Thursday, June 3, 2010


Hobart Mercury, Wednesday 20 May 1908 Page 8


Jno. Ward, wharf labourer, was arraigned for the second time on four counts in an indictment for having stolen, or otherwise received, a large quantity of shell necklaces, consigned to a wholesale firm in Sydney by Mr. Paget, fur dealer, Elizabeth-street. At the previous trial the prisoner pleaded not guilty, and the jury failed to agree as to a verdict, whereupon the accused was remanded on bail, to be retried.

On this occasion he again pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. Harold Crisp, the Solicitor General (Mr. E. D. Dobbie) prosecuting for the Crown.

The witnesses who gave evidence at the previous trial were called, also fresh evidence was given as to identification of the shells. At the former trial the accused's counsel contended that the shells were not satisfactorily identified, so on this occasion the Crown called Messrs. Martin, Barker, and Owens, shell dealers in Hobart, in support of Mr. Paget's evidence of identification. The defence was that the prisoner received the shells from a man named Fisher at Recherche to sell for him, but Fisher was not called. The jury found the prisoner guilty on the minor count of receiving, with a recommendation to mercy.

Mr. Crisp, in addressing His Honor in mitigation of sentence, handed in several testimonials as to prisoner's previous good character, together with a petition signed by some Hobart merchants to His Honor to deal leniently with him.

Prisoner was remanded for sentence and an order was made for restitution of the shells to Mr. Paget.


Hobart Mercury, Tuesday. February 25 1908

Before the Chief Justice (Sir John Dodds, K.C.M.G.).

John Ward, wharf labourer, was indicted on four counts of having stolen, or, in the alternative, received, a case of over 100 dozen shell necklets, the property of Huddart, Parker, and Co., of the value of £71. He pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr.Harold Crisp, the Solicitor-General (Mr. E. D. Dobbie) prosecuting for the Crown.

Jury-Messrs. Joseph Wignall (foreman). Thomas Andrews, Henry Pocock, Charles Hickman Albert Nichols, Albert Garth, Joseph Scott, John Smith, M. Anderson, James Billinghurst, and
A. W. Taylor, W Johnston.

The Solicitor-General said the goods were stolen from the custody of Messrs. Huddart, Parker, and Co. for shipment to Sydney, and the prisoner was indicted under different counts as a matter of precaution of having stolen the shells, the property of Mr. C. Paget, or of Huddart, Parker, and Co., and also with receiving the shells, well knowing tho same to have been stolen. The prisoner's conduct, and what he said to the police, counsel submitted, amounted to a confession of guilt, and Mr. Paget would swear that they were the shells he had consigned to Sydney, and never got there. That position called upon the prisoner to account for the possession of the goods.

The evidence recently published was repeated, and amounted to this: That the prisoner told a young man in a business place in town that he had some shells to sell for a friend, and induced him to dispose of some of them for him on commission, The young man had his suspicions aroused, and gave information to the police, and then a quantity of shells were found in prisoner's possession, some of which were concealed in his bedroom. Prisoner persisted that he came by the shells in an innocent manner as agent for a Mr. Fisher, of Recherche.

Mr. Crisp did not call evidence, but submitted to His Honor that there was no guilty knowledge established-merely possession of the goods, assuming they were identified.

The Solicitor-General: There is more than more possession of the stolen property. The man did not tell the truth.

His Honor hold there was a case to go to the jury.

Mr. Crisp urged tho jury that there was no guilty knowledge established. The shells, he contended, were not satisfactorily identified as Mr. Pagct's shells.

His Honor told the jury that, in order to convict the prisoner, they must first be of opinion that the shells were stolon, and that either he was the person who stole them, or received them, well knowing the same to have been stolen. There was nothing against the man before. He had had a clean record.

From the circumstances they might assume that the case of shell necklets was stolen from the wharf. It was proved that the prisoner tried to surreptitiously dispose of the shells, and to sell them at prices far below the ordinary market value, and he failed to account for how he became possessed of them.

Further, there was concealment. When some of the shells were found under his bed he told the police they need not search further, as he would tell them where the rest of the shells were. Mr. Crisp had very ingeniously addressed the jury in defence, but if there was a man named Fisher at Researche who sent the prisoner the shells, as he had stated, that man would undoubtedly have been called; but he had not been called.

The jury, after some hours' deliberation, failed to agree, and were discharged, the accused being remanded till next session, but admitted to bail.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A CASE OF SHELLS.– The Hobart Shell Necklace Robbery

Hobart Mercury, Wednesday 22 January 1908


John Ward, on remand, was charged before the Police Magistrate (Mr W O Wise), Inspector Weston prosecuting yesterday, with the larceny on April 2, 1907, of a box of shell necklaces, valued at £71 10s , the property of Messes Huddart, Parker and Co Proprietary Ltd. Mr H Crisp (Crap and Crisp) appeared for the accused.

Christopher Paget, manager for J Paget, of Elizabeth-street, deposed that on or about April last he packed a case of shell necklaces to an order, which was to be dispatched via Sydney. He passed it over to the purser of the Westralia, and he signed a ticket for it the case contained 109 dozen necklaces in all, valued at .£71 10s and the witness identified those in Court, for they were his colours, and tied as he had packed them. He had never been paid for the shells.

He knew no one at Recherche who sent shells up in that condition. The case in Court was not that in which the shells were packed. There were about two-thirds of the shells in Court.

Matthcw Lindsay purser on the Westralia deposed that on April 2 he received the case of shells from Mr Paget. He took possession of the case for the company, and measured it, the measurement working out between 4ft and 5ft. It was placed with other Sydney cargo on the Elisabeth street pier Witness saw it in the same place at around 5 o'clock. It was missing when the vessel arrival in Sydney and it was reported missing. The case when taken over was the property of Messes Huddart, Parker and Co Proprietary Ltd

Mr. Wise, It was in their possession I see Mr Crisp smiling in larceny, possession is deemed to be ownership. Mr Crisp I was smiling at the way in which witness was asked a question on a nice point of law.

Witness continued that he did not see the case placed on board Accused had no authority to remove it He was not employed by the company on Apia! 2.

The Police Magistrate How did you come to remember this particular case, Mr Lindsay p-I have had so many reports to make on it since it was reported missing

Dudley H Sargent clerk deposed that accused had been employed by the USS Co In November last he saw him on the wharf Accused asked him if he did anything on commission. Witness replied that he did. In December, on the wharf, accused said a friend of his
had sent him some shells to sell and as the witness knew the people better than he, he wanted him to place them, offering to let him have some samples in a few days About December 19, witness received five samples from the accused in the Union Co’s store on tho wharf He took the box which held them out of a desk Witness placed 20 dozen that evening.

The price asked the accused was 4d [pence] a string Witness informed the accused of the sale, and accused replied he should have got more. Witness asked him to send them along and went with him to a house in Collins-street Accused counted out the 20 dozen from a box, which accused and his wife carried into the front room. Witness received £4 for them and saw accused- later and asked him how much he was to get.

Accused told him to take £1 and he himself would take 10s and send the £3 on to his friend. Subsequently witness told him he had heard that shells had been stolen off the wharf, and he hoped those were not stolen property Accused replied, "I don't think so they may have been " Witness had offered to place more shells for him and a parcel of shells was handed to him by a boy, whom he believed to be defendant's son

These were handed over to Detective Gunner. Witness asked accused who his friend was and he replied 'Fisher and Mayne Fisher is the man, Catamaran Creek, Recherche " Witness asked "Could you give me a letter from him?" Accused gave him an envelope addressed to Fisher, and a letter, purporting to be from Fisher, asking him to sell the shells. Accused asked him not to use Fisher's name if possible. On January 6(?) witness told him Detective Gunner was asking about the shells, and accused said, "send him along to me" On January 13 witness handed over the parcel of shells to Detective Gunner, and when he told accuse he had done so, he said, "Send him along. I'll square that"-or used words to that effect.

Mr. Crisp. Well, be quite sure. The word "square" may be interpreted in a very damaging sense. Witness thought he meant that he could tell him where the shells came from.

The Police Magistrate: The word "square" might be misinterpreted to the damage of the defendant, and the police. You mean "satisfy" him.

Witness amended his statement to "give him information about them." The Police Magistrate: Do you know anything about the value of shells? No. Then I think you sold them at very much under their value.

Wilfrid John Wilkinson, tobacconist, of Elizabeth-street, deposed that he purchased £4 worth of shells from Sargent. He handed about I5(?) dozen over to Detective Gunner on January 14. Witness had never soon that kind of shell sold at less than 1s. a string.

Detective Gunner produced the shells handed to him by Messrs. Wilkinson and Sargent. Another parcel was found by Mr. Weston, and witness in defendant's bedroom when the home was searched on January 13, and a larger parcel in an apple case, containing also tissue paper and dirt was discovered standing on a bench under a shed in defendant's backyard.

Inspector Weston deposed that tho accused had been employed by the U.S.S. Co. on the wharf. On January 13, with Detective Gunner, ho visited accused's house in Lower Collins-street, and interviewed him as to the shells which Sargent had been selling, and which he
stated he had given him.

Accused admitted giving them to him. Ho also said that about three months before, when he was on the wharf, a strange man. like a fisherman, came to him. He gave the name of Fisher, from Recherche and asked him to dispose of some shells for him. In the afternoon he handed him a brown paper parcel, containing shells, telling him to send the money to Recherche.

He placed the parcel in the locker in the U.S.S. Co.'s shed, where it remained until he handed it over to Sargent. Those were all the shells he had. He had not seen the strange man before or since. Witness told him he had a warrant to search the house, and accused replied that he would find no shells there. When Detective Gunner found the shells in the bedroom, witness said, "Those are some more of the shells." Accused answered, "Stop Gunner from searching; I'll show you where tho others are," and pointed out the box in the back yard. The box contained dirt, as if it had been buried.

Witness asked. "What has become of the box the shells were in " Accused replied, "I chopped it up." Later in the day witness arrested accused, who said, "I can only tell you, as I told you before, I got those shells from a man."

This concluded the evidence for the prosecution. 'Accused reserved his defence, and was committed for trial at the next Criminal Sessions. Bail was allowed on accused's recognisance of. £50, and two sureties of £50 each.

CHARGE OF LARCENY– The Hobart Shell Necklace Robbery

Hobart Mercury,Wednesday 15 January 1908, page 6.

John Ward was charged with the larceny on April 2 last, of a case of shell necklaces, valued, at £84, [reported later @£70+] the property of Messrs. Huddart, Parker, and Company. On the application of Inspector Weston,. he was remanded for 7 days. Bail was allowed, on accused's recognisance of £50, and two sureties of £50 each.

COMPARATIVE VALUE REFERENCES: Quotations from the Hobart Mercury and other 1908 Australian newspapers from digitised records made available online by the Australian National Library ... the results of representations made to the British Ministry of Munitions 500 tons of sheet iron will be released for use in New Zealand, and distributed for essential purposes. The price fixed is £70 per ton.

[Property] sold privately … Glenonniston farm of 150 acres at the high price of £70 an acre. Mr. J. W. O'Bryan was the purchaser … one of the best farms in the Glenormiston

The low price of tin ore (£70) [TON] Is causing a considerable depression all over the field … the Cope's Crook dredge has been working on overburden, and obtained 17cwt of tin for a run of 126 hours ... Prices of tin were at $11,900 per ton as of Nov 24, 2008. Prices reached an all-time high of nearly $25,000 per ton in May 2008, largely because of the effect of the decrease of tin production from Indonesia, and have been volatile because of reliance from mining in Congo-Kinshasa.

A bill, which fixes the lowest wage to be paid by an employer at 4s. [shillings] per week, has passed Parliament. An amendment to fix the amount at 5s. was negatived by a majority of five votes. This law has. been passed to reach the large number of employers in Sydney who take on learners without wage.