The Spectator, Sat 29 Sep 1906 1
[WALGETT] QUARTER SESSIONS.
(Before His Honor Judge Docker).
Mr FA Ridley, PM, Deputy Sheriff, also occupied a seat on the Bench.
Mr A Dawson acted as Crown Prosecutor.
Messrs Kennett and Dight, solicitors, were also present.
His Honor excused 14 jurors for non-attendance, and summarily disposed of one or two undefended District Court cases in which the Commissioners for Taxation were plaintiffs, before proceeding with the only two criminal cases on the Sessions calendar.
Frank Harris was arraigned on two charges—the first being breaking and entering the house of William Peacock with intent to commit a felony; the second, attempting to commit an indecent assault upon Andrew Peacock.
The following jury were empanelled:—WH Wright (foreman), G Adams, D McLeod, CS Haigh, C Byrne, T Bolton, T Greenaway, C Smith, E Fuller, WB Croxon, I Collins, L Cameron.
The accused pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr M Kennett.
From the evidence given it appears that the accused, whose appearance in the dock gave one the impression of strong physical powers, was making for his camp at the old brick-kiln, about a mile from town, on the night of the 30th April. In the intervening space the residence of William Peacock, one of the principal witnesses for the Crown, is situated. On the night in question the inmates had retired to bed, one of the children of six belonging to the family, named Andrew [Peacock], sleeping in one of the back rooms. By some means or other accused gained admittance to the room where young Peacock was sleeping, and got into bed with him. Awakened by the presence of a strange bedfellow, young Peacock called to his parents, who immediately proceeded to the room to learn the cause of the boy’s agitation. Arriving at the bedside of his startled child and striking a match, Peacock pere [sic–there] detected the presence of a strange man in the bed. In reply to a question as to what he was doing there, the accused simply replied, “Nothing!” at the same time making no effort to escape or to apologies for his intrusion. The father thereupon pulled the bed clothes off the accused, and, catching him by the shoulder, proceeded to drag him outside. When outside, the infuriated parent rained several blows on the face and body of the accused, who made no effort to defend himself, and who, apparently, was unconscious of the reason for the furious onslaught. Offering no resistance to the attack and being in a muddled state of mind, the accused was easily secured and lashed to the garden fence, where he was forced to await the arrival of constable Mann, to whom he was eventually given in charge. When taken into custody accused was found to have several abrasions on his face and forehead, and from which blood was flowing. The boy Andrew stated that he was awakened by a request for him “to turn over,” and by accused catching hold of his foot. Beyond that he did nothing to him. No evidence was given for the defence except a statement made by the accused [Frank Harris] from the dock, in which he stated that he had been drinking rather heavily for a few days prior to the occurrence of the alleged offence on which he was charged, and of which he had not the slightest knowledge. He remembered starting for his camp on the night in question, but remembered nothing more. The statements of the witnesses for the Crown implied that accused was in a state of profound stupor from the effects of heavy drinking, and from which he was only aroused by the suddenness and severity of the attack made upon him by the boy’s father.
Mr Kennett addressed the jury in the accused’s behalf, pointing out the great weakness of the Crown case and appealing to them for an acquittal on both charges on the ground that the evidence given by the witnesses for the Crown was insufficient to justify a conviction.
His Honor summed up and the jury retired to consider their verdict, returning into Court a few hours later with a verdict of acquittal on both charges. The accused who had served five months in gaol awaiting his trial, was thereupon discharged.
LOCAL AND GENERAL NEWS.
VOTING BY POST.— Particular attention is being drawn by the Electoral Department to facilities for voting by post, which were provided by Parliament in amending the Electoral Act last session. It is pointed out that anyone who will not be able to get within seven miles of a polling place for which he or she is enrolled may make application on forms supplied at post offices for the right to vote by letter. The application has merely to be signed and witnessed either by a postmaster, JP, head teacher of a State school, Customs officer, qualified medical practitioner, or other person of similar status.
PERISHED IN THE BUSH.—Another member of the “Legion That Never is Listed” was found by the roadside between Thargomindah and Hungerford a few days ago. He was “sighted” by the Thargomindah mailman a few days prior to the discovery of his body, to whom he appeared old and feeble. When found he was wrapped in his blankets and under his head rested a quantity of old clothes. The poor old fellow, worn out and weary of life, had struggled on until tired Nature called a halt, and, refusing all offers of succor tendered him by the mailman, died a lonely and uncomforted death in the wilderness of the great, silent Bush.
1 The Spectator, Sat 29 Sep 1906, p. 2.