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1925, Rupert Adam Stigant - Unfit For Publication
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Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Wed 18 Jun 1919 1


    The situation of the new day and boarding school for boys at Newcastle has been decided upon. The college will be situated at the corner of Bull and Elizabeth streets, Mayfield. The school is on elevated ground, just beyond the Waratah golf links, and only 7 minutes from the Mayfield tram terminus. It stands considerably above the surrounding houses, and commands a fine view of the Hunter River, and the whole of Newcastle. There is, approximately, an acre and a half of ground round the house, and adjacent thereto is a paddock of over three acres for the boys to play in. The attention of parents is called to the fact that the school is advertised to open on Wednesday, July 23rd.

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Singleton Argus, Tue 24 Jun 1919 2



This Establishment will be opened on WEDNESDAY, July 23rd, as a BOARDING AND DAY SCHOOL for Boys of all ages. The comfort of Boarders will be well looked after, and domestic arrangements will be in the hands of a competent Lady Matron—Housekeeper. Pupils will be entered for any of the Professional, Commercial, or University Entrance Examination when required. For Prospectus apply Box 227, PO, Newcastle.


   Scholar of King’s School, Canterbury, and Liverpool College, England. Some time First Assistant at Turramurra College, NSW, and Senior House Master at New England Grammar School, Glen Innes. Over 10 years’ teaching experience.

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The Maitland Daily Mercury, Sat 3 Jan 1925





Boys prepared for all Public Examinations, Healthy elevated position. Large playgrounds. Sleeping-out Verandahs

Interviews with the Headmaster may be arranged by appointment.

   For Prospectus apply.



'Phone Waratah 252 6658

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Singleton Argus, Thu 26 Nov 1925 4


    The arrest of a young school teacher charged with a serious offence, created a sensation at a city hotel on Tuesday night.

    On Tuesday afternoon the Sydney Detective Office was advised that a warrant had been issued at Newcastle for Rupert Adam Stigant, aged 38, described as a school teacher.

    Detectives were assigned to the case, and arrested Stigant at the hotel at 7 pm. He was taken to the Central Police Station, and charged with the offence, which, the police allege, was committed at Sydney on November 9.

    Bail was not granted. Stigant was to have appeared before the Central Police Court yesterday morning.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Truth, Sun 29 Nov 1925 5


    NEWCASTLE received a severe shock during the week when it became known that the principal of a swagger educational establishment outside the coal city, had been arrested in Sydney and charged with a serious offence.

    ALLEGATIONS of a serious and startling nature have been made against the principal. Detectives Anderson and Geldart effected his arrest.

The accused is a dapper little individual, and one of the most learned men that the college has had for some years.

    Doting parents had no reason to complain of the progress made by their young hopefuls under the new principal’s regime. He certainly attended to his work.

    The school has an excellent educational reputation, and this was well maintained by the principal.

    The boys who attended the college are the sons of the northern city’s socially elect. Their parents are of that class which is commonly known as the “best society.”

    Pupils are also taken from all over the State, as the college has a reputation for the physical development of the boys.

    The ages of the boys at the school vary from nine to fifteen.

    On Tuesday, in Sydney, Rupert Adam Stigant (38), headmaster of Hunter College, Mayfield, Newcastle, was arrested and charged with a serious offence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 9 Dec 1925 6

Wednesday, December 9.


    Rupert Adam Stigant, indecency; Alfred Albert Shirley, indecency; Frederick Launder, inflict grievous bodily harm.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Daily Telegraph, Thu 10 Dec 1925 7

(Before Judge Cohen.)

    Crown Prosecutor, Mr LJ McKean.


    Rupert Adam Stigant, for whom Mr HE McIntosh appeared, pleaded guilty in the Quarter Sessions to a charge of indecent assault, [buggery on Spencer Thomas Curley, 14 years], at Sydney, on November 9, and was remanded for sentence and medical observation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 10 Dec 1925 8

(Before Judge Cohen.)

    Crown Prosecutor, Mr LJ McKean.


    Rupert Adam Stigant, 38, pleaded guilty to having committed an indecent assault at Sydney on November 9, and was remanded for sentence and for medical observation.

    Mr HE McIntosh appeared for the prisoner.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Newcastle Sun, Fri 18 Dec 1925 9

Rupert Adam Stigant. Image: Truth, (Syd, NSW), Sun 29 Nov 1925, p. 16. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Rupert Adam Stigant. Image: Truth, (Syd, NSW),
Sun 29 Nov 1925, p. 16. Reproduction: Peter de Waal


Sydney, Friday.

    A sentence of five years’ imprisonment was passed at the Darlinghurst Sessions to-day on Rupert Adam Stigant, aged 28, a school teacher, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault.

    Evidence was given that Stigant, a schoolmaster at Newcastle, had moved in the best circles and had borne an excellent character.

    Judge Cohen in passing sentence, said that the offence was an abominable one, and he was sorry that the law had not given him power to pass a heavier penalty.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Barrier Miner, Sat 19 Dec 1925 10



Sydney, Saturday.

    At the Darlinghurst Quarter Sessions yesterday Rupert Adam Stigant (38), schoolmaster, pleaded guilty a charge of indecent assault, and was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude.

    It was stated that he lived in Newcastle, had borne an exemplary character.

    Judge Cohen said the offence was an abominable one and he was sorry that the law had not given him power to pass a longer sentence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Daily Telegraph, Sat 19 Dec 1925 11

(Before Judge Cohen.)

    Crown Prosecutor, Mr LJ McKean.


    The following persons who had pleaded guilty, or had been convicted, were sentenced:—

    Rupert Adam Stignant [sic] (39), school-master, indecent assault—five years’ penal servitude.

Some Comparisons

    The Minister for Justice is to be commended on his efforts to introduce new methods of reform in the different prisons under his control, and will have the sympathetic support of all those who believe that we have outlived the days when severity was considered the only effective treatment.

    Of course, he will be charged with making prison life too attractive, but those who imagine life in gaol, even under the most favorable circumstances, is a thing to be desired, simply do not understand the situation.

    It is all very well to say, “Serve them right.” “The public must be protected,” and to satisfy an uneasy conscience with other self-righteous platitudes, but it must be remembered that many of these prisoners are men of the lowest mentality, and have never had a fair chance. Whether it be because of heredity or environment, they have been unable to resist the manifold temptations to which they have been subjected, and are more or less victims of the force of circumstances. A friend of mine, who often contributes to their entertainment, said the other day, “You can tell them from me that it is only by a fluke that I am not in the audience.” And while it is true that there are some inside the walls who ought to be out, it is equally true that there are many outside who ought to be in.

    To treat these men with undue severity only makes their case more hopeless, and they are no sooner discharged than they are re-arrested and sent back again. It is far better to aim at a permanent reformation. Where kindly methods prevail, we are in a position to say, “The question of the treatment of prisoners now rests with yourselves. If you behave decently, you will be treated leniently; if not, the authorities will be compelled to revert to the stern ways.” I have ventured, in a private letter to the Minister for Justice, to make one or two suggestions for the reformation of prisoners. They are as follows:—

    1. Education by Correspondence.—This, I understand, has been successfully tried and universally adopted in America, with the most satisfactory results. It gives the prisoner an interest in life, perhaps prevents him from becoming mentally deranged, and fits him to pursue some useful calling when discharged.

    2. A Wireless Installation.—There are those who are prepared to provide the necessary instruments and to give periodical demonstrations, either on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, for the entertainment and instruction of the prisoners, and we are now only waiting the necessary permission to introduce this most modern means of interesting those who are practically shut out from the outside world. I believe that the effect would be most beneficial.

    3. The Discharge of Reformed Prisoners.—I know some men whose reformation is beyond all question. They have been carefully instructed for years, and are now generally admitted to be sincere and earnest, and are anxious to redeem the past. Why not give them a chance? What sense is there in keeping such men shut up in prison for the term of their natural lives? Some of them, I am personally convinced, though originally desperately bad characters, did not commit the actual crimes for which they were convicted.


Berrima courthouse, built 1838. Photo: Peter de Waal
Berrima courthouse, built 1838. Photo: Peter de Waal

    A friend recently sent me some photographs of Berrima Gaol, inscribed with the words “For auld lang syne.” This is not as serious as it may at first appear. It only means that 60 years ago we played together on the banks of the Wingecarribee, and around the precincts of the old gaol, which is now happily closed, as unfit for the incarceration of even the most desperate specimens of humanity. In his book entitled “In Old Australia,” Rev James S Hassall, who was for 20 years a chaplain of Berrima Gaol, gives some interesting records of his experiences under the old regime of severity and inhumanity. The gaol and court house at Berrima were erected in 1830, and at the time of which Mr Hassall writes all kinds of barbarities were in vogue. Long periods of solitary confinement, sometimes in dark cells, gagging, spread-eagling, and other tortures were of common occurrence. The inevitable result was that the prisoners were driven to a state bordering on insanity, and, if the opportunity offered, murdered their keepers.

    On one occasion a number of men shut themselves up in their dining hall and refused to surrender. Orders were given to shoot them down through the window, when Mr Hassall arrived on the scene. He asked for five minutes’ grace, and reasoned with the men, who agreed to surrender to him, provided they were not “insulted.” They then opened the door and marched quietly to their cells, and when the sheriff came up, a few days later, to punish them, they were, at the instigation of the chaplain, let off with an admonition.

    Mr Hassall obtained the release of several men who had been wrongfully convicted on circumstantial evidence, and by his constant interest on their behalf obtained their confidence. He says, “it was very sad to find, as I often did, young men, native born, who had been brought to gaol simply through lack of home-training. They had been taught that it was quite right to steal cattle from a man who had plenty of them, and would never miss a few, but to rob a stockman was a great sin.”


    There was one case of an orphan lad, who came from an English Reformatory. A distinguished visitor was examining the class in Scripture, and when asked to name the three sons of Noah, he replied, “Shadrach, Mesech, and Abednego.” He was punished so severely for this mistake that he became reckless, and gave much trouble. He was eventually sent to Melbourne in a prison ship, and finally landed in Berrima Gaol. He once said to the chaplain, “You are the only person in the world, sir, who has ever said a kind word to me!”

    There is another case cited of a man receiving a sentence of seven years for stealing, when intoxicated, a few yards of calico from a shop window. Vengeance against evildoers was the outcry. The though of an offender against the law being a fellow creature, a brother man, then never entered the minds of those who had the charge of prisoners. Mr Hassall was a great believer in providing the men with good literature. He says, “The immense amount of idle time must be employed solely with their own morbid thoughts, unless they are provided with profitable reading to occupy the mind. There are many extracts in these experiences, from letters received from prisoners, and from the relatives and friends of prisoners, all of which go to show that a kind word, and a kind deed are not soon forgotten.

    And now all has changed, the swing of the pendulum marks the other extreme, and it remains to be seen what will be the outcome.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Northern Star, Sat 19 Dec 1925 12


Sydney, Friday.

    At the Darlinghurst Sessions to-day Rupert Adam Stigant (38), a schoolmaster, pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault, and was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. It was stated that he moved in the best circles in Newcastle, and up to the time of the offence had borne an exemplary character.

     Judge Cohen said the offence was an abominable one, and he was sorry the law had not given him power to pass a longer sentence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 19 Dec 1925 13

(Before Judge Cohen.)

    Crown Prosecutor, Mr LJ McKean.


    The following persons were dealt with as stated:—

    Rupert Adam Stignant, [sic] 39, schoolmaster, indecent assault, five years’ penal servitude.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Truth, Sun 27 Dec 1925 14

More Stories of Immorality at Hunter College
(From “truths” Newcastle Representative.)

Hunter College, Mayfield. Image: Truth, (Syd, NSW), Sun 27 Dec 1925, p. 11. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Hunter College, Mayfield. Image: Truth, (Syd, NSW), Sun 27
Dec 1925, p. 11. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

COALOPOLIS citizens had not recovered from the shock attending the sensational arrest of Rupert A[dam] Stigant, one-time headmaster of the Hunter College, Mayfield, but now convicted felon serving a sentence of five years for an indecent assault, when it became known that another school-master from the same college had also been arrested and charged with unspeakable offences.

AND not only in school circles did these arrests cause such profound astonishment. Both Stigant and the second teacher were well-known scoutmasters in the Newcastle district, and their apprehension and subsequent exposure of their filthy practices, have been a great set-back to the movement started with such high ideals by Sir Baden Powell.

STIGANT was the first teacher from this select college to get into trouble.

    Now, this second man, whose name [see: 1926, Henry Stafford Champion] we cannot publish at this stage, has admitted from the dock of the Newcastle Children’s Court that he has been equally guilty of diabolical conduct.

    The evidence in the case was so disgusting that habitues of such courts remarked at its conclusion that they had never heard a worse instance of moral depravity.

    And ‘twas not the fault of the poor heart-broken mother of one of the boys that the prisoner did not get severely handled.

For when the case was over she suddenly lost all control over herself, and springing towards the dock where the prisoner was standing dejectedly, she screamed: “You dirty hound, I’ll kill you. You ruined my darling son, and you’ll pay, you beast.”

    The infuriated woman made a blow at the accused, but by this time four police officers had dashed to her, and they had to use force to restrain the by now demented woman.

Screaming and moaning, she was hustled from the court as gently as was possible under the circumstances.

    The accused man is tall and thin and slightly bald. Without collar or tie and with a listless look about him, he hung his head throughout the hearing of the case, and at times seemed on the verge of collapse.

Watched By Police

    In cold and unemotional tones a detective-sergeant told the court the whole sorry tale, but “Truth,” in the interests of public morality, cannot publish anything like all that was said in evidence.

    The officer told the court that in company with a plain-clothes constable, the boy’s mother and the lad himself, he proceeded in December 18 to the Hunter College, Bull-street, Mayfield.
    “The boy, who is but 9 years of age, left us,” said witness, “and went into the college, while the police and the mother secreted themselves outside.

“Shortly afterwards we saw the accused and the boy come from the front of the school-house and enter the accused’s bedroom. The door was closed and locked.

    “The plain-clothes constable lay down on the floor, and looked through the space between the door and the floor. Then the door was later opened and the occupants of the room came out.

    “We entered, and accused said to me: ‘Good night. I have just sent a little boy home’.”

“I said: ‘We have been outside your bedroom, and the constable has been watching and listening to what has taken place here to-night’.”

    “‘This boy told me at the police station that during the past five or six months you have been committing serious offences regularly, and also, that three or four days before the school broke up you had acted with some indecency’.”

“I Am Guilty”

    The sergeant said he cautioned the accused in the usual manner, but then he said accused held out his hands, and crossing his wrists said,

“I am guilty. I can’t help myself.”

    The lad was then asked by the detective to repeat what he had told him at the police station. He had commenced to relate a shocking story, said the detective, when accused interrupted and said:

    “Don’t ask the little boy to repeat it. Don’t blame him. I am to blame. I can’t help it. I am guilty.”

“I am worse than Stigant, if that is possible. This is a case of one hypocrite condemning another.

    “I can’t help it. Oh, I would sooner anyone to have caught me than you.”

    Accused, said the detective then said, “Take me. I am guilty!”

    At the Newcastle Police Station the prisoner volunteered a statement, which was read in Court.

    In the course of the statement the accused is alleged to have said that he went away to a scout camp at Toronto, and slept in the same tent as one of the boys, and that something occurred.

“Knew It Was Wrong”

    “I knew that such things were wrong,” ran the statement, “and I really wanted to break myself from such things. I have tried hard never to commit such a sin.”

    The statement here runs on to tell of unspeakable happenings.

Later on in the statement the accused said one boy told him Stigant had acted immorally with a boy.

“I have tried honestly never to give way to these acts.”

    Afterwards accused said to the detective, “I want you to do your best for little —–  —– to put him on the right track. I wish I had met you years ago, Mr —–.”

    When charged accused made no reply.

    Evidence of a similar nature was given by the plain-clothes officer, who added that he could not see through the window of accused’s bedroom because the blinds were drawn and pinned together, so he watched through a crack under the door.

    Relating what he heard going on in the room, witness said accused remarked to the boy, “Oh, —–, do stop to-night and be a sport!”

    The boy then said something, and they both came out of the room. The rest of witness’ evidence corroborated that of the detective-sergeant.

Boy’s Story

    At this stage the poor unfortunate mother of the lad came into Court with her diminutive son. She was advised by the Bench not to stay, but on her son expressing the wish that she remain, she did so, seating herself at the back of the Court.

    The lad on whom the offence was alleged to have been committed was then sworn, and when asked to identify the accused, he did so unhesitatingly.

    The prisoner bowed his head between his hands, and sank down on the seat in the dock, and turning his back on the young witness, remained inert throughout the hearing.

Such a story of revolting moral depravity has surely never come from the lips of a child as this boy told!

    He said he had been at the Hunter College for about a year, and about six months ago became very friendly with the accused. He said the accused had promised to give him a camera, but had not done so.

    At this stage Mr Shropshire, SM, committed accused for trial at the next Quarter Sessions at Newcastle on March 9, or at such other court as the Attorney-General may direct. Bail was allowed, self in £200, and two in £100, or one in £200.

Prisoner’s Tears

    After the customary warning had been administered, accused expressed the wish to say something. From the dock he said, ‘midst tears, and in trembling tones, that his own brother had taught him to be a pervert.

    “I told my sister when I came out to Australia that I would have nothing to do with the opposite sex.

“I tried my hardest to fight against what I have been doing. I came back from the war with shell shock.”

    “I saw a clergyman recently and he told me to go on hoping. I do hope, because I realise I have still got a soul.

    “I am very sorry for what I have done, I have tried never to do such things. But I can’t help it.

“I beg of you, your Worship, not to lock me up for the rest of my life. I would sooner be locked up in a lunatic asylum than a gaol.”

    The Magistrate informed the prisoner that he had no power to lock him up. All his province was to commit for trial. Prisoner could make any appeal to the judge that he so desired.

    Prior to leaving the court-room the sensational incident already referred to between the mother and the prisoner occurred, and for some time the poor woman’s moans and screams could be heard in the court-room.

With The Scouts

    At a later stage a second charge against the ex-school teacher and scout master was preferred, the lad in this case being a Boy Scout, 12 years of age. He was not a pupil of Hunter College.

The boy related going on a scouting expedition with accused and others at Toronto. Accused was his scout-master. At Toronto he slept in the same tent with accused, and he resisted in full what he alleged took place.

    “All the time we were at Toronto,” he said, “things occurred, sometimes more gross than others.”

    Police evidence was given to the effect that when questioned on the alleged offences at Toronto accused said, “I don’t deny it.”

    On this charge accused was also committed for trial.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Rupert Adam Stigant, Gaol photo sheet 15

SRNSW: NRS2467, [3/6115], State Penitentiary photographic description book, 31 Jul 1925-24 Dec 1925, No. 21316, –.

Gaol Photo Sheet - 
Transcribed Details

No. 21316

Date when Portrait was taken: 10-12-1925

Name: Rupert Adam Stigant

Native place: England

Year of birth: 31-12-1886

Arrived       Ship: Oruba
in Colony } Year: 1908

Trade or occupation
previous to conviction } School master

Religion: C of E

Education, degree of: R & W

Height: 5' 5¼"

Weight    On committal: 135
in lbs    } On discharge:

Colour of hair: Light brown

Colour of eyes: Blue

Marks or special features: Bald on top of head. Bridge of nose prominent

(No. of previous Portrait ... ) 


Where and When Offence. Sentence

Sydney Q.S




Indecent assault on a male person

5years P.S. from 28-11-1925.


1     Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Wed 18 Jun 1919, p. 6.

2     Singleton Argus, Tue 24 Jun 1919, p. 3.

3     The Maitland Daily Mercury, Sat 3 Jan 1925, p. 8.

4     Singleton Argus, Thu 26 Nov 1925, p. 2.

5     Truth, (Syd, NSW), Sun 29 Nov 1925, p. 16.

6     The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 9 Dec 1925, p. 13. Emphasis added.

7     The Daily Telegraph, Thu 10 Dec 1925, p. 5.

8     The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 10 Dec 1925, p. 8.

9     The Newcastle Sun, (NSW), Fri 18 Dec 1925, p. 5.

10   Barrier Miner, Sat 19 Dec 1925, p. 1.

11   The Daily Telegraph, Sat 19 Dec 1925, pp. 7, 25.

12   Northern Star, Sat 19 Dec 1925, p. 5.

13   The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 19 Dec 1925, p. 12.

14   Truth, (Syd, NSW), Sun 27 Dec 1925, p. 11. Emphasis in original and added.

15   SRNSW: NRS2467, [3/6115], State Penitentiary photographic description book, 31 Jul 1925-24 Dec 1925, No. 21316, –.