- Published: 10 September 2009 10 September 2009
Newspaper report of Imbil hold-up
AT the Maryborough Circuit Court, on the 26th inst., His Honor the Chief Justice presiding, William Troden, alias Podgey, and Joseph Blake, committed from Gympie, for robbery under arms near Imbil, on the 30th July last, pleaded not guilty. Prisoners were not defended by counsel, but occupied the time of the Court in examining the several witnesses, sometimes with damaging effect to their own case.
The prisoner Troden applied for a postponement, to enable him to subpoena witnesses.
His Honor said that several of the names prisoner had mentioned he wished to call had already been subpoenaed, and that the Crown had taken all the necessary steps to serve them.
The Crown Prosecutor must press for the trial going on, as the witnesses for the Crown might not be able to be got together again, as many of them had their homes in Victoria and other distant places. His Honor was obliged to refuse the application.
The Crown Prosecutor then applied to have the depositions of Robert Atkin Hickson, taken before the Gympie Bench, read. Captain Hickson, an important witness, being laid up with a fracture of the foot, and unable to attend.
THE following depositions were then read:- “Robert Atkin Hickson, on oath, states: I am manager at Imbil station; on the 29th of last month, (July) I was coming into Gympie from Imbil, I met two men on horseback; the leading man had a gun across the pommel of his saddle, and behind his swag; met them first about 10 o’clock; met them afterwards about an hour and a half; both times they were going towards Imbil; the reason I met them a second time was, my horse broke away from me and went back home; met them a third time about a quarter of a mile from the station; they were riding together, and the off-side man dropped behind; the leading man put his hand down as if to loosen the gun; I noticed them particularly while passing; they were riding a chesnut and a bay; the chesnut horse outside the Court is one of the horses - the one ridden by the elder of the two men; the elder man rode very short, as if he could not ride, he rode very loose and bent down; those two men in the dock I believe to be the men I met; I am satisfied they are the two men I then met; the younger one squinted when I passed; am perfectly satisfied the prisoners are the two men I met that day; on my arrival at Imbil next day was informed by some men that they had been stuck up; the next morning started out and found one of the horses now outside the Court knocked up; we had been tracking to that part of the range; it was the chesnut mare.
“Prisoner Troden states: I have never seen the gentleman before.”
“Prisoner Blake states: I have never seen the gentleman before.”
EDWIN Redman lived at Imbil in July last, but now at Maryborough; am a jockey by profession, and well acquainted with horses, for fifteen years; recollect July last; saw the prisoners in that month, on the 30th, about four miles on the other side of Imbil, and in between Imbil and Yabber; it was between 4 and 6 o’clock in the afternoon; there were three men, named Jim, Jack, and Tom, with me at the time; do not know their surnames; we left Imbil in the morning to go to Yabber; when we got ten miles on the way we met two diggers, and turned back with them; do not know who the diggers were; when we got about six miles back we were met by two men on horseback; they were coming from the direction of Imbil; they came up to us, and said, “Bail up, you b——y b——s, or we will blow your b——y brains out;” the prisoner Troden said this, the two men were on horseback; Troden, or Podgey, was riding a chesnut mare and I believe the other prisoner Blake was riding a bay horse; can swear to the horse, though not to Blake as the rider; have seen both the horses since; saw the chesnut mare on the following day; and saw her again about a fortnight or three weeks afterwards; have seen the mare again to-day; the mare in the court yard is the same, saw the bay horse about a fortnight or three weeks after the prisoner stuck us up on the 30th July, but not till then; noticed then that the bay horse had a few white hairs on the forehead, and carried his head low, and was in low condition, saw the bay horse about nine or ten miles the other side of Yabber diggings; went there with Sergeant McCarthy, saw Blake there; Blake went back to a shanty he was keeping; there was a boy there; Blake was present, and was near enough to hear what was said to the boy; then went and fetched the bay horse that was along with the mare the day we were stuck-up; the prisoner did nothing with the horse; the boy put the bridle on and saddled the horse; Blake rode the horse away when we started from there; have seen the bay horse to-day in the yard; can swear to the horse - (the witness here left the Court for the purpose of identifying the horses in the police yard) - can swear the horses just seen are the same I saw on the 30th the other side of the Yabber diggings; my memory is clear about the date, and seeing the horse on July 30th last; have seen the chesnut mare; can swear that is the mare Podgey rode when he stuck us up; these same two horses were produced at the Police-court before; the chesnut mare had one off fore shoe on - only one; saw her the day following; we tracked her up to the range and towards Yabber the next day, and found her at the range, just off the scrub; it may be five or six miles from Yabber station, and fifteen or sixteen miles from Yabber diggings; you have to pass Yabber station before going to Yabber diggings; she had then one off fore shoe on, when we came up to her the morning after we were stuck up; commenced to track her about a quarter of a mile from the place where we were stuck up; the first track we saw was on the road, and she must have come off the grass; I say this from examination of the road; the two horses were produced at the Police-court which Podgey and the other fellow rode when they stuck us up; they were produced about August 27, at the Police-court; Podgey had in his hand a double-barrelled gun when he stuck us up, and Blake had a six-barrelled revolver; the prisoners then presented the weapons at our heads; saw the gun distinctly, and remarked that at the bottom of the barrel the wood work was broken, and there was a nail stuck through the place where a bolt usually goes, to fix the barrel to the stock; there were three of my mates altogether, and one of them behind; Podgey sent Blake, I believe, up the hill to fetch down the other young man that was with us, and Podgey looked round toward the hill where Blake had gone, and I looked at the gun and saw it; Podgey did not look round more than once at that time; Podgey’s mate brought back my companion; Blake’s face was covered altogether with a black-silk handkerchief; there were two holes cut for his eyes; saw Podgey before ever he put the handkerchief; there were two holes cut for his eyes; saw Podgey before ever he put the handkerchief up to his face; the handkerchief he put round his face so that his eyes and nose could be seen (the witness here showed the jury with his handkerchief what he meant); saw Podgey before he put on the disguise; we lost sight of him before coming up the hill; owing to a little hollow; during the time we lost sight of him in the hollow he put the handkerchief round his face; Podgey was about 150 yards from me when I saw his face uncovered; this was before we were stuck-up; Podgey, when he stuck us up, had on a blue shirt and moleskin trousers, and a wide-awake hat; the band of the hat was broken at the side; think I would know the gun again if I saw it; and possibly I might know the other things (the gun was here produced); I observed nothing else about the gun; the gun was capped on both barrels and both hammers were cocked; can’t swear to the gun, but it was broken similarly to this one; and had also a nail in similar position to the nail in this one; remember a piece of the wood was cut similar to this gun; noticed it at the time; the nail went through and held the barrel to the wood in a similar way to this; (Constable McCarthy produced a hat); this is what I call a wide-awake; the hat Podgey had on when he stuck me up was one similar to this; and also had the band broken, as this one has; the band is fixed; remarked how Podgey was riding; he was riding very short with short stirrups; and was round-shouldered, and leaning a little forward; have seen Podgey on horseback since that day; he rode similar to the first time I saw him; the other man, Blake, rode very straight, sitting straight in the saddle, without bending, and you would imagine he was four or five inches taller than Podgey through his riding; I have seen Blake riding since that time; remarked then that he sat very straight in the saddle; and that he had the same seat as the man that stuck us up; was in his company about thirteen or fourteen miles; we rode from the range on the other side of Yabber to the police-station on this side; after presenting arms at us he said, “Turn round and march down the hill - the first one that looks round I will blow their b—— brains out;” we went down the hill to the bottom; they took us off the road before taking us down the hill; about 150 yards off the nearest point of the road; Podgey then sent back to fetch down my other mate; and then they marched us to the edge of the scrub; my mate had joined me at this time, and the edge of the scrub was some forty yards further from the road; they made us look into the scrub; I believe it was Blake that tied our hands; Podgey was standing over us with the gun; holding the gun with the muzzle of the gun pointing at us; believe the man I call Blake searched us and took from me 26 shillings; and Blake searched my other mates; Blake had nothing in his hands at the time he was searching us; Podgey was standing over us with the gun, and we let Blake take our money, because Podgey held the gun over us, and it was capped and cocked at the time; was afraid he might shoot me; Podgey said, “I will do for all of you b——s now;” Blake said, “there is no occasion to shoot them;” am certain that the man in the dock is Podgey; saw him about a fortnight or three weeks after this (30th July), at Imbil station; am not aware of having seen him before this occasion; have not seen Blake before this sticking up; believe that the prisoner Blake is the one that was along with Podgey, but cannot swear because of his face; believe so because of his appearance and riding; saw Blake next about a fortnight or three weeks after the 30th July; it was on the other side of Yabber diggings; after Blake said it was no use to shoot us; they marched us into the scrub and made us sit down, and then they tied us up; believe the prisoner Blake tied us up; Podgey was standing over us with the gun capped and loaded, during the time that Blake was tying us up; he tied us with rope which he had with him, and some he took from our swags - and he used saddle straps too; tied us to a sapling in the scrub; tied me and Jack to one, and Jim and Tom they tied to another; it was Blake who tied all, and Podgey was standing over us; they were both together, and one said, “We will be coming back again, if we catch either of you trying to get loose, we will blow your b—— brains out”; one said, that “We want the use of the road to-night,” and then they left us; I did not see them again that day; listened until they went away, and after ten minutes or so Tom tried to loose his hands and did so after a time; Tom then undid our hands; Tom managed to undo himself, because he had lost the middle finger of one hand; we were tied up maybe an hour or more, altogether; was in pain during the time I was tied up, owing to being tied up so tight, and I was in pain for may be an hour; the pain lasted after I was untied; Podgey was at Imbil station the next time I saw him; he was in custody, and there another prisoner with him in custody; it was not Blake; the next time I saw Podgey he had handcuffs on; and next at Imbil, another man was with me; the other prisoner was inside; was not fetched in to see prisoner; was inside the hut that evening; others were there besides myself; I recognised prisoner. - By prisoner Podgey: I saw you when stuck up, and when you were in charge; not before that I know of; did not say to the magistrate that I knew it was Podgey - I gave no name; did not say it was a man named Podgey; after you were in charge, I heard you called Podgey; from Jimna to Imbil, it is, perhaps, about twenty-five miles. - By Blake: It was between 4 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon when I was stopped; the horses were tied to a sapling, ten or twelve yards from where we were searched; could swear to the horses; one had a small star on his forehead; certain it was not white mud; could not tell the brands, but anyone accustomed to horses, having once seen the horse, would know him again; the younger man who stuck me up had his face covered; did not see him standing up - could not say his height; had no chance of seeing his face; could not swear you are the man who stuck me up. - By Podgey: You had a handkerchief over your face; saw you afterwards with your face uncovered; could recognise any man at same distance I saw you. - To a Juror: Going from Imbil to Yabber we met two diggers; we left them before we met prisoners; went on, leaving diggers behind. - By Podgey: It was almost an hour and a half after we left the diggers that we were stuck up. - By Blake: When you was taken you were handcuffed, and your hands fastened to the saddle.- By Mr. Shaw - Had been mustering that day; did not know there was anyone in the harness-room when I went in with my saddle; had not heard that Podgey was there; I saw him there, and know it was he who stuck me up; it was four or five miles from where I left the diggers that I was stuck up.
JOHN Crothers, miner, of Gympie said: Remember July last, about the 30th of that month was travelling with E. Redmond and Thomas Gill, on the Yabber-road, towards Imbil station; were stuck-up by two men about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, four or five miles from Imbil station; the two men were on horseback, a chesnut and a bay; two horses now outside are like them; the short man had on a blue shirt, think it was serge, dirty pants, and a felt hat; [hat produced] this is like it; could not swear to it; did not see their faces; they were covered; short man had a pocket-handkerchief over his face; it hung down over his chin from just under his eyes; the younger man had his face covered, I think with crape with holes cut in it for his eyes; he had a revolver; the other man had a double-barrell gun; it was capped and cocked; the short man stuck us up; he had a rough voice, have only heard a voice like it once since then; it was in the Court-house Gympie; he with the rough voice, said, when he came to us, “Bail up;” he then had the gun in his hand; the younger one presented the revolver towards us; we then turned off the road; Gill said if they were going to take our money they might as well do it there; when told to go off the road did so; they followed on horseback ; the short man said, “Go on, or I’ll shoot every damn one of you;” we then went into the scrub; my brother was a little way behind; the short man said, “Go and fetch that b—— down with the rest;” the younger man then went and brought down my brother; he then got off his horse; the other man was then off his horse; we were marched a little way into the scrub, prisoners following behind; the short man said: “The first man that looks round I’ll blow his brains out;” the young one searched us; he took one pound 12s. 6d. from me; they then took us further into the scrub, and told us to sit down, and the younger one lashed me and Redmond to a sapling; remained lashed for about half-an-hour; was in pain through being tied so tight; pain continued three or four hours after being untied; the man who stuck us up is like the prisoner Podgey. - By the prisoner Podgey. Remember seeing you in charge at Gympie, had received no description of you from anyone; saw the place you were fetched out of at Gympie; then thought you were the man who stuck us up; did not say you were two inches too tall for the stout man; saw you walk into the yard; the next time I saw you was in the Court; never heard anyone else with a voice like yours; the description I gave the police was, “One a short set man, the other a young slim one;” think the serge shirt you had on would make you look stouter than you do now; it is possible I may be mistaken in your identity. - By the prisoner Blake: Took you to be about five feet seven or eight inches; should now take you to be about five feet six. - By a juror: When I first saw the rough-voiced man on the ground it was near the scrub; did not see the young one on the ground at all.
SEVERAL other witness gave evidence corroborative of portions of the foregoing, and sergeant McCarthy and others were examined concerning the circumstances attending the arrest of the prisoners.
The prisoner Troden then made a long statement to the jury, attempting by it to explain where day by day he was for some days before the outrage, and until he was apprehended. In the story, which was not badly told, reference was made to a large number of person who, if present, prisoner said, could corroborate it. He had subpoenaed them, but none of them had appeared. It would have cost them several pounds, which they for the most part could not afford, and he had not the means of paying their expenses, though if the Court had postponed the trial he hoped to have received some money from New South Wales. The prisoner Blake said the horse produced was his, and he used to let it out on hire. Sometimes it would be taken away for days, he did not know where. The gun never was his property - it was his mate’s. The hat never was his.
Podgey wished to add that he went to sea when he was young, and so got a gruff voice: scores more had gruff voices. Amongst the witnesses he had subpoenaed was his fellow prisoner Blake, but instead of summoning him the police had arrested him.
His Honor said under the old Common Law a co-accused could not of course be a witness but about eighteen years ago there had been a change in the law in this respect, which made such evidence admissible.
PRISONER Blake, without leaving the dock, on being sworn was examined by prisoner Troden, and said: I recollect the 2nd July last; you removed over to the bottom of the Kilcoy range; you said you were going to put up a butcher’s shop; Leary and I took packing and looked after the goods below; my mate had two horses and I had one; you had none, there were two bay horses and one chesnut - the one produced in Court; the other bay horse has been sold since; the third horse was a chesnut one with a bald face, and has been sold since; can’t say whether the road party worked that day; the following day they did not work all the day, only three or four hours; on the 30th July we did some feats of jumping, etc, I saw you there that day; you were there in the morning, and there at night; you stopped in the tent at night; you left me on the 2nd August to go to the foot of the range; I never knew you to have a horse until after the 31st July; you were away to fetch up goods between July 2nd and 31st; you might have been away two or three hours; you were not away to my knowledge half a day out of my sight.
By the Crown Prosecutor: I recollect telling McCarthy on the 12th August after leaving the Commissioners office, Jimna, that I could not account for Podgey for one day. By Podgey: It was either the 31st July or the lst August that I could not account for.
THE Crown Prosecutor then set the whole case before the jury. He showed that, notwithstanding the statement of Troden, there was the testimony of Blake that one day was unaccounted for. The prisoners had gone to the Summer-creek rush, were seen there on the evening before the outrage, and were not seen again until by several persons the next day, near Imbil. Witness after witness had sworn to their identity. Their horses had been identified. The gun, one like that seen in one of the prisoner’s hands at the time of the outrage, had been found near prisoner Blake’s tent. A youth, long in the tent, had been surprised into a confession that it had been planted in a log near there. A hat, like one worn by Podgey, was found in Blake’s tent. The whole conduct of the prisoners was determined with a view to present defence. The hard riding through the bush, the appeal to the road party when arrested as to where prisoner Troden was on that day of the robbery, showed it. Blake’s manner when he first saw Troden under arrest was not that of an innocent man. He trembled and said, “They might as well arrest me as you.” Mr Shaw, in the course of his remarks, referred to the cold-blooded atrocity of which the prisoners were guilty in tying up their victims, so that but for a merciful Providence they would all have died a horrible death by starvation and thirst.
HIS Honor then for three hours summed up in the case, reading through the evidence, commenting on it carefully, balancing the pros and cons of the case, and most certainly leaving jury and everyone else in court without the slightest idea of what his his opinion on it was.
Shortly after six o’clock the jury retired to consider their verdict, and in half-an-hour afterwards returned with a verdict of Guilty against both prisoners.
His Honor in sentencing the prisoners, said it was a painful thing to have to pass upon the prisoners the sentence he felt it his duty to do, for the repression of such crimes, and in the interest of society.
But the sentence would not be so severe as it would have been if, in the course of this outrage, the slightest wound had been made by the firearms they carried, for then it might have been his duty to have sentenced to be hanged all parties concerned.
It would be well that it should be known that in cases of wounding with firearms whilst engaged in robbing, the penalty was hanging. If any blow had been given they should received blow for blow, but they had struck no blow; yet they had committed a most cruel act, and the language the Crown Prosecutor had used in describing it was not a bit too strong.
It was a most cruel act to bind these men, so that they would in all probability be exposed in the bush all night, and, it might be, to most serious injury - if not death.
They had bound their victims with rope; he would have them bound in return in fetters of iron. The sentence of the Court was twenty years penal servitude; the first three years in irons.
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