The Norris Mealey case 1840
SUPREME CRIMINAL COURT.
WEDNESDAY, 6th May 1840 — (Before Mr Justice Stephen).
Richard Norris, and Philip Mealey, were indicted for stealing at Currency Creek, near Richmond, on the 12th March last, one heifer, and one cow, the property of Thomas Lynch.
The prisoners were defended by Messrs Foster and Windeyer.
It appeared from the evidence that the prosecutor, an aged man (upward, of seventy-eight years old) was a small settler residing at Freeman's Reach, distant about four miles from the residence of the prisoners, who were small farmers living about a quarter of a mile apart from each other, at a place called Salley's Bottom.
Lynch had a small herd of milking cattle, about twenty-six in number, which had been depasturing for some years at Currency Creek, near the residence of the prisoners, who likewise possessed a few herd of cattle which were being depastured on an adjoining run.
The prisoner's cattle had occasionally mingled with those of the prosecutor. He mustered his cattle on the 12th March, and found them all correct in number, and in consequence of some information which he received, he mustered them a few days afterwards, and found his herd scattered, and two of his cows missing.
One was a white poley cow, and the other a red one, having very sharp pointed horns, with remarkable small knots at the tip of each horn, and both were branded A. F. on the right rump.
They were in good condition, and fit for slaughtering. The prosecutor made inquiry for them, and advertised their loss, offering a reward for their recovery, both in the township, and at Windsor.
In consequence of some information which the prosecutor subsequently received, he accompanied Mr John Cobcroft, district constable of Wilberforce, and another constable named, Gollagher, to the homes of the two prisoners, in both of which they found a considerable quantity of recently salted beef. The beef was packed in rather a suspicious manner, the fresh meat being at the bottom of the harness-casks which contained it, while two or three layers of beef, which had been cured a much greater length of time, were placed at the top. About a rod in front of Norris's house, the constable picked up the horns of a recently slaughtered beast, lying on a heap of rubbish, and Lynch, on inspecting them, identified them immediately as the horns of his red cow. Their identity was also sworn to by two of the prosecutor's servants, who had milked the animal for some years, and had frequently felt the peculiar knots at the tip of the horns, while the cow was in the bale. About four hundred yards from Mealey's house, there was found by the side of a small pool, part of the offal of a recently slaughtered beast, and a considerable quantity of fat floated on the surface of the pool.
Both prisoners, upon being questioned by the constables, admitted that they each slaughtered a beast, and on being asked to produce the hides, each stated, that he had sold his hide to some person whose name or address he did not know. Norris said, that the horns identified by Lynch as belonging to his red cow, were the horns of a bullock slaughtered by his brother, but he called no evidence to prove this to be the fact.
A woman named Margaret Hawkey, swore most positively that she saw the two prisoners about the middle of the month of March, driving about ten head of cattle across the ranges of Sally's Bottom, in the direction of Mealey's house, and that one of them was a white poley cow, and another a red cow, both branded AF on the right rump; she further stated that she saw Norris a few days afterwards, and informed him of Lynch having lost two cows, to which he replied "d--- him he has plenty of cattle, and can afford to lose them as he has neither chick nor child." This witness however was very pert and flippant in her manner of giving evidence, and prevaricated grossly in her testimony ; it was moreover sworn to by Mr James Gannon (although Hawkey on being questioned had denied the fact) that she met him at the door of the Supreme Court that morning, and asking him whether he was not summoned to attend us a juror, to which he replied in the affirmative, pointed out the prisoners to him telling him she was a witness against them, and requesting him, should he be one of the jury upon their trial, to find them guilty and she would give him anything for doing so.
During Mr Foster's address on behalf of the prisoners, in which he made some allusions to one of the witnesses who endeavoured to tamper with a juryman, Hawkey went out of the court on pretence of obtaining a drink of water, and seeing Mr Gannon in attendance made an attempt to address him, but he declined entering into any conversation with her.
The learned judge, in putting the case to the jury, remarked that he thought they must leave out of their consideration the evidence of the infamous and abandoned woman, Hawkey — but it was for them to say, whether independent of her testimony, there was not sufficient evidence to satisfy them of the guilt of the prisoners.
His Honor then went through the evidence remarking on it as he proceeded, how it made for and against the prisoners, and leaving it for the jury to determine the balance of guilt or innocence, at the same time recommending them, should they entertain any reasonable doubt upon the subject, to give that doubt in favor of the prisoners. The jury, after about half an hour's consideration, returned a verdict of Guilty against both the prisoners, at the same time intimating that they believed the evidence of Mr Gannon in opposition to that of Margaret Hawkey. The learned judge, after commenting in severe terms upon the baseness of the witness's conduct sentenced her to be imprisoned for six months. The prisoners were remanded for sentence.
Sydney, NSW : (1824 - 1848)
Issue: Saturday 9 May 1840
The Sydney Herald
(NSW : 1831 - 1842)
Issue: Wednesday 13 May 1840
transcription, janilye 2012