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1881, James Black - Unfit For Publication
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Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Tue 12 Jul 1881 1

MONDAY, 11th JULY, 1881.
(Before Mr Buchanan, PM.)

    BEASTIALITY.—[sic] James Black (a seaman) was charged with a nameless offence upon an entire horse, the property of Robert Breckenridge, in a stable adjoining the AA Company’s bridge, Hunter-street, on Sunday, at mid day. Evidence was adduced from senior-constable Finnegan, David Tarrant (a young boy), and John Rodgers, jun., of a nature wholly unfit for publication—the case being heard with closed doors. Prisoner, who had nothing to say, but stated that he was drunk, was committed for trial at the Maitland Assizes in October next. 

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 18 Oct 1881 2


    The Maitland Circuit Court will open at East Maitland on Thursday morning next at 10 o’clock. We are indebted to the gaol officials for the forthcoming list of cases in which the accused are in custody:—

    Henry C Want, shooting with intent to murder; Newcastle bench.
    James Black, bestiality; Newcastle bench.
    Charles Campbell, bestiality; Newcastle bench.
    Sydney Ardinale, horse stealing; Merriwa bench.
    John Hurley, stealing in a dwelling; Bullahdelah bench.
    Joel B Hood, false pretences; Copeland bench.
    Alexander Smith, inflicting grievous bodily harm; West Maitland bench.
    Thomas Hockham, stealing a watch and chain, Dungog bench.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 25 Oct 1881 3


    The October sitting of the above Court commenced yesterday morning, before his Honor Judge Windeyer. Mr Addison, PM, was present as the representative of the Sheriff. Mr Gibson was the Judge’s Associate, and Mr J Want prosecuted for the Crown. The other members of the bar present were Mr FW Meymott, Mr R Pitcairn, and CG Heydon.

    The jury list was called, and the civil panel were informed that they would not be required till Wednesday morning.

    The usual proclamation against vice, immorality, and crime was read by the associate.


    James Black was indicted for having at Newcastle, on the 10th of July, committed the above crime. It being a capital charge, his Honor asked Mr Meymott to watch the case for the prisoner, and Mr Wallace consented to assist him. The case was remanded for the time.


    James Black was indicted for that he did, at Newcastle, on the 10th July, commit a crime of the above nature. Prisoner was defended by Mr FW Meymott, instructed by Mr Wallace.

    The evidence called for the Crown was that of the arresting constable, a boy named Tarrant, and a young man named Rogers. The last witness was the only one who deposed to the actual offence being committed. His evidence was to the effect that he saw the prisoner in the act of committing the offence. Prisoner was arrested about noon.

    For the defence, Robert Breckenridge owner of the horse; William Turner, carter in Mr Breckenridge’s employ; and George Frost, a storekeeper, deposed that the horse referred to was what was called a “rig.” It was a very vicious one. The owner and carter, knew the animal for 2½ or 3 years, and both said it was their conviction that it was impossible to commit the act. Both of them afraid to go near the heels of the horse. Turner tried to touch the horse’s tail, and was afraid it would break its neck, being tied up. Robert Downey, innkeeper, was also called and said prisoner left his place at half past nine. He resided a mile from Breckenridge’s paddock.

    In reply Sergeant Finnegan deposed that he went to the stable after the arrest, and found the horse perfectly quiet, and allowed its tail to be freely handled.

    The learned counsel addressed the jury for the defence, pointing out alleged contradictions in the evidence, and also laying great stress upon the evidence as to the character of the horse by the witnesses for the defence.

    His Honor summed up the case to the jury, pointing out that they were entitled to find a verdict of guilty of the capital offence or of the attempt, or one of not guilty. He pointed out the different evidence given by the various witnesses.

    The jury retired at ten minutes past twelve, and at twenty minutes past one returned into Court with a verdict of not guilty. The prisoner was discharged, his Honor remarking that he had better take care what he was about; he had better not get drunk.


1  Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Tue 12 Jul 1881, p. 2. Emphasis added.

2  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 18 Oct 1881, p. 3. Emphasis added.

3  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 25 Oct 1881, p. 4. Emphasis added.