Genealogical Data

Extract from the Age newspaper
October 17, 1854

Criminal Sessions

The sittings of the Criminal Court commenced yesterday (Monday Oct, 16 1854) at 9 o'clock. (Before his Honour Mr Justice Williams)

The Solicitor-General prosecuted on behalf of the Crown.

(i) STEALING FROM A PERSON - Thomas Guest was charged by William Philips with stealing from his person a purse and 62. The Solicitor-General examined the prosecutor who said:- He was a labourer; he had known the prisoner for about a year. On the 9th of October he met the prisoner at the wharf, when he said he was 'hard up." He then gave him a sovereign, and took him to the Great Britain Hotel and gave him a breakfast.

They then went together to the Clarence Hotel, where they had some drink. On their way there they had met one or two friends of the prosecutor's and had a glass with each. The prisoner, while they were at the Clarence, was standing by the prosecutor's side, and thrust his hand into his (the prosecutor's) pocket and took his purse and money therefrom; he then ran into the street and endeavoured to get into an omnibus, but the prosecutor brought him back to the Hotel.

On being brought back, he (prisoner) said, "the skin purse is gone and he cannot swear to the sovereigns. I will not give him a .....threepenny bit."

The prisoner examined the prosecutor with considerable skill and closeness, but could not shake his testimony. He then addressed the jury, and stated he had made application at the jail for pen and paper to write to two witnesses to appear on his behalf, but had been refused ; but he asserted that he would yet establish his innocence to the astonishment of everyone in the Court.

His Honour summed up, the jury, after twenty minutes deliberation "to the astonishment of every person in the Court" save themselves, found the prisoner 'Not Guilty'.

His Honour here stated, that he had inquired as to the prisoners statement relative to the authorities of the jail refusing him pen and paper, and found that it was not till this morning that the prisoner ever made any such application, when he told the turnkey he wished two witnesses subpoenaed.


John Reynolds, a trooper, a young man of about eight and twenty years of age, was charged with this offence, and was found guilty of assault.

The prisoner, who treated the whole affair in a very careless manner, made no defence. His Honour in summing up, said that if the jury were of the opinion that the prisoner at the bar had actually affected his object, they would find him guilty of the capital offence; but if they were not of that opinion, they would find the prisoner guilty of an assault with intent to commit rape.

The jury almost immediately found the prisoner guilty of the lesser offence.

His Honour then said he did not know if the prisoner understood the position in which he was placed. Had the jury not taken the lenient view of the case, in a few hours he would have been no more. As it was, he was able to pass a heavy sentence, and he would certainly fall far short of his duty if he did not do so.

He would therefore sentence the prisoner to ten years' hard labour on the roads or other public works of the colony.

REF: email to by Lee Power on 9 June 1998
"The original source is the first Age Newspaper in Victoria - but as the document is rather fragile, I will not be accessing it for individual lookups - thought instead I would transcribe all I could onto the net for all to read."
source the Age Newspaper of Tuesday Oct 17,1854



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