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Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 5 Apr 1879 1


TAMWORTH, Tuesday.

    The Circuit Court opened to-day before his Honor Mr Acting-Justice MH Stephen, with Mr JH Want acting as Crown Prosecutor. Three cases were called on and finished. Billy Duncoo, for an unnatural offence, was sentenced to six months’ hard labour in Tamworth gaol. Alexander and John Leard, for sheep and wool stealing, were found not guilty. Jeremiah McGrath, charged with an unnatural offence, defended by Mr Wisdom, instructed by Mr Levien, was found not guilty. Of the two other criminal cases, one is likely to be postponed, owing to the prosecuting constable having accidentally broken his ribs.

    A gentle rain has been falling all day.

TAMWORTH, Thursday.

    The court was occupied all yesterday, on a charge of cattle stealing, laid against Robert Webster and John Webster. At 8 o’clock, last night, the jury found Robert Webster guilty of stealing, and John Webster guilty of illegally using. His Honor, Mr Acting-justice Stephen, refused to take the verdict against John Webster, and directed the jury that such a verdict could not be found. The jury thereupon retired, and in half an hour brought in the same verdict again. They were then locked up until 9 o’clock, when his Honor submitted five questions for the jury to answer, on two of which they could not agree. They were then locked up until 10 o’clock, when they brought in a verdict acquitting John Webster. Great dissatisfaction is expressed at his Honor’s summing up, as in doing so, he managed to completely confuse the jury, in trying to make the case too clear. Mr Want, the Crown Prosecutor, was much admired for his able manner in conducting the prosecution. Mr Wisdom defended the prisoners.

    Henry Pacey pleaded guilty to attempting suicide, and was discharged on his own recognisances to appear when called upon. Cuthbert Willis, found guilty of illegally using a horse, was fined £5.

    The Clara Stephenson troupe are not doing much business here.

    The bazaar in aid of the Roman Catholic Church is a great success.

    The weather is lovely.

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The Tamworth Observer and Northern Advertiser, Sat 5 Apr 1879 2

Before His Honor Mathew Henry Stephen.

    Mr J Want prosecuted for the Crown. The Solicitor-general was represented by Mr Lee.

    Barristers present: Messrs R Wisdom, H Cohen, The Attorneys were: Messrs Abbott (Murrurundi), Thompson (Maitland), Hyman (Narrabri), Newman, Levien, Dowe, and Bedwell (Tamworth).


    Billy Duncoo [aka Duncombe], a black boy, was charged with attempting to commit an unnatural offence on a heifer calf, at Terre-hi-hi.

    Prisoner pleaded not guilty, and the Crown appointed Mr H Cohen to defend him.

    The Crown Prosecutor very briefly explained the circumstances of the case, and called Constable Edwin Palmer, who deposed to the arrest of the prisoner; also William West Stacey, a book-keeper on the Terri-hi-hi Station, who swore that he witnessed the prisoner’s conduct with the heifer.

    The evidence is unfit for publication. The jury retired for about ten minutes and then returned a verdict of guilty. Prisoner was sentenced to six month’s [sic] imprisonment with hard labour, in Tamworth gaol. His Honor remarked that had he, prisoner, been a white man the sentence would have been doubled.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 8 Apr 1879 3

(Abridged from the Tamworth News.)

    The April sessions of the Tamworth Circuit Court, opened on Tuesday last before Mr Acting-Judge Matthew Henry Stephen.

    Billy Duncoe, an aboriginal youth about seventeen years old, was found guilty of attempting to commit an unnatural offence. He was defended by Mr HE Cohen, who was assigned for that purpose. His Honor, in consideration of the prisoner’s youth, his being an aboriginal, and that he had been for some months in confinement, leniently sentenced him to six months imprisonment with hard labour in Tamworth gaol. 


1  Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 5 Apr 1879, p. 633. Emphasis added. 

2  The Tamworth Observer and Northern Advertiser, Sat 5 Apr 1879, p. 2. Emphasis added.

3  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 8 Apr 1879, p. 3.