The Newcastle Chronicle, Tue 21 Oct 1873 1
MAITLAND CIRCUIT COURT.
(From our own report).
MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1873.
The Court opened this morning, at 10 o’clock, before his Honor Mr Justice Faucett. James Smith, Esq, PM, officiated as deputy sheriff. WJ Foster, Esq, acted as Crown prosecutor.
The following members of the legal profession were present:—Barristers: FM Darley, Esq, R Wisdom, Esq, £ O’Keefe, Esq, and PJ Healey, Esq. Attorneys: Messrs WH Mulen, RW Thompson, C Solling, JA Gorrier, and H O’Meagher.
The Judge’s Associate opened the Court by reading the usual proclamation.
Albert Blackburn, a Norwegian by birth, was charged with attempting to commit an unnatural offence, at Muscle Creek, on the 24th June, 1873.
Sergeant Thompson deposed: On the 21st July, prisoner came to me and told me a man named Egan was going to make a charge beastiality against him; I went to Mr Neill’s the surveyor’s camp, where the parties were engaged; I had a conversation with Egan; I asked him some questions, and I then requested both Egan and the prisoner to come to Muswellbrook; Egan then laid an information against the prisoner, and I then took him into custody; prisoner said, “I know all about it, but I am not guilty; prisoner told me he had had some quarrell [sic] with Egan, and he was going to leave the camp; prisoner came first to me to lay an information against Egan for defamation of character.
Michael Egan deposed: I am in the employ of Mr Niell, [sic] a surveyor; the prisoner was in the same employ; there were, on the 24th June, five labouring men in the camp; all, except the prisoner and myself, were away in Muswellbrook on that day; I was in my tent; which is away from the prisoner’s tent; I heard prisoner call a dog, and afterwards heard the dog make a noise; I went to prisoner’s tent, and looked in. (Most of the evidence here is unfit for publication.) I never had a quarrel with prisoner; it is not a fact that I had some words with him because he refused to cook my breakfast.
By the prisoner: I did not inform Mr Niell of your having committed the offence; I did not lay the information against you until a month afterwards; I did not at any time say I would break your head; I did not accuse you of nor blame you for preventing me borrowing a £1 from a man named Jack.
The prisoner did not call any witnesses, but addressed the jury, stating that the charge was one of spite, brought by Egan on account of certain charges he had made against him to Mr Neill.
A letter was put in from Mr Neill, giving the prisoner a good character.
His Honor then addressed the jury.
The jury retired for a few minutes, bringing in a verdict of not guilty, and prisoner was discharged.
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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 21 Oct 1873 2
MAITLAND CIRCUIT COURT.
This court opened at East Maitland, yesterday morning, before his Honor Mr Justice Faucett. Mr WJ Foster prosecuted for the Crown. The barristers present were Messrs Darley, Wisdom, Healy, O’Keeffe. Mr Williams, Crown Solicitor, had charge of the cases for the Crown, and Mr Jas. Smith, Police Magistrate of the Hunter, represented the Sheriff.
The Clerk of Arraigns read the usual proclamation against vice and immorality, and then the jury list was called over.
Alfred Blackburn was indicted for having at Saddler’s Creek, on the 24th June, attempted to commit an unnatural offence, [bestiality with a bitch]. He pleaded not guilty, and was undefended.
The Crown Prosecutor having opened the case, called Sergeant Thompson, and Michael Egan.
The evidence as to the alleged offence, was that of Egan, and is unfit for publication. It was very circumstantial in details. Sergeant Thompson deposed that on the 21st July the prisoner had come into him at Muswellbrook, requiring a summons for Egan, for defaming his character, and had mentioned that Egan was making the charge of attempted bestiality against him. Thompson went out to the surveyor’s camp at Saddler’s Creek, and therer saw Egan, with whom he had a conversation. He then came into Muswellbrook with Egan and the prisoner, and in consequence of information given by Egan, he took prisoner into custody. Prisoner had said when they were at the camp, that he would come and see the magistrates, and when arrested he said he knew all about the charge and that he was not guilty. On his first interview with Thompson, he said that Egan had quarrelled with him. Egan admitted that he had told the men in the camp what he had seen prisoner do, and that on the morning of the 21st he had told the prisoner, who then said he would get a summons for the defamation. He had not told his master, because his master was away part of the time, and had a visitor the rest of the time between the 24th June and the 21st July. He denied that he had any quarrel with the prisoner, this reply being the result of a long series of questions put to him by the prisoner.
The prisoner [Albert Blackburn] addressed the jury, stating that the witness had a down upon him, and had made up the case from motives of malice, and that he was quite innocent of the crime charged against him.
The Crown Prosecutor put in the prisoner’s statement before the magistrate, which was to the affect that he had seen Egan make mistakes in chaining, that on the morning of the 21st July, Egan had quarrelled with him, and that when Egan made the charge against him on that morning, he had thought it too bad, and had first told his employer, and then came in to the Muswellbrook police.
A note from Mr Neeld, the prisoner’s employer at the time of the occurrence—was put in; it spoke of prisoner being a man of good character.
His Honor summed up, and pointing out that the case rested entirely on the evidence of Egan, remarked upon the time which had elapsed between the alleged commission of the offence, and the complaint of prisoner to the police. He urged the jury to consider all the circumstances of the case, and to determine whether Egan was telling the truth or not. They would give the prisoner the benefit of any reasonable doubt in their minds, when they came to consider their verdict.
The jury, after a very short consultation, returned a verdict of not guilty, and prisoner was discharged.
1 The Newcastle Chronicle, Tue 21 Oct 1873, p. 2. Emphasis added.
2 The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 21 Oct 1873, p. 2. Emphasis added.