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Below also see: William Bell, 1902

The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Tue 23 Apr 1901


    At the Wagga Police Court on Saturday, before Mr G Martin, PM, William Bell was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for a gross act of indecency, committed near The Rock on the previous day. Mr Martin again occupied the Bench, yesterday.

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Wagga Wagga Express, Tue 23 Apr 1901 2

Saturday, April 20, 1901.
(Before Mr G Martin, PM.)


    A middle-aged man named William Bell was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labor for committing an act of indecency at The Rock on April 19.



William Bell, 1902

Evening News, Fri 7 Feb 1902 3


    JUNEE, Thursday Afternoon.—William Bell, the man who was yesterday arrested by Constable O’Connor on a charge of assaulting Eveleen [sic] Crowe at Mitta Mitta, was brough up before the police court this morning. Mr Collis being on the bench. The girl identified the accused, although he was placed among a number of other men. The accused was then formally charged with assaulting Eveleen Mary Crowe, of Mitta Mitta on February 3. Sergeant Bedingfield applied for a remand to Tuesday next, which was granted.

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The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Thu 13 Feb 1902 4


    William Bell, who was recently arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the outrage on a school girl at Mitta Mitta, near Junee, was brought before the police court at Junee on Tuesday. Inspector Smith, of Wagga, conducted the case for the prosecution, and accused was committed for trial to the next quarter sessions to be held at Wagga. The Police Magistrate (Mr Treatt), who presided, complimented the police on the prompt action they had taken in the matter.

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Sunday Times, Sun 16 Feb 1902 5


    The case against Wm Bell, the tramp, who was arrested for an alleged attempted outrage on Evelyn Mary Crowe, aged 15, at Mitta, on the 3rd instant (as reported in last issue), was heard at the Junee [Police] Court on Tuesday.

    Evidence was given by Constable O’Connor, of Junee (who effected the arrest), by the girl, her mother, and her little brother (aged 9); also by Dr ButtonJohn Clarke (a farmer), and by a man named [Edward] Sheard (a bullock-driver on Dollar Vale Station), who, along with two others, tried to capture the man shortly after the offence was alleged to have been committed, but whom the tramp kept at bay with a pea-rifle. The case was heard with closed doors.

    When the case for the prosecution closed, the accused, on being asked had he anything to say, said he was not guilty.

    He was committed for trial at the Wagga sessions on the 19th instant. Bail was not allowed.

    The police magistrate complimented Constable O’Connor on the plucky manner in which he faced the accused and effected his arrest.

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Wagga Wagga Express, Tue 18 Feb 1902 6


    The Court of Quarter Sessions for the police district of Wagga opens tomorrow. Acting-Judge Browning has now finished the hearing of cases at Albury, and will probably arrive here to-day. The Crown Prosecutor is Mr Pitburn. There are eight cases set down for hearing as follows:—

    William Bell, assault, Mitta Mitta, with intent to commit a rape; 3rd February;

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The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Thu 20 Feb 1902 7


    During the hearing of a case at the Quarter Sessions yesterday afternoon, His Honor Acting Judge Browning publicly drew the attention of the clerk of works who is supervising the construction of the tower at the new building, to what he terms a defect. His Honor pointed out that the afternoon sun was reflecting very fiercely on the bench, and although the windows had been closed, still it was disagreeable for him to sit there and also for those on the bench with him.

Wednesday, February 19.
Before his Honor Acting-Judge Browning.

    Mr Pitcairn acted as Crown Prosecutor. The other members of the Bar present were Messrs White, Martin, and Stephens..

    His Honor, after the reading of his commission appointing him to act as chairman of the Quarter Sessions at Wagga, congratulated the people of Wagga on the improved arrangements for the holding of the court. He did not wish it ti be understood at the same time that his statement in any way affected the formal opening of the court house.


    Wm Henry Griffiths Mould and Richard Edward Cox were sworn in as magistrates.


    William Bell was arraigned on a charge of criminally assaulting Evelyn Mary Crowe, at Mitta Mitta, with intent to commit a rape. On February 3rd last.

    The prisoner, who pleaded not guilty, was undefended.

    The Crown Prosecutor, having briefly stated the case for the Crown, said there was no doubt at times girls invented horrible stories of assault by men, but the evidence would show that there was nothing of that kind in this case. Moreover, he did not think there was a single instance where this untruthfulness of girls’ stories of the kind referred to was not discovered when they were investigated before a jury.

    Before the examination of the principle witness, his Honor said he had no power to order the court to be closed, but it would certainly be an indication of good taste and feeling if the persons who had no business in court would withdraw while the prosecutrix in the case was giving her evidence. She was only a child in point of fact, and the interests of justice would be furthered if she was enabled to give her evidence with as little embarrassment as possible.

    The public in the gallery and body of the court immediately left the chamber at the conclusion of his Honor’s statement.

    Evelyn Mary Crowe deposed that she lived with her father and mother near Mitta Mitta, and went to the public school at Mitta Mitta, which was about three miles from her home. The road was through the paddocks. Went to school on Monday, 3rd February. Returned home at 3.30 pm. Miss McDonald accompanied her half way home. Saw accused sitting on his swag at the side of a dam about 20 minutes after Miss McDonald left her, and when she was about half a mile from home. It was about a mile from the house of a resident named Clarke. Accused was sitting about 20 yards from the road. Accused sang out :Where do you live.” Pointed in the direction of John Clarke’s and said “over there.” He then asked who lived in the other direction, and I replied that the Crowe’s lived there. Went along at a rapid rate, running a little. Looked back and saw accused following, had to stop running as my legs appeared to be paralysed. Accused then came up and caught me. Did not run more that [sic] forty yards altogether, accused did not call out to me to stop. When he came up and caught me by the waist with one arm. Cried out let me go. Accused said, “yes, I’ll let you go presently, I’m a good man, ain’t I. I replied, you wretch. (Witness went on to describe the other details of the alleged crime.) She stated she was screaming all the time after accused came up. He partially dragged and partially carried her a little distance into the bush, having placed a cloth over her mouth to prevent her screams being heard. She was, she said, a very strong girl, and struggled all the time. Accused got her to the fence, which was some distance from the road, accused placed her on the groung and held her down forcibly. Witness continued struggling, and got on her side. Accused threatened to kill her if she resisted. She screamed very loudly and struggled harder than ever, and nearly succeeded in getting up. Called out, “Father, father, come quick.” Accused got her down again; she did not know exactly how. She called again, “Father, father, come quick.” Prisoner said “Where?” and she pointed in the direction of Clarke’s paddock. The accused also looked in the same direction, and then got up and said she might go. He then went away, and witness got up and went home as quickly as she could. In the struggle accused pressed his hand on her mouth and broke one of her teeth, which was decayed. She was also scratched. The ribbon came off her hair, which fell down and was filled with grass seed. Had seen accused on the 30th January at her parent’s house. He came to the back and asked if there were any men at home. She said, “Yes,” and he asked if he could see them. Told him he could not, and he then went away and camped close at hand. Saw him going away next morning. When witness got home after the assault she told her mother what had occurred.

    Annie Crowe, mother of the last witness, said her daughter was 15 years old last September. Her little brother usually went to school with her, but on February 3 she went by herself. When she returned about 5 o’clock on that evening she was in a most excited condition, and had evidently been crying. There was a scratch on her nose and one of her teeth was gone. Her face was burning hot. Her hair was hanging loose around her shoulders, and was full of grass seed. Her muslin dress was also soiled with grass seed. She told witness what had happened, that a man had chased her and caught her on the road, that he put his hand on her mouth, and that after several struggles he took her off the road and got her down near the fence. He did not, she said, succeed in doing what he meant. He told her that he would kill when he had her down if she did not do what he wanted. She screamed again “Father, Father!” Accused said, “Where?” She said, “There,” and pointed in the direction of Clarke’s paddock. Accused then let her up and said, “Damn you, go.” Her daughter was a strong, sturdy girl, suffering from no ailments, but since the assault she had been very nervous. She had been always a good dutiful modest girl.

    Edward Sheardin deposed: Was a bullock driver on a station near Junee. Went to the dam in Crowe’s paddock on February 3rd and saw tracks of a man which he followed for a short distance and then lost, picked them up again and about a mile ahead saw the accused. The latter had a swag and a pea rifle. That would be about three miles from where witness first saw the tracks. Bade the accused good-day. Came back afterwards with two other men, about a quarter of an hour afterwards. Asked accused if he had any objections to coming back. At first he said “no,” but afterwards said “I am a detective and can show my papers of who I am and what I am, and any man who interferes with me or molests me on the highway, I’ll drill holes in him.” I said, as to your being a detective that has to be proved, as to drilling holes you have the drop on me, “You’ve got a gun and I have not.” Witness continued to watch accused, the other two men went away. Accused however, succeeded in getting away, and witness did not see him until he was brought before the Junee police court.

    Dr Button practising at Junee, deposed that he examined Miss Crowe, and found that she had not suffered material injury in any way. There was a slight scratch on the nose, and she had a tooth broken. She was a vergin. [sic]

    Robert James Crowe, nine years of age, having been sworn, stated that the accused called at their place about 9 pm at Thursday night, 30th January. He asked were there any men about. Witness said, “Yes, father’s sick in bed.” Then asked witness, “if he went to school.” He replied, “Yes, and my sister goes with me.” Prisoner was supplied with milk and sugar. Evelyn Crowe taking the things out to him. Accused camped near the place. They were all afraid because the accused was there, and witness and his sister went to a neighbor’s named Sinclair, and got one of the boys to come and stay all night.

    John Clarke, farmer, living at Mitta Mitta, about two miles from Crowe’s, stated that the accused camped on his place on 1st and 2nd February. Saw accused at 11 am on 3rd February. He said he was looking for work and witness said he thought Wautabadgery was a likely place to get work. Accused had with him a swag and a pea rifle.

    John Patrick O’Connor, constable, stationed at Junee, deposed to the arrest of the accused on 5th inst. Saw him in the bush about 26 miles from Junee, near Bethungra. He was carrying a swag and rifle on his shoulder. When within about 30 yards of the accused the latter saw witness, and accused immediately lifted his rifle in a threatening manner. Afterwards found that the rifle, which was a long pea rifle, was cocked ready for action. He then rode up to the accused with his revolver in his hand and told accused he was a constable and wanted a minutes’ conversation with him. Accused then put down the rifle and allowed witness to approach. Witness was not in constable’s uniform. When he got close to accused he jumped off his horse and seized the rifle. Asked accused if he were at Mitta Mitta on the previous day but one. He replied that he had been at Clarke’s, and had left on the day mentioned. When he left Clarke’s he said he went all round looking for work. He denied having seen a little girl at Mitta Mitta on that day. Asked him if he tried to shoot anyone. He said “No,” but some coves stuck him up and wanted him to go back with them, but as there was a row on he refused to go. Witness told him that a girl named Crowe had been assaulted at Mitta Mitta, and he (witness) would arrest him on suspicion. Accused said, “I am a private detective, and have more b—– right to arrest men than you have. Why have you not your uniform on. I never saw the girl and know nothing of it. There are a lot of coves about here now setting fire to the bush. Was present when the accused was identified by Miss Crowe. The were four men present altogether when she did so. There was one man among them particularly like him. She had no trouble in identifying him. She said at once, “That’s the man.” Asked her was she sure, and she said she was certain. Her brother also picked him out of twenty men at the line-up without any hesitation. Did everything possible to make the identification as fair as possible. Accused made no statement in the lock-up after he was identified further then remarked that “a girl may be mistaken.”

    This closed the case for the Crown.

    The accused [William Bell] elected to make a statement to the Jury instead of giving evidence. He denied having assaulted the prosecutrix, but admitted being at Mitta Mitta on the day named. He left Clarke’s about 12 noon on that day. He also referred to the doctor’s evidence that no harm had been done to the girl.

    His Honor in summing up said that crimes such as that charged against the accused were becoming a blot upon Australian life. The fact, however, should not influence the jury’s mind against the prisoner, whose fate should be decided solely upon the evidence. The girl had certainly given her evidence in a very clear, intelligent way, and if they believed her story, there was only one conclusion to come to.

    The jury after a short retirement returned a verdict of guilty, and the accused was remanded for sentence.

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The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, Fri 21 Feb 1902 8


    The Quarter Sessions commenced, before Acting Judge Browning, on Wednesday. Charles Wilks pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery and uttering. William Bell was found guilty of an assault on a girl 15 years of age at Mitta, 16 miles from Junee, on February 3. Both were remanded for sentence.

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The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Wed 22 Feb 1902 9

Thursday, February 19. [sic-20]

    Before his Honor Acting-Judge Browning.

    Mr Pitcairn acted as Crown Prosecutor. The other members of the Bar present were Messrs White, Martin, and Stephens.

Friday, February 21.

    Wm Bell, who had been found guilty of attempted rape on a school girl at Mitta Mitta, was put forward for sentence. The prisoner said he had come from the Manning River and had never been in trouble before. His Honor said the prisoner had been found guilty of an offence which every effort must be made to put down. It was an offence which menaced the safety and comfort of every home in the bush. It was dreadful think to think that little girls going to or returning from school should be molested by such scoundrels as the prisoner. That the prisoner had vicious propensities was proved by his conviction by the magistrates for indecent exposure of his person [see 1901 court case above] before little girls. It was his duty to protect society from such a ruffian, by inflicting an exemplary sentence. He would therefore send him to penal servitude for a term of seven years.

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The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong, and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser, Tue 25 Feb 1902 10


    William Bell, who was convicted at the Wagga Quarter Sessions of attempting to criminally assault a child named Evelyn Mary Crowe at Mitta Mitta was sentenced to seven years penal servitude. The doctor suggested the desirability of a flogging, but it was not included in the sentence.

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William Bell, Gaol photo sheet  11

NRS2397 3_6010 photo 697 William Bell

Gaol Photo Sheet - 
Transcribed Details

No. 697

Date when Portrait was taken: 10 April; 1902

Name: William Bell

Native place: Manning River, NSW

Year of birth: 1865

Arrived       Ship:
in Colony }   Year:

Trade or occupation
previous to conviction  } Labourer

Religion: C of E

Education, degree of: R & W

Height: 5' 10½"

Weight     On committal: 152
in lbs     } On discharge:

Colour of hair: Dark brown to grey

Colour of eyes: Blue

Marks or special features: W. Bust heart surrounded by wreath or left fore arm with crown over all. Scar on left little finger. Two cars on right fore arm. Scar over left eyebrow. Scar on left instep. Mole on right cheek & shoulder.

(No. of previous Portrait ... ) 


Where and When Offence. Sentence

Wagga PC

Wagga Q.S







Expose his person

Assault with intent to commit a rape

6 months HL

7 years P.S.


1     The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Tue 23 Apr 1901, p. 2.

2     Wagga Wagga Express, Tue 23 Apr 1901, p. 4.

3     Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Fri 7 Feb 1902, p. 6.

4     The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Thu 13 Feb 1902, p. 2.

5     Sunday Times, (Sydney, NSW), Sun 16 Feb 1902, p. 8. Emphasis added.

6     Wagga Wagga Express, Tue 18 Feb 1902, p. 2.

7     The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Thu 20 Feb 1902, p. 2. Emphasis added.

8     The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, (NSW), Fri 21 Feb 1902, p. 24. Emphasis added.

9     The Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Sat 22 Feb 1902, p. 2.

10   The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong, and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser, Tue 25 Feb 1902, p. 2.

11   SRNSW: NRS2397, [3/6010], Parramatta gaol photographic description books, 20 Aug 1897-25 July 1905, No. 697, p. 115, R5137.