James Francis Xavier Bartlett (recorded aliases - John Ward, John Driscoll)
- Occupation listed as Carpenter
- Sallow Complexion
- Height 5' 4"
- Prisoner #: 25806
- record of prior conviction 1896 (details currently unknown)
Trial Report 1893
Date: Wednesday 8th February 1893
Court: Beechworth General Sessions
Trial Judge: Judge Worthington
Clerk of Courts: Mr. Dickson
Crown Prosecutor: Mr. G.L. Smyth
Case: False Pretences
James Bartlett was arraigned on a charge of obtaining goods and money from
Arthur McConnell at Yarrawonga on 3rd December 1892 by means of false
pretences. He pleaded not guilty and expressed a hope that His Honor would
help him as far as he could as he had no funds by means of which to provide
himself with legal assistance.
The following jury was empanelled:
Messrs: John Ballard (foreman)
The Crown Prosecutor having briefly stated the case for the prosecution
called the following evidence:-
Arthur McConnell deposed that he was a storekeeper carrying on a business
at Yarrawonga. On the 3rd December the accused came to his place of business
and was brought to him by his assistant. He said his name was John Smith,
and this was that of the payer on the cheque which he had presented in
payment of goods which he had purchased. I asked him if he were John Smith
and he said he was, and that he had just come from Wagga. The cheque was
for £27. 5s. and purported to be drawn by John Tyson. Prisoner got goods
to the value of £7 1s. and I gave my assistant the difference between that
amount and the amount of the cheque to give to the prisoner. From what the
witness afterwards heard he handed the cheque to the police. He found that
there was really no branch of the Commercial Banking Company at Balranald.
He identified several of the notes produced as part of those which he had
handed to his assistant to give the prisoner.
Charles O'Connor, storeman in the employ of Mr. McConnell, gave evidence to
the effect that on the 3rd December the prisoner came to the store,
selected some goods and tendered the cheque to Mr. McConnell who cashed it.
Witness gave the cheque to the prisoner. He said he came from Queensland
with a mob of cattle and had been eighteen weeks on the road. I asked him
why he did not get the cheque cashed before and he said that he had enough
of loose cash for his requirements, and that Tyson's cheques were always
and anywhere as good as cash.
Hedrick Henry Streat, bank manager of Mulwala, deposed that there was no
such bank in New South Wales as that on which the cheque purported to be
drawn. He knew Mr. Tyson but did not know his signature. He compared the
prisoner's signature with that on the cheque and believed both were written
by the same person.
George Brunett Hall, manager of the Bank of New South Wales Yarrawonga,
identified the cheque. There was no branch of the Commercial Banking Co.
at Balranald. He identified the signature on the cheque as having been
written by the same person who signed the property sheet at the police
James Slattery deposed that he was a mounted constable of police stationed
at St. James's. On Sunday 4th December he started in pursuit of the prisoner
and overtook him at Bungeet on the road to Benalla. I told him I intended
to arrest him for having forged cheques at various places. I opened a bundle
that the prisoner had and he refused to admit that the things were his.
I searched him and found £19 in notes and 12s. 3d. in silver.
At the Tungamah Police Court on the 12th September the prisoner made a
statement to the effect that he had forged various cheques, one in the
name of William Thompson, one in the name of O'Callaghan, two in the name
of James Tyson in the Shepparton district, and four in the name of the same
gentleman at Albury, two in the name of H.B. Whittingham, and four others in
the name of James Tyson. There were fourteen cheques altogether which he
admitted having forged and uttered.
John Thomas Fahey, mounted constable of police, deposed that at the Tungamah
Police Court the prisoner wished to plead guilty and acknowledge other
offences. He afterwards said he was glad he had been arrested as he wished
to lead a better life in future.
This was the case for the prosecution.
Prisoner having been duly cautioned elected to be sworn and made a rambling
statement in his defence. He also handed in a written document of an
elaborate character, commencing - "I am a dull, stupid man mentally," and
making very elaborate and plausible explanations of the position in which
he had placed himself.
His Honor having summed up, explaining the law in its relation to the charge
of false pretences, the jury retired and after deliberating returned
a verdict of guilty. The prisoner was remanded for sentencing.
Case: Forgery & Uttering
James Bartlett pleaded not guilty to both counts of an indictment in which
he was charged with the forgery and uttering of a cheque.
The following jury was empanelled:
Messrs: J. W. Boucher (foreman)
H. J. Clements
Alex McPhial deposed that he was a booking-clerk for Mr. Geddes,
a storekeeper at Shepparton. On the 23rd December 1890, the prisoner came
to him with a cheque for which he wanted goods. I took the cheque to
Mr. Geddes and the prisoner endorsed it. The cheque purported to be drawn
by W. Thompson of Nathalia and was for £15 17s. The prisoner said his name
was John Driscoll and signed that name across the cheque.
Patrick Ball, clerk in the Bank of Victoria at Nathalia, deposed that
Mr. Thompson had no account at that branch.
William Thompson, farmer of Yulca, deposed that the cheque was not signed
by him. He knew no other William Thompson in the district.
Thomas Geddes, storekeeper at Shepparton, deposed that about
December 22nd 1890 the prisoner was at his store and stated that he had been
working for Mr. William Thompson and had got the cheque for wages. It was
returned from the bank marked "No Account".
Mounted constable Slattery, stationed at St. James, deposed to the arrest.
Prisoner made a voluntary written acknowledgement of forgery but His Honor
ruled that under the circumstances this was not admissable.
Constable Fahey deposed that at the Tungamah Police Court the prisoner
made a voluntary criminatory statement which the constable took down
Prisoner elected to give evidence on oath, in which he stated that he had
cashed a cheque with Mr. Geddes for £6. 6s. 8d. on November 20th. Mr. Geddes
admitted that he did not remember this, and did not remember him and this
being so, it was not likely that he could remember him with sufficient
distinctness to swear to his identity after the longer lapse of time.
His Honor summed up, and the jury after deliberating returned a verdict
of guilty. The prisoner was remanded for sentencing.
Source: Ovens & Murray Advertizer Saturday 11th February 1893
Trial Report 1893
Date: Thursday 9th February
Court: Beechworth General Sessions
Trial Judge: Judge Worthington
Case: False Pretences.
James Bartlett who had been convicted on the previous day of two charges
of obtaining goods and money by false pretences was brought up for sentence.
In reply to the usual question the prisoner said he recognized his mere
unsupported statement would necessarily count for nothing and therefore
he did not consider it necessary to say anything in mitigation of sentence.
His Honor reminded the prisoner that the jury had evidently given close
attention to the statement he had made on the previous day. They had
certainly given careful consideration to all that he had urged by way
Prisoner asked if he could obtain a copy of the depositions. His Honor
asked what good a copy of the depositions would be now that the case
Prisoner replied that because he had failed on the previous day to relent
the evidence for the prosecution he did not regard the failure as complete.
He hoped even yet to be able to obtain evidence that would establish
But you might have called witnesses. You had plenty of time.
If you had intimated to the authorities that you desired to
call witnesses every facility would have been afforded you.
Prisoner replied that His Honor might perhaps not be aware that the
facilities given to those detained in penal establishments of the colony
for demonstrating that they were innocent of the charges brought against
them were not very great. Any steps that he might now take would perhaps
not do him much good. Still he had a friend who would work for him and it
was to help this friend that he wanted a copy of the depositions.
His Honor said that any application of this nature made to the proper
authorities would be sure to receive favourable consideration.
Prisoner requested that His Honor in passing sentence would if he added
solitary confinement not make this portion of the punishment commence
immediately. His reason for making this request was that he had to plead
to other charges at Bendigo at the next sittings of the court there and
he wanted to be able to prepare his defence.
His Honor said prisoner had been convicted on two charges anf the scheme
by which he obtained the goods and money was a very cleverly constructed
one. The sentence was twelve months imprisonment with hard labour in each
case, the sentences to be concurrent.
Mr. McConnell applied to the court for an order that the goods found in
posession of the prisoner together with the money, £19. 13s 3d, balance
of the change given for the forged cheque might be returned to him.
His Honor said there was no doubt whatever that both the money and goods
were the property of Mr. McConnell.
Source: Ovens & Murray Advertizer Saturday 18th February 1893
Trial Report 1893
Date: February 16
Court: Bendigo Assize Court
Case: Tyson Cheque Frauds.
John Ward (alias James Bartlett) who in November 1892 uttered three cheques
on, Messrs. Parry & Co., Messrs. Whan & Co., and Mr. J. Ikin for £25.7s. each
purporting to be signed by James Tyson of Glenemu station New South Wales,
was placed on trial and convicted on two counts. The third count was abandoned
by the Crown. Mr. Helm, who prosecuted, remarked that the prisoner was already
serving sentences for other offences. The prisoner vehemently requested
that the third case should be proceeded with stating that it was his wish
that it should proceed.
His Honor however informed him that the Crown having abandoned it, it would
not be proceeded with. The prisoner said that had he sufficient time he could
procure such evidence as would show that he could not have been in Bendigo
on the date that the cheques were uttered. He was remanded for sentence.
Source: Bendigo Advertizer Friday 17th February 1893
Trial Report 1893
Date: February 17
Court: Supreme Court Bendigo
Sentence: 3 years hard labour with solitary confinement
Trial Judge: Mr. Justice Hodges
Judges Associate: Mr. H. Pearson
Acting Crown Prosecutor: Dr. Quick
James Bartlett (alias Ward) who had been convicted on two charges of
forgery and uttering had nothing to say in answer to the usual question
by the associate.
His Honor said that so far as the offences were concerned he might have
been disposed to regard them as acts done in a moment of temptation, but
on the prisoners own statement and his demeanour to the witnesses
who were evidently telling the truth, he (His Honor) was convinced that
such was not the case. The prisoner had evidently dtermined to set
the law at defiance and it would be necessary for a somewhat severe
sentence to be passed on him.
Prisoner was then sentenced to three years hard labour with the
first 3 days of each of the last 6 months to be spent in solitary
confinement on each charge. His Honor said that the sentences would
be concurrent but would not commence until the expiration of the
sentence he is at present undergoing.
The prisoner asked his Honor to which department he could forward the
depositions of witnesses who could prove that the charges on which
he had been convicted were groundless. If his Honor considered this
an idle boast he could treat it as such.
His Honor said that the proper course for the prisoner to adopt would
be to refer to the Attorney-General who would forward any papers to
the Executive Council.
Source: Bendigo Advertizer Saturday 18th February 1893
Trial Report 1897
Date: Thursday 9th December 1897
Court: Wangaratta General Sessions
Trial Judge: Judge Casey
Case: Bethanga Post Office Robbery
Crown Prosecutor: Mr. Gurner
Defence Attorney: Mr. Jones
Samuel Butt and James Bartlett were charged with breaking into
a counting-house and stealing at Bethanga on the 7th November.
Both prisoners pleaded not guilty.
The following jury was empanelled:-
Messrs: W.H. Atkinson (foreman)
All witnesses were ordered out of court.
Senior warder W. Clark, Beechworth Gaol deposed that the prisoners had been
in the gaol for three weeks and during that time they had not been shaved
and consequently their appearance had slightly altered. They had opportunity
to be shaved and had refused.
Stephen Carkeek deposed: I am manager of an hotel in Albury.
On the 6th November I came up from Melbourne by train. Saw prisoner Butt
in the train at Benalla, he got in the same compartment. He told me he was
going up the line and expected to meet a friend. He said he would stay at
my hotel at Albury. On stopping at Springhurst we got out and had a drink.
He had a bicycle with him which he took out and put in the express. He came
to my place at 12 o'clock. He brought the prisoner Bartlett with him. They
stayed all night. Butt had the bicycle with him. I went out after dinner.
Both prisoners left without paying their accounts. Noticed a parcel tied
under the bicycle, it was long and about 2 or 3 inches thick. The jemmy
produced could have been contained in it. Butt said he might go to the
Wagga races on the 9th. The appearance of prisoners has been altered,
they have both grown beards.
Geo. Alfred Clarke deposed: I am a butcher at Wahgunyah.
I stayed at Mr. Carkeeks hotel on the 6th November. I saw Butt there. He
had a bicycle. There was a bag or parcel between the two wheels.
James Le Soeur deposed: I am a carter at Albury.
On the 7th November I was coming into Albury in the evening and passed
two men on the way near the Junction Hotel. One of them had a bicycle.
I recognise Bartlett but I am not sure of Butt who was leading a bicycle.
I did not see his face. From Wodonga to Bethanga would be about 15 miles.
There were some parcels attached to the bicycle in front.
Philip Newman deposed:
On the 7th November saw a man with a bicycle between 7 and half-past.
He passed the hotel. There was another man coming along at the same time.
He came in for a bottle of beer and took it to the man on the bicycle.
I went up to them and talked to them for about 5 minutes. I noticed that
the left handle rubber was off. There were two clips on the back axle
.. like rests. A man could stand on them and ride at the back. One of the
men told me his name. Saw the men walk up the hill and when they got to
the top the taller man got on the bicycle and the other man got on behind.
There were two parcels on the bicycle. One in front wrapped up in a football
handkerchief resembling th eone produced. Prisoner Butt resembles the man
I saw. Bartlett resembles the man who got the beer. Neither of them had
beards at the time.
John Earnest Cummins, a boy 12 years old deposed that he was in the paddock
on November 7th half way between Wodonga and Bethanga, and saw two men with
a bicycle between them going towards Bethanga. It was getting dark at the time.
One man was a little taller than the other. The prisoners resemble the 2 men.
Neddy Wheeler, an aboriginal deposed that he was a fisherman at Wodonga.
He was camped out on the road to Bethanga. One Sunday night he saw two men pass
between 8 and 9 o'clock. They were both on a bicycle. One man was pedalling
and the other was standing up behind. They were going towards Bethanga which
was four miles away. This was about four weeks ago.
* At this stage the court adjourned for lunch. *
Robert D. Cole deposed: I am postmaster and clerk of petty sessions
at Bethanga. The post office has two doors, one leading from a passage
in front and the other out the back. There was a small safe 3 ft. x 2 ft.
weighing about 3« cwt. in the post office. You could not see the safe from
the lobby. (A plan of the post office was handed in).
On the 7th November I locked up the safe.
There were at that time in the safe:
Postal Notes to the value of £24. 2s. 5d.
Cash £106. 6s 1d. cosisting of bank notes, gold and about £25 silver
There were also two cheques. Locked up the safe, put the key in my pocket
and left the office by the back door and locked it. I reside about 20 feet
from the post office. On going to the office next morning the door was open.
The table had been moved to the to the front of the other door and the safe
gone. A window was opened nine inches. A man could have gotten in at the
window. All the windows had been tried. Found a chisel on the instrument
table. Sent for the police. On the floor was a bullls-eye lantern (produced).
There was also a brace and a jemmy found about the place. Saw the safe in
a cutting about 8 o'clock. It was upside down with the door blown off.
Recovered my stamps and postal notes and about £1. 2s. 9d. in change.
I have seen Bartlett three times during the last 3 months. The last time
he was in my office he came in at the back door and I asked him what he
wanted. He told me he wanted the hall and I told him I would see him
by and by. In the evening he came in again and told me he wanted to ask
a few favours of me. He asked me about his brother who was a blind flautist.
Whilst we were talking he was writing notes in a pocketbook similar to the
one produced. He told me he was writing replies to my questions. Saw him
again on the 11th October. He told me he had come from Tallangatta. He again
came into the office at the back door. In the pocketbook produced there is
a plan of the hall and post office. There is a place marked where the safe is.
To Mr. Jones: I know Bartlett as the advance agent for the blind troupe.
Arthur Retallick deposed: I was a telegraph messenger at Bethanga.
I had seen Bartlett in the Post office at Bethanga. I saw him talking to
Mr. Cole and writing in a small book.
Jos. H. Bracksley deposed: I am a miner at Bethanga. I live about 100 yards
from the post office. I was up late on Sunday night 7th November. I saw
two men about half-past one. It was bright moonlight. I watched the men
for about five minutes and went back again after 2 or 3 minutes and they
were gone. Afterwards I heard a squeaky noise as if something was going
along the road such as a wheelbarrow. After I went to sleep I heard an
explosion. There was a wheelbarrow standing near my place. One of the men
would be about Butt's height. The next morning I saw the safe in a hole
near my place. The door was blown to atoms. There was a wheelbarrow
W.H. Sherrard gave evidence as to the plan of the post office and
the sketch in Bartlett's book.
W.T. Chapel deposed that he was going towards Bethanga with a team
on the morning of the 8th November and met two men with a bicycle.
Butt was one of the men but he could not swear to Bartlett.
H.L. Bougher deposed that he was a clerk at the Wodonga Railway Station.
He knew Butt, and saw a man whom I afterwards recognized to be Butt.
He booked a bicycle to Melbourne in the name of O'Brien. His ticket
was to Craigiebourne.
Chas. J. Davey, railway porter Wodonga, gave evidence that he saw Butt
on the station with a bicycle. He took him in to book his bike. His
ticket was to Craigiebourne but he said he intended to rebook at that
place. He told me to put on the name of F. O'Brien. He looked warm and
tired as if he had done a long ride. He immediately recognized him
when he came up to the court at Wodonga.
Francis James Ryan, railway porter Craigiebourne, deposed that the ticket
produced was issued at Craigiebourne to Wodonga on the 6th November.
This was the only ticket issued to Wodonga on that day. A bicycle was
also booked to Wodonga by prisoner Butt and he webt by the same train as
the bicycle which was booked in the name of F. O'Brien. He came back on
the Monday and signed for the bicycle in the name of F. O'Brien.
Edward Rosseau, stationmaster Wodonga deposed:
I was on duty on 8th November. I saw Butt on the station about 5.30 am.
I also saw a bicycle on the platform. It was a Rebird and had the tip
of the left handle missing. I should say that it was not a difficult matter
for one bicyclist to carry a man on his bicycle behind him.
Detective Guthrie gave evidence as to the arrest of the prisoner Butt at
Warrnambool. He stated that he had not been out of Melbourne during the
6th, 7th & 8th November.
Constable Teague gave evidence as to the chisel marks on the window of
the post office at Bethanga. He also noticed a difference in the appearance
of both prisoners. Witness repeated several conversations which occurred
between the prisoners and himself.
Mary Gallagher, housemaid Coffee Palace Brunswick, gave evidence that
Bartlett was staying at the said place and he was absent on the 6th,
7th & 8th November. When he came back he asked for a piece of rag
to tie up his hand as he had hurt in in falling from a bicycle.
Mrs. Judson, manageress of Oriental Coffee Palace North Melbourne deposed
that Bartlett stayed at her place and settled up with her after dinner on
Saturday 6th November. He returned on Monday for dinner.
Herbert Herbertson deposed that he was a salesman at McEwans, Melbourne.
He sold a lamp to a man on November 6th.
Albert Major, another salesman at McEwans deposed that he sold a chisel
and brace on the morning of November 6th. He could not say that either
of the prisoners was the purchaser.
Constable McGowan gave evidence that he saw prisoner Bartlett on the
Benalla platform on Saturday 6th November. He was present at the police
station when Bartlett's properties were taken possession of. He stated
that the plan in the small book was one for bill posting.
Detective Burvett gave evidence that he received the little blue book
with Bartlett's property. He said that the plan referred to bill posting.
There is an entry on date of 7th October. Nothing relating to Bethanga
or music. On the 19th October there is a lot of dots.
M.J. Bannon, detective Melbourne gave evidence as to the arrest of Bartlett.
Constable Webley gave evidence as to taking charge of the implements used
at the post office Bethanga.
Senior Constable Hayes, Bright, deposed that he saw Bartlett
on the 16th October at Bright. He was then clean shaved but had a large
Jas. Haslam, billiard marker Star Hotel Harrietville, deposed that he saw
prisoner Bartlett at Harrietville on the 18th October. Butt was with him
and they had a bicycle.
Constable Sheery gave evidence that he saw Bartlett at Harrietville on
the 18th October.
Jeremiah McMahon, labourer Beechworth, deposed that he was locked up on
the 1st December for drunkeness. Heard conversations between prisoners
with regard to the safe robbery. He said he would have taken the stamps
as well as the rrest. Bartlett said the stamps would put you away - it
was better to go for the brass. They asked about the distances between
the various places. Butt said the post office safe ought to be pretty good
and I said it probably would be after pay night. Bartlett said that Butt
ought to have cleared out when he had the chance, and Butt said he did
not care to leave his wife and family while he was free. Bartlett said
that they could look after themselves same as they did when he was in
Pentridge for three years.
Mr. Jones addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoners, and spoke for
about an hour and a quarter. He did not call any evidence.
His Honor, in summing up, dwelt on the points that Butt had denied
his absence from Melbourne on the dates of the robbery. He had also been
unableto account as to where he was on those dates. Also that Bartlett
had forced himself into the private quarters of the postmaster at Bethanga
on three occasions, on one of which he had made a sketch of the building
under the pretence of taking answers to questions.
The jury retired and after an absence of 40 minutes returned with a verdict
of Guilty against both prisoners.
When asked by His Honor if they had anything to say why sentenced should
not be passed, prisoner Butt said that as God was his Judge he was not
guilty of this charge. He trusted that justice would be tempered with mercy
and that His Honor would remember his wife and four children who would
now become a burden on the State.
"All I have to say is that some of the vilest perjury has been committed
to encompass my conviction."
The following previous convictions were then read out and acknowledged by
Samuel Butt - Supreme Court Melbourne
26th July 1893 - Shopbreaking - 4 years hard labour with periods of
James Bartlett - General Sessions Beechworth
9th February 1893 - False Pretences - 12 months hard labour
Forgery - 12 months hard labour (concurrent)
James Bartlett - Assize Court Bendigo
16th February 1893 - Forgery & Uttering - 3 years hard labour with periods
of solitary confinement.
a Second Offence - 3 years hard labour concurrent
with the last sentence
His Honor said that with regard to Butt, if he had told the police where
he was on the dates of this robbery the police would have tried to find
the real burglar if he were innocent. With regard to his wife and four
children, if these were to be considered all the post offices in the
country might be closed up. He had managed to get out of part of his
sentence of 4 years, and with the assistance of a bike which placed great
power in the hands of a burglar. The case reflected great credit on the
police from the manner in which it had been worked up.
With regard to Bartlett, why he should think there was no use in speaking
he could not see. If he had adhered to the truth he would always find he
would be able to keep out of disgrace.
He had to look at the case from this point: They were clever criminals.
They were hardly out of gaol than they got into trouble again. There was
one thing they would find out, they would be more severely punished on
every occasion they were brought up. The sentence of the court is that
they be each imprisoned for 8 years with hard labour.
Source: Ovens & Murray Advertizer Saturday 11th December 1897 (page 9)
1913 - Arrested at South Wharf
- Assault of Police Officer whilst D & D.