True Australian crime stories from newspaper reports and historic crime records.
Judge Orders 9 Rapists Hung
Tuesday 30th November 1886:
Rapists To Be Hanged
Nine youths, found guilty of raping a 16-year-old servant girl on 9th September at Moore Park, Sydney, have been sentenced to hang. The extraordinary week-long trial has involved sittings of up to 18 hours a day. Just before midnight last night Judge Sir William Windeyer brought down the death-sentences on William Hill, Hugh Miller, George Keegan, George Duffy, William Newman, Michael Donnellan, Joseph Martin, William Boyce and George Read. Cab driver Charles Sweetman was sentenced to 14 years gaol and 50 lashes for his part in the crime.
He took her to Waterloo where he tried to assault her
Mary Jane Hicks, a stranger to Sydney, was looking for work when a cab driver stopped and offered to take her to the registry office. Although she initially resisted, he insisted and, once she had gotten in, he took her to Waterloo where he tried to assault her. When she screamed some youths, whom she thought rescuers, came to the cab. They led her to nearby bushland on Mount Rennie, in Moore Park, where the gang repeatedly raped her.
Two male passers-by tried to intervene, but they were run off by the youths. One of the men reported the incident to the police. Meanwhile the youths had dragged the girl to another site where they again raped her. She eventually became unconscious and when the police arrived the youths ran off.
In a statement for the court Miss Hicks defended her reputation. 'I have never cohabited with men of questionable character; up to the time of the occurance at Moore Park on Thursday last I had maintained purity of person,' she said.
In sentencing the nine youths to death, Judge Windeyer said the crime was the outcome of a culmination of similar rapes which had gone largely unpunished due to false evidence or 'mistaken leniency.'
'Outrages such as this are not committed upon the children of the rich, the surroundings of whose life give their children protection, but upon the daughters of the people, who in the pursuit of their honest avocations are compelled to go about alone, exposed to the attacks of such gangs of ruffians as choose to assault them. Under all these circumstances be sure no pity will be extended to you; our pity must be reserved for te homes that are desolated and the victims who are wrecked for life by outrages such as these. I warn you not to waste your time in idle protestations of your innocence. I advise you to prepare to meet your maker,' the judge said.
In sentencing the cab driver, Charles Sweetman, Judge Windeyer told the prisoner he was, to a large extent, responsible for the crime. 'You are the first cause of this infamous crime, and must be held responsible for it to a very great extent...
'It was an outrageous thing that young women could not go about the streets without being exposed to outrages such as this... As far as I can I will make you a warning to others, and will let girls feel that the strong arm of the law is round to protect them... The sentence of the Court is that you be kept in penal servitude for the term of 14 years, and be twice whipped, the first time on December 20th next, and the second time on April 1st, 25 strokes each. You seem not to be a very strong man, or I should have ordered more.'