Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Robert Wallath, "The New Plymouth Highwayman" 1874-1960

(Per United Press Association.) New Plymouth, April 19. A sensational sticking-up case was reported to the police yesterday evening. As Henry Jordon was riding home up the Carrington Road, when about a mile and a half from the town, a man rode out from the hedge and said, "Your money or I'll put a bullet through your brains," at the same time pointing a revolver. The man wore a mask and was dressed in a red coat. He had a smart, round tight-fitting cap; he also carried a second revolver in his belt. Jordon had to turn out all his pockets, when finding he had only a few shillings on him, the highwayman ordered Jordon to ride on and not look back or he would be a dead man. Several others are reported to have seen the man. The police are trying to find out particulars about the affair.  -Wanganui Herald, 19/4/1892.

Highway Robbery.
[Per Press Association.] NEW PLYMOUTH, July 3. A highway robbery occurred last night at Omata, three miles from New Plymouth. The toll-gate keeper there was stuck up and £5 in silver taken. The highwayman was dressed in officer's scarlet and carried a sword and revolver. He went into the toll-gate house at 8 p.m., presented the revolver within eighteen inches of the toll-gate keeper's head and demanded money. The toll-gate keeper had a revolver in his pocket, but he was covered so closely that he saw he had no opportunity to use it. The police have no clue. It is considered to be the work of a larrikin. He has stuck up persons now three times, and got off successfully on each occasion.  -Star, 4/7/1892.

The stupid person who plays the ‘bold highwayman’ in the Taranaki district has been up to his pranks again. A Stratford man tells the Egmont Settler that whilst riding quietly along the Mountain road on Wednesday last he was overtaken by a man on a grey horse, the man having a long tow beard. He pulled up close to Mr Murray, and presenting a revolver at him, said, ‘Your money or your life.’ Mr Murray, who was, he says, considerably scared, told him he had no money, but, putting his hands under his coat-tail, said he had something that would do as well. The stranger said, 'Pull it out.’ Mr Murray said, 'If I do it will be to put a bullet through your head.’ Just then Mr Murray's dog sprang at the horse's heels, when the horse commenced to rear and plunged violently, and the man made off disappearing down a side road. Just then a second man came along, and as his horse passed the end of the road it shied violently, but nothing could be seen. Mr Murray came on to Stratford, and at once informed Constable Leahy, but so far he has not been able to discover anything. Mr Murray says he should know the man’s voice and eyes if he met him again, though it was too dark to see how he was dressed.  -NZ Times, 20/9/1892.

(Press Association.) New Plymouth, October 30. The fourth case of highway robbery within the last two or three months occurred on Saturday night, at about 9 o’clock. A man named Carthew was leading a horse in the suburbs, about ten minutes’ walk from the centre of the town, when a man on horseback, dressed in an officer’s uniform, with a sword and revolver, rode up to him and demanded his money and jewellery. He gave up a watch and three threepenny pieces, all the money he had on him The robber rode on towards town, and a few minutes after bailed up another man named Kibby, who said he was a poor man and had no money. The highwayman said, 'Pass on; I don’t want to rob a poor man.' Growing bolder, he rode right into town and stuck up another man in front of a grocer’s shop, with 20 or 30 people around. This man also said he had no money, and was not molested. The robber remained for about a minute coolly looking at the people and then rode off. He was pursued by a man on horseback, but escaped. The police also went in pursuit some time after. No trace of the fellow, however, could be found. The police are puzzled over the affair. Formerly they treated the matter as a hoax, but now it is beyond dispute that some person makes periodical raids in order to gain booty. On a former occasion he stuck up a toll gate keeper and got several pounds in silver.  -NZ Times, 31/10/1892.

There is nothing fresh to report about the New Plymouth "highwayman." It is thought that the man is a monomaniac, who has been reading penny dreadfuls, and is doing the Dick Turpin business.  -Auckland Star, 1/11/1892.

Local and General News
The Feilding Borough Council will meet on Thursday, and the Manchester Road Board, on Saturday next. 
The New Plymouth highwayman is out again, and on Saturday night he operated successfully on three persons. Mr Carthew (a brother of Mr Carthew of Feilding) was one of the select, and was eased of his watch and a few small silver coins. The police think the affair is now beyond a joke.  -Fielding Star, 1/11/1892.

Tit Bits and Twaddle
Taranaki is the land of occasional sensations as well as of prize cattle and prime butter and cheese. The last sensation was the outrageous doings of a wild cow, which bailed a valiant sergeant of police up on Mount Egmont for a day and a half. Now, they have a real live highwayman — not a common, prosaic thief, but a romantic, Dick Turpinesque, picturesque bushranger, who scours the streets of New Plymouth mounted on a coal-black steed, armed to the teeth, and wearing a magnificent uniform. Ever and anon he bails up a small boy carrying home sausages to his mother, or goes through some stray wayfarer for a pipe, a knife, and a bit of baccy. The other Saturday, 'in broad daylight,' as the local papers announced in horror-stricken 'caps,' the bold highwayman laid wait for a lonely citizen near the New Plymouth police station, and relieved him of a battered Waterbury watch and ninepence in threepenny bits — preparations for the coming 'Sawbath.' At this outrage the great heart of New Plymouth was aroused to its core, and now the police are hunting all the main thoroughfares for that ruthless robber and his sable steed, resolved to take them alive or dead.  -Observer, 5/11/1892.

"The Highwayman."
Per Press Association. NEW PLYMOUTH, Nov. 12. A telegram to the Herald from Inglewood states that the highwayman created quite a scare there last night. After the express train left for New Plymouth a man with a red coat and his face whitened came suddenly on two girls going home, and said to them, "I have seen." The girls screamed, and the man ran away. The townspeople were alarmed, and turned out and searched for the man, but he evaded then.  -Star, 12/11/1892.

Referring to the New Plymouth highway-man, the Catholic Times says: — "Someone up Taranaki way is bringing the glorious profession of highwayman into disrepute. He bailed up three men in one night and succeeded in extricating only ninepence and a damaged Waterbury from the crowd. Yet the highwayman so called, carried both revolver and sword. Why a Salvation Army Lass equipped with a banjo would have done better. I should strongly advise the latest edition of the road agent to hang his father’s sword up on the cottage wall at Bingen, and turn politician. He would make a great deal more money at that branch of bushranging, and with a great deal less risk.”  -South Canterbury Times, 16/11/1892.

RANDOM SHOTS, by "Zamiel"
That mysterious individual, the Taranaki highwayman, still pursues his calling in and around New Plymouth. He is really a boon to the district, for he infuses a little excitement into the provincial community, besides serving as an excellent example of frugality — that is to say if he lives on the fruits of what he makes on the road. The decided want of enterprise displayed by him, however, hardly entitles him to a second shot. I had one at him once before, but the idea I then vented of highway robbery being one of our neglected industries, and worthy the attention of fathers who were debating the question of what to do with their boys, has, I find, commended itself to a good many people. Putting aside those ridiculous folks — thank heaven there are few of them — who declared themselves shocked that a respectable paper like the STAR should advocate highwaymanship as a career, I have quite a little collection of letters, from all sorts and conditions of men, expressing approval of my suggestion, and asking further information on the subject. Now, when I drew rather a glowing picture of life on the road, I had no intention of advertising myself as a highwayman's registry office, which is what I appear to have done. It would be in vain for me to attempt to answer the many letters I have received on the subject, and it would be a breach of confidence to do so here, for some of the best families in Auckland are among my correspondents. How, for instance, am I to reply to 'An Anxious Father,' who asks me if I think Jack would make a good highwayman; or to the draper's assistant who signs himself' 'Claude Duval;' or to the innumerable apprentices and schoolboys who dream of rising to be Jack Sheppards and Dick Turpins; or the sweet Maid Marian who sighs for a life in the greenwood; or the impecunious clergyman who writes piteously to say that he prays heaven he might be Friar Tuck? Alas! these innocents do not seem to know that the combination of qualities necessary for a successful career on the highway, is as rare as that which raises a man to be a Major-General. Jack may he nimble with his fingers, and be able to abstract a pocket handkerchief or a purse from a visitor's pocket, but the proud parent must know that a sneak thief and a knight of the road are not by any means the same. I would not for the world cloud the generous dreams of 'Maid Marian,' but she has evidently conjured up a vision of merrie England in the days of Robin Hood, and forgets that for her to live the free and unconventional life of that ideal lady of the woods would be an impossibility in these days when Mrs Grundy reigns supreme. Neither to the struggling clergyman, who represents himself as 'starving on a miserable and uncertain stipend,' and who is evidently thinking of the venison pasty, on which that jovial man of his cloth, Friar Tuck, grow stout, can I give much encouragement. These are not the sort of men we want on the road. But enough! I intend to put the whole matter in a nutshell of a pamphlet, which readers will be well to look out for, under the title 'The Perfect Highwayman or a Short Cut to Fortune.'  -Auckland Star, 26/11/1892.

An explanation (the Taranaki Herald says) has come to hand respecting the highwayman two girls stated they saw in James street, Inglewood, a couple of weeks ago. It appears that a settler states that on the night the girls state they saw the outlaw he was walking along the street, when he almost collided with two girls. He remarked, "I beg your pardon, I did not see you," but before he could say any more the girls screamed and fled. He thought no more of the occurrence, but, hearing subsequently that the highwayman scare had been raised, he came forward with his explanation.   -Hawera and Normanby Star, 29/11/1892.

Through pleasant fields and pastures new, dotted over with beautiful homesteads, I wended my way as far as a little beyond Bell Block. There I felt that I reached the limits of my researches into so delightful a country — thoughts of the New Plymouth highwayman, I must confess, were not entirely absent from my mind. I could not determine to my own satisfaction in what spirit he might view the encroachments upon his domain of a travelling newspaper reporter. His mental capacity might be too circumscribed to appreciate thoroughly the magnificent qualities of such an one, and his temper might be blood-thirsty.
In the course of my meditations upon this subject, I arrived at certain conclusions concerning this so-called bushranger, these I modestly offer to the public. The New Plymouth highwayman is neither more nor less than a spirit, a materialised spirit, evoked by some mediumistic member of the Harbor Board. Now in cases of this kind, better understood a hundred years ago, the ordeal by water was generally resorted to. If the witch or medium floated that was deemed proof positive of guilt, and she legally roasted, but if the accused sank, then the matter settled itself without farther trouble. Let us try the ordeal by water to the New Plymouth Harbor Board.  -Hawera and Normanby Star, 30/11/1892.

New Plymouth, Sunday. A sensation was created in town at a quarter to eleven last night by the sudden appearance of the highwayman. He entered the White Hart Hotel, Devon-street, opposite the Government Buildings, and presented a revolver at the barmaid, and simultaneously held a pistol close to the head of one of the men who was drinking in the bar. He shouted, "Do not move, or I'll fire." There were five or six persons in the bar at the time, and they all left but one. The highwayman wore a mask, and had an officer's uniform and a sword. He coolly opened the inner bar door and took 15s, which were on a tray. He then reached down a bottle of whiskey from a shelf, and deliberately marched out, his sword clanging in the passage as he went. There were 18 persons in the house at the time. Some in the billiardroom heard the noise, but took no notice.
The highwayman was in the hotel five minutes. No one followed to see which direction he took. He went out at the front door, and must have walked across the street and mounted his horse, for shortly after he was seen on horseback. When within about 100 yards of the police station he fired a pistol, probably to deter persons from pursuing him. He, however, let his pistol fall, and it was picked up this morning. It had been loaded with small shot, and several shot were picked out of a fence where the charge struck. 
He galloped along Courtney street at a furious pace, and pulled up when he reached Gover-street and continued at a walking pace for a time. Two persons state that they met him near Mitchinson's gardens and he fired at them. The police with Inspector Thomson went in pursuit, but the highwayman got safely away. The police kept up the search all night without effecting his capture. 
There was only one policeman on duty at the time the robbery was committed, and he was at the other end of the town. The police force is too small for requirements, and it is absolutely necessary it should be increased. The highwayman has invariably made his appearance on Saturday nights, but this has been his most daring feat. The police expect to trace him. They have found the bottle of whisky.  -NZ Herald, 13/2/1893.

Napier Notes
The valiant in this community — and there are some dare-devils amongst us — hear today of the doings of the Taranaki bushranger. They scent his approach, and are thirsting for a brush with him. This shoddy Morgan wouldn’t carry on in a Napier pub as he did in the White Hart, New Plymouth. The Press Association telegram which conveys to us the news this morning closes in a rather amazing style. ‘This has been his most daring feat. The police expect to trace him. They have found the bottle of whisky.' There is a delightful blending here of powder and alcohol, and a delightful out of-breath and excited jerky style about the message. The last effort of the press agent is superb. ‘They have found the bottle of whisky.’ I expect they would rather have found that than found the highwayman. They must try the contents of that bottle to be sure it is whisky. I hope he will come over here, for our men, Inspectors, sergeants and constables, are all 'blue-mouldy for the want of a batin.' 

My long-haired, saintly friend, Mr Tennyson Smith, is here. The dear, delightful, clover old hum — is going to have a good time here. On Saturday afternoon I passed him reclining in an open carriage with his charming princess by his side, and two minutes after a poor old lady stopped me: 'Will you pardon me, sir? Who is that distinguished-looking gentleman that passed in the carriage?’ ‘That gentleman, madame, is Mr E. Tennyson Smith — no less.’ And the simple body looked almost flabbergasted. Not for nothing does my enterprising friend go about in an open carriage. Coram populo.  -NZ Times, 14/2/1893.

The men of Taranaki must surely have sadly degenerated, to allow some stupid fool who personates a highwayman to strike terror into their hearts and render them absolutely incapable of resisting a gross outrage. We rubbed our eyes to make certain whether we were really awake when we read the extraordinary story telegraphed from New Plymouth and published in our issue of yesterday, of how one solitary so-called ''highwayman" stuck up a hotel full of people and frightened them out of their wits for full five minutes while he himself emptied the till of the few shillings in silver which it contained and then made free with the contents of a bottle of whiskey. We sympathise with the press agents in being called upon to record such cowardly and mean-spirited conduct on the part of certain of their townspeople. What the White Hart Hotel frequenters wanted was not more police, but more pluck. Everybody in New Plymouth must know by this time, if they have not known all along, that the "highwayman" is a sham. Men who take to the road for a living do not scamper about with officers' trappings, with pistols loaded with small shot, and bail up a hotel in the middle of a town for the sake of obtaining a few shillings in silver and a bottle of whiskey. Either the White Hart Hotel frequenters are a pack of cowards, or they are enemies to the public weal in screening some fool of a practical joker whose pranks will probably end disastrously to someone if they are are not promptly put a stop to.  -Wanganui Chronicle, 14/2/1893.

New Plymouth jokeist who chaffed a number of people most unmercifully in connection with the non-capture of the highwayman who robbed the White Hart Hotel, got a thrashing for his pains, and does not now allude to the subject.  -Daily Telegraph, 17/2/1893.

Echoes of the week
New Plymouth was always a sleepy, unenterprising sort of place, except in the way of the breakwater, of which it would have been better if not a block had been laid, and there is therefore not much reason to wonder at the mischievous ass who masquerades as Dick Turpin being allowed to play the goat in the way he has been doing lately without being promptly captured. It is nothing short of a disgrace to the Taranaki people that this fellow, with his 'officer's uniform and sword' a tuppenny hapenny hero whose get-up is probably the result of some young idiot's perusal of 'penny awfuls' — should be allowed to go on month after month riding about the district, frightening women and children, without some determined effort being made by the residents to catch him. The fact of his only taking a few shillings from a plate when a till containing £25 was within his reach and sight, is proof positive he is a mere dummy highwayman. The genuine article would have scooped the till right away. As to the pistol, seeing there were six men in the bar, and that it is admitted the 'highwayman' had his back to one of them (and this one armed with a stick, too), it seems incredible that no one should have attempted at least to knock the weapon out of his hand. It is high time the man's impudent tomfoolery were put a stop to and that the perpetrator of this mischievous practical joking were cooling his heels in gaol. If Inspector Thomson has half the grit in him he gets credit for he ought soon to have the Taranaki Turpin by the collar. He is most probably, as I said above, some calf-headed shop boy who has been reading 'penny awfuls.'  -NZ Mail, 17/2/1893.

RANDOM SHOTS by "Zamiel"
My old friend, the New Plymouth highwayman, at whom I have had a shot before now from behind the impenetrable bulwarks of anonymity, is again relieving the tedium of the capital of Taranaki by a little pistol practice. Evidently he has gone through the proceeds of his last sticking up which took place room three months ago. To have done so dose not necessarily mean that he is extravagant. The total amount, as near as I can remember, was only half a crown, exclusive of the threepenny piece, which with a generosity worthy of a Claude Duval, or Captain Starlight, he handed back to one of his victims, who pleaded poverty. Half a crown in three months would not permit a very lavish scale of living, especially for a highwayman, if he had nothing to supplement it. It is more than probable that the Taranaki Captain Starlight has private means, and merely adopts his present profession as a recreation. I cannot doubt that his chief object is amusement. The fact that his exploits have invariably been made on Saturday nights, when the work of the week is finished, proves that he does not allow them to interfere with his regular business. I am convinced too that he is a religious highwayman, for it is noticeable that, wherever possible, he has confined his operations to the secular side of Sunday. Seldom if ever has he, to my knowledge, drawn trigger on a man on the Sabbath Day. Give the devil his due! There are good points in this knight of the road with his officer's suit, his mask, his pistol, and his clanging sword. His worst fault — as a highway-man — seems to be that he is an execrable shot; but this fault practice will mend, and he is likely to have lots of it, if all the New Plymouth men are like the eighteen he bailed up with a revolver and number 6 shot.

With the exception of that fault — almost fatal for one who hopes to rise 'on the road,' I admit — he has much to commend him. For instance, he can go into a public house and out again without taking a drink, which is more than a good many people I know could do. I know very well that the fact of his having been in a temple of Bacchus at all will irretrievably ruin his character in the eyes of the temperance party, but I should just like to point out that if he had no business in that house, neither had the six persons who were drinking at the bar at the time (10.45 — police, please note!) he entered. In compelling these people to leave, which they did with one exception, he was really assisting the police in carrying out the provisions of the Early Closing Act. He should therefore be rewarded; not hunted down. The whole History of this last appearance of his seems most fatal to the reputation of New Plymouth. If it is true, it reflects anything but credit on the police, or the housekeepers there, and says little for the personal courage of the inhabitants. But is it true? Telegrams not withstanding, I gravely doubt it. The veracity or sobriety of those who relate the tale is not beyond question. They were all either frequenters of public house bars, or people who were abroad when all decent people were in bed. Is it not possible that the whole affair is the result of slightly confused brains on the part of narrators? Hideous nightmare begotten of the fumes of beer, or whisky or wine or all together? Time will show.  -Auckland Star, 18/2/1893.

Local and General News
The Minister for Defence, the Hon Mr Seddon, told the police authorities in New Plymouth, that they must arrest the local highwayman soon, or there will be trouble.   -Fielding Star, 18/2/1893.

New Plymouth is evidently a place that loves a little mild excitement, and as the exigences of its Harbor Board's indebtedness prevent it from launching out into any great expenditure to provide public amusement, it keeps a tame highwayman who at short intervals, when business is slack on a Saturday night, livens things up a bit by appearing in the streets in approved bal masque costume and, equipped with the usual properties of the stage highwayman, amuses the public with his pranks. The New Plymouthites hardly seem to regard him seriously themselves, as on the occasion of his last 'evening out,' he visited a prominent hotel and succeeded with one pistol in keeping several men in quietude while he walked round and helped himself to a few shillings off a tray and a bottle of whisky. No doubt for the publican it was money and whisky well spent and it might be a good tip for others occasionally, when things look a bit slack on Saturday night, to let the 'boots,' suitably attired, collect his scanty week's wages and allowance of whisky off a tray, with the melodramatic aid of a pistol loaded with sparrow shot. The public at New Plymouth evidently now however think the game is getting stale but they hardly seem to have taken the trouble to do more than give the man a passing glance as he walked his horse down the street. The bottle of whisky however soon did its work and the terrible outlaw waxed defiant and fightable and in this condition fired off his pistol, having taken careful aim at nothing in particular, in the neighbourhood of the police station, just to let the constables know he was around. He made a good shot, however, and succeeded in hitting a paling fence, a feat which should add greatly to the terror of his name. The police found the whisky bottle and with this and such of the contents as the highwayman had left therein to help them, felt confident of effecting a capture, and scoured the country far afield all night, while the harmless object of their search was probably sleeping off the contents of the bottle under the lee of the stationhouse fence or somewhere close adjacent. Next time he will probably invite the 'foorce' to join him in a friendly glass to keep out the night air, before they leave the cosy station to dodge him round the back lanes. If this highwayman business is a farce merely, it is about played out and its continuance will do no good to the place, but if it is a serious matter, which seems very unlikely, the circumstances of it, reflect little credit on any of the parties concerned, but we think the highwayman comes out as the best man all round after all.  -Bay of Plenty Times, 20/2/1893.

NEW PLYMOUTH, one of the new members of the Harbour Board is showing good form already. He is going to keep them up to time or shut up. That's the talk.... The highwayman hasn't turned up again yet but we are expecting him every night.   -Observer, 1/4/1893.

Tit Bits and Twaddle
What has become of the New Plymouth highwayman? By the way it is whispered that this modern Dick Turpin is a son of a well-known and well-to-do resident of the Taranaki district, and that the police are perfectly able to identify him. But they don't do it. 'Well-connected?' Ah, just so.   -Auckland Star, 17/6/1893.

He Does Some Shooting.
Charged With Attempted Murder.
(By Telegraph,—Press Association). New Plymouth, Friday. The highwayman was caught last night, about eleven o'clock. He bailed up the Criterion Hotel, and presented a pistol at Mrs Cottier.  Inspector Thomson's son, Harold, who was in the hotel, knocked the man down. The highwayman fired, wounding young Thomson, but not seriously; assistance being at hand the man was held down on the floor, until the police arrived. The man's name is Wallath, and he was dressed in volunteer uniform, and had two loaded revolvers on him. He will be brought up at the Police Court this morning.
Later, Harold Thomson's account of his encounter with the highwayman is, that he was at the side bar of the Criterion Hotel, when he saw a man attired in a military uniform opposite the bar who pointed a revolver at Mrs Cottier. Someone called out "It's the highwayman." Mrs Cottier told the man to move on and the highwayman went along the passage, and Thomson ran round the passage to meet him, and the two met at the foot of the staircase. Walllath then fired his revolver, hitting Thomson in the left side, who then rushed the man, seized him by the throat and a severe struggle ensued.  Thomson struck his antagonist, when Charles Holmes came to his assistance and the man was thrown on the floor and held till the constable came and handcuffed him. The man was dressed in an old volunteer uniform coat with white striped serge trousers; and patent leather crossbelt with cartouche box, a blue serge helmet hat with red volunteer feathers fastened in a zinc plate, and black goatshair false beard and a mask of blue merino. 
Robert Wallath was charged in the Police Court this morning with firing at Thomson with intent to murder him, and was remanded till next Friday on the application of the police. No bail was allowed, Inspector Thomson said that other serious charges would probably be brought against accused. 
Dr O'Carrol states that Thomson had a couple of leaden pellets in him, but the wound is a comparatively slight one, but he had a very narrow escape. It is believed the man fired at Thomson's heart but in the struggle the charge glanced off about five inches. There are four distinct cuts in the  coat indicating the entrance and exit of two distinct pellets. The prisoner was examined in the lockup and shows indications of having been kicked on the right leg or struck with a heavy stick. The prisoner stated to O'Carroll that he would have made it hot if it had not been for young Thomson, but there were too many for him. Afterwards the prisoner appeared to be perfectly cool, and did not realise his position.  -Wairarapa Daily Times, 21/7/1893.

New Plymouth, this day,
Charles Holmes gives the following account of the highwayman affair. He was at the side of the bar and saw the highwayman at the opposite bar. He was dressed in an officer's uniform, with a red tunic, and had a mask over his face.
The man went up the passage, and Thompson ran to meet him.
Holmes followed Thompson, who tackled the highwayman.
The latter fired as soon as Thompson rushed at him, and Holmes then went to Thompson's assistance, and caught hold of the revolver which the highwayman had in his hand.
It was a five-chamber revolver, and four chambers were loaded and capped when he got hold of it. The highwayman had another revolver in his belt.
In the struggle, the whole of them fell down, but they held the highwayman till he was handcuffed by the police.
The man made a desperate struggle and had he not been disarmed might have used the revolver again.  -Auckland Star, 21/7/1893.

The brave action of Harold Thomson, who captured the notorious Taranaki highwayman on Thursday night, at the peril of his own life, stands out in bright relief against the pusillanimous inactivity of those who permitted the same desperado to enter and leave another New Plymouth hotel some time back, without any of those present making the slightest attempt to effect his capture. Young Thomson, who was unarmed, and had not even the aid of a walking-stick, no sooner saw who the visitor to the Criterion Hotel really was than he quietly went after him, and tackled the fellow without the slightest hesitation, notwithstanding the fact that the highwayman was armed with loaded revolvers, one of which he drew, and fired at his captor, who, fortunately, escaped with slight injuries. It was not the fault of the desperado that he did not add murder to his other crimes, and take the life of a genuine hero; fortunately, he was frustrated in his attempt to do so, and young Thomson escaped, as before remarked, with but slight injuries. This is a case that should not be allowed to pass out of the public mind without the great bravery and quick tact of young Thomson being rewarded in a most substantial manner, as there can now be no doubt but that by his pluck he saved the people in the hotel from a very great danger, as it is quite certain Wallath went armed to the teeth with the set determination of sticking up and robbing the principal hotel in the place, and of shooting anyone who attempted to stop him doing so, or who should pluck up sufficient courage to rush him and try to effect his capture. To take such a scoundrel red-handed and have him placed safe under lock and key was to render the people of New Plymouth and the neighbourhood a most valuable service. It is to be hoped that they will appraise it at its proper value and present Mr Harold Thomson with a substantial mark of their appreciation of his manly courage.  -Wanganui Herald, 22/7/1893.

The New Plymouth police have obtained evidence clearly identifying the prisoner Robort Wallath as the person who appeared as a highwayman on former occasions, and also as being connected with several burglaries recently committed in New Plymouth. A singular part of the affair is that he was employed by Mr Furlong, hairdresser, to secure the door of his shop by fixing a heavy iron bar inside, and a few day a afterwards Furlong's place was broken into by someone boring through the weatherboards and removing the iron bar. The police found some of the things stolen from Furlong's in the prisoner's bedroom, thus indicating that the prisoner was the man who committed the burglary. He was afterwards employed by Furlong to repair the damage which the evidence now shows he had himself committed.  -Daily Telegraph, 22/7/1893.

NEW PLYMOUTH, To-day. The disguise evidently used by the highwayman has been found in the rear of Cottier's hotel. Evidently after bailing up the hotel he was to get out and put on the clothes found in the yard, and re-enter the hotel, joining among the crowd. This, no doubt, explains how he evaded capture so long.  -Poverty Bay Herald, 24/7/1893.

The Taranaki Highwayman. 
[UNITED PRESS ASSOCIATION,] New Plymouth, July 23. The Police have found how the highwayman has managed to escape so often without being caught. He has been very cunning in the way he want about it, as the following will show. A boy found an overcoat, soft hat, and spur in a yard adjoining Cottier's hotel. It would appear that the highwayman got into the rear of the hotel, stripped off his overcoat and dungaree trousers and hat, which covered his uniform, and then went in the back way to the hotel, so that no one saw him until he entered the door. Had he been successful, be would have gone back to where be had stripped, put on his trousers and overcoat again, and appeared amongst the crowd. This he must have done on former occasions. When the White Hart Hotel was bailed up, as it has now been proved, he was amongst the crowd a few minutes after the highwayman had left. On that occasion he stated in the crowd that if he found the highwayman he had two pistols on him. On another occasion when the highwayman scare was on, a lady asked Robert Wallath (alleged highwayman) to take her sister home, as she was frightened of the highwayman. He did so, and was talking of the highwayman all the way, saying what he would do if he caught him.  -Colonist, 24/7/1893.

New Plymouth, July 22. The accused man Wallath is well known in the district. He is about 19 years of age, is a carpenter by trade, and works with his father. He is also a member of the Taranaki Rifle Volunteer Company, and at the recent Rifle Association Meeting he was one of the representatives sent down from here. 
MR. THOMSON, who so pluckily tackled Wallath, is a son of Inspector Thomson, who is in charge of the West Coast Police District, and is engaged in the Office of Messrs Standish and Kerr, solicitors. He is a very strongly built young man, 19 years of age and there no doubt but that his physical ability and promptitude enabled him to secure Wallath, who is, it might be mentioned, an exceptionally big man for his age. Mr Thomson must have been in excellent fettle for the tussle, as he has been an active player in the Star 1 ranks this year, playing three-quarter back. 
HOW WALLATH APPEARED. When overpowered, it is.understood that Wallath gave out a few groans, and when taken to the Police Station he had very little to say. It is reported that he made a remark that he had terrorised the district for twelve months, and another account is to the effect that he appeared dazed, and wanted to know whether he was dreaming. 
ACCUSED BEFORE THE COURT. Wallath was brought up at the Police Court on Friday and formally charged with firing a revolver at Mr Harold Thomson with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. The Court was crowded, and very great interest was taken in the proceedings. The accused was brought down from the Police Station, in a closed cab in charge of Sergeant Duffin and Constables Lister and McAnerim, and appeared in the dock in his full regimentals, without, however, the beard and mask. His demeanor was most cool, and he attempted to converse with persons standing near the dock. He maintained his coolness throughout the proceedings, which only lasted about five minutes, and were confined to a formal application by Inspector Thomson for a week's remand, which was granted. Wallath was then removed and conveyed to the gaol, where he will await the further hearing of the charge. 
WALLATH'S HORSE FOUND. The horse that the highwayman rode has been found in the grounds near the pound, and was taken charge of by the police. The man had evidently ridden in from his home, hitched his horse up and then came down to the Criterion Hotel by the way of Robe and Powderham streets, and then down to the back of the Criterion Hotel by going through Mr Okey's foundry yard. He would then come into the arched passage which runs alongside the hotel, and from there he entered the side door that leads to the bar and billiard-room.
ACCUSED'S ROOM SEARCHED. After the Court adjourned, Inspector Thomson, accompanied by Sergt. Duffin and Constable McAnerim, proceeded to Westown to make a search of the room occupied by Robert Wallath at his father's residence. A number of articles of an incriminating character in respect to other offences were, it is, reported, found. The famous sword was also found, and another uniform of a blue color. All the articles were brought down to the police station. Wallath has kept his room locked for the past two years, and never allowed any of the family to enter it.  -Thames Star, 25/7/1893.

The youthful New Plymouth highwayman, who is now rusticating in goal, was assistant “editor” of a periodical read at the meetings of the local Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Association, and was to have met the “editor” on the night he was captured to fix up the papers for the next meeting, but the business was postponed.  -Woodville Examiner, 28/7/1893.

From "ketenewplymouth"

The appearance of Robert Wallath on remand was the cause of a large number of persons assembling in the Courthouse this (Friday) morning. Long before the time of beginning the business of the Court, namely, 10.30 o'clock, people wended their way into the Courthouse, and at the hour of opening the back portion reserved for the public was crowded, a large number of ladies being present, while all the seating accommodation in the Courtroom proper was taken up, many ladies being also noticed here. There was a continual hum of conversation going on among the spectators until Robert Wallath and his escort appeared on the scene, when a breathless silence prevailed, all eyes being turned on the figure of the man who has created so much interest during the last few days, not only in this district but throughout the colony. 
WALLATH'S APPEARANCE. Wallath came down in a landau from the gaol, having for an escort Sergt. Duffin, and Constables Grey and McAnerim. He was not, however, in his war paint, and general disappointment was expressed by the spectators at not seeing him in his uniform. Wallath was dressed in a blue serge suit, and did not look at all formidable. When he was placed in the dock he seemed a bit surprised at the number of spectators present, and turned his eyes all round the room as if he were making a mental calculation of the number present. The large assemblage of ladies seemed to surprise him, and for a time he looked a little disconcerted. After being in the box a few minutes he began to talk in an animated but low tone to Constable Grey, who was alongside him, and later on he had a conversation with his father, who afterwards took a seat in the body of the Court. Some misconception had evidently arisen as to the time fixed for opening the Court. It was generally understood that the Court would be opened at 10 30 o'clock, but according to the Court record the accused was remanded till 11 a.m. The spectators were naturally a little disappointed at having to wait half an hour, but although the wait was an uncomfortable one under the circumstances, the atmosphere of the courtroom being very hot and close, the spectators were determined to see the proceedings started for scarcely one was observed to leave the room when it became known that the business would not be started till 11 o'clock. 
NUMBER OF SPECTATORS PRESENT. The number of spectators present in the courthouse was variously estimated, but anyone would have been well within the mark by fixing the number at 500. The public part was uncomfortably packed, many standing on the forms to get a view of the accused; the jury box was occupied principally by ladies, and all the chairs and other sitting accommodation within the rails were taken up by interested spectators, male and female. 
HE DID NOT WANT TO SIT DOWN. Wallath stood up in the dock looking round for some time, until Sergeant Duffin said to him in a kind manner, "Sit down, Bob, and take a rest." Wallath, however, shook his head, and remarked that he had had too much rest already, and did not care to sit down. Inspector Thomson then spoke to accused and requested him to sit down, and Wallath reluctantly sat down in the chair that is placed in the dock. 
OPENING THE COURT. The Justices of the Peace took their seats at 11 o'clock. The Bench was composed of — Major R. Parris, R.M., Captain Cornwall, J.P., Mr R. Cock, J.P., Mr J. B. Connett, J.P., Mr J, Hughes, J.P., and Mr H. J. Goodman, J.P. The accused was then charged as follows: — 
First Charge. Robert Wallath was charged that on July 20th, 1893, at New Plymouth, he did present, point, and level at and against one Harold Thomson certain loaded arms, to wit, a revolver then loaded with caps, gunpowder, and leaden bullets, and did then by drawing the trigger of the said revolver, discharge the same, and did thereby cause unto the said Harold Thomson grievous bodily harm, to wit, a shot wound, with intent thereby feloniously and of malice aforethought to kill and murder the said Harold Thomson. 
Second Charge. That the said Robert Wallath on July 20, did by menaces and threats, namely, by presenting a loaded revolver at Mary Jane Cottier, demand from her certain moneys. 
Inspector Thomson handed in a plan of the hotel to the Bench, and then went through the facts of the case, which have already been published. 
During Inspector Thomson's opening remarks, Wallath, who was not represented by counsel, leant over the dock and appeared to evince great interest in the proceedings. 
Inspector Thomson called 
Thomas Kingwell Skinner, authorised surveyor, who stated the plan (produced) was plan of Criterion Hotel drawn according to measurement and scale. The scale was 5 feet to an inch. 
In answer to the Bench if he had any questions to ask witness prisoner said, "I should like to pass a remark." 
Major Parris said any remarks that he would like to make should be made when the evidence was completed, but he could ask any questions of the witnesses bearing on their evidence. 
Prisoner then said "I don't wish to ask this witness any questions." 
Inspector Thomson pointed out that the accused not being represented by counsel increased his responsibility. 
Major Parris: The Bench also have responsibility. 
Inspector Thomson: Quite so, your Worship. 
Thomas Budd, billiard-marker at the Criterion Hotel, deposed that about 11 o clock on the night of July 20 he was closing up the premises. He closed up the front door, turned down the lamp inside the front door, and then went down the main passage and turned down the passage leading to the side entrance. He had got half way down the side passage, when he saw a man enter the side door which was open. The man had a red tunic on; blue or black trousers with white stripe on leg. He had a hat on his head, it could not be called a helmet; it was a peaked cap with a red plume in it. The man had on his face a black or dark blue handkerchief with two holes cut in it for the eyes. The articles (produced) are like the ones mentioned. [At this stage the prisoner smiled, and then became restless, turning right round in the dock and looking at the people at the back. Mr Parris requested the prisoner to turn his face to the Court. Prisoner obeyed, saying "Certainly sir," and then something that was not audible at the reporters' table]. 
Evidence continued: — He saw the articles mentioned in the police station the same night. Witness saw something dark hanging down below the mask. He picked up the false beard (produced) in the passage later on, and he handed it to Constable McAnerim. Witness noticed a pair of white gloves, similar to those produced, on the accused as he was lying in the passage after the struggle, and when witness took the second revolver out of his belt. Witness saw the man enter, walk two or three paces into the passage and present a revolver at Mrs Cottier, who was standing inside the bar window. When the man presented the revolver at Mrs Cottier witness turned back and went into the Commercial Room, in which were Messrs Okey, Long, and C. O. Smith. He said "Okey come out and help; the highwayman is shooting Mrs Cottier!" (laughter) He did not come out and help. He heard the highwayman say "Bail up!" to Mrs Cottier; he was certain of that. Subsequently he saw the man's face. He came out of the room again, and saw Mr Thomson and Mr Holmes holding the man down in the passage. The mask was then off. Somebody struck a match and witness looked in the man's face and said, "That is Bob Wallath," the accused. The prisoner was held down until the arrival of Constable McAnerim, who took him into custody. He had no doubt that the man held down in the passage was the man who came in and presented the revolver. Before leaving the Commercial Room he heard a shot fired. 
In answer to Major Parris if he had any questions to put to witness the prisoner said, "No Sir; none at present." 
At this stage the accused caused some amusement in Court by taking up Constable Grey's helmet, which was placed on the dock and putting it on his head. 
Inspector Thomson said that prisoner remarked he had no questions to ask at present. Perhaps prisoner was unaware that his only chance of asking questions in Court was when each witness was in the box, and he would, therefore, suggest that their Worships inform prisoner of the fact. 
Major Parris informed accused of this fact. Prisoner replied, "I don't wish to put any questions here at all." 
Major Parris then told accused to conduct himself properly. Just now he noticed that prisoner took a constable's hat and put it on his head. Such skylarking could not be tolerated in Court.
Mary Jane Cottier deposed that she was wife of William Cottier, licensee of the Criterion Hotel. About 11 o'clock on the night of July 20, witness was in the bar, and had just served a customer to whom she was talking. About this time a man came in at the side door. He had on a peaked cap with a plume in it; red tunic; a dark mask on his face, with holes cut in it for eyes. The coat and cap (produced) were similar to those worn by the man; witness did not notice the trousers. The man had a revolver in his hand. The man presented a revolver through the window at witness and said "Bail up." Witness looked at the man, and thinking it was someone playing a joke, smiled and said "Pass on." The window through which he presented the revolver was closed. Mr Simmonds, who had just been served with a drink, was standing outside the window a little to the right of the man in uniform. Witness did not hear him say anything or do anything to Mr Simmonds. She did not think he could have said anything without her hearing. When she said "Pass on" the man walked along the passage, almost immediately she heard a struggle and then a shot. The shot and struggle seemed to happen at the same time, she then said to Simmonds "Run and help," and he then left and ran up the passage. [At this stage of the proceedings the bench ordered all witnesses to leave the Court, as Major Parris remarked it was only right in fairness to the prisoner. Inspector Thomson concurred]. Evidence continued: — Witness then ran to the Commercial Room and called out "Help," but the door was closed and some person was leaning against the door inside. Almost immediately, however, the door opened and Mr Okey and Tom Budd came out and went to where the man was struggling on the floor with Messrs Thomson and Holmes. At a later period she saw the man without the mask. The man was then raised up from the floor at the foot of the staircase, and witness then saw it was the prisoner. The prisoner was detained until Constable McAnerim came and took him into custody.
In answer to the usual query prisoner shook his head and said "No; I have no questions." 
Henry Simmonds said he was a fisherman, residing at New Plymouth. He was talking to Mrs Cottier on the night of July 20, about 11 o'clock. While he was talking he heard someone say "Bail up!" and he looked round and saw a pistol held within a foot of his head. The man who held the revolver was dressed in a red coat, like a volunteer's, and a black mask, similar to those produced. The trousers the man wore were dark. The man had something on his head, but he could not say what it was; witness was too much taken up with the revolver. He looked down, and saw that the man had a second pistol at his left side. Witness said to the man, "I have no money," and the man then turned the pistol towards Mrs Cottier, and said to her, "Bail up! Hand me the money from the till." Mrs Cottier said "Pass on," and the man passed on to the end of the passage. Mr Thomson then rushed at him, and seized him, and the highwayman fired at him. Witness was at the time standing near the window. Mr Holmes then rushed up and assisted Mr Thomson. Mrs Cottier then said to witness, "Go and help them." and witness threw his stick down, ran up to where they were struggling and caught hold of one of his legs. After holding him for some time the man fell down near the bottom of the stairs. The struggle appeared to last a minute, but it might have been more, before he fell; but it was a severe struggle while it lasted. He afterwards saw the man without the mask; he could not recognise him, but he believed it was the prisoner. He afterwards ran up and called Constable McAnerim.
In answer to the usual query from the Bench, prisoner said: '"I have no questions to put to him I don't think. A lot of it is not true, and it is no good arguing about it."
Major Parris: Have you any questions? 
Prisoner: No; I have no questions at present. 
Major Parris then pointed out to prisoner that he was paying too much attention to the people behind him, instead of listening to the evidence. It was for his own benefit that he should listen to the evidence. 
Prisoner: I am listening. 
Harold John Monte Thomson, law clerk, stated that he was in the Criterion Hotel with Mr Charles Holmes about 11 o'clock on July 20. They were standing at the side bar in the passage. They had been there about two minutes. He was standing in right hand corner, and was about to leave. He was facing the window in the passage. He saw Mrs Cottier who was inside the bar in front of the window fronting the side passage. Her back was towards witness. Just as he happened to look up he saw a man in a uniform with a mask on his face covering her with a revolver which was pointed through the window. As he covered her the man said something that he could not hear. The man had her covered a few seconds and then left walking up the passage towards the front of the staircase. Witness said "There is the highway man, let us collar him." He said this to Mr Holmes, who was standing alongside of witness. Mrs Cottier apparently did not take any notice of the man, and as he left the window witness ran out of the passage to meet the man at the corner where two passages meet. They came up with each other at the corner simultaneously. The man was keeping at the far side of the passage. Witness had slackened his pace before reaching the corner in order to take him by surprise, and just as he saw him he rushed at the man. Witness was about two feet from the man, when he saw a flash of fire from the direction of the man's hand, and at the same time witness felt a slight twinge of pain on his left side ribs. Witness finished the rush and caught the man by the throat, with his right hand and put his left hand, in which he had his stick, under the man's right arm (in which he saw a revolver), with the purpose of guarding the revolver off his body. Immediately after that his friend Mr Holmes came to his assistance, and caught the man by the right leg, intending, he thought, to throw him. The man's left leg was entangled with witness's trying to throw him. They struggled for perhaps a minute; the man was struggling very violently. Witness called out for somebody to take his stick, which was taken by Mr Holmes he thought. Witness then tripped the man up, and then came down on the floor at the foot of the staircase at the entrance to passage near the staircase. Witness still had the man by the throat, and was holding the man's left wrist with his left hand. While on the floor the man kicked rather violently, and was moaning heavily, when he ceased to struggle as if in a faint. Others came on the scene, and they held the man down until Constable McAnerim arrived and took him into custody. During the struggle the cap, mask, and beard were knocked off. He did not know the man's identity then, but the prisoner was the man who struggled with him. He recognised the exhibits (produced) as the clothes the man wore. The tunic was not buttoned up, and a white shirt or something showed out. The man wore two belts, a shoulder belt, and one under his arm. After the struggle he was shown a revolver in the hands of Mr Holmes with one barrel discharged; and also another revolver in the hands of Mr Budd. Witness picked up the handkerchief (produced) after the struggle. Witness that night had on a black coat and vest, a white shirt, and a white singlet. The articles (produced) are those he had on. The coat (produced) had neither the brown marks nor holes in it before the struggle. The marks he put down to the result of the closeness of the shot. There was no hole in the vest prior to the struggle. The hole in the left breast of the shirt [produced] was not there before the struggle. The same remark applied to the hole in the left breast of the singlet [produced], and the bloodstains were not there, the handkerchief [produced], which he had in his left breast pocket of the coat, was not scorched like it is now before the struggle. He did not know he was hurt at first. Dr O'Carroll examined him, and had treated him since. 
By Major Parris: Prisoner fired at him when he was two feet away, there was only one shot. 
Major Parris: Now prisoner, this is the principal witness; have you any questions to ask? 
Prisoner: I don't wish to ask any questions. I think (referring to Mr Thomson) that he has done very well so far. I don't remember things well as I was knocked down senseless, but I think there was more than one.
Inspector Thomson here pointed out that witness was making a statement and not asking questions. 
Major Parris: Prisoner, you must confine yourself to questions. 
Prisoner: I don't wish to ask any. 
The Court here adjourned until 2 o'clock.  -Taranaki Herald, 28/7/1893.

Wallath Before the Court.
(Per Press Association.) New Plymouth, July 28. Robert Wallath, charged with firing at and wounding Harold Thomson with intent to kill, was brought up at the Police Court this morning. He was also charged with presenting a loaded revolver at Mrs Cottier, demanding money. Over 26 witnesses will be examined. The Court is crowded, 500 persons being present. 
Harold Thomson said he saw a man with a mask pointing a pistol at Mrs Cottier and immediately ran round and secured the man. 
The evidence is very similar to that sent at the time of the capture. Thomas Budd, billiard marker at the Criterion hotel, deposed to seeing accused entering and bailing up Mrs Cottier. Saw him afterwards on the floor, held by Thomson and Holmes. When the mask was taken off he proved that he was Wallath. 
Mrs Cottier gave evidence as to being bailed up by the accused. 
Simmons, who was talking to Mrs Cottier, corroborated her evidence. 
Later. The hearing of the charges against R. Wallath, the highwayman, was continued before the R.M. Dr O'Carroll stated that the revolver must have been fired within a few inches of Thomson's body. One slug and a shot penetrated Thomson's body. The slug produced would have caused death had it struck a vital part. The wound on Thomson's side was right over the heart. He was of opinion that there is a shot and slug in the wound at present about six inches from the entrance. The variation of an inch of the shot that was fired would have killed Thomson. 
Constable McAnerian stated that when he took prisoner to the police station, he (prisoner) asked where he was: Witness replied that he was in the police station charged with having shot Thomson. Prisoner said: — "Thomson must have taken the revolver from me and shot himself. If they had done what I told them I would not have hurt them." 
The prisoner was committed for trial. 
He was then charged with burglariously entering the New Zealand Clothing Factory, and was remanded till Saturday.  -Wanganui Chronicle, 29/7/1893.

It seems that the young New Plymouth highwayman, Wallath, has got into bad ways, and eventually into gaol, through reading books of a romantic order — cheap shilling shockers and narrations of bold exploits, such as those perpetrated by bushrangers and others. His father often remonstrated with him about reading such trash, but without avail.   -Marlborough Express, 31/7/1893.

(By Telegraph) NEW PLYMOUTH, July 31. Robart Wallath was charged with breaking into the countinghouse of Henry Brown Tanner, merchant, on March 29th, with intent to commit a felony. 
George Foote, the manager, gave evidence that he left in the office the previous night a cash box having £30 or £40 in it, and papers in a black bag. Next morning he found the place had been broken into, and the bag and its contents were gone.
Sergeant Duffin deposed to searching accused's bedroom, where Foote's black bag was found. 
Accused was committed for trial. 
Wallath was next charged with breaking into Furlong's shop on June 16th, and stealing Swiss cigars and other things. Evidence was given to the effect that cigars were found in the prisoner's room similar to those missed. He had been employed to make a door secure, and an iron bar was fixed which no one but the owner and prisoner knew of.  -Timaru Herald, 1/8/1893.

The Premier, in answer to Mr. E. M. Smith, member for New Plymouth, said that it would be a dangerous precedent to say they would give a reward, pound for pound, with the amount subscribed at Taranaki to be presented to Harold Thomson for this highwayman capture. On first hearing of the matter, Mr. Seddon sent Mr. Thomson a telegram saying the Government would fittingly reward his conduct, but they could not go further than that.  -NZ Herald, 2/8/1893.

News in Brief
The increase of rabbits in the Mackenzie Country is attributed to the working of the evolution principle. It is said they are developing hooked claws, to enable them to climb the wire fences. 
It is stated that ever since the highwayman scare was initiated in New Plymouth, in April of last year, the ironmongers there have sold a really astonishing number of revolvers to the inhabitants.  -NZ Herald, 2/8/1893.

The small boys of New Plymouth evince great interest in the trial of Wallath, the highwayman, and have attended Court in large numbers to gaze at that (to them) extraordinary individual. One day, however, orders were given to turn them out, and thirty who were removed seemed very reluctant to leave.  -Daily Telegraph, 2/8/1893.

A curious thing in connection with young Thomson's capture of the highwayman (says the Bush Advocate) is that before he left Wellington for Taranaki for Taranaki he professed the intention of having a cut at the man if he got a chance. The matter cropped up at the send-off meeting of his football friends and one of the speakers, remarking on Thomson's prowess on the football field, and that if "Tommy'' got "his grip" on the Taranaki highwayman, to whose haunts he was going, it would be a bad day for the highwayman. Thomson in replying expressed the pleasure it would give him if such an opportunity offered. That opportunity presented itself, and young Thomson has fulfilled his promise, although it is doubtful if there was much pleasure attached to the meeting.  -Thames Advertiser, 2/8/1893.

 According to accounts, the New Plymouth highwayman, who stands committed for trial on various charges, is a bright youth. Before the Court started the other day he showed the constable how he could escape if he liked. He told that official that he could jump out of the dock, knock him down, run down stairs, jump into a cab, and get away. At the same time he said he did not think that the man in blue could put up much of a record in the running line. Later, when charged with breaking into a tobacconist's shop and stealing cigars, he said he had no questions to ask the prosecutor, but he wouldn't mind smoking one of his cigars just then.   -Daily Telegraph, 3/8/1893.

Local and General
It appears from the New Plymouth papers that the highwayman's course of reading was not of the kind usually prescribed for young men who are going in for holy orders. All his books were devoted to the glorification of robbery and violence, and he seems to have thoroughly imbibed their moral poison. Perhaps he was born with an affinity for that kind of thing, but, whether or not, no youth can let such stuff run through his mind without danger of injury to what is best in him.  -Ashburton Guardian, 7/8/1893.

The Taranaki Herald last week had the following; —There is now on view in Mr J. H. Parker’s window a handsome English gold lever watch, with chain to match, which has been purchased for presentation to Mr Harold Thomson by the committee representing the subscribers to the testimonial fund. On the inside of the watch is engraved the following inscription: 'Harold J. M. Thomson, from the inhabitants of New Plymouth, N.Z. Souvenir of his plucky arrest of the highwayman, 1893,' The presentation of the watch and testimonial will take place on a day next week, notice of which will be given to the subscribers.   -NZ Times, 8/8/1893.

Late news to hand from New Plymouth serve to show that the highwayman has had his head turned by reading trashy shilling "shockers." 
The father of the accused (says the Budget) Mr Herman Walleth, builder, of Westown, gives some particulars of his son's career. He states that his son Robert Herman Wallath was born in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, being now about 23 years of age. As a child he was delicate. About 15 years ago he came with his family to Wellington, his son being then five or six years old, and after a short residence there Mr Wallath came on here to settle down. He sent his son to school here, and during his schoolboy days young Wallath became well known in the town. His father states that at times he has shown an irritable disposition, but acting upon medical advice he used to give into his son's ways hoping that he would eventually grow out of the disposition he showed. Some eighteen months ago Robert was poisoned by something he had taken while harvesting. Dr Leatham came to that conclusion when he saw him. Since that time Mr Wallath states that his son became worse in his temper, and after some disagreements they had mutually agreed that next Christmas his son should leave, and go elsewhere for the purpose of gaining experience.' Mr Wallath also dwelt on the fact that his son always carefully kept his room locked and had gone as far as to threaten members of the family that he would blow their brains out if they entered his room. 
DEEDS OF "GENTLEMAN GEORGE" After referring to the habit that his son had of reading books of a romantic order, such as "Knights of the Road" Mr. Wallath states that about 9,30 o'clock on Thursday night he left his son reading a book and he then told him to desist reading such trash. On Friday morning he knocked at his son's room to awake him, but receiving no replies to his knocks, he opened the window and went in, when he was startled to discover that his son had not slept in the bed. He told his wife of the occurrence, and she became frightened, and thought he might have been drowned in the lagoon where he used to boat. However, in further search he discovered that the horse and saddle were missing, and then becoming alarmed, he and his son Harry came into town. They first went to the pound, but found no horse there, but on their way down Robe-street they found a horse hitched to a tree in the Marsland Bill Reserve, and on going over they found it was theirs. Mr Wallath now became thoroughly alarmed, and hurried to the police station where he was staggered to learn that his son had been arrested as the highwayman. When the police went to his house on Friday morning and searched his son's room, Mr Wallath facilitated the search as much as possible.  -Thames Advertiser, 8/8/1893.

[By TELEGRAPH.— PRESS ASSOCIATION.] New Plymouth, Tuesday. Wallath, the so-called highwayman, escaped from gaol this morning. He scaled a wall twelve feet high, and was fired at by the gaoler and Dr. O'Carroll, but they did not hit the prisoner, who made for the river, when he was caught by men working there.
Harold Thomson was to-day presented with a gold watch and chain and address by the inhabitants of New Plymouth for the part he played in effecting the arrest of the highwayman. Holmes, who assisted Thomson, received a diamond ring.  -NZ Herald, 9/8/1893.

There was a large attendance in the Court House on Tuesday evening including a number of ladies, to witness the presentation by the Mayor to Messrs Thomson and Holmes of testimonials for the bravery they had displayed in arresting Wallath in the Criterion hotel on July 20. 
His Worship the Mayor said they were all aware of the reason they had met together on that evening. It was for the purpose of expressing their appreciation of the conduct of the two young gentlemen who had rendered great service to the inhabitants of New Plymouth and the district generally. It had been decided to reward them by presenting each with a testimonial for their heroism in capturing a man who had for a long time caused trouble to the inhabitants, who could now go about with a feeling of security. When he said that they were all greatly indebted to the two young gentlemen he felt he only was expressing the sentiments of every one. (Cheers). His Worship then called on Mr Paul, who was chairman of the Testimonial Committee to make some further remarks. 
Mr James Paul said it had been his privilege on many occasions like the present to take an active part in many public affairs of a similar nature to the one they had met for; but he never remembered deriving so much gratification as he experienced in connection with the proceedings of that night (Hear, hear.) It was the custom to reward bravery and heroism, and he was sure the two gentlemen who had rendered the district huge service deserved some recognition from the members of the community. Under a strong impulse of the moment many deeds of daring were done, but the coolness and courage shown by Mr Thomson in securing the highway man proved that he was truly a brave young man (Cheers.) He (Mr Paul) congratulated his esteemed friend, Mr Inspector Thomson, who must be proud of being the father of such a brave boy. Mr Holmes, too, had rendered to his friend unhesitating assistance in the difficulty, for there could be no doubt that had he not taken the pistol from the man's hand the affray would have proved fatal. The subscription had been raised to reward Mr Thomson only, but owing to the generous suggestion of that gentleman it was decided to present Mr Holmes with a diamond ring. (Applause) Before concluding he would like to thank Mr Butterworth for the trouble he had taken and the time he had devoted to collecting the subscriptions. (Cheers). 
His Worship the Mayor in making the presentation to Mr Thomson said he seldom had such a pleasant duty to perform as fell to his lot that evening. He had great pleasure in handing to him the presents subscribed by the public. The watch bore an inscription which was as follows:— "Harold J. M. Thomson. From the inhabitants of New Plymouth, N.Z. Souvenir, of his plucky arrest of the Highwayman, 1893." He hoped he would live long to wear the watch. His Worship then presented the watch and chain and purse of sovereigns. 
Mr Thomson, who, on rising, was greeted with loud cheers, said the present occasion was a very trying one to him. It was his maiden speech in public, and he hoped they would excuse any little shortcomings in the remarks he had to make. In doing what he did in the late affair he considered he had only acted as any one else would have done had they been placed in a similar position. [Cries of "No"]. He, however, thought so; and the present recognition of what he had done was all the more pleasing on that account. The man had been a source of annoyance to his father, and to the public generally, and he was glad it had been in his power to arrest the man. [Cries of "Bravo!"] He was very thankful that the affair had not ended seriously. As Mr Paul and His Worship the Mayor had remarked, he was indebted to Mr Holmes for the assistance he had rendered in securing the man, for had not Mr Holmes come to his assistance he felt sure he would have been overpowered. He felt it was the proudest day of his life. He could not say any more. He could not find words to express his feelings. He could only thank them all again for their kindness to him in this matter. Mr Thomson then sat down amidst continued applause. 
His Worship the Mayor then presented Mr Holmes with a ring, making some appropriate remarks in doing so. Mr Charles Holmes, who was cheered on his rising, said he heartily thanked them for their kind present, which would be kept by him in remembrance of the event and the kindness of the New Plymouth people in recognising the part he had taken in it. 
Mr Paul then called on those assembled to give three cheers for Messrs Thomson and Holmes, which was heartily responded to and repeated a second time. 
A vote of thanks to the Mayor terminated the proceeding.   -Taranaki Herald, 9/8/1893.

News in Brief
The Fielding Star says: — "It is estimated that the money paid by newspaper proprietors for press telegrams from New Plymouth on the subject of the local highwayman will recoup the Government the cost of the prosecution, and leave a margin sufficient to present a small pension to his plucky captor."   -NZ Herald, 10/8/1893.

Late Telegrams
DUNEDIN, August 10. A number of persons will be proceeded against this morning at the Police Court, for disobeying orders made by the R.M. under the Truancy Act.
Wallath, the New Plymouth highwayman, charged with trying to escape from gaol, has been sentenced to be kept in irons for thirty days.  -Mt Ida Chronicle, 10/8/1893.

The Penny Dreadful.
The penny dreadful is supposed to have been largely responsible for the deviation from the paths of moral rectitude of that young New Plymouth highwayman. The misguided youth, who followed the most prosaic calling during the day, gorged his imagination after his day's work was done on such things as 'Bosco, the Boy Brave' — the sort of thing that always has a 'picture-cover' exhibiting a schoolboy of about fourteen, (a fainting and beauteous maiden thrown across his shoulder like a railway rug), defying a host of howling savages, ferociously tattooed and (literally) got up to kill. The adventures of the youthful hero, who is everything by turns and nothing long, and who, escaping from prairie wilds, makes his way to London and keeps himself in pocket-money by sticking up banks, breaking into warehouses, and other acts of robbery and violence, makes exciting but scarcely elevating reading.
Wilkie Collins once wrote an amusing paper entitled 'The Unknown Public,' in which he pointed out that there were countless thousands of people in the world who never read a novel by an author of recognised standing and repute, but whose requirements in the literary line were fully met by the penny dreadful, and he further expressed the opinion that if he or any other popular novelist could only tap, so to speak, this vast section of the reading public and furnish it with something to its taste, the art of fiction, remunerative already to the great writers, would become vastly more remunerative still. 'Who are the unknown public?' asked Mr Collins.
The answer is simple: Robert Wallath belongs to that public. He and such as he it is who keep the printing-press turning out tons of literary garbage every week, stuff in which highway robbery is painted in roseate hues and the cut-throat and assassin held up as bright and shining examples of heroism and valour. I regret to see that this literary poison is very largely imported into these colonies. The windows of nearly every stationer's shop is bright with the 'picture covers' of the penny dreadful. Who knows the mischief they do? Who knows how many lads and young men have been ruined, like Robert Wallath, by their perusal? The importation and dissemination of these stories ought to be prohibited under a heavy penalty. How are boys to be given a taste for better-class reading? They must be educated up to it. Mr Outram has made a start in the right direction. Let other ministers, undeterred by the scorn of Pastor Blaikie, go and do likewise.  -Observer, 12/8/1893.

The other day one of those indirectly concerned in the capture of the highwayman in the Criterion Hotel, received a letter making threats against him for the part he took in the affair. The letter is written in such a foolish style that the absurdity of the threats is at once apparent. This letter has been succeeded by another, sent to one of the recent captors of Wallath on his breaking out of gaol on Tuesday. The writer of this letter evidently tries to be sarcastic, as the following will show: —
New Plymouth, August 9, 1893.
Dear Sir, — Words cannot convey our feelings when we heard of your truly brave action on Tuesday. The highwayman being in such a bloodthirsty mood no one but a valorous man would have tackled him (having sword, revolver, and dagger on his person). We are thankful that you did not lose your valuable life. In acknowledgment we forthwith send you a medal (valued at £50), and a purse of sovereigns for your bravery, knowing at the same time you have the heartfelt thanks of the whole colony. Your name will be handed down for years to come, and like the Saracen mothers when their babies cried used to stop them by saying, 'King Richard I, Lionheart, would come and take them. — in a like manner your name will be used. Excuses for trespassing on your valuable time, I remain yours, in the vale of life till next Christmas. — Christopher Courtney.
A leather medal bearing the following inscription was enclosed: — "Presented to .... for his bravery in capturing the highwayman on Tuesday last. — Brown, maker." 
We hope these letters will be handed to the police.  -Taranaki Herald, 12/8/1893.

Political Jottings
Mr "Ironsand" Smith intends to ask the Government if they are aware that a magistrate at New Plymouth had passed a sentence of seven days' solitary confinement on bread and water on the now notorious Taranaki highwayman Wallath for breaking out of an insecure prison yard at New Plymouth; that the gaoler had asked the said magistrate to revise the sentence of putting the said prisoner in irons so that he could more easily keep him in custody?   -Daily telegraph, 18/8/1893.

Pars about People
J. J. Kennedy says "Wallath, the New Plymouth highwayman,would make a splendid actor. Wallath was one of J. J.s supers once when the company was playing at New Plymouth and fired off a gun or something on the stage during the performance of a gore-stained drama. Kennedy visited the Taranaki Dick Turpin in his prison cell the other day.   -Observer, 23/9/1893.

The Taranaki Turpin on His Trial
Found Guilty.
Sentenced to Eight Years' Hard Labour.
Prisoner Cries Bitterly. 
(Per United Press Association.) New Plymouth, October 5. 
Robert Herman Wallath, the highwayman, was indicted at the Supreme Court to-day on three counts that he did, on July 20th, 1893, shoot a revolver at one Harold John Mole Thomson, with intent (1) to maim, (2) to disable, (3) to do grievous bodily harm. 
Several witnesses were examined for the prosecution, who gave details of the capture of the highwayman. 
Counsel, in opening the case for the defence, stated the defence would be that the shot that was fired was unintentionally discharged, and that Wallath did not intend to injure or kill Thomson. He called prisoner, who stated — I am a carpenter, and I did reside at Westown. I remember the night of Thursday, the 20th July. It was about half past nine, after all at home had gone to bed, when I went to my room and dressed in uniform and went quietly out without any of them knowing. I got one of our horses and rode into New Plymouth with it. Left the horse hitched up to some trees and went down through a back way into the Criterion Hetel. When I got into the passage I sang out "Bail up!" and at the same time pointed a revolver through the side window. I saw Mrs Cottier at the bar. As soon as I saw it was a woman I drew the revolver back, and a man named Simmons was standing at the opening. I just passed him. I then walked down the passage with the intention of going out through the front door, when just at the corner I was run into by someone whom I did not know. I was then carrying the revolver in a sloping down position. I cannot account for how the shot went off, but I think the revolver must have been knocked upwards. That is the only way how I can make out it went off. 
The case is still proceeding, the counsel addressing the jury at 8 p.m. It is not expected to conclude till midnight. 
October 6. The Wallath case occupied yesterday afternoon and evening. The accused, who was charged with sticking up the Criterion Hotel and shooting Harold Thompson was ably defended by Mr Shailer Weston. The jury, who were about two hours considering their verdict, found the accused guilty. 
Later. Wallath, for shooting with intent, was sentenced to eight years' hard labor, and for demanding money by threats three years, the sentences to run concurrently. A nolle prosequi is likely to be entered by the Crown in the case of burglary with which prisoner has been charged. When sentence was passed, Wallath cried bitterly.  -Wanganui Herald, 6/10/1893.

Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet, To run amuck and tilt at all I meet. Pope.
That very eccentric gentleman, the 
'The Taranaki Highwayman' will no longer parade the streets of sleepy New Plymouth in his 'officer's uniform' and 'stick up' the farmers on their way home from market, for Judge Conolly has sent him to hard labour for eight years. The sentence is ridiculously severe. The young man — he was almost a lad, only 18 — was clearly half cracked from the effect of perusing literature of the 'penny awful' stamp, and with one exception, when he fired at young Thompson, he did no bodily harm. Even on that occasion he swore he had carried the revolver pointing down, and that on being rushed by Thompson his weapon got knocked up and exploded. Putting that on one side, the sentence is too severe. Had Wallath been soundly whipped once a month and kept to hard labour for a year or two the punishment would have been ample. But Judge Conolly is nothing if not eccentric in his decisions and sentences.
The absurdly exaggerated importance given to the whole affair by the Taranaki papers was only on a par with the stupidity and cowardice of many of those who were 'stuck up' in the earlier part of Wallath's career. In no other part of the Colony would this pitiful fraud of a so-called 'highwayman' have been allowed to carry on his game so long, for a band of smart young fellows, well mounted and acting with a little courage and combination, would have stopped his imbecile performances long ago. The Taranaki young men must be a poor lot indeed to have allowed Wallath to continue his mad freak over so long a period as 18 months. But the sentence is too severe, and I hope some day to see it materially pared down by the Executive.
The young fool got into trouble, so it came out at the trial, through reading literature of the 'penny awful' stamp. It is astounding what a lot of this fearful stuff is read by the lads in our country towns. Go into a country store and you shall see piles of flaringly coloured books of this class, and these find their way out to the farms, and are read with almost as much avidity as the football notes in the papers. Curiously enough, in the very New Plymouth paper which gives a detailed account of Wallath's trial, a local bookseller advertises a book bearing the following delightfully suggestive title— 'Greatest Historical Book ever published. — Wild Heroes of the Sea, Lives and Daring Exploits of Pirates, Buccaneers, Sea Rovers, Marooners, Corsairs, Fillibusters, Ocean Robbers, Outlaws, Freebooters, Bold Rogues and Plunderers of the Sea over the whole World.' The advertisement is adorned with a skull and crossbones.
Evidently there is a market for this sort of stuff in Taranaki, and no doubt when the work in question gets into wide circulation we shall have some more young fools careering about the country, robbing old women of threepenny bits — this was one of Wallath's 'crimes' — and providing the New Plymouth press agent material for more bloodcurdling telegrams. If the bookseller were sent to gaol for a week for selling such stuff it might have a good effect, for evidently the brain of young Taranaki is as soft as the butter for which the place is famous, and the perusal of such literature is only too calculated to perpetuate the local crop of 'highwaymen.'  -NZ Mail, 13/10/1893.

Wallath, the New Plymouth highwayman, is now breaking stones at Mount Eden. How can we expect our young men to emulate the deeds of Dick Turpin if we persist in subjecting them to such discouragement?  -Observer, 21/10/1893.

Wallath, the desperate highwayman from New Plymouth, has been crying most of the time since his committal. Quite a terrible character, you know.  -Observer, 28/10/1893.

A petition is being got up in Now Plymouth praying for a reduction in the sentence of eight years' imprisonment passed some two years and a-half ago on Robert Walleth, known as the New Plymouth Highwayman.  -Evening Post, 19/11/1895.

They say...
— That strong exertions are being made to secure the release of Wallath, the New Plymouth 'highwayman.' The general opinion is that he is more fool than criminal.   -Observer, 14/12/1895.

The Ministry
The hon. Thos. Thompson arrived by train from the North on Saturday night. On his way down he received several deputations. At New Plymouth he was presented with a petition bearing a thousand signatures praying for the release from gaol of young Wallath, the Taranaki highwayman, who has now served two years of his sentence. The deputation represented that he had really had no malicious intent, but was only engaged in a foolish freak.  -NZ Times, 9/3/1896.

News and Notes
The Department of Justice has notified that the Government cannot see their way to interfere with the sentence on Robert Wallath, the New Plymouth highwayman.  -Hawera and Normanby Star, 18/3/1896.

Local and General
The remainder of the sentence of Wallath "the Taranaki highwayman," is not to be remitted.  -Wairarapa Daily Times, 20/1/1897.

It is now but little under four years since Wallath, the so-called “Taranaki Highwayman,” received a sentence of eight years’ penal servitude. At the time he was convicted he was but 18 years of age, and it was urged that he had read such a large number of dime novels that he was half-crazed, and sallied forth in the guise of a robber, more to scare people than to do any real harm. When he was captured, however, he wounded, intentionally or otherwise, Mr Thomson, the son of the late Inspector of Police, and the sentence of the Court was that he should be imprisoned for eight years. We learn that from that time to time he has been a well-conducted man; that he has been visited by and has favourably impressed the Minister for Justice. For his good conduct the usual allowances have been made, and in the ordinary course he would be liberated in something under two years. From the information available it is clear that young Wallath is truly repentant; that he recognises how criminally foolish he was, and the people of the Taranaki district are now genuinely concerned for him and for his sorrowing parents. If clemency is to be shown to anyone in connection with this the year of the record reign of Her Majesty — and on such auspicious occasions mercy is invariably shown to deserving criminals — if such a phrase be permissible — then we hope the case of young Wallath may be carefully weighed by the Executive and the prayers of the father and mother and of the majority of the residents of New Plymouth and district may be favourably answered.   -NZ Times, 14/4/1897.

From Our Correspondent. WELLINGTON, June 23.
Wallath, the New Plymouth highwayman, and Finlay, the mate of an American vessel, who, in a quarrel, shot a sailor at Wellington, it is understood are amongst the prisoners released in commemoration of the Queen's Record Reign. It is not intended, so I am informed, to make public the names of offenders for lesser crimes who have been released, it being contended that such publicity would interfere with their attempts to turn over a new leaf.  -Star, 23/6/1897.

In regard to the agitation for the release of the Taranaki highwayman, the following letter has been forwarded by the Inspector of Prisons to Mr E. Dockerell, J.P., of New Plymouth: — "Gentlemen, — I have the honour, by direction of the Minister of Justice, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2lst December last, asking that the balance of the unexpired portion of the sentence passed upon prisoner Robert Wallath may be remitted, and, in reply, to inform you that Mr Thompson, when visiting New Plymouth recently, was waited upon by a deputation on the same matter, and on his return he submitted your request and that of the deputation to his colleagues in Cabinet, who have arrived at the conclusion that it is too soon to interfere with the sentence passed upon that prisoner. Kindly inform the other persons who signed the letter." Wallath was 19 years old when he was arrested in July, 1893, and his sentence expires in October, 1899, that is allowing for two years' reduction of sentence for good conduct. The original sentence was eight years.   -NZ Mail, 10/3/1898.

Local and General
The Taranaki News says that it seems probable that Wallath, the New Plymouth highwayman, will shortly be set at liberty.   -Evening Post, 22/12/1898.

Local and General News.
Wallath, the Taranaki Highwayman, has been released. He spent the Christmas holidays with his friends in New Plymouth.  -Fielding Star, 29/12/1898.

Wallath, known as the New Plymouth highwayman, having been released from prison, has inserted the following grateful advertisment in the Taranaki Herald: — "Ladies and gentlemen, — I would that I could better express that sense of gratitude which I feel to all those of you who have shown such sympathy and kindness, both to myself and parents. It is undoubtedly due to your untiring efforts that I am home today. I was once wild and foolish, but have long ago repented, and am now determined to live a good, just, and honorable life; and I feel by doing this I can best show that sense of gratitude which I feel so deeply. I sincerely trust that the future will redeem the past. — R. H. Wallath."  -Thames Star, 21/1/1899.

Wallath was convicted, and sentenced to eight years' penal servitude, and many people thought that, considering all the circumstances of the case, the sentence was too severe. The young man's antecedents were good, his relations were respectable. It is also to be remarked that Wallath's conduct in gaol was most exemplary; he showed every sign of contrition for his bad conduct, and only wanted an opportunity to redeem the past. However, as we have said, Mr. Seddon turned a deaf ear to all appeals for clemency on the highwayman's behalf, and it was only after strong pressure that he reluctantly consented to the highwayman's release some eight or nine months before he would have been released in the ordinary course the law. The clemency of the Crown which was extended in Wallath's case has not been abused, as it was in several other cases. The notorious highwayman is now a respectable, well-conducted artisan, working for his father, who is a builder and contractor in Taranaki. Young Wallath is a skilled workman, and his conduct during the past year has been beyond reproach. He has not only conducted himself as a good settler, but he has used what influence he has to induce other youths to give up the silly larrikinism that is so common amongst young colonials, and to impress upon them the great good to be attained in study and self-improvement. Wallath himself expresses his gratitude for the kindness and consideration that was shown to him by the gaol officials, and we regard it as a proof of the excellent system adopted in our gaols that an impressionable young man like Wallath could serve nearly six years in gaol without being in the least contaminated. We are aware that the gaol chaplains and the gaolers did all they could to improve the misguided youth who was placed under their charge, and it will be no less a pleasure to them than to the public generally to learn that the young Taranaki highwayman is now doing so well.  -NZ Herald, 1/1/1900.

Robert Wallath was indeed a changed man on his release from prison.  He worked successfully at his father's trades of farming and carpentry.  He was a philanthropic member of his community.  On retirement he distributed religious literature for the Baptist Church and Salvation Army.
Robert Wallath
Hurdon Cemetery, New Plymouth.