed to be the same, standing m a blacksmith’s shop at Tamworth, but witness did not see the brand, and only the hind quarters of the mare.

Mr. Smith was recalled to repeat from recollection the prisoner’s statement, and the written statement was handed up to refresh his memory. Mr. Purefoy objected that no parole evidence was admissible when the same matter was contained in a written document, present in court, but not eligible in itself. The court overruled the objection, on the ground that the document was only to be used to refresh the witness’s memory, and that parole evidence of the statement was admissible ; but at the request of Mr. Purefoy, his Honor made a note of the objection. Mr. Smith then deposed that the prisoner first made a statement that he had obtained the mare as a legacy from some man whom he named who had died on the road near Scone ; Mr. Bligh, however, one of the sitting magistrates, told the prisoner he knew this was incorrect ; on this prisoner said that he got the mare from a man named McDonald, and that he lost her on the McLeay River about two years ago ; that about seven weeks before that day (the 7th April) he had found her hobbled at Armidale, apparently having been hard ridden.

Grady was recalled, and examined by Mr. Purefoy : Witness saw prisoner on the Thursday previous to his meeting with Mr. Smith; prisoner was then suffering from a bad leg, at Mr. Levy’s, at Tamworth; witness was not certain when the prisoner got the kick from the horse.

Mr. Purefoy addressed the jury for the defence. He could not see what portion of the evidence could satisfy their minds that the mare sold by the prisoner to Whitfield was the same mare that was lost by Quinlin ; the prisoner’s conduct was altogether inconsistent with the idea of his having dishonestly come by the mare. The jury, before they could find him guilty, must be satisfied not only that the mare was the same, but that it was the prisoner who stole it. The brands and marks, as described by the various witnesses, were altogether irreconcilable with the idea of its being the same mare, and if she were, and the prisoner knew that she was stolen, was it not utterly improbable he would hand her over for use to the mail-driver, where every day she would run the risk of being recognised. The learned gentleman then went through the evidence.

The Solicitor General replied.

His Honor having summed up, the jury retired for about ten minutes, and returned with a verdict of guilty. Sentence deferred.

Written by macalba

October 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

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