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1869, James Lett - Unfit For Publication
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Riverine Advertiser, Wed 24 Mar 1869 1

DENILIQUIN QUARTER SESSIONS.
MONDAY, 22ND MARCH.
(Before His Honour Judge Francis.)

    The Court opened at ten o’clock, His Honour Judge Francis presiding. The Bar was represented by Mr G Milner Stephen (from Albury), Mr Frederick Brown (of Wangaratta), and Mr Forbes (Crown Prosecutor). All the local solicitors were in attendance, and T DeK Billyard from Hay.

    James Litt [aka Lett] was placed in the dock, and an indictment preferred against him for committing an indecent assault upon a young girl named Lydia Ratke,  at Mathoura, on the 10th day of March instant. Prisoner pleaded not guilty.

    Mr Forbes, in opening the case, said that the prisoner had narrowly escaped being arraigned for a criminal assault with intent to commit a rape. He then detailed the circumstances of the case, and called

    Betsy Walthoner, who deposed that she knew the prisoner by sight, and also a family of the name of Ratke, who lived a few hundred yards from where witness resided. On Sunday, the 7th instant, Mr and Mrs Ratke went away, leaving their children alone in the hut. Prisoner was down by the river when Mr and Mrs Ratke went away, but afterwards came to witness’s house, and when the sun was nearly down went up to Ratke’s house. She walked up to the hut about a quarter of an hour afterwards. While walking up she heard Emma Ratke screaming. Witness ran up to the hut, and found that the prisoner had got Lydia Ratke (who is ten or twelve years of age) on the ground, and the prisoner was stooping over her. Prisoner turned round, and witness saw that his person was exposed. Witness spoke to the prisoner, and he threatened to assault her in the same manner. Prisoner had some words with witness’s husband, and threatened to knock his brains out with a stick he had in his hand, her husband having threatened to inform the police of what the prisoner had been doing.

    Lydia Ratke deposed that she was twelve years of age. She had a sister named Emma, and a brother named Herman. On Sunday, the 7th instant, her father and mother went away at about two o’clock, and some time afterwards the prisoner came to the hut, but she would not speak to him. Prisoner caught her by the leg and threw her down, and tried to pull up her clothes, but she held them tight. Her brother and sister tried to make him go away, but he would not. Prisoner exposed his person. Her sister called out for Mrs Walthoner, and after she came prisoner went away.

    Herman Ratke corroborated the evidence of the last witness, and said that he attempted to pull the prisoner away from his sister, and than on threatening to go for his father, prisoner kicked him.

    Prisoner [James Lett] denied the charge, and stated that a waggon had capsized near the place where Ratke resided, and that he had caught Ratke and Walthoner in the act of stealing grog from the waggon. He spoke to them about it. It was on this account they had brought the present charge against him—a desire to avenge themselves upon him for detecting them stealing things from the waggon. He saw Lydia Ratke riding his horse, and her brother Herman beating it; he went to them and pulled Lydia Ratke off the horse, tearing her dress in doing so. The following day (Monday) Ratke came to prisoner and wanted him to buy a new dress for the girl, but he refused to do so.

    George Marshall was called for the defence, and deposed that Ratke had dinner with the prisoner and himself on Monday, the 8th March, and Ratke said his daughter had told him that prisoner had never insulted her. He had only pulled her off his horse, and had torn her dress in doing so. Prisoner said if he had torn her dress, he would content to buy a dress for the daughter and a shirt for his son. Ratke said that was quite enough for him, and if prisoner did that he would say nothing more about the affair.

    To the Crown Prosecutor: There was another man also present at the conversation between Ratke and prisoner. The prisoner and Ratke came to the hut where witness was, and both appeared as if they had had a nobbler or two. Ratke told witness that he did not think prisoner had insulted his daughter. He had asked his daughters about it, and they had said that all he did to them was to tear the girl’s dress and the boy’s shirt when pulling them away from his horse.

    The Crown Prosecutor called
    Christopher Ratke, who deposed that on the Monday following the assault he told prisoner that he had torn his daughter’s dress and his son’s shirt, and prisoner said, “Oh, never mind, I’ll buy them new ones; I was only having a joke with them.” He told the prisoner that if he would buy a new shirt and a new dress, he would say nothing more about the matter.

    His Honour summed up.

    The jury, after a few minutes’ deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty.

    Prisoner being asked if he had anything to say why the sentence of the Court should not be passed upon him, called

    Frederick Brown, barrister-at-law, who said he had known the prisoner for twelve years, a portion of which period he had been in his employment. He had always borne the best of characters, and witness was surprised to see him in his present position.

    To the Crown Prosecutor: The prisoner had not been in his employment since 1860, but since that time he had seen him frequently—he might say every month.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Deniliquin Chronicle and Riverine Gazette, Thu 25 Mar 1869 2

THE DENILIQUIN SESSIONS.
————
MONDAY, MARCH 22, 1869.
(Before his Honour Judge Francis.)

    Mr Forbes, CP, prosecuted on behalf of the Crown, and the Bar was represented by Messrs GM Stephen and F Brown.
    In calling over the jury list a very large number of jurors failed to answer to their names.
    Business began at 10 o’clock,

    James Litt was indicted for having on the 7th March at Mathoura committed an indecent assault on a child named Lydia Ratke, aged 11 years. Prisoner pleaded not guilty.

    Mr Forbes introduced the case, and the main evidence was not materially different from that already reported last week for attempted rape.

    Mrs Walthouer [aka Walthoner] deposed to the parents leaving their children at the hut on the Sunday named, and to prisoner going up to the house afterwards. Witness having her suspicions, ran up, and heard screams and the girl Emma calling for help. When she got to the hut the child Lydia was on the ground, and prisoner stooping over her, &c. Asked what he was doing there, and called him a dirty brute, when prisoner made a filthy reply to her.

    Lydia Ratke gave similar evidence to that last week, saying she was about twelve years of age. After her parents went away for Redbank prisoner returned to the hut, and wanted her to speak to him; she would not. He caught her by the leg, and knocked her down. She resisted and her brother and sister helped her. (She explained the state of prisoner’s clothes and gave other particulars.) Mrs Walthouer came up, and prisoner went away.

    Witness’ brother, Hermann [aka Herman], corroborated the above evidence, so far as he saw the occurrence. He went in and pulled prisoner back. Afterwards witness got on his horse to go to his father and prisoner pulled him off and kicked him.

    Prisoner [James Lett] addressed the jury, implying that the charge had been got up to prevent his exposure of some stealing of grog that had been going on from a wagon which had upset, in which Ratke and Walthouer were concerned. Prisoner called

    George Marshall, who deposed that he recollected Ratke, the father, coming to prisoner’s hut, on Monday, and having dinner, and Ratke said he did not think prisoner had committed an assault. Prisoner said he was innocent, and Ratke afterwards said, on the same day, that prisoner had pulled his daughters off his horse and tore their dress. Prisoner said if he had done so he was content to pay for a dress for the daughter, and a shirt for the son. Ratke replied that was enough, and he would have nothing more to say about it.

    To Mr Forbes: Another man, named Joseph, was present—he was not here to-day. Prisoner gave Ratke a nobbler of gin. Prisoner and Ratke came to the hut together, and they appeared then to have had a nobbler. Would swear Ratke said he did not believe that prisoner had insulted his daughters.

    Mr Forbes called
    Christopher Ratke, the father, who deposed that he had no dinner with prisoner on Monday—only a nobbler. Did tell prisoner that if he bought the new dress and a shirt, he would be content. Told him also that witness’ wife said the children had told her that their clothes were town when taken from the horse, and that they were not insulted.

    His Honor summed up, and said it was entirely a question of the credibility to be attached to the witnesses in the case.

    The jury, after retiring, returned a verdict of guilty. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Pastoral Times, Sat 27 Mar 1869 3

DENILIQUIN QUARTER SESSIONS.
MONDAY, 22ND MARCH
(Before His Honour Judge Francis.)

    The Court opened at ten o’clock, His Honour Judge Francis presiding. The Bar was represented by Mr G Milner Stephen (from Albury), Mr Frederick Brown (of Wangaratta), and Mr Forbes (Crown Prosecutor). All the local solicitors were in attendance, and T DeK Billyard, from Hay.

    James Litt was placed in the dock, and an indictment preferred against him for committing an indecent assault upon a young girl named Lydia Ratke, at Mathoura, on the 10th day of March instant. Prisoner pleaded not guilty.

    Mr Forbes, in opening the case, said that the prisoner had narrowly escaped being arraigned for a criminal assault with intent to commit a rape. He then detailed the circumstances of the case, and called.

    Betsy Walthoner, who deposed that she knew the prisoner by sight, and also a family of the name of Ratke, who lived a few hundred yards from where witness resided. On Sunday, the 7th instant, Mr and Mrs Ratke went away, leaving their children alone in the hut. Prisoner was down by the river when Mr and Mrs Ratke went away, but afterwards came to witness’s house, and when the sun was nearly down went up to Ratke’s house. She walked up to the hut about a quarter of an hour afterwards. While walking up she heard Emma Ratke screaming. Witness ran up to the hut, and found that the prisoner had got Lydia Ratke (who is ten or twelve years of age) on the ground, and the prisoner was stooping over her. Prisoner turned round, and witness saw that his person was exposed. Witness spoke to the prisoner, and he threatened to assault her in the same manner. Prisoner had some words with witness’s husband, and threatened to knock his brains out with a stick he had in his hand, her husband having threatened to inform the police of what the prisoner had been doing.

    Lydia Ratke deposed that she was twelve years of age. She had a sister named Emma, and a brother named Herman. On Sunday, the 7th instant, her father and mother went away at about two o’clock, and some time afterwards the prisoner came to the hut, but she would not speak to him. Prisoner caught her by the leg and threw her down, and tried to pull up her clothes, but she held them tight. Her brother and sister tried to make him go away, but he would not. Prisoner exposed his person. Her sister called out for Mrs Walthoner, and after she came prisoner went away.

    Herman Ratke corroborated the evidence of the last witness, and said that he attempted to pull the prisoner away from his sister, and that on threatening to go for his father, prisoner kicked him.

    Prisoner [James Lett] denied the charge, and stated that a waggon had capsized near the place where Ratke resided, and that he had caught Ratke and Walthoner in the act of stealing grog from the waggon. He spoke to them about it. It was on this account they had brought the present charge against him—a desire to avenge themselves upon him for detecting them stealing things from the waggon. He saw Lydia Ratke riding his horse, and her brother Herman beating it; he went to them and pulled Lydia Ratke off the horse, tearing her dress in doing so. The following day (Monday) Ratke came to prisoner and wanted him to buy a new dress for the girl, but he refused to do so.

    George Marshall was called for the defence, and deposed that Ratke had dinner with the prisoner and himself on Monday, the 8th March, and Ratke said his daughter had told him that prisoner had never insulted her. He had only pulled her off his horse, and had torn her dress in doing so. Prisoner said if he had torn her dress, he would be content to buy a dress for the daughter and a shirt for his son. Ratke said that was quite enough for him, and if prisoner did that he would say nothing more about the affair.

    To the Crown Prosecutor: There was another man also present at the conversation between Ratke and prisoner. The prisoner and Ratke came to the hut where witness was, and both appeared as if they had had a nobbler or two. Ratke told witness that he did not think prisoner had insulted his daughter. He had asked his daughters about it, and they had said that all he did to them was to tear the girl’s dress and the boy’s shirt when pulling them away from his horse.

  The Crown Prosecutor called
    Christopher Ratke, who deposed that on the Monday following the assault he told prisoner that he had torn his daughter’s dress and his son’s shirt, and prisoner said, “Oh, never mind, I’ll buy them new ones; I was only having a joke with them.” He told the prisoner that if he would buy a new shirt and a new dress, he would say nothing more about the matter.

    His Honour summed up.

    The jury, after a few minutes’ deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty.

    Prisoner being asked if he had anything to say why the sentence of the Court should not be passed upon him called
    Frederick Brown, barrister-at-law, who said he had known the prisoner for twelve years, a portion of which period he had been in his employment. He had always borne the best of characters, and witness was surprised to see him in his present position.

    To the Crown Prosecutor: The prisoner had not been in his employment since 1860, but since that time he had seen him frequently—he might say every month.

DENILIQUIN QUARTER SESSIONS.
(Continued from page 4.)
THURSDAY, MARCH 25.

SENTENCES.

    James Litt, charged with an indecent assault on a young girl, six months in Deniliquin gaol with hard labour.

 


1  Riverine Advertiser, Wed 24 Mar 1869, pp. 1, 2. Emphasis added.

2  Deniliquin Chronicle and Riverine Gazette, Thu 25 Mar 1869 p. 2. Emphasis added. 

3  The Pastoral Times, Sat 27 Mar 1869, pp. 3, 4. Emphasis added.