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The National Advocate, Sat 26 Jun 1897 1


Cowra, Friday.

    The Quarter Sessions were opened yesterday before his Honor Judge Docker. Mr Murray prosecuted for the Crown. Thos W St John was acquitted on a charge of wife desertion. Thos A Murray was found not guilty on a charge of beastiality [sic]. In discharging the prisoner, his Honor made a strong reflection on the jury, who are all well-known respectable men, the foreman being Mr HHS Francis, JP, returning-officer for the Crown electorate. After the foreman announced the verdict his Honor said to the prisoner: “The jury say you are not guilty, although you appear to have doubts about it. It seems peculiar that the jury should return a verdict of not guilty when you say you were guilty.” The prisoner was defended by Mr Phillips, MP, and pleaded not guilty.

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The Cowra Free Press and Canowindra, Goolagong, Cargo, Grenfell and Young General Advertiser, Thu 1 Jul 1897 2

Before His Honor Judge Docker.

    Mr HW Shuttleworth, Deputy Sheriff, and Dr Cortis, JP, occupied seats on the bench.

    Legal gentlemen present:—Mr JHP Murray, Crown Prosecutor, and Messrs Phillips, Garden, and Mason, solicitors.


    Thomas Anthony Murry [sic–Murray] (an aged man), arraigned on a charge of committing an unnatural offence, [bestiality with a sheep ], at the Commercial Hotel, Goolagong, on February 13th, pleaded not guilty.

    Mr Philips defended the accused.

    Jury—HHS Francis (foreman), A McWilliam, H Taylor, GF Oll, J Swindle, A McLeod, GT Lockyer, E Riley, J Whiteman, T Cusack, J Purcell, and A Goodacre.

    The accused challenged two jurors.

    His Honor in discharging the remainder of the panel complimented the district on the lightness of the calendar.

    The Crown Prosecutor stated the case for the Crown.

    Herbert Tranter, licensee of the Commercial Hotel, Goolagong, and accused’s former employer, gave very positive evidence regarding the commission of the offence. Under cross-examination he maintained that an important portion of his Police Court depositions were incorrect, despite the fact of his signature being appended thereto.

    Constable Richard Nancarrow, deposed he was stationed at Goolagong; while conversing with the accused he asked him if he remembered Saturday, 13th February, and he said “No;” he also said that he knew nothing about Tranter seeing him commit the offence with which he stands charged; accused asked Tranter if he was to go to work in the morning, and witness then told him he was going to arrest him; after arrest, and while on the way to the lockup, accused said “This comes of being in a public house. I never done it. I must have been drunk. Who told you I done it?” [witness] replied that Tranter told him, and accused then said, “If Mr Tranter said I done it I must have done it;” he was suffering from the effects of drink, but was not drunk at the time.

    By Mr Phillips: Owing to his condition I had to give accused some spirits on the morning after his arrest; did not advise him to plead guilty; have known accused about 7 or 8 years, and during that period he has borne a good character; I reside near Tranter’s hotel and see Tranter often, still I heard nothing about the offence until March 17th; I then heard of it in this way:—I was going up the yard at the back of Tranter’s hotel, when I heard Tranter say to a man, whom I afterwards ascertained was accused, “Clear out at once. If you don’t do so I will tell Nancarrow what you did in my stable. I can give you 5 years for it;” heard accused say something to Tranter about the weight of potatoes; I sometimes join Tranter in the purchase of sheep from Mrs O’Donnell for household use; accused drinks to excess sometimes.

    For the defence.

    John Grimshaw gave accused an excellent character.

    CK Rose, Stock and Station Agent, Cowra, deposed that Tranter came into his office after accused’s committal, and on being questioned as to the nature of the offence he pointed to the model of a sheep in front of witness’s office; and later on said action was taken because he owed him a pound or two.

    George Payne, deposed he was a farmer residing near Goolagong; asked Tranter on March 19th what had become of Anthony, the old man, and he replied “Oh he was committed;” remarked that it was strange he should have been committed owing to the long interval after the date of the alleged offence, but Tranter replied, “Oh, I have my own reasons for that;” asked what they were? And he said “He owed me money;” during the many years he had known accused he had always been an excellent character.

    By Crown Prosecutor: The conversation took place in Tranter’s hotel; have known Tranter since he became licensee of the hotel; he distinctly said that his reason for not giving accused in charge was because he owed him (Tranter) money.

    David O’Shea, JP, deposed he had known accused 15 or 16 years, and his character was good during that time; he had been in witness’ employ part of the time.

    Gustavus Adolphus Hosie, JP, spoke highly of accused’s moral character during a 13 or 14 years knowledge of him, and added that his only failing was a fondness of liquor.

    His Honor: There is nothing immoral in drinking at Goolagong, I suppose.

    John Dowd, grazier, near Goolagong, had known accused for 23 years, half of which time he was employed by him; he had always found him honest, trustworthy, and moral in his conversation and actions; he had often left children in his charge.

    Evidence in reply.

    Herbert Tranter (recalled): I did not speak to Mr Rose in his office, as stated, but I had a conversation with him at Goolagong in the yard of my hotel; never said one word to him about accused owing me a pound or two; Payne’s evidence is wholly false; I was particularly cautious not to say anything to him about the case, because I knew he was friendly with the accused. (When witness was about to show that Mr Rose’s evidence was actuated by animus towards him, his Honor stopped him.)

    Tranter’s Police Court depositions were submitted in evidence by Mr Phillips.

    Mr Phillips, in the course of a forcible appeal, asked the jury to discredit the evidence of Tranter, on the ground that his action in retaining the accused in his employment after the date of the alleged abominable offence, and his keeping the knowledge of it locked up in his bosom for over two months, indicated that there was no foundation for the charge. He maintained any right minded man would have kicked the offender off his premises in the most summary manner. He referred to the good character given accused by some of the most respectable residents of Goolagong as a sufficient refutation of the evidence of one man. He next dwelt on the probability of a man of accused’s advanced years committing such a crime. He confidently asked the jury to acquit the accused.

    His Honor in summing up the evidence remarked that if the jury disbelieved Tranter’s evidence they should acquit the accused, but before adopting such a course they should be satisfied that Tranter was a man whose statements were unworthy of credence. The advocate for the defence had not sought to impugn Tranter’s testimony while he was in the witness box, when his whole life could have been laid bare to them. Tranter was certainly wrong in not putting the law in motion as soon as he possibly could. Still, however blameworthy he might be in that respect, his conduct afforded accused no good ground for complaint. When questioned as to why action was delayed, Tranter said that accused implored him not to say anything about it, and promised not to offend again, hence he had compassion on the old man. He desired to impress on them that the accused himself had not made any complaint about the delay, but it emanated from the learned advocate, who was bound to do the best he could for his client. The statement made to Constable Nancarrow, he held, strengthened case for the Crown. He strongly commented on accused’s refraining from going into the witness box to give evidence in his own behalf. The evidence given for the defence went to show that accused had borne a good character for many years, if his drinking habits were excepted, but drinking was evidently a venial offence at Goolagong. Evidence as to character was, however, of little value, as some of the most notorious criminals of the day had borne good characters at some period of their existence, and in the present instance it did not show that accused could not have committed the offence. He did not attach any importance to the variance between Tranter’s Police Court evidence and that given by him at the trial, as it was quite possible some mistake had been made by the deposition clerk. Only very recently he had heard one of the highest dignitaries in the land dispense with the final “g” where words ended with “ing,” and he believed the practise was quite fashionable with a certain class of people at the present time, hence it was quite possible for the clerk to have mistaken one word for another in Tranter’s case. He maintained that Tranter’s evidence was uncontradicted, thus they must believe that witness had committed wilful and corrupt perjury before they could acquit the accused.

    The jury retired at 3.30 pm, and returned again at 4.20 to ascertain accused’s age. Constable Nancarrow said accused had informed him he was 19 years old. The jury then retired and did not return again until 9 o’clock, when a verdict of not guilty was recorded.

    His Honor: Murray, the jury say you are not guilty. You had doubts about it yourself. You may consider yourself lucky. Having admitted the offence it seems a peculiar thing the jury should acquit you. You are discharged.


1     The National Advocate, Sat 26 Jun 1897, p. 3. Emphasis added.

2     The Cowra Free Press and Canowindra, Goolagong, Cargo, Grenfell and Young General Advertiser, Thu 1 Jul 1897, p. 2. Emphasis added.