Taree Police Court.


(Before Mr. F. F. Potts P.M.)


Hubert Allan appeared on an alleged charge of stealing a steer, the property of H. O'Neill.

William James Small (sworn) stated:- I am a first-class constable of police residing at Nabiac. On the 6th instant at 8 p.m. I went to the racecourse paddock at Taree in company with Constable Harris and from there I received a spotted steer (exhibit 'A') now in the Taree courtyard. On the morning of the 7th instant at 20 minutes to 3 I, in company with Constable Harris, saw the defendant at his residence in Taree. I said to the defendant, "Have you lost any cattle?" He replied, "No, I have lost no cattle; all my cattle are running in the racecourse paddock." He said "I have a spotted steer with white flanks running about Taree". I said “Do you know where you bought him?" He replied, "I bought him from about Taree, but I don't know from whom." I said "is he branded?" The defendant said "He is not branded; he has small horns and is from 12 to 14 months old." I said "When did you see the steer last?" He said "Just before Christmas - about the 10th December." I said "Where?" He replied, "Near Taree by himself." I then said "Did you inquire from Gollan?" He said "I inquired from Gollan about three cows, and Gollan said they were running up there (meaning near Wing- ham). Gollan said "There is a spotted steer with them." The defendant said he said to Gollan. “If there is a small spotted steer with them it's mine." The defendant said "I then told Nicholson when he was up that way to pick him up." I said "Did Nicholson know the steer?" The defendant said "Nicholson knew the steer; he was with me the morning I dropped it and would have no trouble to pick him up." I said "Did Nicholson get the steer?" The defendant said "I don't know if Nicholson got it or not." The defendant said "Gollan was with us at the time I told Nicholson." I then said to the defendant "When were you in the racecourse paddock last?" He replied, "Thursday, or Friday last." I then said to the defendant, "We have a steer in the court-yard we would like you to have a look at." The defendant accompanied us to the police stables, where we gave him a lighted candle; he walked into the stall where the spotted steer was then tied up. There was only a chain round the steer's neck; he could see all of it. He walked up on the off side of the beast and examined it, pulled it round by the tail and had a look at it from the other side, stepped back and said "He looks a bit taller tied up, but it's my steer." I said "You have a good look at him and make quite sure." The defendant said. "I am quite sure," also making another examination of the steer. Stepping back, he said "I am quite sure it is mine." I said to the defendant, "if you told Nicholson to put that steer in the racecourse paddock would he be carrying out your instructions?" The accused said "If Nicholson put him in the racecourse paddock that was my instruction; he was paid to get him." I had made a note of what the defendant had said and he, with myself, read the statement I had entered, and asked him if it was correct. I said "Would you like to sign it?" The defendant said "Yes," and took the paper and signed it. He afterwards left the stable and closed the door up and came out in front, and the defendant said "I don't know how anybody can claim my steer." I said "That's not for you to say." He came down to the room at the barracks, and there said "Who claims the steer?" I said "Herb O'Neill, of Wingham." The defendant said "I don't know how O'Neill could claim the steer. I have examined him thoroughly, and he is mine." The defendant then went to the door and sat down; and he then said “I'll get a brand and I'll brand all the cattle I have - I'll see there's no more of this." I then saw defendant home and next day I issued the summons. When the defendant made the remarks in the barracks room Constables Harris and Howard were present. When the defendant looked at the steer in the stable he said "He is 15 months old."

To Sergeant McKellar: I said to the defendant, "You will probably have to answer a charge of cattle stealing for this." The defendant then said "Oh, my God," reeled sideways and dropped the lighted candle from his hand. We helped the defendant up, and he again reeled and fell. He got up, and we assisted him to a wood-horse, where he sat down.

To Mr. Martin: it was 3 o'clock in the morning when I came down to the stable with the defendant. The whole conduct of the defendant in coming with me was perfectly open and willing in every way. He answered all my questions candidly, openly, and at once. I did not recollect him saying anything about Buff's paddock. I tender a statement (marked 'Exhibit B'). The statement is one made by the defendant, and written out by me. When the accused mentioned round Taree I understood the back portion of the town - anywhere around; I understood from the defendant's statement that this steer was wandering in the vicinity where he could likely fall in with cattle wandering from the lower river to Wingham. I understood that this steer had gone to Wingham with some cows from the lower river. I assumed Nicholson knew the steer. I think it is a fair thing to ask a man to come with a candle in the middle of the night and identify a steer. The accused never complained that it was not a fair way to examine the steer. Here in the yard I told the accused he had the option to come and examine the steer again in the morning at 10 o'clock; I was very wide-awake at the time. I thought he was quite satisfied with the examination. I didn't think he wanted to have another look at the steer. I am certain nothing was said about this on the way back to the house. Before I told him O'Neill owned the steer I told him he would probably have to answer a charge of cattle stealing. The accused still said the steer was his. He had no objection in saying so. After the defendant had a look at the steer I told him where I got the steer. The statement (exhibit 'B') was signed up in the stable.

To Mr. Martin: The defendant again called at the court-yard yesterday morning at 10 o'clock when I served him with the summons. The defendant went and had a look at the steer in the stable, and when he was just inside the door he said "That is not my steer at all"; and, walking further in, he said "Mine was a yellow spotted one." I have found mine and can produce it.''

Clement Fredrick Stace (sworn) stated:- I am a dairyman residing at Cedar Party road. I was in partnership with a dairyman named Hoff man. I remember Moylan's sale that took place at Kolodong. It took place about the 24th July 1917. I took some cattle to that sale. I took five poddy calves. The calves were part owned by me and Moylan. The five calves were sold. Herb O'Neill bought them. He is an hotelkeeper at Wingham. Four of the calves were branded; one was unbranded. The unbranded one was a red steer calf. It had some spots on it. The two front legs were white from the knees to the brisket. The calf had a peculiar-shaped longish head. There was a peculiar mark on the off side just behind the shoulder. It was a white patch with a very small white dot underneath. After the calves were sold I brought them back home with me; that was on the following morning, after the sale. Later on I missed them, Referendum day, the 26th December, 1917. On the Friday morning, the 21st December, I told Hoffman something. We found four of the missing cattle. The four I found were branded. I saw the unbranded one on the Friday morning on the Wingham road - (this was the 21st December) - where the Cedar Party road comes on to the Wingham road. The calf was with three cows and a calf when I saw it. From something I heard I went on Sunday last to the Taree racecourse, and discovered the calf I have previously described, in the racecourse paddock. The police afterwards went to the paddock with me. I am certain about this calf; I reared and took to the Kolodong sale. I was present at Moylan's sale at Kolodong. I saw the defendant Allan there. I could not say if he bought anything; I only saw him there. I have seen the calf in question this morning in the court-house yard.

To Mr. Martin: As far as I know Mr. Allan is a large buyer, and as far as I know attends every sale. I did not see him bid or buy at the sale. He was there. He buys young stock particularly.

Joseph Hoffman (sworn) stated: - I am a bee-farmer and general laborer residing at Stockyard Flat. In July last year I was on the dairy with Clement Stace. I remember Moylan's sale at Kolodong. It was about the 24th or the 25th July last. Mr. Stace and I brought cattle to that sale. I had an interest in them. They were five calves. Four were branded; one was not. The unbranded one was a red steer; it had rather a longish head with a white spot on the forehead. There was a white spot on the off shoulder (behind), with a white dot underneath. The five calves were sold at the sale. The unbranded calf had two white front legs from the knees to the brisket. There were a few other spots - one in particular on the rump. I know Herb O'Neill, the hotelkeeper, from Wingham, bought them. I afterwards saw the calves back again in Stace's paddocks. The calves disappeared; I next saw them near the lime quarry - four of them; I saw the four that were branded. I did not see the unbranded calf. Last Sunday I went down to see the racecourse paddock at Taree. I saw the missing calf and the one I have just described. I have examined the calf this morning in the court-house yard. I have no doubt about the calf in the identification of it. I know the defendant. I saw him at the sale at Kolodong. He was looking on at the sale. To Mr. Martin: I have done business with defendant. He is one of the best-known cattle buyers in the district; he buys and sells large numbers of young stock. I have myself always found him honest in his transactions, and particular in business. I assumed he was at the Kolodong sale on his ordinary business. I do not remember him bidding at the sale: The calves were missed about the 20th December from Stace's paddock. I informed O'Neill I had found four calves but could not find one of them. I told him this on Christmas Day. I told him it was the red steer I could not find. O'Neill told me himself he had seen Nicholson driving a calf which looked like the missing one: I saw O'Neill last Sunday. We were talking about the steer, and it was then he told me about seeing Nicholson. He also told me something Gollan had told me and to go and look at the racecourse for it. O'Neill told me Gollan had told him that Allan had told Nicholson to pick up a steer which he had lost and to put it in the racecourse paddock. O'Neill asked me then to go and have a look at the steer and to see if it was the one that we had lost. O'Neill told us to see Allan about it, and if it was all right to get it. I never did speak to Allan about the steer.

Herbert O'Neill (sworn) stated:- I am an hotelkeeper [at Wingham and] attended a sale at Kolodong [] last and bought five poddies. I don't know if they were branded or not branded. I gave Stace and Hoffman some instructions at midday last Sunday. I have seen a steer in this court-house yard this morning. I believe the calf to be one of those I bought, at the Kolodong sale. I did not see the calf from the day I bought it until last Saturday. I saw the calf being driven along the Wingham-Taree road last Saturday. William Nicholson was driving it along the road.

To Mr. Martin: I buy cattle myself. I know Mr. Allan pretty well. I have known him for years. Allan is a well-known cattle dealer. I have always found him in anything I have had to do with him - honest. I never did think so, and don't think he would do anything like stealing an animal. I think it would be natural and honest for the defendant to tell the drover to put the steer in his paddock, thinking it was his own. I did not know Allan had lost a steer. I told Hoffman and Stace to go and see Allan, and if the steer was mine to get it and put it in the paddock. I told them to see the steer first. Gollan told me he had told Allan and Nicholson about some strange cows and a spotted steer on the road near Wingham, and that Allan had said he had lost a spotted steer; and Allan had asked him (Gollan) to put it in a paddock at Wingham until he came up. What Allan had asked Gollan to do was a common thing among cattle dealers. I thought it was an honest mistake that had been made. I have not seen Allan until this morning.

To Sergeant McKellar: The steer would be worth about £6 10s. No one had any authority to take the steer away, with the exception of Stace and Hoffman.
William Nicholson (sworn) stated:- I am a drover and reside at Cundle Plains. I know the defendant Allan before the court. I never saw the accused last Saturday. Previous to last Saturday he said something about a steer. The defendant asked me if I was going to Wingham to pick up a steer. He gave me a description of the steer. He said "Get a spotted steer with white spots about it - unbranded - a steer about 12 or 15 months old - a red spotted steer. I picked up the steer that I thought belonged to Allan; I found the steer in the Wingham brush. It was with two cows. I left the cows there. I took the steer to the Taree racecourse paddock. I thought that was Allan's paddock. I know it is Allan's paddock. I saw the steer outside the court yard this morning; that is the one I took to the racecourse paddock. It answers the description Allan gave me of the steer as far as I know. Tommy Gollan was present when Allan described the steer to me; this was at the racecourse paddock last Thursday.

To Mr. Martin: I have not seen Allan since I put the steer in the paddock. Allan had not seen the steer after he had brought it down. The mistake was made by me in picking up the wrong steer. I brought the animal down from the Wingham road in the day time - one Saturday afternoon, when there were plenty of people about, to the Taree racecourse. I was present when there was some talk about this lost steer. Mr. Gollan and Mr. Allan were present. - Allan told Gollan he had lost a spotted steer. Gollan told Allan he had seen one with some cows near Wingham (wandering up the road. It was then Allan told me to pick the steer up and bring it down. I remember helping Mr. Allan to drive some young stuff from the Taree racecourse to the Wingham yards. I was driving - leading; I did not see any animals that were dropped. Allan told me a little spotted steer had knocked up and he had let it drop behind. I did not know the steer.

To Sergeant McKellar: I saw the defendant Allan at the police station early yesterday (Monday) morning. I did not hear Allan say "that is my steer all right Billy."
Thomas William Gollan (sworn) stated:- I am a dairy farmer and reside at Wingham. I know the defendant Allan. I had a conversation with Allan on the road called the short road to Cundle. The defendant asked me if I had seen any strange cattle going to Wingham. I told him that I had seen three cows and a steer. The defendant told me he had lost the three cows and a steer and that his man had gone up and only found a cow. A description was given to me of a spotted steer. If I remember rightly Nicholson was present a matter of a few minutes. Allan told Nicholson that I had seen the steer near Wingham and he told Nicholson where the steer was. He did not tell Nicholson to go for the steer or anything like that in my presence.
To Mr. Martin: It was just a casual conversation. Allan told me the three cows bought by Black at Pott's sale had wandered back to Wingham. I then told Allan I had seen three cows up the road and a spotted steer with them. Allan told me then he had lost a spotted steer. The defendant said "If you see the steer about hold him till I come up." Nicholson had been up and looking for these cows a few days previously. I do remember Allan telling Nicholson that I had seen the steer up at Wingham running about. I have had considerable experience in cattle - practically life-long. It is a thing I would not like to do myself - identify cattle at night - by a candle. It would not be reasonable.

To Sergeant McKellar: The steer I saw at the court yard this morning is the same one I saw on the road, and told Allan about.

Herbert Harris (sworn) stated:- I am a first-class constable stationed at Taree. I accompanied Constable Small to the Taree racecourse paddock last Sunday night and brought to the police station. Later on, about half in the morning, I went to the defendant's house and accompanied the-defendant back to the police station. Constable Small and defendant were in the police stable when I came up. Constable Small said to the defendant, 'Is that your steer?' The defendant said 'Yes, that's my steer all right.' Constable Small said 'Are you sure that's your steer?' The accused replied, .'Yes, that's him, all right.' The defendant walked over and looked at the steer and walked round it. Constable Small said ''You are likely to have to answer a charge over this matter;- someone else is claiming him' (meaning the steer). Allan said 'I cannot see how anyone can claim that steer; he's mine all right.' The accused started to walk out of the stalls then, and took a fainting fit. I helped him up, and he fell down again. The accused then went over to a wood-horse in the yard and sat down. A man named Nicholson came over to the wood horse to where we were. The defendant, said to Nicholson, 'That's my steer, all right, Billy; you were there when I dropped him.' The accused also said 'You know him.'' Nicholson said, 'By the description you gave of him, Hube, that's him all right.' We then went down to the barracks room at the police station. While the defendant was sitting near the table in the room he asked, 'Who claimed the steer?” Constable Small said 'I'll tell you who claims him – it’s Herb .O’Neill, of Wingham.” The defendant said “I cannot see how O'Neill can claim him – he’s mine; he has been running about here the last six months. We all then left the room.

To Mr. Martin: I heard practically all the conversation that, took place; they were ahead of me in the stable. I was not there when Small opened the stable; I was then talking to Nicholson. I was at Allan's house. As fa' as I remember I have told all I heard and saw that took place at the police station, l. could not tell if Small had any difficulty in pulling the stable door open.


Hubert Allan (swore) stated:- I am a cattle dealer residing at Taree, and the defendant in this case. I have seen the steer in the court yard. I do not claim it. It is not mine. I had a number of young stock running on the racecourse paddock in September last. This stock I took to Wingham with me. When taking the cattle to Wingham a red steer knocked up and I dropped it. It had been running about the bush since. I used to see it from time to time. It would be from 13 to 14 months old. I went out a few days before Christmas and did not see it about. Arthur Hall would know the steer. I bought it at Dempsey's Taree Estate. I told Bernie Dempsey if he saw it to pick it up and bring it in. I remember the conversation I had with Mr. Gollan when Nicholson was present. I thought the steer that Gollan told me about was mine. I did not know that Nicholson had put that steer into the paddock before I came to the court yard. I remember the constables calling me out of bed early Monday morning. Constable Small asked me if it was convenient for me to go up to the police Station then. I said “Would be rather hard to go then.” Nicholson helped drive the cattle to Wingham; he was away in front;. I was at the back. I came up to the court yard with Constable Small. Harris was on ahead of us. Small was fumbling about at the stable door when Harris came up. Harris arrived before the stable door was opened. I had a look at the steer with a candle. I could see the steer, but not the color of it very well. I could not make a proper examination of it.” I said to Constable Small, “I think it's my steer, but it's a little big for mine.” He then said to me, “Are you quite sure about it?” I said, “Well, I'm pretty sure it's my steer now.” I read a statement made by me and written by Small and signed by me. I did not say Nicholson knew the steer. I said he might know the steer. The statement is substantially correct. When Nichol son came over I said “Hullo. Billy.” I said “Is that the steer you brought from Wingham, Bill?'' Nicholson said “Yes, that's the one, according to the description you gave me.” I did not say to Nicholson, “That's my steer, all right, Billy” Constable Small accompanied me back home and I said “It's hardly a fair thing to ask anybody to identify a beast in the night time.'' Constable Small said “Well, meet me at the court house at 10 o'clock, and have another look.” I came just on 10 o'clock. In the morning as soon as I saw the steer I saw it was not mine; mine was a lighter one.

To Sergeant McKellar: I did not promise to be at the court house at 10 o'clock the Monday morning to get a summons. I made an appointment to meet Small on the Monday to inspect the steer. As soon as I came Small took me to the stable, and we saw the steer. He then afterwards served the summons on me. While I was making an examination of the steer at the stable in the night I said to the police, “It's hardly fair to view it with a candle.” I had a candle in my hand. I went up one ride of the beast and then up the other side of it. On the Monday morning when I examined the steer at 10 o'clock I did not notice the peculiar marks on that steer. I could tell him by the color. I have not examined him since. I have heard witnesses say he had peculiar markings. I cannot tell you what made me go sick; I am generally strong and healthy. I have fainted before. The statement was read over to me by Constable Small; he corrected it in one place, when I was quite satisfied with it.

To Mr. Martin: I have been subject to fainting fits before.

Mr. Martin informed the bench that he had other witnesses present in support of the defence, but in deference to the police magistrate's decision they were not called. The defendant was committed for trial - bail, self in £10, and one surety of £10.