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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 5 Jul 1864 1


    The past week has been one of events, most of them, I am sorry to say, of a nature not in accordance with the march of culture and civilization, on which we are too apt to hang our hopes and promises of the future.—

    On the 11th, instant, James O’Neil was committed to Bathurst for trial, on a charge too heinous to mention.—

    On the 13th, James Jefferies was committed to Wellington, on a charge of stealing, the property stolen being a horse, saddle, bridle, firearms, &c., &c., which were taken from a hut on the Gundabooka run. This, I hope, will be a warning to others who fancy the property of men who labor hard for all they have.—

    On the 16th, Joseph Booker preferred a charge against David Kissock, for insulting language. The bench inflicted a fine of £2 on the defendant.—

    The same day Patrick Early summoned his employer (Bowman) for wages amounting to £40. Mr Little appeared for the defendant. Verdict for the plaintiff.—Early was then placed before the bar, charged with neglect of duty, in that he abandoned 1681 sheep, valued £840. Case dismissed.—Another count charging him with the same offence, was put in by Mr Little, for which the court sentenced him to fourteen days’ hard labor.—

    William Smith was placed at the bar, charged with assaulting Peter Holmes. This quarrel was the renewal of an ancient feud, for which the defendant was fined £5 and costs. This was rather a serious case. Dr Pechey was called in, whose evidence was in favor of the prisoner, who was therefore let off by the payment of a fine. It seems to me that a more stringent means ought to be put into force to check these brutal and savage attacks, for as the case now stands a man having a few pounds in his pocket may with impunity half maul a man to death.—

    To-day a case was decided, in which Smith, carpenter, summoned Mr Aberdeen, superintendent for Mr Hugh Glass, for wages. This was a case in which the decision of Mr Garrett makes it appear that a superintendent becomes liable for a debt contracted by a manager whom he succeeded. This may be all right, but it seems very odd that Aberdeen should be responsible for Boyd’s debts. You see that we have not been idle at the police office, but I am very glad to say that all the delinquents are strangers to Bourke.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 5 Oct 1864 2

    BATHURST CIRCUIT COURT.—The sittings of this Court will commence on Monday. There are eighteen cases on the calendar, namely:—1. Thomas Seabine alias O’Brien, horse stealing and receiving. 2. Thomas Moore Cox, horse stealing and receiving, 3. Edward Hare, shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm. 4. William George Collins, stealing from the person. 5. Tames Stewart, murder. 6. John Robinson, larceny. 7. Richard Goubb and Thomas Gregory, stealing in a dwelling to the value of £5. 8. James Kelly, murder. 9. James O’Neil, bestiality. 10. Michael Norrie, robbery, being armed, 11. Michael Norris, horse stealing. 12. Michael Macnamara, larceny. 13. Patrick Leahey, receiving stolen property. 14. John Day, horse stealing. 15. Frederick Peisley, robbery, being armed. 16. James Feeley, robbery, being armed. 17. James Kessey, robbery, being armed. 18, Charles Deveney and Edward Power, larceny.

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Empire, Thu 13 Oct 1864 3

(From the Nation.)
Monday, October 10th’.

BEFORE Mr Justice Milford.

    Mr Butler prosecuted on behalf of the Crown. The barristers present were—Messrs Powell, Dalley, and Innes.


    James O’Neil was arraigned, charged with having, on the 10th of June, 1864, at Bourke, committed an unnatural crime. He pleaded not guilty. Counsel of Mr Dalley was assigned to him by the Court.

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Empire, Fri 14 Oct 1864 4

Tuesday October 11.
(From the Free Press.)


    James O’Neil, who was arraigned yesterday, charged with the above offence, was placed in the dock for trial.

    Mr Dalley defended the prisoner.

    Mr Butler, on the part of the Crown, stated the case to the jury.

    James Byrne, a constable stationed at Bourke, deposed that on the 10th of June last he received some information in consequence of which he crossed the river to search for the prisoner in company with two black trackers; they followed the track of a man for four or five miles up and down the river; they were benighted in the bush, and after nightfall he saw the prisoner lying at the foot of a tree; he told him the nature of the charge and cautioned him against making any statement; as it would be used against him at his trial; the prisoner resisted him, and he knocked him down; he afterwards, with the assistance of the black trackers, took him to the barracks; the witness had seen a horse with a swag on the saddle; the prisoner afterwards claimed the swag as his property.

    The witnesses had travelled from Bourke—a journey of over 600 miles—to give evidence in the case, and the particulars related by them were so thoroughly disgusting as to be unfit for publication.

    The prisoner was found guilty of the attempt to commit the offence, and was sentenced to two years’ hard labour in Bathurst gaol.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 14 Oct 1864 5

(Abridged from the papers.)
Monday, October 10.

BEFORE Mr Justice Milford.

Tuesday, October 11.

    James O’Neil, a man of middle age, was charged with the commission of an unnatural offence at Fort Bourke, on the 10th June, 1864. Plea, not guilty. The prisoner having no means to employ counsel, Mr Dalley, at his Honor’s request, consented to defend him. Mr Butler opened the case, and called witnesses to prove the facts. The evidence is unfit for publication. The jury without retiring found the prisoner guilty of an attempt to commit the crime. Sentence, two years’ imprisonment with hard labour in Bathurst gaol.


1     The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, (NSW), Tue 5 Jul 1864, p. 3. Emphasis added.

2     The Sydney Morning Herald, (NSW), Wed 5 Oct 1864, p. 4. Emphasis added.

3     Empire, (Sydney, NSW), Thu 13 Oct 1864, p. 8.

4     Empire, (Sydney, NSW), Fri 14 Oct 1864, p. 2. Emphasis added.

5     The Sydney Morning Herald, (NSW), Fri 14 Oct 1864, p. 2.