Wednesday, 29 September 2021

The George Proudfoot Case - "one law for the rich"

David and George Proudfoot were two of the best-known men in Victorian Dunedin.  They got things built - the Port Chalmers railway, the first Dunedin water supply, other branch railways in the South Island, Dunedin's initial tramway system, roads and bridges all through the country, harbours - the list of contracts was extensive, and so were the profits.

With money came power and influence.  And with power and influence sometimes comes the idea that some of the rules of society do not necessarily apply...


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13. (Before J. Turnbull, Esq., R.M.) 


George Proudfoot was charged by James Pankhurst with having, on the 17th of August last, assaulted him by kicking him in the thigh. Mr L. E. Reade appeared for defendant, who pleaded "Not guilty.” 

James Pankhurst, complainant, deposed: I am a puntman, residing at Riverton. On Tuesday morning, the 18th of August, I went, by appointment, to the defendant’s office to receive money due to me for work done, and on getting in at the door, defendant asked me what I wanted. I replied that I had come for my money, he said, “I’ll give it to you.” He was sitting at the back of the counter at the time, he then got up, walked round in front, caught hold of me by the shoulder, pushed me out of the door and kicked me in the thigh, saying, “There, you’ve got it. Be off out of this, or I’ll kick you out again.” I gave him no provocation whatever. He continued to threaten me, but did not strike me again, and I went and laid the information. He owed me an account of £l3 5s, and I reckoned on a settlement that morning. Two clerks were present, and saw the the assault, unless they shut their eyes, (Complainant here handed in a bill for medical attendance, consequent on the treatment he had received at the hands of defendant.) 

Cross-examined by Mr Reade: I sometimes get drunk, but was sober that day. Defendant did not request me to leave the office before he struck me. Never used any abusive language to him. Had to go under the doctor’s treatment on account of the kick received.

Richard Densham: I am a duly qualified medical practitioner, residing at Riverton. I attended plaintiff professionally respecting a kick which he said he had received on the thigh from Mr Proudfoot. I had been attending him for a bad leg for some time previously. After examining the leg, I told him to lay up for a day or two, as it might have been attended with danger had he gone at once to work. 

Mr Reade, for the defence, contended that the assault, such as it was, had been committed under aggravating circumstances, and asked that the case be adjourned for an hour, to enable him to produce witnesses to prove that such was the case. The adjournment was granted. After adjournment, Mr Reade called — 

John Hoick Scholefield: I am clerk to Mr Proudfoot. Remember complainant coming into defendant’s office on the 17th ult., and in a loud, insolent tone, calling out, “I want my money.” Defendant then asked him to leave the office, which he refused to do; whereupon defendant came round, and taking him by the shoulders, pushed him out. Did not see defendant strike the plaintiff, but he might have done so. 

Cross-examined by complainant: You had always been paid your money when you wanted it.

Walter Henry Harper corroborated the evidence of the previous witness.

Mr Read said, that from the evidence of the two last witnesses it could be seen that the complainant had gone into defendant’s office, and in a very insulting manner demanded his money. His account had hitherto been paid promptly by the defendant, so that he had no cause whatever for using the language he did. Defendant had asked complainant to leave the room; he refused, and defendant was quite justified in pushing him out. 

The Magistrate, in giving judgment, had no hesitation in saying that he believed the assault had been committed. Defendant would therefore be fined £5, with £1 6s 6d costs.  -Western Star, 18/9/1875.



(Before T. N. Watt, Esq., R.M., E. M'blashaxa, Esq., J.P., and A. Mercer, Esq., J.P.)

Alleged Rape. — George Proudfoot was charged on the information of James Angus with having, on September 1, committed a rape on Isabella Angus. Before the case was called on Inspector Mallard said: Since I have come into Court circumstances have come to my knowledge which induce me to say that there is an indictable charge on the charge sheet which I should 1ike called upon as early as possible. If your Worships wish it I shall state the reasons privately. — Mr Denniston: As prosecutor in a forgery case set down for hearing I object. I have been waiting here listening to the interesting byelaw cases for upwards of an hour. — Inspector Mallard: If your Worships please, I am quite prepared to produce evidence to show why the case should be called on as speedily as possible. — Mr Watt: Then you had better call it. — Inspector Mallard: The case to which I refer is the one of the Queen against George Proudfoot, for rape. Call Mr Angus. — Mr Harris: Before any evidence is given in this case I might mention that I appear with my friend Mr Chapman for the defence. — Mr Watt: I am not going to take any evidence as to the relevancy of the case. — James Angus: I laid a criminal information in this Court yesterday charging Proudfoot with rape on my daughter. I reside at the Glen. Inspector Mallard: Since you came to town this morning has any offer of money ____? Mr Harris: I must object to this question, unless any proposal of the kind has come directly from the accused. If it is merely evidence of the witness being tampered with in any possible way, unless it can be brought directly to the accused it cannot be used for any purpose whatever. — Mr Watt: Supposing it can be used, I don’t see what bearing it would have upon the present question, which is, should the case be heard out of its order? — Mr Harris: It was evident from the question what was coming. — Inspector Mallard: I intend to approach the matter with the greatest amount of delicacy, and I will ask no more than is necessary for the ends of justice, and having done that I will stop. — Mr Harris: If the question is such as I anticipate, it cannot be put. — Mr Watt: Supposing that the defendant had offered money to hush the matter up, is not that a reason why the case should be heard immediately? — Inspector Mallard: That was my reason for urging what I have done; but your Worship has gone further than I did - I did not say a word about the defendant at all. — Mr Harris: We emphatically deny that the defendant has done anything of the kind. He would deprecate indignantly any such offer. — Mr Watt: Call on the next case. — The charge was shortly afterwards gone into, the Court being cleared. Inspector Mallard conducted the prosecution. James Angus, sworn, said: I am a carpenter, residing at the Glen Estate. I have a daughter named Isabella Angus. She entered the defendant’s service on Thursday last, August 30. She would be seventeen last birthday. I saw her next after the Thursday on Sunday night. From something that came to my knowledge I accompanied her to the Ocean Beach railway station next afternoon. I remained there while she went to defendant’s house for her clothes. His house is about 400 or 500 yards from the station. She got her clothes and I returned home with her. From something further which came to my knowledge I took her to Dr Murphy’s on Tuesday evening. From what Dr Murphy then told me I took the present proceedings. — Inspector Mallard: I ask the Court for permission to put this question to the witness: Since these proceedings have been taken has any money been offered to witness, and, if so, for what? — Mr Harris: I object to the witness answering the question, unless he is prepared to say that the accused offered him the money, because it has been laid down in cases of this kind that where offers have been made by strangers, or even relatives of the accused, the evidence cannot be accepted unless it can be proved that there is a connection between the offer made and the person accused. Unless the witness is prepared to prove that the defendant himself made an offer of the kind, I presume the question cannot be answered. It being an indictable offence defendant cannot be sworn to give rebutting evidence. Besides, injudicious friends of the accused party might make an offer without his sanction, which would prejudice him. — Mr Watt: I think you will have to put the question directly — did the accused offer the money? It will have to be put in that form, for the present, at any rate. — Inspector Mallard: Your Worship having ruled that way, I will waive urging the question at all. Mr Watt: I will make a note of it if you like. Harris: Of course the point can be argued hereafter if the case should go further. — Witness added: My daughter left the defendant's service on Sunday, and is now residing with me. — By Mr Chapman: It was what her mother told me on Suuday evening that caused me to take her to Dr Murphy on Sunday evening. The circumstances which induced me to go to Dr Murphy were told me by the girl’s mother on Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning before going to Dr Murphy I reported the case to the police, and at their request went to Dr Murphy. — Mrs Angus deposed: I am the wife of the last witness, and mother of Isabella Angus. I remember Isabella coming home on Sunday afternoon from Mr Proudfoot’s. She told me something when she came home. I asked her first what kind of a place it was. She said it was an awful place, and began to cry. When she began to cry I questioned her. She complained of something else. This conversation took place just after she came home. I told my husband of Isabella’s complaint. My daughter complained that she was assaulted, and of a rape being committed on her. Cross-examined by Mr Harris: I can’t recollect the time she came home. Before I asked my daughter what sort of a place it was she made no complaint. It was my question which led to the further conversation; when I asked about the place she began to cry. When Isabella complained to me she did not use the word rape. Re-examined: She said she had been assaulted. She said someone came to the bed and took the bed-clothes off. She screamed out. The person said there was no use screaming out. She said she would tell her father and mother. He said he did not care. He then committed the offence. — The witnesses yet to be examined for the prosecution are Isabella Angus and Dr Murphy. The further hearing of the charge was adjourned until two o’clock to-morrow, bail being allowed in prisoner’s own recognisance of L1,000 and two sureties of L500 each. The bail was at once forthcoming, the bondsmen being James Mackay and Edward Pritchard.

The Court then adjourned until 2 pm.  -Evening Star, 6/9/1877.


Saturday, September 8. (Before I. N. Watt, Esq., R.M., and A Mercer, Esq., J.P.) 

DRUNKENNESS. Joseph Dickson and John Macpherson were each fined 5s or twentyfour hours; Allan Macrae, 10s or forty-eight hours; James Robertson was convicted and discharged. 

Alleged Rape. — The Court was then cleared in order to allow the charge of rape against George Proudfoot to be further heard but, on "George Proudfoot!" being called in the usual way at the door, the answer "no appearance, your Worship" was returned. — Mr Chapman: It is most likely that Mr Harris is under the impression that the ordinary business of the Court would last a little time. — Mr Harris appeared some minutes later, and apologised for detaining the Court. After the lapse of another minute or two the defendant put in an appearance. — Detective Henderson was then put in the witness-box and deposed as follows: The document produced is a copy of the summons I served on Mr George Proudfoot on Tuesday evening last. Mr Proudfoot put it into the fire.

Dr Stenhouse deposed: I know Isabella Angus, a witness who is giving evidence in this case. I examined her on Thursday night last at about eight o'clock, at her father's residence. [Witness here described minutely the results of his examination, but his evidence was interrupted so as to allow of the production of the girl's underclothing.] Dr Cowie deposed: I was present with Dr Stenhouse when he examined Isabella Angus on Thursday. I have heard Dr Stenhouse's evidence this morning, and I quite agree with all the evidence he gave. I am of opinion that the virginity had been recently destroyed. I assisted Dr Stenhouse in the examination at his request. [Dr Cowie's cross-examination was concluded at one o'clock, when the Court adjourned for half-an-hour.] On resuming,

Dr Murphy, having been sworn, said: I am a legally-qualified medical practitioner, practising in Dunedin. 

Inspector Mallard: That is all. I will hand the witness over for cross-examination, and will reserve the right to re-examine the witness.

Mr Harris: I have no questions to ask. There is nothing to be re-examined upon. You may stand down. 

Inspector Mallard: Oh, no. 

Mr Harris: There is nothing to be re-examined upon. 

Inspector Mallard: When a witness is called for the Crown, and he turns out to be an adverse witness, he is bound to be put in the box and tendered for cross-examination. 

Mr Harris: There is no evidence that he is. 

Mr Watt: His actions show it. 

Mr Harris: I do not know that your Worship is justified in making that remark. If you are, you must know more of the case than I do. 

Mr Watt: The course pursued is the ordinary one. 

Mr Harris: I shall not examine Dr Murphy. 

Dr Murphy: What shall I do? Am I to continue standing here? 

Mr Watt (to Inspector Mallard): You tender Dr Murphy for cross-examination. 

Mr Harris: There is nothing to cross-examine upon. 

Inspector Mallard: I feel it to be my duty to make an explanation. I have, in the interests of justice, to explain my line of procedure in prosecuting this case, and for the circumstance that I did not examine Dr Murphy. 

Mr Harris objected. 

Mr Watt: I do not see that you are entitled to say anything you cannot give in evidence. 

Inspector Mallard: Will your Worship not alow me to call evidence to show why I am acting in this manner? 

Mr Watt: You can call what witnesses you please. I cannot tell what I will do until the questions are put. 

Nathaniel Leves: I am a house-painter. I know the prosecutor, Mr Angus, and I also know Dr Murphy. 

Inspector Mallard: Have you, since these criminal proceedings have been initiated, heard Dr Murphy offer the prosecutor, Mr Angus, hush money, and if so, how much? 

Mr Harris: Stop! Don't answer that question. Was Mr George Proudfoot present on that occasion? 

Witness: No. 

Mr Chapman: The question is not admissible. 

Inspector Mallard: I submit that this question, in a preliminary examination of this kind, where your Worships sit ministerially to inquire into such a grave case as the present one, may be allowed. I refer your Worships to Judge Johnston, who ruled that evidence, though not directly bearing on the question at issue, may be admitted, and that the magistrates may use their discretion as to whether it be allowed not.

Their Worships ruled that the question could not be put. 

Isabella Angus (recalled): I produce my night-dress and my chemise that I wore on the night of the alleged assault. I stated previously that when Dr Murphy examined me on Tuesday I was poorly. I had been poorly a fortnight before. I was poorly before I expected to be poorly. It was on Monday morning after the alleged assault that my poorliness commenced. 

Cross-examined: I have worn some of the clothes in the bag produced in the daytime. It was the chemise that I wore in the daytime. I wore it on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. Dr Murphy asked me what had become of the clothes I wore on the Saturday night. I said I had got them on. I meant the chemise. I shut my bedroom door when I went to bed that night. The door had a lock. I did not lock the door after Mr Proudfoot came into my room the first time. When Mr Proudfoot went out, as he said for a smoke, he shut the door. I did not get up and lock it. There was no key. I know there was no key, for when Mr Proudfoot went out of the bedroom I looked to see if there was one. I got up out of bed as soon as Mr Proudfoot went away the first time to see if there was a key in the door. I did not go to my father's house as soon as I got up next morning; because there was no one with the children. I did say there was a lady came to the house that morning, she came after I got up, while I was dressing the children. I did not go away when she came, because she said it would be better to wait until Mr Proudfoot came home. She was for some time in the same room with me, but I did not tell her of the occurrence because I did not know her. I had seen her once before that day. She had not spoken to me before. I am quite sure that the reason I did not tell her was because I did not know her. I used always to shut the door when I went to bed. There was other furniture in the room. I don't know how to close a door with the back of a chair. I put nothing up against the door. This lady called on Saturday evening, but did not speak to me. She asked Mr Proudfoot's son whether her brother was at home. She said, "Is Mr Proudfoot in?" This is what she said to the boy eleven years old. I did not know that that lady is Mr Proudfoot's sister. I have been at school at Mornington. It is more than a year ago since I left school. I have been in other situations before. I was in the service of Mr Henderson, at Eglinton, before being at Proudfoot's. I was in Mr Henderson's service five months and a fortnight. [Other evidence was here given of previous situations.] 

Re-examined: The Saturday night we are speaking of was a wet night. Mr Proudfoot was undressed when he came into my room.

Dr Stenhouse was re-called and examined as to the appearance of the under-garments, which were produced and identified by Isabella Angus. He then continued: My conclusions from the external appearances I have alluded to were that Isabella Angus was a chaste and modest girl, and not addicted to libidinous practices. I made the examination at the request of Mr Angus. 

Mr Chapman: How long have you been in practice? 

Witness: Seven years. I have been following medicine three years as a profession, and when I mentioned seven years I included three years during which I was studying. But I altogether object to the line of questioning. 

Mr Chapman: Really this is quite a novel objection. Surely it is no crime to be of only three years standing? Where have you practised?

Witness: In Glasgow, Greenock, and Dunedin. I have been here eight or nine months. I have on two occasions had charge for three months of vessels. I have had cases of this class before, one of which was in Dunedin. 

At the conclusion of Dr Stenhouse's evidence, Inspector Mallard intimated that that closed the case for the prosecution. 

The Court will sit till seven o'clock tonight. There are six witnesses to be called for the defence. Mr Chapman was arguing the law points at 5 p.m.  -Evening Star, 8/9/1877.



(Before I. N. Watt, Esq., R.M., and A. Mercer, Esq., J.P.) 

Alleged Rape. -George Proudfoot was charged, on the information of James Angus with having, on September 1, committed a rape on Isabella Angus. 

We continue our report of Saturday's proceedings:  

Mr Chapman contended, at considerable length, that there had been no proof of a rape having been committed. 

Mr Watt intimated that the Bench considered that there was a case to answer. 

Mr Harris then sketched the defence, which would go to prove that not even a personal assault had been committed. The medical evidence already given had not proved an assault. Two medical gentlemen who had more experience in matters of this kind than the medical gentlemen who had given evidence for the prosecution would be called, and they would say that no assault whatever had been committed, and that the girl's statement must be untrue. She must be either laboring under some hallucination or had been tutored to say what she had. The charge was read over to the accused, and he said, in reply to the usual caution, "By the advice of my counsel I say nothing." 

Michael Dominic Murphy deposed: I am a duly qualified practitioner. I recollect Tuesday last, the 4th inst. On that day Mr, Mrs, and Miss Isabella Angus called about six o'clock at my house. I asked what was the matter, and the prosecutor said someone had assaulted his daughter, or had done something to her. I asked what was done, but I do not know what the answer was, but I inferred it was rape. I am not certain if he accused anybody of committing the assault. He said he had been to Mr Mallard, who desired him to go to a medical man and have his daughter examined. I then asked the father to leave the room, and the mother and daughter remained. I asked the girl who had assaulted her, and she answered Mr Proudfoot. I asked what he did to her, and, after a great deal of hesitation, she explained the offence. In reply to further questions, she said it took place on Saturday night in his own house. [The witness then related the nature of his examination of the girl, and the conclusions he drew therefrom.] As I could not satisfy myself then, I asked the mother to call in next day. I called in the father, and repeated to him what I had told the mother. He said the mother and the daughter would come down next day. They then left. On the following morning, about nine o'clock, I went to the prosecutor's house, and told the father I had come to satisfy myself about the examination. After examining the girl, I told the mother that proceedings should be stopped, if any had been taken, as no rape had been committed. The girl was then present. On Wednesday morning I called on Mr Mallard, and communicated to him my opinion as an expert. I further examined the girl on Thursday morning, in conjunction with Dr Thomson. I consider, as the result of my examinations, that it is impossible the offence could have been committed.

TO DAY. Dr Murphy, cross-examined by Inspector Mallard: I have been nine years in practice — in Ireland, England, and New Zealand. Of that time three years was in Oldbury, England, and three in New Zealand. I have given evidence in a court of justice in Dunedin once before in a case of rape. I have not given evidence in a rape case anywhere else. The girl was brought to me on the Tuesday night by her father, and I questioned her as to what had been done to her.

Inspector Mallard: Do you, as a professional man, consider that your oral examination of that girl was right or wrong? 

Witness: I consider that it was right. 

The Inspector: You considered it was right, although you had been already informed by the parent? 

Witness: I thought it was right to ask her the questions what had been done with her and who interfered with her. Other oral questions were also put. 

The Inspector : Did you consider it necessary to put those two questions to your patient after examining the parent? 

Witness: If I did not think it necessary I should not have put them.

The witness was then questioned as to the girl's condition. The appearances were not such as he had expected to find when he was told that the rape had been committed. After the examination on the Tuesday night his presumptions were that the alleged assault had been committed. As the result of his examination he thought somebody had been interfering with her. It might have been a month or three weeks, possibly a fortnight before. 

At this stage the Court adjourned until 2 p.m. On resuming it was agreed to sit till five this evening, and then adjourn until noon to-morrow, when it is thought the case will be concluded.

Dr Murphy's cross-examination was then proceeded with. A difference of opinion arose as to whether the witness had stated he had been led to believe that someone bad been "interfering" or "playing" with the girl, Inspector Mallard contending that playing was the word used. 

His Worship, looking through his notes, said that "interfering" was the word used. 

Inspector Mallard: I have "playing" on my notes. 

Mr Harris: You have frequently misstated the evidence.

Mr Watt: I must object to this sparring over the table. You must both address the Bench. Although the Inspector may have used on various occasions language not given in evidence I am satisfied that he has not done intentionally or transgressed more than is usual in cross-examination, and so long as the meaning of the language is not tortured it ought not to be remarked upon. 

Mr Harris: Inspector Mallard in his over-zeal for the Crown and, in his mind, for the interests of justice, has used terms not used by witnesses in evidence. 

Mr Watt: That is a fact. 

Mr Harris: It is of this I have had occasion to complain. 

Mr Watt: Don't make a speech now. 

Mr Harris: I presume when there is a misstatement I am entitled to make an objection. 

Mr Watt: You have made it, and have been sustained. You are not entitled to go further. 

Inspector Mallard complained of the remark by counsel for the defence that he was treating the language in a sportive manner, and asked for the Court's protection.

Mr Watt: Will you resume your examination? I have decided the objection.

Shortly afterwards his Worship had occasion to strike something off his notes, whereupon he said: I must have strict order here. I must have every question and answer put down, and then I will hear the argument. While these altercations take place I cannot do so. For my own credit's sake I am exceedingly anxious that the depositions should be correct. 

Dr Murphy continued: On the Tuesday night I saw Mr Mackay, a friend of Mr David Proudfoot. Next morning I again examined the girl, and called on Inspector Mallard, telling him that no rape had been committed. I said, however, that I thought the girl had been interfered with.

Inspector Mallard: At this stage of the cross-examination I wish to put in a document, and to enable me to do so I must call a witness to prove its authenticity. 

Nathaniel Leves, house decorator, Princes street, recalled by the prosecution. 

Inspector Mallard: Look at this document, but do not read it aloud. Is that your name and signature? 

Witness: Yes. 

Counsel for the defence having looked at the document, 

Mr Chapman said: It is not a document in any sense of the word. The witness merely puts in writing what he is not allowed to give on oath. 

Mr Harris: It purports to be a statement in writing of a conversation which took place in the streets of Dunedin between Dr Murphy and Mr Angus in the presence of this witness. It is an attempt to get in by a side-wind that which cannot be put in as evidence on oath. 

Mr Watt (reading the document): As evidence against the accused I say it is certainly not available, but the question is how far it is available to damage the evidence of Dr Murphy. 

Dr Murphy, recalled: I wish to make a statement. 

Mr Watt: You are represented by two legal gentlemen here. 

Mr Chapman: We are defending Mr Proudfoot, and have nothing to do with Dr Murphy. 

Dr Murphy: Some people outside have been saying I have taken Mr Proudfoot's part, and trying to get him out of the scrape. All I wish is The Court decided that they had nothing to do with outside gossip, and ruled that the document could not be put into Dr Murphy's hands. 

Dr Murphy — cross-examination continued: When I spoke to Mr Mackay on Tuesday night I had no motive in so doing, I simply knew he was connected with Sir George Proudfoot's brother. 

Inspector Mallard: Is or is it not in your profession considered most reprehensible to speak to third parties of patients and their complaints? 

Witness: It depends on the circumstances of the case very much. 

Inspector Mallard: Assuming that I had a daughter, and that on that daughter an alleged criminal assault had been committed, and assuming I consulted you and placed my daughter's honor in your hands would you then think it right to tell a third party that Mr Mallard's daughter had been under examination? 

Witness: It would certainly not be right if I did not think the circumstances would be made public. I knew this would be made public in a day or two, otherwise I would not have mentioned it. I knew at this time that it was in your hands and would be made public. 

Inspector Mallard: Then knowing it was to be made public, why did you tell the girl's mother on the Wednesday that there was no harm done to the girl and stop criminal proceedings if they had been taken? 

Witness: In order to save the daughter's disgrace. I told the mother she ought to stop the proceedings, since I was convinced that no rape had been committed on the girl. 

Mr Harris: Even supposing Dr Murphy had acted with a slight disregard of professional etiquette, or that there had been any injudiciousness with regard to what he had done, that can have no bearing on the question — did Mr George Proudfoot commit a rape? 

Mr Watt: I can see the relevancy. I can look forward to what Inspector Mallard is leading to, and he has a right to do what he can in that direction. I don't want to say anything further, because it will no doubt be made public, and I may be blamed for taking the part of one side or the other. 

Inspector Mallard: Has Mr George Proudfoot since these criminal proceedings have been instituted offered through you any hush money to Isabella Angus's father? 

Witness: Never. 

Mr Chapman: If we like we can hold the prosecution bounden to that answer. But as Dr Murphy has been personally impeached we can offer no objection to his making an explanation if he desires to do so. 

Inspector Mallard: I feel very reluctantly that I shall have to introduce Mr Mackay's name. Has Mr Mackay through you offered hush-money to the prosecutor? 

Witness: Yes. Mr Harris objected to the word "hush" as being a police word. 

Inspector Mallard: Now, doctor, how much? 

Witness : He first said L50 or L100, and that I might go as far as L200 in order to stop the scandal. 

Inspector Mallard: Did you offer the money? 

Witness: Yes; on Thursday morning, at the junction of Rattray and Maclaggan streets. 

Inspector Mallard: Who was present? 

Witness: There was no one present at first besides myself and prosecutor. The prosecutor afterwards called Leves. Prosecutor did not accept the money. 

Inspector Mallard: Did you at that time know criminal proceedings had been taken? 

Witness: I saw by the paper that they had been. 

This concluded the cross examination, and Mr Harris was re-examining the witness when our reporter left at 4.45 p.m.  -Evening Star, 9/10/1877.

The Courts To-day


(Before I. N. Watt. Esq., R.M., and J. Logan, Esq., J.P.)

Alleged Rape. - George Proudfoot was charged on remand with assaulting Isabella Angus, seventeen years old. Inspector Mallard conducted the prosecution; Mr Haris, with him Mr Chapman, for the defence. 

Inspector Mallard: The cross-examination of Dr Murphy has finished. There is one question I should like to ask Dr Murphy. It certainly has not arisen from the cross-examination, and I wish that your Worships would put the question. 

Mr Watt: Will you state the question? 

Inspector Mallard: The question is this: Has Dr Murphy, either before or after these criminal proceedings have been taken, been in communication with Mr George Proudfoot?

Mr Watt thought the question might be put through the Bench.

Dr Murphy: I have since these proceedings were initiated. I never spoke to him before.

Inspector Mallard: I must respectfully ask one more question. Did he come to you or you go to him?

Witness: Mr Mackay said he was going to see him (the accused), and asked me if I would accompany him. 

Mr Watt: And did you do so? 

Witness: Yes, your Worship. 

Inspector Mallard: Well, now I don't know whether that answer gives me a right at all. 

Mr Chapman: It gives you no right. It is in reply to the Bench. 

Mr Harris: There is no objection to the Bench continuing the questioning. 

Mr Watt: The Bench will put any questions Inspector Mallard may suggest. 

Mr Harris: I think we have a right to ask your Worship to put this question, Whether on the occasion the witness went with Mr Mackay to see the accused the latter in any way, directly or indirectly, authorised a compromise of the matter? 

Mr Watt: We have it down that he did not, but the question has not been put so specifically.

Witness: He never authorised me in any way.

Mr Harris: Your Worships might further ask whether he heard the accused on that or any other occasion distinctly deprecate anything in the shape of a compromise. I should like to know whether such was the case. We have it in evidence that accused did not sanction it, but it may possibly have become known to the witness whether he opposed it.

Mr Watt: Did the accused ever in your presence deprecate any attempt to compromise the affair?

Witness: He never mentioned the matter in my hearing. 

Alexander Tindling Thomson deposed: I am a duly-qualified medical practitioner practising in Dunedin. I have been in active practice since October, 1867. I first became connected with this case on Thursday morning, the 6th of the present month. Dr Murphy called at my house between eight and half past eight o'clock in the morning, and said to me that he wished me to accompany him to the Glen for the purpose of examining a girl on whom it was reported a rape had been committed. I went with him. I thought at the time I was going on behalf of the prosecutor, if there was likely to be one. When we got to the house the girl was sent in to the room by her mother for the purpose of being examined. I asked her what was the matter with her. She said, "Somebody has been doing something to me." I had told her not to tell me the name of anyone. [Witness here minutely described the conversation which took place between himself and the girl, and the condition he found her in upon examination.] 

On resuming shortly after 2 p.m., 

Dr Thomson's examination was continued. He said: My whole examination of the girl was conducted with a view of ascertaining whether a rape had recently been committed. Beyond the absence of the membrane I found no signs of a rape. The appearances in my view were not consistent with a rape having been committed by a fullgrown person five days before. [Witness further stated that from an examination of the accused he was strengthened in his belief that no rape could have been committed on the girl by Mr Proudfoot.] 

Cross-examined by Inspector Mallard: It was on returning from prosecutor's house on the Thursday morning that I learned from Dr Murphy that a prosecution had been initiated. Before going to the house I did not know the criminal law had been set in motion. I knew the name of the "somebody" who was alleged to have committed the rape before I went to the house.

Re-examined by Mr Chapman: Before these proceedings commenced I did not know Mr George Proudfoot. 

A discussion here arose as to whether Drs Murphy and Thomson might leave the Court, and ultimately counsel for the defence agreed to take any responsibility. 

Inspector Mallard: I see Dr Murphy is taking his hat in order to go away. I wish the doctor to know I am going to make application to the Court to recall him, to give evidence of surprise. I don't know the moment I may be called upon to put the doctor in the box.

Mr Chapman: You must wait till our case is closed.

Dr Murphy: What time will you require me? 

Inspector Mallard: I don't know, doctor. 

Mr Harris: Wait till he sends for you. 

Drs Murphy and Thomson then left the Court.

David Proudfoot deposed: I am a brother of Mr George Proudfoot, the accused. I recollect the night of Saturday, the 1st inst. I went to my brother's house about 9 p.m. I found that both my brother and Mrs Proudfoot were from home. I learned that fact from Isabella Angus. I had no conversation with her but left and went to the house of my sister, Mrs Mondy, and informed her that my brother and sister-in-law were from home. My brother's wife was and had been for some time in a very peculiar state of mental health. I have reason to believe that she was violent at times. It had been for some time necessary for persons to sit up at night watching her. I knew my sister in-law had been taken away. I remained at Mrs Mondy's till close upon twelve that night, and then called at the house of one James Stenhouse. I asked Mr Stenhouse to favor me by going to Mr George Proudfoot's house and keeping a lookout there during the night. My reason for asking Stenhouse to keep a look-out was that I was afraid Mrs Proudfoot might return during the night and create a disturbance. At that time I did not know where Mrs Proudfoot had been taken for the night. I know that on the Saturday my brother was very much fatigued and worn out through watching and attending on his wife.

By Inspector Mallard: The last occasion I saw my brother on the Saturday night was about ten minutes to twelve. He was then at Mrs Mondy's. I left Mrs Mondy's first. I know nothing of my brother's movements after that hour on the Saturday night. I next saw my brother on Sunday about halfpast two p.m. in one of the paddocks at Musselburgh. I first heard that proceedings were to be taken against my brother on Thursday morning last about 9.30 o'clock. I was told by a gentleman that he had got into trouble. It was only on coming to town an hour later that I knew definitely. 

The Bench suggested an adjournment at this stage. 

Mr Harris stated that the witnesses yet to be called for the defence were Mrs Mondy, whose evidence would take up some time; James Stenhouse, Mr Mackay, and a woman who was in the service of the accused at the time.

The further hearing of the case was then adjourned until Thursday next, when the Court will sit till the case closes.  -Evening Star, 11/9/1877.


(Before I. N. Watt, Esq., R.M.) 

Alleged Rape. — George Proudfoot was charged on remand with committing a rape on the person of Isabella Angus. Inspector Mallard conducted the prosecution, Mr Harris, with him Mr Chapman for the defence.

On the application of Inspector Mallard, waiting witnesses were ordered out of Court. The following additional evidence was called for the defence: —

James Mackay deposed: I am a contractor, and am in partnership with the accused’s brother, Mr David Prondfoot. I know Dr Murphy. It is quite true that I authorised him to make a proposal to James Angus, the father of Isabella Angus. I met Dr Murphy a little after ten o’clock on the morning of Thursday, the 6th inst. I said to him, “I see that that case is going to be brought before the Court. What is wrong with the old man; does he want money?” I farther said that if the father wanted money I would rather pay it out of my own pocket than have any scandal about it; and that I would not mind going to L50, L100, or even L200, about it. I told him to see the father, and see if he could do anything. At that time I had seen Mr George Proudfoot, but I had not been in communication with Mr David Proudfoot. The proposal made by me to Dr Murphy was made without Mr George Proudfoot’s knowledge. When I acquainted him of it he said I was a greater fool than he took me to be. I had asked him the day previous to do something to settle the matter. He said “not a d—d farthing.” 

Cross-examined by Inspector Mallard: I first saw Dr Murphy with reference to the alleged assault on Tuesday week. I met him under ordinary circumstances.

Mr Harris: You met casually. 

Inspector Mallard: The answer which the defence wish the witness to make has been suggested to him. The very words were put into his month, which is exceedingly unfair. 

Mr Watt: I did not hear what Mr Harris said. If anything of the kind had been done it was very wrong. 

Mr Harris: I merely said they met casually in the street.

Inspector Mallard: Just what Dr Murphy said in his examination. 

Mr Harris: You had no right to interject that remark. 

Mr Harris: Very good. I will withdraw

Inspector Mallard: If I am not to be allowed to conduct the prosecution in my own way, I will sit down. These interjections are highly improper. 

Mr Watt: You are entitled to the protection of the Court. (To Mr Harris): As I said once before, if you have any interjections you must stand up and address the Court.

Mr Harris: I will stand up for the future, though I may possibly have to do so more frequently than Inspector Mallard may like.

Witness: Dr Murphy told me that the girl had been to the Police Station. He told me that he had examined her, but had come to no conclusion. I again saw him that night. I had agreed to meet him at the Shamrock Hotel. The alleged criminal assault was the reason which reduced this visit. Dr Murphy accompanied me to the accused's house. On the following day we all three met. I don't know whether there was a subsequent meeting between Dr Murphy and the accused. No proposals were made respecting the offer of money at either of the interviews when accused was present. There was no particular object in my seeing the accused. I was anxious to get at the truth of the matter if there was anything in it. As a matter of fact I do not know when proceedings were initiated, but I have since heard it was on Wednesday afternoon. No offer of money was made until after 10 o’clock on Thursday. 

Re-examined: My business relations since Christinas last have brought me into almost daily contact with Mr George Proudfoot.

Elizabeth Mondy, sister of the accused, deposed: I recollect Saturday, September 1. I went to Mr George Proudfoot's house in company with my eldest brother, David, about nine o’clock that night. My house is about a chare distant from my brother George's. When I got there Mr and Mrs Proudfoot were out. I saw the girl Isabella Angus. I asked her if my brother was in.  She replied "No." I then left with my brother David, and returned to my own house. Mr David Proudfoot went away to look for the accused. I saw the latter about eleven o'clock that night. He came to my house with his brother. My brother David left a little before twelve, the accused leaving an hour later. Just before he left my house he asked me if I would come in the morning and help to dress the children, as the girl (meaning Isabella) was very young. About seven o clock on the Sunday morning I went over. The first person I saw in the house was Isabella. I asked her if my brother was up. She said “Yes.” and that he had just gone out. I stayed in the house until about half-past eleven. While there I had a great many opportunities of speaking to the girl because she assisted me. She made no complaint, though she spoke to me frequently, and asked during the morning if she might go home to see her mother, who was very ill.

A dispute arose as to whether the ensuing conversation was evidence. Mr Watt held that it was not. 

Mr Harris: Then nothing of what has been written is evidence.

Inspector Mallard: I admit that two-thirds of it is inadmissible, and would not be admitted in the Supreme Court. 

Mr Harris: It is very painful to have to argue law points with a gentleman who knows nothing of the rules of evidence.

Inspector Mallard (excitedly): I don’t come to this Court to be insulted by Mr Harris. I throw myself on the Court as to whether my objections are not fair. I consider it a personal insult to be told I know nothing of the rules of the Court, and I take it as a personal insult. 

Mr Watt: I shall adjourn the Court, and shall continue the adjournment until such time as these unseemly disputes shall be ended and I can keep order in this Court. 

Their Worships then retired, and on taking their seats again,

Inspector Mallard asked that before the examination was continued their Worships would express an opinion as to whether the remark by Mr Harris should not be withdrawn.

Mr Watt: I have stated already, and I don't want to say so again, that I think the remark was very wrong and very uncalled for. I have nothing more to say about it. 

The witness's examination was then continued. She said: When I gave Isabella permission to go home I asked her how long she thought she would be. She replied that she would not be long, and promised to be home in time for tea. I asked her if she knew of anyone likely to suit the place - meaning to assist her. She told me that she did - a girl about twenty-one or twenty-two. She also expressed her willingness to call on the girl before going home to her mother’s. I told Bella I thought Mary, alluding to the previous servant, would come back. She said she liked Mary very well, but was tired of Mrs Proudfoot. About four o’clock in the afternoon Mr Angus called. He asked me if Isabella was in. I told him that she had gone home some time ago to see her mother. He seemed surprised and I then told him she had gone to make inquiries about another girl. Had any loud noise or screaming been going on in the accused's house it could have been heard in my place. I heard none on the night in question. I have heard Mrs Proudfoot screaming and the children crying when I have been inside my own house.

On resuming at 2.15, after the luncheon adjournment,

Mrs Mondy’s cross-examination was taken. She said: I had not seen the girl Isabella prior to nine o’clock on Saturday night. The girl and the children were all the inmates of the house I knew of when I left. I believe my brother George went home when he left my house at one o’clock on Sunday morning. At that time I did not know where Mr George Proudfoot was. I have since heard that he was then sleeping at Jones’s hotel. After my brother George left me on Sunday morning, I did not see him again until after 12 noon on Sunday. When I went to my brother’s house on Sunday morning at seven o’clock the girl Isabella and the children were the only inmates. The conversation I then had with the girl was the second time I had spoken to her. I had not been in my brother George’s house for a week previous to the Saturday. 

James Stenhouse, workman in the employ of the Dunedin and Ocean Beach Railway Company, deposed: I know the accused Mr George Proudfoot. During the last four weeks I have been employed to sit up at his house. My wife has been employed in the same way. This was in consequence of Mrs Proudfoot’s state of health. I recollect the night of Saturday, September 1. On that night I saw Mr David Proudfoot three times. On the last occasion, 12 p.m., Mr David Proudfoot instructed me to go up to Mr George Proudfoot's house to keep a watch on the place. I left my own house about half past one, and arrived at Mr George Proudfoot’s about five or six minutes afterwards. I went on to the verandah. There were no lights in the house at the time. Everything appeared to be quiet inside the home. 

Inspector Mallard: It is with an amount of pain I have direct your Worships' attention to the fact that Dr Murphy and Mr Mackay are in close conversation.  

Mr Harris: I think I saw Inspector Mallard and Mr stenhouse in conversation.

Inspector Mallard: Pardon me, I am the prosecutor in this case. Both gentlemen to whom I referred are  important witnesses.

Mr Harris: Is not Dr Stenhouse an equally important witness?

Mr Chapman: If your Worships there is any impropriety, Mr Mackay and Dr Murphy will sit apart. 

Dr Murphy: This is too bad. I have just been sent for. I wish I could get to other business.

Inspector Mallard: I am not complaining of your being here. 

Mr Watt: All witnesses this morning were ordered out of Court. You have been sent for, and the police will no doubt find you a room.

Mr Harris thought the point raised should be carried further. Inspector Mallard a few days age also complained, with a considerable amount of pain, that Dr Murphy had been supplying counsel for the defence with evidence; but when Dr Stenhouse sat next to him (the inspector) and prompted him on medical points, neither expressed the pain nor surprise. The learned counsel asked the Court to limit the conduct of medical witnesses. He presumed that if they were to be permitted to assist the prosecution, it was only right similar permission should be extended to the accused and his counsel. Because the testimony of Dr Murphy did not suit the Crown they abandoned him and treated him as a hostile witness. Unless it could be proved the doctor’s evidence was totally unreliable, such action was not justifiable. 

Inspector Mallard would explain why Dr Murphy was treated hostilely. The girl’s father, in the witness-box had sworn that in consequence of the examination of Dr Morphy he had initiated these proceedings, and such was the fact. On the following Thursday morning he (the Inspector) found Dr Murphy offering “hush-money” and never speaking to the Inspector at all. If that was not going into the enemy’s camp, seeing that the doctor was conferring with the solicitors for the defence, he asked what hostility really was. 

Mr Watt had taken considerable trouble over this case lately. In “Guy’s Forensic Medicine" he found the duties of medical men, when called upon in such clearly set out. If they were called by either party they had to make an examination and then report to the side employing them faithfully and honestly what condition they found the alleged assaulted person in; and if the report was adverse to the employer, it was clearly stated that the medical gentlemen should stand away from the case. In this case— apart from any proceedings which took place between Mr Mackay and Dr Murphy — it appeared that the latter had been employed by the prosecution. Having formed an adverse opinion, he should have reported accordingly to the police. Under the circumstances, Inspector Mallard was justified in the action he had taken in having an examination made by other medical men, and likewise in refusing to examine Dr Murphy on behalf of the Crown.

The police pressing their objection, Dr Murphy was ordered to retire. Dr Murphy complained of the treatment he had received from Mr Mallard throughout these proceedings. He would go about his business.

Inspector Mallard: The conduct of Dr Murphy in speaking to Mr Mackay in Court, is most ungentlemanly. 

Mr Watt: The remark is uncalled for. More so, I must say, than the observation made by Mr Harris just now. 

Inspector Mallard: Then I apologise to Dr Murphy.

Mr Chapman: You should apologise to Mr Mackay too.

Inspector Mallard: Yes, I will apologise to Mr Mackay.

Mr Watt: Continue the case, please.

Witness continued: During the whole time I was watching I heard nothing but someone (who I believed to be Mr George Proudfoot) snoring, and the clocks. Besides this I only heard quietness. (Laughter.) The servant’s bedroom was passed several times. I heard no noise proceeding therefrom. If anyone had screamed or cried out, even though not very loudly, I must have heard the noise. 

[Left sitting.]  -Evening Star, 14/9/1877.


Not to comment on the merits of a case while it is pending in a Court of Justice is a rule to which we always adhere, and, therefore we are not going to say anything as to the merits of the case against Mr. George Proudfoot, who is charged with rape at Dunedin. But a certain Dr. Murphy figures in the case as a witness, of whom we think something should be said. This disciple of Aesculapius was called upon by the parents of the girl on whom the offence was said to be committed to examine her. On the first occasion he expressed himself as not having been satisfied in his mind whether the offence had been committed or not, and told the mother and daughter to come again the next day. The next morning he went to the prosecutor’s house, and after examining the girl again, told the mother that proceedings ought to be stopped, as no rape had been committed. The next day, in conjunction with another doctor, a further examination was made, and the conclusion arrived at that the effence could not have been committed. In cross-examination, Dr. Murphy admitted that after he was aware that a criminal charge had been made against Mr. George Proudfoot, he was the medium of communication between a Mr. Mackay, a relative of Mr. Proudfoot's, to settle the matter for a money consideration. The cross-examination at this stage of the proceedings is, according to the report in the Dunedin Evening Star, as follows:

“Inspector Mallard: Has Mr. George Proudfoot since these criminal proceedings have been instituted offered through you any hush money to Isabella Angus’s father? 

“Witness: Never. 

“Mr. Chapman: If we like we can hold the prosecution bounden to that answer. But as Dr. Murphy has been personally impeached we can offer no objection to his making an explanation if he desires to do so. 

“Inspector Mallard: I feel very reluctantly that I shall have to introduce Mr. Mackay’s name. Has Mr. Mackay through you offered hush-money to the prosecutor? 

“Witness: Yes. 

“Mr. Harris objected to the word ‘hush’ as being a police word. 

“Inspector Mallard: Now, doctor, how much?

“Witness: He first said £50 or £100, and that I might go as far as £200 in order to stop the scandal.

“Inspector Mallard: Did you offer the money?

“Witness: Yes; on Thursday morning, at the junction of Rattray and Maclaggan streets. 

“Inspector Mallard: Who was present? 

“Witness: There was no one present at first besides myself and prosecutor. The prosecutor afterwards called Leves. Prosecutor did not accept the money. 

“Inspector Mallard: Did you at that time know criminal proceedings had been taken? 

“Witness: I saw by the paper that they had been.”

It appears to us highly creditable to the father that he did not accept the money, and very much the reverse of creditable to the party offering it. From the fact that the girl was in service it is to be presumed he was not a rich man, and the offer of £200 —  for the “doctor” was instructed to go to that extent to “stop the scandal" — would certainly have tempted many a one to hush up the affair. With the question whether or not a case against the accused was made out we have nothing to do; but it is clear that the doctor was aware that criminal proceedings had been commenced when the tender of money was made. If this does not amount to attempting to compound a felony, it certainly amounts to tampering with a witness, and few professional men, we hope, with any respect for themselves or the calling to which they belong, would act in such a manner. For the near relatives of the accused there may be some excuse for attempting to stop proceedings, but for the medical man employed by the prosecutor to repeat, as he appears to have done, to third parties what the girl said to him, and what his opinion was of the case, and to consent with the accused’s friends to negotiate with the prosecutor to settle the matter for £50, or if that was not enough to go as high as £200, was we cannot but think most unprofessional conduct, to characterise it by no harsher term.  -NZ Times, 15/9/1877.

At time of writing, L200 is worth $32,433.  A tidy sum for a working man's honour.


Alleged Rape. — Their Worships entered the Court at eleven o’clock, and Mr Watt at once proceeded to give the decision of the Bench in the case of Regina v. George Proudfoot. He said: — Before proceeding to deliver the decision of the Bench, I think it right to say that Mr Mallard was correct on Saturday in stating that Dr Murphy had given evidence that he had not been in communication with the accused before these criminal proceedings were initiated. He stated it on Tuesday morning in answer to a question put from the Bench at the request of Mr Mallard. I could not find it on Saturday because I did not look far enough for it. Mr Mallard said the evidence was given during his cross-examination, whereas it was given the following day, and in answer to the Bench. In consequence of not finding it in the depositions, I erroneously refused to let Mr Mallard adduce rebutting evidence. I have offered him the opportunity of doing so now, but he declines, saying he does not desire to pile up the case, but he has requested me to mention it from the Bench. The Bench, as it shadowed forth on Saturday, were then of opinion that the case was one which should go to a jury, but it desired time to weigh the whole of the evidence, and to consider whether the contradictions were of such a nature and importance as to induce the magistrates to dismiss the information, and, if so, to prepare and well consider some remarks in such case to make. As they, upon further consideration, have not seen reason to alter their previous conclusion, the accused will be committed for trial, and the remarks they intended to make, save one only, must remain unsaid — that one is, that it is a great pity that the Press should have so fully published the proceedings at this preliminary inquiry. The Magistrates make this observation, not as being desirous to put themselves up as censors of the Press, but in consequence of the numerous applications which have been made to them to exclude the Press as well as the public. This they declined to do, as they recognise in the Press both a great check upon and support of the Bench and also of the prosecution. George Proudfoot, you are committed to take your trial for the offence with which you stand charged at the next sittings for the trial of criminal cases of the Supreme Court to be holden in Dunedin. — Mr Chapman: The same bail as formerly, I suppose? Mr Watt: Yes. — Mr Chapman: Since this case has been closed new evidence has been disclosed which, had it come to hand earlier, would have materially aided the defence. It is, however, now too late to be of use here, and I merely mention it in order that it may not be suggested that it has come into our hands altogether since the close of the proceedings. — The accused was then bound over in the sum of Ll,000 to appear at the next sessions of the Supreme Court, and Messrs David Proudfoot and James Mackay became bondsmen to the extent of L500 each. (Before I. N. Watt, Esq., R.M.)  -Evening Star, 17/9/1877.




(Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams and a Special Jury.) 

RAPE. George Proudfont surrendered to his bail charged with having, on September 1, feloniously made a criminal assault on Isabella Angus. 

Mr W. D. Stewart: May it please your Honor, I appear with my learned friend, Mr Denniston, to prosecute. 

Mr James Smith: I appear, your Honor, with my learned friend, Mr F. R. Chapman, for the defence. 

The following gentlemen were sworn as a grand jury Messsrs L. O. Beal (foreman), D. L. Simpson, James Finch, James Spraggen, Peter Anderson, Robert Nimmo, Henry North, William McKenzie, Edward Hedgkinson, Alex. Burt, J. H. Morrison, and Gustave Hirsch.

Mr Stewart said that in appearing in this case with Mr Denniston he might state that it was a matter of regret that the Crown had been deprived of the services of the learned Crown Prosecutor, whose ability would be of considerable value in a prosecution of this kind; but the learned Crown Prosecutor, for certain reasons unnecessary to be mentioned here, had preferred not conducting this prosecution. The case had created a good deal of excitement, and it was perhaps desirable that the jury should withdraw from their consideration any reports which had been circulated regarding it outside, and should confine their attentions strictly to what was now brought before them. The case was one of a simple character — the evidence was of the simplest possible character, and although it might be necessary to give certain medical evidence in the case, that evidence would he purely of a corroborative character, and not in any way essential to a conviction. The offence of rape, the learned counsel went on to say, was a very serious one against society, and was one which, of course, required a certain amount of strict proof; at the same time the law did not require the evidence of more then one witness to an offence of this kind. The learned counsel having stated the fact and defined the law of rape (particularly in regard to a domestic, in which case he explained the law did not require the same degree of resistance as in the ease of an ordinary person), concluded by mentioning that on Tuesday last prisoner went to the house of prosecutor and there had an interview with the girl’s father, and tried to have an interview with the girl herself. He did not now propose stating what took place at that interview, but merely intimated that he intended giving evidence of that kind, so that the defence would not be taken by surprise. It. might also be necessary to call a witness whose name did not appear on the back of the depositions, and who heard the prisoner voluntarily state ____

Mr Smith pointed out that in such cases the practice in England was for the Crown to hand privately a note to the prisoner’s counsel acquainting him of the nature of the evidence to be given. 

Mr Stewart: We will do that. It may also be necessary, with the permission of the Court, to give rebutting evidence after the case for the defence has closed. 

The first witness called for the Crown was Isabella Angus, and her examination and cross-examination lasted till three o’clock. Her evidence was not shaken in any way. 

Jane Angus, mother of the last witness, repeated the evidence given by her in the Police Court and added: I saw the prisoner at our house on Tuesday last. He came to the door, said he was Proudfoot, and wanted to see Bella. I said he could not see Bella. He said he was not a married man and wanted to marry my daughter Bella. I did not speak to him. He further said that he was sorry for what he had done, that he had plenty of property and cows and might keep her the rest of her days. I said “no," and left him. He remained till my husband came home. He spoke to my husband, but I did not hear what he said. He drove away. 

By Mr Smith: I do not think the prisoner was the worse for drink at this time.

By Mr Denniston: He put his hands up and called into my ears, and I thought he was sober.

Jane Angus, sister of the prosecutrix: I reside at home with my father. While I was at home with mother on Tuesday evening prisoner came to the house. Isabella was in the bedroom at the time. He said that he was Proudfoot, and wanted to see Isabella. He pushed me to one side, and said that he liked Bella and wanted to marry her. Mother could not hear him, and he then spoke to me. He wanted me to tell Bella that he had come up to marry her. He asked me if he could marry her, and I told him that he could not. He then held up his hands to mother’s ear and spoke to her. Father then came home.

James Angus, father of the last witness was next called. He repeated the evidence given by him in the Police Court, and added: When I went home on Tuesday night prisoner was standing inside my door. He said, “Good evening, Mr Angus.” I said, “Good evening,” and he called me aside and said he wanted to speak to me. He then explained about the affair, and said he was sorry for what he had done. He said, “Supposing I am not a married man, will you allow Isabella to marry me?" I said I thought he was a married man. He said he was not a married man, and that if I would consent he would be willing to make Bella comfortable. I told him that I could not do that. We both went outside. Mr Stokes, a friend of mine, then came up, and after Proudfoot had spoken to him he said he wanted to speak to me privately. He then again expressed his regret for what he had done, said Bella was a nice stout girl, and that he would make over to her anything I liked. He then asked should be come back again, and went away. I have never spoken to him since. 

By Mr Smith: I never carried on negotiations through Mr Joyce, the solicitor, or anyone else with a view to entertaining a proposal for marriage between my daughter and the prisoner.

By Mr Denniston: Mr Joyce came up to my house on Thursday last. I wrote a letter to Mr Joyce.

Mr Smith: Had the letter any reference to the proposal of the prisoner to marry your daughter? 

Witness: The prisoner’s name was not mentioned.

The question was repeated, but his Honor held that the contents of the letter were not admissible.

Mr Denniston urged that the letter should be produced, in order to satisfy the Court as to its relevancy. 

His Honor: If you want the letter you must subpoena Mr Joyce. Mr Smith argued that unless prisoner chose to call for the production of the letter, it could not be put in as evidence. Mr Denniston pointed out that Mr Joyce’s name had been introduced by the other side.

Mr Smith: We have thrown Mr Joyce overboard.

Mr Denniston: I join with great pleasure in that process. Dr Stenhouse was under examination at 4.30 p.m.  -Evening Star, 15/10/1877.



Dunedin, Wednesday. George Proudfoot's case is attracting much public notice. The Supreme Court has been inconveniently crowded. Mr James Smith's speech in defence occupied two hours andla-half in delivery. He contended that the prisoner's proposal to marry the girl Isabella Angus must be treated either as the raving of a lunatic or as the action of a man temporarily insane through drink. Judge Williams commenced summing up at half-past seven o'clock to-night.  -Thames Advertiser, 18/10/1877.



Dunedin, October 18. The interest in Proudfoot's case exceeded that in Reed's. The Court, all yesterday and to-day, up to the jury being discharged, was crowded to excess. Mr Denniston's speech produced a powerful impression in the Court. Referring to the conduct of Dr. Murphy he said: — Hardly two hours elapsed after this confidence was reposed in him when he blurts it out to another man, and that man incidentally related it to the accused. That first act might have been a blunder — a gross, and not a culpable blunder — but not another hour passed before Dr Murphy was on the road in a cab to the house of the accused. Could that be carelessness? Could they have any but one opinion as to the gross scandalous perfidy of that conduct? If they had any doubt as to what, it meant they must mark what followed. An appointment had been made to see the girl on the following afternoon, but next morning he left in hot haste for the prosecutrix's house for fear the girl might be placed in the hands of some more honest adviser. That must be the conclusion. He was not putting this as against the accused. The prisoner had not been connected with it, and it might have been the act of an injudicious friend, but he referred to it as affecting the credibility of Dr. Murphy. On Thursday morning, after he had taken another medical man up with him, still without stating his opinion, this member of a respectable profession acts in the capacity of a go-between, and offers money to conceal and hush up this affair. This, too, he professed to do in the interests of the girl. Next morning he had thrown off that mask, and assumed that of the interests of justice, and was found prompting counsel for defence, and yet they were told they were not to discredit his medical evidence, and that they were going too far if they proceeded to stigmatise it as unreliable. — Mr Smith: He may have passed the bounds of propriety. — He (Mr Deniston) considered Dr Murphy an infamous go-between, and he must be condemned by every respectable man and woman, The treachery of this man prevented them from having an earlier examination made by an honest physician. The Judge, referring to Dr Murphy's evidence, said his conduct had been properly made the subject of comment. Putting the most charitable construction upon it, it was the most unhappy blundering of which a professional man could be guilty. The foreman, after the jury had been out three hours, asked if they could convict of an attempt at rape. The Judge answered that such a verdict would be illogical, and he would be sorry to see the jury bring it in. At ten o'clock this morning, on hearing that there was no probability of agreement, his Honor said if the minority was small the duty of the latter was to consider whether, in the circumstances, they were justified in setting up their judgments against the rest. At mid-day the jury were discharged. There ensued a long discussion as to whether a second trial should be by special jury or not. The prosecution strongly urged a common jury, saying if it were objected to they would consent to a change of venue. They opposed a special jury on the ground that the names would be known a fortnight before the trial. Mr Smith contended that there was greater reason now for a special jury, and the Judge thought the same, fearing there might be a mistrial otherwise. — It is generally understood that the jury had at the outset agreed to take a verdict of three-fourths whichever way it was. On returning into Court for the first time, eight were for conviction, and that position remained unaltered.  -Press, 19/10/1877.


(From the Press Agency.) Dunedin, October 18. Address to jury for prosecution yesterday in Proudfoot's case, Dennison spoke of Dr Murphy as infamous go between. His Honor said to put the most charitable interpretation on Dr Murphy's conduct, he had been guilty of extraordinary blundering. Jury locked up all night. 12.50 p.m. Proudfoot's jury sent for, and in answer to Judge, said there was not the slightest probability of their agreeing. His Honor ordered their discharge. Prisoner's counsel applied for another special jury, which was opposed by counsel for Crown. His Honor thought that change of venue would be desirable. He granted special jury. Trial set down for 31st instant.  -Akaroa Mail, 19/10/1877.



Friday, November 3. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams, and a Special Jury.)


The charge against George Proudfoot of committing a rape on Isabella Angus on September 1 was continued. 

Mr Denniston said that it was now his duty to sum up the evidence on behalf of the Crown, and, in doing so, he must refer to the unusual and unfair attack made by the learned counsel, who spoke for the defence, on the conduct of the Crown. The words were, "that the prosecution had been conducted with an eagerness not usually displayed by those who conduct prosecutions." He would deprecate in the strongest manner such conduct and its truth, and would appeal to his Honor whether any such eagerness had been displayed. If such eagerness had been displayed it would have been the duty of the Judge to interpose and stop it. The statement, therefore, was a reflection upon the Judge as well as upon the prosecution. He repelled the statement with the contempt which it deserved, for the attack was as unfair a one as ever he had heard in a Court of Justice, and later on he would ask the learned judge to decide as to whether the charge made against the Crown was merited with truth. He was there acting as a minister of justice, and not for the gratification of any malice, or on behalf of any damsel, and would place the case for the Crown before them in as simple a manner as possible. The case for the Crown rested on a distinct statement, and if the jury believed the evidence of the prosecutrix they would have to find the prisoner guilty, and, on the contrary, if they did not believe it they would have to acquit him. The jury had seen the demeanour of the prosecutrix, and he submitted that her appearance was that of a modest decent girl. They were asked to believe, on behalf of the defence, that a girl who gave her evidence in that way was capable of concocting not only the whole story, but also, on the spur on the moment, answers to the questions put to her in cross-examination. The theory that the case was concocted fell through. He then alluded to the alleged inconsistencies between her evidence as given in the Supreme Court and that given in the Police Court, and pointed out that, owing to the fact that the prosecution was not represented by counsel in the latter Court, the depositions, which were in the form of a narrative, were not to be entirely depended upon. Her evidence given in the Supreme Court was not contradictory of that given in the Police Court, but only supplementary. If she were ignorant of the relation between the sexes — and he was not afraid to ask the jury, judging from her demeanor, that she was — then her fear of the result of the assault would have been moditied, and she would have only known that a piece of unmitigated brutal blackguardism had been inllicted upon her, and so strong motives would not have existed for to tell others what had taken place. If her story was concocted why did she invent such elaborate detail and swear to a double attack having been made? In regard to the evidence of Miss Mary McKenzie, he believed he was correct in saying that it was practically abandoned by the defence. She was a girl of a bashful character, and when at Proudfoot's she locked her door, and when the key was lost she used the snib; but she declined to say whether she had been in the Hospital and under medical treatment. He contended that the story for the prosecution was one of truth, and he asked where was the motive for having concocted it, supposing it to be otherwise? It could not have been money or revenge, for the former was offered. Referring to the medical evidence, he said tnat he had no wish to refer further to Dr Murphy, only he was compelled to do so, seeing that the doctor had been spoken of as having acted in a blundering fashion — one in fact "who did good by stealth, and blushed to find it fame." He would waste as little time as possible on him. His offering a bribe after having come to the conclusion no rape had been committed, might have been to act unprofessionally, but they went beyond this, and said that his certainty that no offence had been committed dated from his interview with Proudfoot. From that moment his conduct was tainted, disgraceful, and treacherous, and the offering of a bribe was only part of the dirty work he had been hired to do. The jury were actually called upon to believe his medical evidence, and that it was not even biassed. But not only was it biassed, but considering the deliberate shameful treachery of which Dr Murphy had been guilty, he was surprised that the defence loaded the case with his name, but that they did not treat it with contempt. He hardly knew how to characterise it, but it was as disgraceful an action as ever disgraced the profession to which the doctor was a dishonor. The evidence given by Dr Thomson was that of a partisan. The learned counsel next dealt with the expert evidence given on behalf of the defence, and pointed out that the jury had nothing to controvert the girl's evidence but the undigested speculations of expert witnesses. They had been merely put into the box to decide a series of propositions put before them. In a matter of speculation it was an easy thing for a medical man to make up his mind either one way or the other. The defence had called no such evidence — they had relied on the bare facts of the case. The offence was committed on a Sunday morning, the complaint was made the same afternoon, and that was a strong point in negativing a concocted story. The prosecutrix's stament was supplemented by the most damning evidence — that of the confession. The conduct of the accused in going to the girl's house and making the proposition of marriage must be taken as an admission of guilt, and not consistent with the action of a repentant seducer. It was the only alternative left to him, and as a last resource he agreed to sever all dear ties in order to close the lips of an innocent girl. He had before disclaimed any intention of appealing to the feelings of the jury, but he could not, in leaving the case in their hands, omit to point out to them that the case was one which demanded, as it undoubtedly would receive, their earnest consideration. It was not an ordinary case of rape. The charge, if true, involved a gross violation of a most sacred trust — an outrage of the vilest character. The relation between the head of a household aud his servant was almost that of a parent and child, and this girl was entitled to as much respect and protection as a daughter of the prisoner. Unfortunately there were men with whom such considerations had no force. There were men before whose brutality and lust barriers of religion, of honor, of decency, which usually protected female virtue went down without resistance, and yet the accidents of fortune might lead to parents requiring to entrust to such men the honor of those nearest and dearest to them. In such cases the only security was the confidence in the impartial administration of the law. It was the knowledge that here at least there was no distinction of rank that in this realm at least justice was an arm long enough to reach and strong enough to strike the wealthiest and most powerful that made order itself possible. And if any blow were given, as he was sure it would not be given, which would strike the belief in such impartial justice, it would have an effect for evil far beyond the immediate consequences of tbe act. Their duty was therefore a grave and onerous one. If they, after hearing the evidence, had any reasonable doubt of the prisoner's guilt, it was their duty to give him the benefit of it; but, if otherwise, he was sure they would do their duty as citizens, and, in the words of his learned friend in opening this case, return a verdict without fear, favor, or affection. 

His Honor commenced summing up at 7.00 p.m. and did not conclude till 10 o'clock. He said: Gentlemen of the Jury, before going into the evidence, I may say a word or two on some observations which fell from the learned counsel on both sides during their addresses as to the way in which the case has been conducted. Well, gentlemen, it is obvious to everyone that the present case has been ably and pertinaciously defended, and that the counsel for the defence, as their duty was, put forth all their energies to support the case in favor of the prisoner. That being, so, the Crown have, I have no doubt, put forward greater energy than they would have done had the prisoner been undefended, and I think have rightly done so. Moreover, during the three days of the trial there have been, as you are aware —and as there must be   some little bickerings between the counsel, and it is a very difficult thing for the counsel for the Crown, under these circumstances, to maintain that quasi judicial impartiality that the counsel for the Crown should maintain. At the name time I am bound to say that I think the counsel for the Crown have succeeded wonderfully well in maintaining that quasi judicial impartiality, and I do not think they have done more than meet strength with strength. I do not think any imputation could be put upon them of endeavoring unduly to press for a conviction. As to the case itself, and before saying anything as to the nature of the crime, or the evidence adduced on either side, I would beg you, if you possibly can, to put out of your minds all that you have heard before you came to the Court on this present trial. I am quite aware it is very difficult to do. However, it is for you, in common fairness to the prisoner, to endeavor to disembarrass yourselves from any sentiment you may have previously entertained on the subject. In a small place like this, everyone is more or less connected, and more or less acquainted with everyone else, and therefore there must naturally be some feeling one way or the other. Therefore, I beseech you to put out of your minds any sentiment in favor, or any hostility to either the prisoner or the prosecution. Of course, I am aware that you would not intentionally entertain any such bias, but, at the same time, people are sometimes influenced unconsciously, and therefore it behoves everyone of you to examine himself, and to see if he has not a latent bias, and if he has, to endeavour to rid himself of it. [His Honor here minutely defined the crime of rape.] No particular amount of violence, in order to constitute the crime of rape, and no special amount of resistance, is required on the woman's part. The safest rule to follow is this: Unless it is clear that the woman was so overcome by terror as to be incapable of resisting, then if connection takes place, under those circumstances, that would be rape; but if there is not that prostration by terror, then the best test is this: Does the conduct of the woman give the man reasonable grounds for believing she was a consenting party? If the conduct of the woman was such as to give the man reasonable grounds for so believing, the man ought not to be convicted of rape; but if the woman so acts that the man would have any reasonable grounds for so believing, then he should be convicted. If she so conducts herself that the man would have reasonable grounds for believing she was a consenting party, then he ought not to be convicted. The counsel for the prisoner quoted to you a passage very frequently quoted on these occasions, which shows the great caution whioh must be exercised in these cases, and that accusations of rape are accusations very easily made, and exceeding difficult for the accused party to disprove, and therefore you have to look in this as in every case, as to whether the statement of the prosecutrix is consistent with itself, how far it agrees with the surrounding facts, and whether there is any evidence to corroborate it. I would remind you, gentlemen, that the present issue is whether or no the prisoner has been guilty of rape. You have to be satisfied of that beyond a reasonable doubt before you can convict him. You are not here to punish any immorality, however flagrant, or any conduct, however dastardly and vile, provided it does not in your opinion amount to the crime of which the prisoner is charged. The principal witness in this case is, of course, the prosecutrix, and you observed her demeanor in the witnessbox, and how she stood the crossexamination of the learned counsel for the defence. It is for you to form your own judgment of that demeanour. I might say it is difficult on all occasions where a woman is a witness to tell by her demeanour whether she is a witness of truth or not. Women are, of course, as truthful as men; but if they intend to tell untruths, it is far more difficult, from their demeanour, to tell whether they are speaking untruth or not. I simply mention that as a caution. You have seen how the prosecutrix gave her evidence, and it is for you to consider the whole matter. The character of the prosecutrix, which, in this inquiry, is a very important element for your consideration, appears not to have been impeached in any way. Her previous career is well known. She has been for some years in the neighborhood of Dunedin, she has been in a great many places, and it may be fairly assumed that if there had been anything against her character we should have heard something of it. Then, as to any motive which the prosecutrix might have had, there is neothing to indicate that she was actuated by any motive by which false accusations are made — that of obtaining money, because in this case the prosecutrix or her relations might have had money to have stopped the proceedings, but did not accept it. The only motive suggested on behalf of the prisoner is that the prosecutrix had had connection with the prisoner voluntarily. 

Mr Smith: Would your Honor excuse my asking you to point out that there is evidence by Dr Murphy which shows that the father did entertain a proposal to obtain money by saying that he doubted whether at that stage proceedings could be stopped.

Mr Denniston: Perhaps your Honor will leave that till you are commenting upon Dr Murphy's evidence. His Honor then dealt with the motive stated by the counsel for the defence, as the probable one as having actuated the prosecutrix, and left the question for the jury. Referring to Dr Murphy, the learned judge said: The conduct of Dr Murphy has been commented upon, and I think very properly so, by the learned counsel for the Crown, and, as the learned counsel for the Crown stated, his conduct seems to be something more than a mere breach of professional etiquette. Happily the members of the medical profession do not adopt the line of conduct taken by Dr Murphy. We all of us very properly have thorough confidence in the skill and integrity of the members of so honourable a profession, and if such conduct as that of Dr Murphy were common it would indeed tend to sink completely any confidence we have in medical men in their professional capacity. Happily, such conduct is extremely exceptional. His Honor then gave reasons why, in his opinion, a verdict of attempted rape could not consistently be returned. In concluding, he said that in this indictment it was the duty of the Crown to satisfy the jury beyond any doubt that the offence had been committed, and that if, as reasonable men, they had any doubt upon that, then they would give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt.

At 10.47 the jury returned into Court, and his Honor having been sent for, The Foreman said: We have not agreed, but for the satisfaction of one or two of the jurymen who did not hear your Honor's definition of an attempt to commit rape, we would wish your Honor to again define it. Two or three of the jurymen have also got the impression that they can bring in a verdict of seduction.

His Honor: Such a verdict as that would be a verdict of not guilty. He then gave the definition asked for by the foreman, and concluded by saying that he before pointed out to the jury the difficulties there were in the way of finding the prisoner guilty of an attempt.

The Foreman: I am requested to say on behalf of the jury that there is no occasion for your Honor to remain, as we are not likely to agree for a considerable time. 

His Honor replied that he would be prepared to return any time. Did the jury not wish him to return till the next morning?

The Foreman: No your Honor. 

His Honor: I will be here at 9.30 tomorrow if that be early enough. 

The Foreman: That is quite early enough. 

The jury were then locked up for the night. 

Saturday, November 3. 

The jury came into Court at twelve minutes past ten.
The Registrar: Gentlemen, have you agreed upon your verdict? 

The Foreman: No, your Honor, we have not agreed.

His Honor: Am I to understand from you, Mr Foreman, that there is no chance whatever? 

The Foreman: There is not the most remote chance, your Honor. 

His Honor: Well, gentlemen, I have no other alternative than to discharge yon. I thank you for the attention and pains you have given to the case, and I am very sorry that you were unable to come to a conclusion upon it. However you are now discharged, gentlemen.

The jury having left the box, His Honor said: The course which I propose to take with respect to the prisoner — at present at any rate — is that he should be released upon the same bail whioh he has been released on before, contingent to appear at the next sittings of this Court in January to take his trial. It will be, however, for the Crown in the meantime to consider what steps shall be taken in the matter. At present I think that it is the proper course to release prisoner on the same recognisances, contingent to appear at the next sittings of the Supreme Court. (To Mr Denniston.) Has the Crown any motion to make? 

Mr Denniston: No, your Honor. 

The Court then rose.  -Evening Star, 3/11/1877.


The Dunedin Morning Herald has the following on the late rape case:—"We have been informed on the most reliable authority that Mr Angus, father of Isabella Angus, has given instructions to Messrs Stewart and Denniston to stop further proceedings in the case of Regina v. Proudfoot. It is a matter of notoriety that previous to the first trial an offer of £200 was made to the father of the prosecutrix to hush the matter up. It is also a fact that Angus has stated to the police that between the first and second trial he was offered £3000 to do the same thing. We would now like to know whether the instructions above referred to do or do not owe their origin to the acceptance of a similar offer. And in conclusion, we should ask will the Minister of Justice or the responsible Law Officer of the Colony, in the face of the above fact, consent to a nolle prosequi being entered for the purpose of stopping a third trial." Latest date state that the case has been settled by the payment of £1500 to the girl's parents — besides all law costs — and that the girl has sailed for England in the ship Invercargill. The closing scene in this disgraceful matter will probably be a criminal action arising out of the last transsaction.  -Lake Wakatip Mail, 6/12/1877.

The latest phase in the notorious Proudfoot case is that the girl Isabella Angus has been got out of the way, so as to prevent a further trial. She is said to have left the colony for London in the ship Invercargill under a fictitious name. Mr Denniston denies that he has received instructions to stop proceedings, but admits that such a course is likely. The Morning Star avers that between the two trials Angus, father of the prosecutrix, was offered £300 to hush the matter up. Several journals publish statements that Proudfoot pays £1500 and all law costs, in consideration of the girl being packed off out of the way. The question now is, what will the Minister of Justice have to say about this evasion and defiance of the law.  -West Coast Times, 14/12/1877.

A series of paragraphs have been in circulation amongst our southern contemporaries on the subject of the wellknown Proudfoot case, which we trust, for the credit of colonial justice, are not true. The gist of the statements made is that the prosecution in the case of the Queen v. Proudfoot has been withdrawn on the accused paying all expenses and a further £1500, and that the principal witness in the case, Isabella Angus, had left for London in the ship Invercargill under a fictitious name. At first we were disposed to discredit these reports, but a fortnight having gone by since they were put into circulation, and no contradiction having appeared beyond one on a minor point by Mr Denniston, the solicitor, who denied that his firm were instructed to stop proceedings, but admitted that such a course was likely, we fear that they must now be regarded as substantially true. The effect of this, regarded from one point of view, will be that this Proudfoot, twice tried for rape upon his servant girl, and twice unvindicated and uncondemned through the disagreements of two juries of his intelligent countrymen, will have no further opportunity of being declared the innocent victim of an unhappy conjunction of circumstances. Still regarding the matter from this point of view, and assuming the innocence of the accused, we cannot avoid saying that this termination of the affair is very unjust to him, even though he or his advisers should themselves have been mainly instrumental in bringing it about. The country, as represented, we presume, by the Department of Justice, has no right to accept such a sacrifice at his hands, for a sacrifice it is, inasmuch as he must for ever remain under an unanswered, and now unanswerable charge. Nay, it is worse than this. The magnanimous offer which he was stated in evidence to have made to marry the girl, although there was a legal impediment in the way, the other offer similarly sworn to, to pay her father a round sum to hush the matter up, coupled with the present allegations that he has now undertaken to pay all expenses and something considerable besides, will inevitably prejudice the public mind against him, and make people disinclined to believe him an innocent man. Those offers, supposing they were made purely with the object of sparing an unfortunate girl's feelings, exhibited an extravagance of magnanimity so inapproachable, and even inconceivable by ordinary people, and might on the other hand to a plain person unstudied in abnormal developments of self-forgetful virtue, wear such an apparently questionable aspect, that it cannot be wondered at if Mr Proudfoot's very stupendous generosity leaves ordinary minds no alternative but to pronounce him a perfect maniac of chivalry (leaving, of course, the impediment alluded to out of the question), or an almost self-confessed criminal. What will be the popular verdict when such an alternative is presented, we need not discuss. 

But the worst feature of the case is not that Mr Proudfoot should be allowed to make a presumably noble self-sacrifice, but that this conclusion should be permitted in a case which is, from its circumstances, so liable to misconstruction. It is a shame that he, if he is innocent, should not be righted before the world, however willing he might be to forego that advantage. But it is a grievous discredit to the colony that a prosecution of this nature should be discontinued through the influence of any monetary arrangement whatever. We have nothing whatever to say as to the mere discontinuance of the prosecution, which is a matter purely for the discretion of the Crown Law Officers. We may draw inferences indeed from such abstracts of the evidence as were published, but any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused would be beside the issue. What we wish to point out is that, though the innocence of an accused person may be as plain as daylight, it would be an evil custom which allowed the prosecution or non-prosecution of a case of this nature, which had gone so far, to depend on any kind of covenant as to expenses between accused and accuser. But when a person's innocence is so much in doubt that two juries have disagreed and been discharged without finding a verdict on the subject, it is a pernicious precedent, to establish that the Crown will entertain any such covenant as a possible influencing motive in withdrawing from the further prosecution of the supposed offender. Judged from a common-sense point of view, and without for a moment expressing an opinion on the merits of the case, or the extent to which the department of justice has been cognisant of the negotiations and proceedings of the parties most interested, we must say that if the statements we have referred to are true, the end of this cause celebre will present to the vulgar mind as disgraceful a subordination of justice to the power of the purse as was ever witnessed in the British Dominions, and that the effect of it unless intelligibly explained cannot but be to bring into further contempt the already too much and too often reasonably despised course of criminal procedure in New Zealand.  -Star, 17/12/1877.

The Morning Herald concludes a very plain-spoken article upon the reported stoppage of proceedings in the Proudfoot case as follows: — We quite admit that it is the province of the Crown to be merciful, and that it should not exhibit a spirit of vindictiveness against any accused person; but in acting as we believe it intends to do in the case now under consideration, it will certainly not be supported by precedent — at least, so far as this colony is concerned — for, at the Wellington Criminal Sittings in October last, a man was put upon his trial the third time, for arson, was found guilty, and is now undergoing a sentence of five years’ penal servitude. Either undue severity was exercised in his case, or exceptional leniency is about to be extended to George Proudfoot. We, however, trust that when the Crown, through its responsible legal officer, makes known its intention at the ensuing criminal sittings of the Supreme Court, such reasons will be given for the course adopted that confidence in the impartial and efficient administration of justice will not be shaken, and that there will be no grounds for the existence of an opinion that in this Colony there is one law for the poor man and another for the man who can afford to spend £3000 or £4000 to escape the consequences of any crime with the commission of which he may be charged.  -Lake County Press, 3/1/1878.

A CURIOUS fact in connection with the criminal calendar as supplied to the Dunedin newspapers is the omission of the name of George Proudfoot. The gentleman who prepares the calendar is no respecter of persons, and the only conclusion is that he must have got a special instruction from the Minister of Justice in the matter.   -Bruce Herald, 8/1/1878.


The Hon. W. H. Reynalds, M.H.R., last night addressed his constituents at the Foresters' Hall, Port Chalmers, when he gave an account of his stewardship as their representative. There was a large attendance, Mr McKinnon, Mayor of Port Chalmers, occupying the chair. 

Mr J McLaren asked how it was that a Minister of the Crown had interfered with the course of Justice to save George Proudfoot from prosecution? 

The Hon. Mr Reynolds: I can answer that question. There has no Minister of the Crown ever prevented any action being taken against Mr Proudfoot.  -Otago Daily Times, 9/1/1878.

The Proudfoot Business.

The 'Australasian' gives a good deal of notice to Government's action in this case. In one issue it has portion of a leading article from the Bruce Herald, an extract from the ''Morning Herald' and a special telegram from its Wellington correspondent. Wednesday's 'Morning Herald' says — The Hon. Mr Reynolds, at the conclusion of his address at Port Chalmers last evening, was asked if he approved of the action of a Minister of the Crown in stopping criminal proceedings against George Proudfoot. Considering who the hon. gentleman's interrogator was, we think he would have shown more dignity if he had refused to take any notice of the question. However, as the matter is one which attracts considerable interest, and as he undertook to answer it in am authoritative manner, his reply cannot be passed over. It was as follows: — "No Minister of the Crown has prevented any action being taken against Mr George Proudfoot up to the present time." It would seem that the Ministry have taken the hon. gentleman into their confidence in the matter, but whether this be so or not, we know as an undeniable fact that the question has been considered by the Cabinet, and, though tardily, we will no doubt eventually learn what that decision was.   -Bruce Herald, 11/1/1878.


Dunedin, Jan. 10. In reference to the charge of rape against George Proudfoot, the Judge asked what course the Crown intended to take it it. Mr Haggit replied that he was not in a position to state, as he had sent a telegram to Wellington the day before yesterday, and had received no reply. His Honor said that the Sessions were not yet at an end, and the case might yet be tried. He adjourned the Court, till Monday, to give time for a reply.  -North Otago Times, 11/1/1878.


Monday, 14th January. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams.)


His Honor: Mr Haggitt — With respect to Proudfoot's case, have you any communication?

Mr Hagitt: Yes, your Honor. The case will not come before you.

His Honor: I presume you will enter a nolle prosequi. 

Mr Haggitt: Yes.  -Otago Daily Times, 15/1/1878.

The Government have decided not to bring George Proudfoot to trial for the third time. As it is now impossible to get, a conviction against him, every one who, disaproves of the publication of the demoralising circumstances surrounding the case will be glad that the Government have had the moral courage to take a firm stand, even although it should afford a handle to the enemy to prate about impartial justice. If the case could be proved against Proudfoot by all means punish him; but if it cannot why punish the public?  -Mt Ida Chronicle, 17/1/1878.

The action of the Government in entering a nolle prosequi in the case of George Proudfoot, charged with a criminal offence against Isabella Angus, is made the subject of sharp comment by a section of the Dunedin Press. The remarks of the Evening Star have been already published in our columns, and now we find that the Morning Herald follows in a somewhat similar strain. The Herald does not discuss the question as to the probability of the guilt or otherwise of Proudfoot, but contends that the action of the Government in having interposed to prevent his third trial has the effect of seriously weakening confidence in the impartial administration of justice. It further cites some extraordinary facts connected with the case. It states that before the first trial came on a friend of Proudfoot offered to settle £3000 upon Isabella Angus on condition that she would marry him. The Government is then blamed for incurring so little trouble and expense in conducting the prosecution, and the article concludes with the statement "that the Government have treated George Proudfoot with apparent partiality, and have done much to bring the administration of Justice in this Colony into contempt."  -Evening Post, 19/1/1878.

At time of writing, L3,000 in 1877 is worth $486,503.  A high price to offer indeed for the honour of Mr Angus and his family.

We have received a copy of the New Zealand Trades Journal, which is published in Dunedin under the auspices of the associated trades. The paper, which is published monthly, is well got up, and contains a good deal of interesting reading matter. It refers in one of its articles to the celebrated Proudfoot case as follows: — "Since our last issue a great wrong has been done by the Government, and Ministers have sown seed which must produce fruit hurtful to a degree to the upholding of simple even-handed justice in New Zealand. The authorities have decided not to put George Proudfoot a third time on his trial for the offence charged against him. The circumstances of the case are too fresh in the memories of our readers for it to be necessary for us to recapitulate them. Proudfoot had been charged with the rape of a young girl whom it was his duty to protect while living under his roof. Two juries had declined the responsibility of proclaiming him innocent, while at the same time the accused had by his conduct during the trials — by unnecessarily publicly branding his children with the stain of illegitimacy — shown himself to be a mere cowardly, sensual brute, without natural affection, and wanting even one redeeming quality. Extenuating circumstances there were none, and yet this creature who should have been compelled to prove his innocence of the crime charged against him, or take the alternative of imprisonment and hard labor, with the "cat" well applied, is let loose again among us. The moral tone of the community, and the hitherto general belief in the sound administration of impartial justice in the colony have been damaged. In this case the popular belief is that gold saved George Proudfoot from what he feared most, namely — corporal punishment. There is every appearance of there having been — we blush to write — "one law for the rich and another for the poor." Let those who permitted this great wrong reflect that the almighty dollar is not always almighty and that if we are to become accustomed to see justice tampered with, and the criminal law improperly put in force, the next step will be to carry our grievances to Judge Lynch. This is the inevitable result of conduct such as that shown over Proudfoot's case, and we can only hope that Ministers will be severely taken to task about it next session. Above every other social and political duty stands this one pre-eminent, to preserve the administration of justice among us untainted, impartial, and without respect of high or low, rich or poor, gentle or boor."  -Hawke's Bay Herald, 20/2/1878.

Isabella Angus presumably arrived in Britain and continued her life.  I have no further information concering her.

George Proudfoot did not leave Dunedin immediately after his trials.  Perhaps he felt himself safe with the family fortune behind him.  In 1883 he is referred to as "owner of the Dunedin tramways," but is in New South Wales.  His brother Daivd, the real power behind the family business, had moved to New South Wales in 1883, becoming bankrupt in 1885.  In 1889 the brothers were in court there, suing a bank for L10,000 over transactions surrounding the building of the Illawarra Railway.

George survived the death of his brother in 1891 and died in Pyrmont, NSW, in 1920, aged 78.