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The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Sat 2 Feb 1861 1

(Before Dr Palmer, PM.)


    Robert Curtis, an old man, was brought up by Constable Waller, charged with having feloniously violated the person of a little girl, 7 years of age, named Hutchinson. Remanded until to-morrow (Thursday.)

Before Dr Palmer, PM.)


    Robert Curtis, remanded from yesterday was again brought up, and was committed to take his trial at the Circuit Court to be holden at Bathurst on Wednesday, the 6th March.

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The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Sat 9 Mar 1861 2


    At about a quarter to eleven o’clock, His Honor, Sir Alfred Stephen, Chief Justice, attended by Judge Dowling, and W Hall Palmer, Esq, took his seat on the Bench. Dr Palmer than delivered the following address:—

    Your Honor, as the Police Magistrate of this district, I have been deputed by the Bench of Magistrates, and requested by the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood to offer to you their sincere congratulations at your resuming your duties on this Bench. They trust that your late voyage to Europe has fully re-established your health, that you will be long spared to your family and friends, and that this your adopted country will again for many years continue to reap the advantage of your great abilities and learning.

    The Chief Justice said, that he felt deeply indebted to Dr Hall Palmer, and the other Magistracy and Inhabitants of the district, for their kindness and courtesy which they had shown him, his strength had certainly been impaired, by the very onerous duties which he had discharged, during twenty-one years of continuous judicial exertion—unrelieved by any relaxation exceeding that of a few weeks, throughout that long period; his recent visit to Europe, however, which by the favor of the Government and Legislature he had been permitted to enjoy, had completely restored him; his health had never been better, at any time; and he trusted that, in continuing to preside over the superior courts of this colony, he should on this circuit always retain the great advantage which he had hitherto enjoyed, of having the cordial assistance and co-operation of the Magistracy, and other gentlemen, who had been good enough to address him.

    His Honor regretted that he had not been able to take his seat with his usual punctuality; which had occurred through the loss of his dispatch box (with the records of the court and his books) in its transit between Sydney and Bathurst. He also regretted that in consequence, he could not have the Queen’s proclamation against vice read, as the only copy to be obtained was in the missing box.

    The Barristers present were, WB Dalley, Esq, (Acting Attorney-General), HC Wyndayer [sic] and M Stephen, Esqrs. Attorneys Messrs McIntosh, Serjeant, Homes, Wadeson, and Pownall.


    Robert Curtis was indicted for, that he did at Bathurst, on the 25th of January, 1861, unlawfully attempt to carnally know and abuse one Mary Ann Hutchinson, a child of 7 years of age. A second count charged prisoner with an indecent assault.

    The prisoner who was undefended, pleaded not guilty.

    Mr Dalley opened the case in a very temperate manner and called.

    Sarah Hutchinson, the mother of the child, who gave evidence to the effect that the prisoner who was out of a situation, came to her house in January last and stopped until he got a place; in consequence of what she heard one day in the same month, she sent to school for her child, whom she examined and in consequence of appearances of the child took her to Dr Connell.

    His Honor interrogated this witness very closely, as to the habits and intelligence of her daughter.

    Mary Ann Hutchinson, the child mentioned in the indictment, was next brought into Court, crying, and it was with much difficulty that she was calmed sufficiently to give evidence. His Honor, who took much pains with the witness, to ascertain whether she understood the nature of an oath, put several questions to her relative to her usual habits, her knowledge of religion, and of a future state; all of which she answered in a tolerably intelligent manner; but during her examination she was constantly admonished to speak [some words illegible here] evidence which clearly proved the attempt to commit a rape by the prisoner, is of course entirely unfit for publication.

    Constable [John] Waller deposed to the apprehension of the prisoner.

    Doctor Connell deposed to the examination of the prisoner, as also of the child, and stated that they were both suffering from disease, but that the crime of rape had not been actually committed.

    This closed the case for the Crown.

    The prisoner [Robert Curtis] in defence, simply denied the charge, and stated that the house of the mother of the child was one of ill-fame.

    Sarah Hutchinson on going into the witness box, denied that she kept a house of ill-fame; she admitted that her husband was dead and that her youngest child was illigitimate. [sic]

    His Honor having briefly summed up, the Jury without retiring, returned a verdict of Guilty on both counts of the indictment.

    The Chief Justice made a most powerful denunciation of the foul nature of the prisoner’s offence, and sentenced the prisoner to 5 years hard labour on the roads on the first count and 3 years on the second count; both sentences to commence simultaneously. His Honor expressed his belief that the first count in the indictment was not worth the paper it was written upon, but having passed the sentences to commence simultaneously, the effect would be that, should the first count prove bad, the prisoner would have to serve 3 years. 


1  The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Sat 2 Feb 1861, p. 2.

2  The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Sat 9 Mar 1861, p. 2. Emphasis added.