Highway Robbery at Lacmalac

26 August 1863 Empire (Sydney)

James Kershaw, Samuel Kershaw, John Foster, alias Brady, and William Forster, were brought up on charges of highway robbery.

The three first named were charged with robbing, under arms, one Fee You, a Chinaman, and the fourth with receiving the stolen property.

John Enright, sergeant of police, at Tumut, deposed as follows: I arrested the four prisoners; on Sunday, the 9th instant, I arrested James Kershaw; on the 10th, Samuel Kershaw and John Forster, alias Brady; and on the 11th, William Forster.

After arresting James Kershaw, I told him that I apprehended him on a charge of robbing a Chinaman, at the sheep station near Sands Creek, on the 3rd instant. He made no reply.

I searched him and found on him one white handkerchief, and a dirty piece of cloth with holes in it (produced and marked 'B'); the cloth was in his right waistcoat pocket and answered the description given by the Chinaman.

A description in full was given me by the Chinaman.

I remarked his appearance and asked him why his whiskers were shaved off; he answered that his brother had shared them off for him that day fortnight.

On removing from the hut at Lacmalac, at which place I had apprehended him, he threw the white handkerchief to a young girl there, but I prevented it and took charge of it. 

On asking how the holes came in the dirty handkerchief, he said some girls had made them on the previous Sunday for a lark.

On the 10th I apprehended John Forster and Samuel Kershaw at a hut on Shelley's Plains.

No-one was with them; they were outside the hut; Kershaw was seated and Forster standing. I asked Kershaw his name; be replied Samuel Kershaw, and the other said his was John Brady.

I said, "Isn't your name Forster?" He said "No."

I then overhauled the clothes in the hut which John Forster said were his.

I then arrested them and searched Samuel Kershaw, on whom I found a knife, which he had in his hand, a purse containing 1s. 6d., an exchange receipt for a horse, and a soiled cloth similar to that found on James Kershaw (produced and marked A.)

I then searched the hut, and in the far corner I found the bundle now produced (marked C), containing a white shirt and silver watch.

I showed it to the prisoner, and asked him who owned it; both denied any knowledge of it.

Since then John Forster has claimed the watch as his.

I asked them where their horses were; they first denied having any; but seeing a bridle hanging up, they said the horses were about there.

I sent my men for them, and they returned immediately with a roan horse (now in the police yard) answering the description given by Fee You, also another horse.

They both denied knowing anything about the roan horse.

Samuel Kershaw said he had   ridden the black horse which had been running at his father's place, but did not know to whom it belonged. 

On this morning, the 11th instant, I apprehended William Forster for being implicated in this affair, he being the owner of the hut, and I found the stolen property concealed therein.

Hs said the hat belonged to him and his brother.

George Ibbetson, on being sworn, deposed: I am a labourer at Mrs. Shelley's.

I know the four prisoners. 

About twelve o'clock on Sunday night last John Forster and Samuel Kershaw came to my hut. I was in bed. 

I heard horses come up to the hut, and somebody ask if I was in bed; Eggelton, who was in the hut with me, said "Yes." I knew John Forster's voice.

They came into the hut and remained all night.

We all got up in the morning, and on going out I saw a black and roan horse both in hobbles.

I heard Samuel Kershaw say to John Forster, "You had better take the hobbles off the roan horse; if you don't he'll fall down."

He took the hobbles off, which appeared to be a stirrup leather. John Forster wanted to go over to Mr's Regent's for wedges.

Kershaw said "You had better take my home and ride over".

He did so, and returned in about half an hour.

When he came back Forster saddled the roan and Kershaw the black horse, took their things and rode away. In half an hour or there-abouts they returned again for more of their things, Forster still riding the roan and Kershaw the black horse; this time when they departed for good.

The roan horse in the police yard is the same I have alluded to in my evidence.

I would know it from its general appearance, without looking at the brands.

Am well acquainted with horses.

Have had no conversation with any of the prisoners.  

William Love, sworn, deposed: "I am barman at the Beehive Hotel, and I recollect two men with blackened faces coming to the bar three or four months ago.

The stature and figure of Samuel Kershaw and William Forster resemble that of the men I allude to.

I heard someone in the bar say at the time that the disguised men were Forster and Kershaw.

They obtained and   look away with them a bottle of liquor.

John Mooney, a Chinaman, was called, who on stating that he was a member of the Church of England, was permitted to be sworn on the Bible.

He deposed in very good English: I am a cook; was a confine in the Tumut lockup last week; was in a cell with two of the prisoners (pointing to James Kershaw and William Forster) on yesterday week.

I heard   Forster say," I wish the saddle was all right." Kershaw said, "What did you do with it?" Forster said, "I put  it between two trees."

The two men then walked up and down the cell, and talked about stones in boots. They spoke very low.

On the following day (Wednesday) I was put into another cell where the other two prisoners (John Forster alias Brady and Samuel Kershaw) were Samuel Kershaw asked what was the matter with me. I said, nothing.

Forster then asked me where I came from. I replied, Kiandra.

He then asked me if I had seen the Chinaman that was robbed come yet. I answered I had not seen him, and I knew nothing about it.

He then remarked that when he saw the Chinaman again he would break his leg.

By the Bench; I did not hear what saddle it was.    

Fee You, a Chinaman, having been sworn in the Chinese manner, with a lighted match, deposed: I am a Chinese storekeeper. I have several stores in this colony.

My relatives have a store at Sandy Creak, near Tumut.

Don't recollect what day I went to Sandy Creek. 

It was the same day that I banked some money.

On the road to Sandy Creek, about thirteen miles from Tumut and one mile from the Chinese camp, I was riding slowly on horseback on the main road, when three men came out of the bush.

Two of them seized my bridle, one on each side.

The third man had a revolver, which he pointed at my face, and said. "Come down, come   down."

At the same time, one of the two who held my bridle laid hold of me to drag me off. I got down.

One took my horse, the other took me into the bush about half-a-mile off the main road.

They desired me to take off my trousers; I did so, first taking off my boots.

They then looked into the pocket, and one ordered me to strip off all my clothes. I did so.

They searched the garments and threw them to the ground.

I had only half a crown and a watch. 

One of them said he would tie me to a tree; another said, "Never mind, let him go, we'll take his horse." 

They took my horse, with saddle, bridle, whip, spurs, boots, a pair of trousers, watch, 2s. 6d. in silver in a leather purse, in which were also receipts for a horse and a watch, a leather bag that goes across the saddle (valise), and some material for making Chinese clothes.

Have never seen the horse since till yesterday in the police yard.

It is the same as was taken from me, and is mine. I have seen and fed it to-day. The colour is called a roan.

I bought it in Beechworth about twenty eight days ago, and it has always been in my possession till stolen.

I should know my watch again; that now produced (marked C) is mine. I described it to the police as a silver lever, with silver face and gold figures.

I described the horse as branded J, and the other articles.

On my road to Sandy Creek I saw two men working at a new fence.

This was before I was robbed.

I asked them the road to Sandy Creek; they directed me up a hill, as being the shortest road. 

I followed the direction and came to a station, where a woman told me to go back to the fence and I follow her directions. I took the road she told me.

In about an hour and a half after that I was stuck up.

Those two men (pointing to John Forster and Samuel Kershaw) are the men who were working at the fence.

On asking them the road, they said, "Go up the gully, and about half-a-mile up there is a man looking for a horse, who will show you the road."

These two men talked to me.

The men who stuck me up had cloths over their faces with eyeholes in them.

Two had black or blue cloths, and one had white.

One of the men let fall the cloth and disclosed his face to me; it was James Kershaw.

I am quite sure he was one of them.

The other two were very like the men I saw at the fence and now in custody, but cannot swear to them, as their faces were covered. They spoke in a disguised voice.

It was James Kershaw who said "Let him go," when they proposed to tie me up to a tree.

It was Samuel Kershaw who took the horses away.

The trousers now produced were at the time worn by James Kershaw.

I described how one man was dressed. One of the cloths now produced (marked B) James Kershaw had on, and was the one that dropped from his face.

I do not identify the other cloths.

From the time I was stopped till the time I was allowed to go away was about half-an-hour.   

That man (pointing to John Forster) had the revolver. 

Have not seen the saddle, bridle, whip, spurs, boots, nor trousers since.

I had to reach Sandy Creek in my socks. 

The three men were dressed in calico or canvas clothes (which described the material as resembling old, tarpaulin) with holes for the head and arms.

I could see the trousers under the cloths. One man wore an old cabbage-tree hat, the others old California hats.  Samuel Kershaw and John Forster wore dirty moleskin trousers.                 

Francis Halloran, sworn, deposed on; Monday, the 3rd instant, I was working in the bush about a mile from my house.

Remember seeing James and Samuel Kershaw and another man on that day.

They passed on where I was at work on the opposite side of the creek and went down.

Down the creek would lead to my house and to Sandy Creek. They were all mounted.

Did not notice anything in their hands, nor their dress.

Known James Kershaw for three years. I believe he lives at his father's.

It is about two miles from my place to Kerhaw's.

The country between Kershaw's and Sandy Creek is very hilly.

From where I was at work Sandy Creek lay to the east and Tumut to the south.

Their worships retired for a few minutes, and returned into Court satisfied that they were justified, from the evidence, in committing the prisoners for trial at the Goulburn Circuit Court on 31st September.

William Forster asked permission for bail, whereon Mr. O'Neill expressed an objection, giving as a  reason that he believed, and was prepared to make an affidavit to that effect that by so doing the ends of justice would be defeated.

Bail was therefore refused, and the prisoners removed to the cell.