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1886, Joseph Howell - Unfit For Publication
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Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Sat 17 Jul 1886 1


    Before the Police-Magistrate.


    Joseph Howell, a man apparently about 45 or 50 years of age, was brought up on a charge of indecently assaulting a boy aged 11 years, named Alexander James Manson.

    He was also charged with committing a similar office on Archibald William Manson, age 13 years, a brother of the prosecutor in the first case. On both charges he was committed for trial at the next court of Quarter Sessions to be held on the 15th September. Both cases were heard with closed doors, and the evidence taken is unfit for publication. An application for bail by prisoner was refused.

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The Goulburn Herald, Sat 17 Jul 1886 2

    GOULBURN POLICE COURT.—There were no cases at the police court on Thursday. Yesterday, before the police magistrate,

    Joseph Howell, a married man between forty and fifty years of age, labourer, was charged on two informations with indecently assaulting at Belmore near Goulburn, Alexander James Manson and Arthur William [aka Archibald William] Manson, two boys of the respective ages of eleven and thirteen years, sons of his employer Alexander John Manson. The court sat with closed doors. The evidence of the two boys and their father was taken and went to prove prima facie cases. Prisoner declined to cross examine the witnesses, saying it would be no use as they were swearing falsely; and he did not make any statement. He was committed on both charges to the Goulburn quarter sessions to be held on the 15th September next. He applied for bail, but it was refused.

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Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Thu 16 Sep 1886 3


    This court opened at 10 am yesterday before his Honor Judge McFarland. Mr Pitcairn prosecuted on behalf of the Crown; and the solicitors present were Messrs AM Betts, J Davidson, HS Gannon, and H O’Brien. Mr CS Alexander, PM, represented the sheriff; and Mr Robertson, CPS, officiated as Clerk of the Court.


    Joseph Howell was then placed in the dock on a charge of having, at Belmont, near Goulburn, on the 13th July, indecently assaulted a boy named Alexander James Manson .

    The prisoner pleaded not guilty, and was undefended.

    The Crown-Prosecutor opened the case, in which he pointed out it was one of those disgusting cases that sometimes before them, the information being laid under the 60th section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. The evidence was very clear, and he did not think the jury would have any difficulty in convicting the accused.

    Alexander John Wares Manson, the father of the prosecutor, recognised the prisoner, who was a labourer and had been in his service about two years; prisoner was a married man, and lived in a hut in witness’s garden; on the 13th of July prisoner appeared to have been drinking; about a quarter of an hour afterwards he saw the prisoner near the water closet, about fifty years from where witness was standing; prisoner appeared to have hold of the boy by the arm, who tried to get away from him; the boy got away from prisoner, who then went away; he afterwards called the boy, but got no reply; afterwards the boy came to witness from behind the closet, and in consequence of a statement made to him he went to the prisoner’s hut; witness called the prisoner out and asked him what he had been doing to the boy, and he replied, “Nothing;” before prisoner’s wife witness said to him, “It is useless for you to deny it, because I saw you,” and added that he would believe the boy before he would prisoner; witness asked the boy in prisoner’s presence if his (prisoner’s) wife did not come down to him whilst he was in the garden, and he said she did; prisoner’s wife said to the boy, “Yes, you speak the truth; I know that he is guilty;” witness had not seen the prisoner since his committal until now.

    To prisoner: Witness could distinctly see the prisoner fifty yards away, although a fence and bush intervened; he had not brought this case in order to get prisoner off his land; he paid him 10s a week wages and allowed him to grow vegetables to assist in recompensing him for his labour; the two years which witness had engaged him for expired in July last, and was not extended till January next.

    Alexander James Manson, a boy 11 years of age, gave lengthy evidence in which he narrated the circumstances surrounding the offence, which were of a disgusting nature, and entirely unfit for publication. His testimony went to show that prisoner committed the offence on two separate occasions, with about a fortnight intervening between them.

    Ann Gromley, a servant in Manson’s employ, corroborated the statement of the boy in many of the circumstances that he had narrated.

    The prisoner [Joseph Howell] addressed the jury briefly, in which he declared that he was entirely innocent and that the case had been brought against him altogether through spite.

    His Honor summed up, and the jury retired at 11.45am, and after half-an-0hour’s absence they returned into court with a verdict of guilty.

    The Crown-Prosecutor mentioned that there was another case of a similar nature against the prisoner for an indecent assault on a brother [Archibald William Manson ] of the prosecutor in the present case; but with this he did not intend to proceed. He handed in to his Honor the evidence in the case alluded to.

    His Honor said prisoner had been convicted on very clear evidence, which showed that only a short time previously prisoner had committed a second offence on the same boy; besides which there was another charge against him for a like offence on a boy 13 years of age. It was in his power to order a punishment of 5 years’ penal servitude with three separate floggings, and were it not for the circumstance of prisoner being 61 years of age he would give him the full penalty. He would not be discharging his duty to society if he were not to endeavour to put down such crimes with a strong hand; and under all the circumstances he ordered prisoner to be imprisoned in Goulburn gaol for four years with hard labour.


1  Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Sat 17 Jul 1886, p. 6.

2  The Goulburn Herald, Sat 17 Jul 1886, p. 3.

3  Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Thu 16 Sep 1886, p. 4. Emphasis added.