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Newspaper account of a theft from the Queen's Head Hotel, North Adelaide

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Adelaide, South Australia, Australiamap
Surnames/tags: Abbott Smith
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"William Smith was placed at the bar charged with having stolen from the counter of Mr. Giles Abbott, sen., landlord of the Queen's Head public-house Kermode-street, North Adelaide, a tin box containing notes and silver to a considerable amount. It appeared, from the evidence of Mr. Abbott and two of his sons, that on the morning of the above day the prisoner came to the bar of Mr. Abbott's house and asked for a pint of rum, for payment of which he tendered a sovereign, and Mr Abbott gave the change from the box, in which he kept his cash. The prisoner then asked for a glass of porter, and while Mr. Abbott turned his back to draw it, the tin box was abstracted from the counter. The prisoner was the only person in the bar at the time.

"When Mr. Abbott returned with the porter, he did not immediately miss the box, but after the prisoner had drunk it and had left the house, which he immediately did, he began to move the glasses, and directly missed the box ; he then looked under the counter, thinking he might have put it there, but could not find it ; he immediately ran to one of his sons who happened to be breakfasting in the house at the time, who directly went in pursuit of the prisoner, and on his way was joined by his brother. They overtook the prisoner near Mr. Stevenson's, about a quarter of a mile from where the robbery was committed, and taxed him with the theft, which he denied.

"Mr. Thomas Abbott, when they overtook him, asked if he knew who was in his father's bar at the time he (prisoner) was. The prisoner answered — "If you think I have robbed you, search me." This appeared to be before anything whatever had been said of a robbery at all.

"Mr. Giles Abbott, the other of Mr. Abbott's sons, while in pursuit, observed something under the prisoner's arm, which appeared to be like the cash box, and they both observed him when he came to some trees which had been felled, stoop and apparently place some-thing in the hollow of one of them. When the prisoner made the above answer to Mr. Thomas Abbott's question, they both returned to the tree where they had seen the prisoner stoop, and in the hollow of it they found the box, with a one-pound note lying loose outside of it. One of them again pursued the prisoner, while the other called to Jones the constable, who happened to be in his garden close to the spot, and with his assistance the prisoner was apprehended.

"Jones in his evidence stated that while in his garden he saw the prisoner pass towards Mr. Abbott's empty handed, and shortly afterwards return with a bottle in one hand and a tin box similar to the one produced under his other arm. The box was found to contain, besides the loose note that was found outside, several documents of considerable importance, and notes and silver... in all £54 5s 6d.

"The prisoner, who appeared to treat the matter with the utmost nonchalance, cross-examined the prosecutor and witnesses in the most impudent manner, and afterwards made a statement which was rather corroborative than otherwise of the depositions made against him. The prisoner was fully committed to take his trial at the next criminal sittings of the Supreme Court."[1]


  1. South Australian Register, Saturday 24 August 1839, p6

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