Page images
PDF
EPUB

1. To murder, Send or deliver. 1-Dropping a letter in a man's way, that he may pick or to destroy, it up, is a sending it to him. (R. v. Wagstaff, R. & R. C. C. R. 398.) &c. Property. In Lloyd's case (2 East's P. C. 1122), the letter was dropped in a vestry

- room, frequented by the prosecutor every Sunday morning, where it was What a sending

picked up by the sexton, and given to the prosecutor; and Mr. Justice or delivery.

Yates had no doubt but this was a sending, within the act.

So, in Jepson and Springett's case (Id. post, 251,) the letter was throwo into the prosecutor's yard, from whence it was taken up by the prosecutor's servant, and delivered to him.

And it was a sending within the 27 Geo. II. c. 15, though the party sa the prisoner drop the letter, if the prisoner did not think the party knen him, and intended he should not. (R. v. Wagstaff, R. &. R. C. C. 398.)

So, where the prosecutor, having received such a letter, traced it toi woman who was in the habit of going of errands for the prisoners in Newgate, and she proved that she received it from the defendant, then : prisoner in Newgate, to put in the post office, and the servant of the pos office proved that the letter in question was brought to the office by th last witness, and forwarded in the regular course; this was holden sufficien evidence, not only of the sending by the defendant, but that he also kner its contents. (R. v. Girdwood, 2 East's P. C. 1120; 1 Leach, 142, S.C.

To have brought the offence within 27 Geo. II. c. 15, the letter mue have been sent to the person threatened, and so stated in the indictment but the twelve judges intimated, that if a letter threatening A. is sent t B., and the prisoner intended that he should deliver it to A., and he doe so deliver it, this is a sending it by the prisoner to A., and may be charge as such. (R. v. Paddle, R. & R. C. C. R. 484 ; R. v. Dunkley, R. & M C. C. 90. See R. v. Howe, 7 C. & P. 268, supra.)

A delivery of a letter was not within the former statutes upon the sub ject, (R. v. Hammond, 2 East's P. C. 1119; 2 Leach, 499, S. C.) but now a delivery of the letter, with the knowledge of its contents, is within the

express terms of the present statute. Nature of the Any Letter or Writing with or without any Name or Signature subscribe letter or writing. thereto, or with a fictitious Name or Signature. By the wording of the

prior statutes, 9 Geo. I. and 27 Geo. II., it was no offence if the defendant did not conceal himself. Therefore, sending a threatening letter without any name subscribed to it, demanding money, was not an offence within the 27 Geo. II. c. 15, (nor is it, it should seem, under the new act,] if the contents of the letter clearly show who was the writer, and that he could have no intention to conceal himself. It was the same in effect as if the party had put his name to it. (Heming's case, Warwick Sum. Ass. 1799, 3 East's P. C. 1116; 1 Leach, 445, n., S. C.)]

In the case of Michael Robinson, who was indicted on these two statutes for sending a letter without any name subscribed thereto, to the prosecutor, demanding a certain valuable thing, viz. a bank note, it appeared that the letter was signed R. R. It was objected (among other things, that this was not within the statutes, because the letter had a name subscribed to it; but all the judges were of opinion that there was no weight in this objection. (2 East's P. C. 1110; 2 Leach, 749, S.C. And see R. v. Wag. staff, R. &. R. C. C. 398.)

By the express terms of the present act, “any letter or writing with or without a name or signature subscribed thereto, or with a fictitious name or signature,” is within the act; and a letter with a real name or signature, would be considered to come within the meaning of the present statute.

Sending a letter to A. B., threatening to burn a house of which he is owner, but let by him to and occupied by a tenant, is not an offence within the statute. Reg. y. Burridge, 2 M. 8. Rob. 296.

In R. v. Haine (6 C. & P. 105), Bolland, B., ordered the letter to be deposited in the hands of the clerk of the peace, in order that the defen

dant's witnesses might inspect it before the trial. Nature of the Threatening to burn Houses, &-c.]-A conviction on the now repealedi

threat.

xt, 27 Geo. II. c. 15, for sending a letter to the prosecutor, threatening 1. To murder, " to set fire to his mill, and likewise to do all the public injury they were or to destroy, able to bim in all his farm and seteres,” was held wrong, he not then &c. Property. having any mill to which the threat of burning would apply (having parted wyth it three years before), and the threat as to the farm, &c. not necessarily implying a burning. John Jepson and George Spring'!t were isdicted upon the act now repealed, 27 Geo. II. c. 15, fce sending to the prosecutor, Mr. Woodgate, a letter according to the following effect:

" March 3rd, 1798. Mr. Woodgate.-Sir, I am very sorry to acquaint you that we are determised to set your mill on fire, and likewise to do all the public injury that we are able to do you in all your farms and seteres which you are in possession of,

itbout you on next day release that Ann Wood, which you put in refinement. Sir, we mention in a few lines, and we hope, if you have any regard for your wife and family, you will take our meaning without anything arther; and if you do not, we will persist as far as we possibly can, so you may 15 foar band at your heart, and strive your uttermost ruin. I shall not mention othing more to you until such time as you find the few lines a fact. With our respect. So no more at this time from me.

R. R.” It was proved that the letter was in the handwriting of Jepson, and that it was thrown by the other prisoner into Mr. Woodgate's yard, from wbence it was taken by a servant of Mr. Woodgate, and delivered to him. Mr. Woodgate swore that he had a share in a mill three years before as letter was written, but had no mill at that time; that he held a farm when the letter was written and came to his hands, and still holds it, with several buildings upon it. It was objected that this was not such a Etter as comprehended the offence in the act of parliament, 27 Geo. II.

15. At a conference of the judges after conviction, in Michaelmas Term, 1798, (absent Eyre, C. J.,) it was agreed that, the prosecutor maning no such property at the time, as the mill which was threatened to be burnt, that part of the letter must be laid out of the question ; but as to the rest of it, Lord Kenyon, C. J., and Buller, J., were of opinion that the letter must be understood as also importing a threat to burn the Hosecutor's farm-house and buildings; but the other judges not thinking

at a necessary construction, the conviction was holden wrong, and a pardon recommended. (2 East, P. C. 1115.)

But, in the case of R. v. Girdwood, a letter accusing the prosecutor of kasing taken away the life of a friend of the writer's who was come to Petenge kim, was ruled to be evidence to go to the jury, upon a charge of sending a letter threatening to kill and murder the prosecutor.

Whether the letter amount to a threat to kill or murder, is a fact to be setermined by the jury. (R. v. Girdwood, 2 East's P. C. 1121. And see £T. Tyler, i Moody, Ć. C. 428; R. v. Tucker, post, 253; R. v. Boucher, 4

C. & P. 563.)

Indictment.]-The indictment must set forth the threatening letter, in Indictment for. order that the court may judge whether it falls within the purview of the respective statutes. (Lloyd's case, 1787; 2 East's P. C. 1123. See further * Indictment,” Vol. III.)

The party may be tried in the county where the letter was delivered to Venue.
lhe prosecutor, though written by the prisoner, and by him sent, in another
coanty. (Girdwood's case, 2 East's P. C. 1120.)

And the offence of sending a threatening letter may be laid in the county where it is delivered by the post. An indictment on the 30 Geo. II. kunst two defendants for sending a letter to the prosecutor, threatening to accuse himn of an unnatural crime, with intent to extort money from him, laid the offence in Middlesex, but the letter was dated from Maidstone in Kent. The sending it was proved by the defendant's confession. I was objected, that as the letter was dated and sent by the post from Maidstone, the fact of the sending, which constituted the offence, was committed in Kent, and the indictment would not lie in Middlesex. But

2. To extort Money, &c.

Lord Mansfield, C. J., held that, as it was directed to the prosecutor in
Middlesex, where it was delivered, that was a sending in Middlesex; for
the whole was to be considered as the act of the defendant, to the time of
the delivery in that county. (R. v. Esser, 2 East's P. C. 1125; R. 7.
Burdett, ante, Libel,Vol. III.; Indictment,” Vol. III.: 7 Geo. IV
c. 64, s. 12.)

And it seems the prisoner may be tried in the county in which the pri soner sends the letter, though the prosecutor may receive it in anothe county. The offence described in the 9 Geo. I. č. 22, and 27 Geo. 1] c. 15, is that of sending the threatening letter; it should seem, therefoni that the offence is complete, as far as depends on the prisoner, by hi putting the letter into the post-office, to go into another county. By th act of putting the letter into the post-office, in the county of A., be sent it (in the language of the statutes) to the prosecutor, though the latte may afterwards receive it in the county of B.

II. Threats to stort Money, &r. As to menaces with intent to steal, see Robbery," Vol. V “ Assault,Vol. I.

As to the offence of actually obtaining money, &c., by threatening i

accuse another of an unnatural crime, seeRobbery," Vol. V. Letters demand. By stat. 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, sect. 8, “ If any person shall knot ing money, &c.

ingly send or deliver any letter or writing, demanding of any persat

with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause, an Accusations and

chattel, money, or valuable security ; or if any person shall accuse o threats of accusa. tion of certain

4 threaten to accuse, or shall knowingly send or deliver any letter a crimes.

writing, accusing or threatening to accuse any person of any crim punishable by law with death, transportation, or pillory, or of an assault with intent to commit any rape, or of any attempt or endeavou to commit any rape, or of any infamous crime, as hereinafter definer

[sect. 9], with a view or intent to extort or gain from such person any Transportation chattel, money, or valuable security; every such offender shall be for life, or impri

guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable, at the dissonment.

cretion of the court, to be transported beyond the seas for life, or for any term not less than seven years, or to be imprisoned for any term not ex. ceeding four years, and, if a male, to be once, twice, or thrice publicly or privately whipped (if the court shall so think fit), in addition to such im

prisonment." What shall be Sect. 9. “ The abominable crime of buggery, committed either with deemed infamous

mankind or with beast, and every assault with intent to commit the said crimes.

abominable crime, and every attempt or endeavour to commit the said abominable crime, and every solicitation, persuasion, promise, or threat, offered or made to any person, whereby to move or induce such person to commit or permit the said abominable crime, shall be deemed to be an

infamous crime within the meaning of this act." General clauses. See the general clauses affecting all the provisions of this act, ante,

" Larceny, Vol. III. Punishment of By the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, s. 4, ante, Vol. III. to the punishment of hard Jabour or

imprisonment, may be added hard labour and solitary confinement, for solitary continement.

the whole or any part of the term. But by 7 Will. IV. and i Vict. C. 90, s. 5, such confinement shall not exceed one month at any one time,

nor six months in any one year. Sentence to com. If the convict be already under sentence of transportation or imprisonmence after end of

d of ment, the sentence may commence after the expiration of the former serformer sentence.

tence (7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 28, s. 10, ante, Malicious Injuries to Property,"

Vol. III). Offence not By the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 28, s. 1, this offence is not triable at the sessions. triable at sessions.

As to what will amount to a guilty knowledge of sending, and the 2. To extort rending a letter, within the meaning of the eighth section of the 7 & 8 Money, &c. Geo. IV. c. 29, see ante, p. 252. Where the letter contained a request only, but intimated that, if it were Points as to of

fence, not complied with, the writer would publish a certain libel then in his possession, accusing the prosecutor of murder, this was holden to amount to a demand. (R. v. Robinson, 2 Leach, 749; 2 East's P. C. 1110.) But it is not necessary, under this branch of the statute, that the letter should contain a threat: if it appear to demand money, &c., in the strict sense of the word, it is sufficient to bring it within the act. A mere request, however, such as asking charity, or the like, without imposing any conditions, would not come within the meaning of the word “demand" in the talute. (Per Buller, J., S. C.)

Where an anonymous letter stated that the writer had overheard certain persons agree together to do an injury to the person and property of the prosecutor, to whom the letter was sent, and that, if thirty sovereigns were laid in a particular place, the writer would give such information, as wonld frustrate the attempt, it was held, that this was not a threatening letter within the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, s. 8; although it appeared that the letter was a mere device to defraud the prosecutor of thirty sovereigns. (R. y. Pickford, 4 C. 8. P. 227).

Whether the letter amount to a threat to accuse the prosecutor of the offence mentioned, is a fact to be determined by the jury. (See R. v. Girdwood, 2 East's P. C. 1121).

If the terms of the letter are doubtful as to the exact accusations the prisoner meant to threaten, his declarations subsequently made, on being

sked what he meant to impute, are evidence to explain the meaning of the letter. (R. v. Tucker, cor. Twelve Just., 1826 (MS.); Car. C. L.; R. & M. C. C. 134, S. C.)

In Edward Major's case, the indictment charged that the prisoner, Indictment for. intending to extort and gain money from one Augustine Rayner, unlawfully, koowingly, and designedly, sent to the said A. R. a certain letter in wri. tog, &c., thereby threatening, &c.: and then set forth the letter, as follows : “ Sir, I received a letter respecting the bill which I gave you when we parted; and, as you know, I have it not in my power to pay it, and, if I had, it is an unjust demand. I have only to observe, that if you do not immediately return it to me as an acknowledgment for the obscene offence of sodomy attempted upon me, &c., I am determined to prosecute you to the utmost rigour of the law, &c. (Signed) E. Major, (and dated) June 1st, 1796 :" with a view and intent to extort and gain money from the ud A. R.; against the form of the statute, &c. The judges, on reference to them after conviction, in Michaelmas term, 1796, held the conviction wrong; for the letter was not sent to extort money, but to procure delivery up of the bill. (R. v. Major, 2 East's P. C. 1118.)

An indictment on the eighth section of the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, must, it is submitted, set forth the letter or writing sent. (See Lloyd's case, ante, 250.)

But it need not specify the infamous crime of which the prosecutor was threatened to be accused; for the specific crime the prisoner threatened to charge might intentionally be left in doubt. (R. v. Tucker, R. 8. M. C.C. 134.)

An indictment charging that the prisoner did feloniously and maliciously, with intent to extort, &c., “menace and threaten to prosecale J. N.;" was not good, under the 4 Geo. IV. c. 54 (ante, p. 249) ; but

the indictment had followed the terms of the statute, and the evidence heen of a threat to prosecute, the judge would leave it to the jury to say Whether that was not a threatening to accuse. (R. v. Abgood, 2 C. 8. P.

An indictment on the statute for demanding money must show by whom it was demanded : and an indictment on the statute for threatening to accuse must show who was threatened. (R. v. Dunkley, R. 8. M. C. C. R. 90.)

3. Forms.

It seems questionable whether a count framed on a letter demanding money will be supported by evidence that the letter was written with a view to extort money. (R. 8. M. C. C. 38; 2 East's P. C. 1110; Leach, C. C. 749. 4th ed., S. C.)

See further, as to the indictment and venue, ante, p. 251.

III. Forms. (1). Commitment

(The county wherein the commitment is made.) J. P. esquire, one of on 4 Geo. IV. c. Her Majesty's justices of the peace for the said county to the constable of 54, s. 3, for send

do in the said county, and to the keeper of the common gaol at , in the rais' ing a letter, threatening to

county. murder or burn, These are to command you the said constable, in Her Majesty's name, farth. &c.

with to convey and deliver into the custody of the said keeper of the main
common gaol the body of C. D., charged this day before me the said justice, en
the oath of A. B. of - , and others, for that he the said C. D., on the
day of

, A. D. at the parish of , in the said county, ktor-
ingly, wilfully, and feloniously, did send [or deliver''] to A. B. a ceria
letter and writing, thereby and therein threatening to kill and murder (v
burn or destroy a certain outhouse of," or "houses, outhouses, barns, stec c.
of corn or grain, or hay or straw, of,according to the fact] the said A. B. ,
against the form of the statute in such case made and provided. And you I ;
said keeper are hereby required to receive the said C. D. into your custody
the same [common gaol], and him there safely to keep until he shall be theo
delivered by due course of law. Herein fail you not. Given under my he
and seal the day of , in the year of our Lord

J. P.

(2). Indictment

(venue)-The jurors for our lady the Queen, upon their oath presen. for a like offence. that C. D., late of the parish of , in the county of labourer, o

the day of , in the year of the reign of our lady the wa
Queen Victoria, with force and arms, at the parish aforesaid, in the conna:
aforesaid, knowingly, wilfully, and feloniously, did send (or * deliver''] a certa
letter (or “ writing') without any name or signature, (or with a certain
titious name or signature, to wit, the name or signature of L. P.," or " with ##
name or signature of "], directed to one A. B., thereby and therein 2.
and there threatening to kill and murder the said A. B. [or" to burn and destr.
a certain house of the said A. B.,” or houses, outhouses, barns, stacks of cou
or grain, hay or straw,” according to the fact], and which said letter and writis
was and is as follows; that is to say, Sir," &c. [here set out the letter per
batim]; against the form of the statute in such case made and prorided, a--
ayainst the peace of our said lady the Queen, her crown and dignity. [AJ
other counts, as the case may suggest, and one for a delivery of the letter,
there be evidence to support it.]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3). Commitment Commencement as usual, as supra)—-on the day of on 7 & 8 Geo, IV.

, at the parish of , in the said county, did with menaces for ** c. 29, s. 6, for demanding mo force"] feloniously demand of and from A. B. the money (or according to tr ney, &c., with fact, “a certain chattel, to wit, ,'or, " a certain valuable security, to tra menaces, with

"'], of him, the said A. B., with intent the said money [" chattel, intent to steal it.

" valuable security"] from the said A. B. then and there feloniously to stes take, and carry away ; against the form of the statute in that case made 31 provided. And you, the said keeper, &c. [as supra, to the end].

14). Indictment

(venue)-The jurors for our lady the Queen upon their oath present, ti. for a like offence. C. D., late of the parish of , in the county of labourer, on the

day of , in the year of the reign of our lady the now Queen Victor:
at the parish aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, with menaces (or" by force *
did maliciously and feloniously demand of and from one A. B. his, the
A. B.'s, money (or “a certain chattel, to wit ," or "a certain raita:
security, to wit "], with a felonious intent the said money, (or " cảetted.
or“ valuable security "1 of the said A. B. then and there feloniously to stes.

« PreviousContinue »