« EdellinenJatka »
acted, s. 7, "that whosoever shall with menaces or by force, demand any property (which word by s. 12, is to denote every thing included under the words "chattel, money or valuable security" in the 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 29,) of any person with intent to steal the same shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding three years."
For the punishment of accessaries under this act, see ante, p. 207, and for the clause empowering the court to award hard labor and solitary confinement, see ante, p. 827.
Upon an indictment under this statute, the prosecutor must prove-1, the demand; 2, the menaces or force; 3, the intent to steal.
Proof of the demand.] There must be evidence that the prisoner demanded some chattel, money, or valuable security; but it does not appear to be necessary that the demand should be made in words, if the conduct of the prisoner amount to a demand in fact. Where the prisoners seized the prosecutor, and one of them said, "Not a word, or I will blow your brains out," and the other repeated the words, and appeared to be searching for some offensive weapon in his pocket, when, upon the prosecutor seizing him, the other prisoner ran away without anything more being said; on an objection that this was no demand, within the repealed statute 7 Geo. 2, c. 21, which enacts, that if any person shall, by menaces or by any forcible manner, demand any money, &c. with intent, &c.) the court said, that an actual demand was not necessary, and that this was a fact for the jury, under all the circumstances of the case. The case was afterwards disposed of on the form of the indictment. Jackson's case, 1 Leach, 267; 1 East, P. C. 419; see 5 T. R. 169.
*In another case upon the same statute, but upon an indictment [*861 ] for an assault with intent to rob, Willes, C. J., made the following observations on the subject of a demand. The circumstances were that the prisoner did not make any demand, or offer to demand the prosecutor's money; but only held a pistol in his hand towards the prosecutor, who was a coachman, on his box; and per Willes, C. J., a man who is dumb may make a demand of money, as if he stop a person on the highway, and put his hat or hand into the carriage, or the like; but in this case the prisoner only held a pistol to the coachman, and said to him nothingbut "stop." That was no such demand of money as the act requires. Parfait's case, 1 East, P. C. 416. Upon this Mr. East justly remarks, that the fact of stopping another on the highway, by presenting a pistol at his breast, is, if unexplained by other circumstances, sufficient evidence of a demand to go to a jury. The unfortunate sufferer understands the language but too well; and why must courts of justice be supposed ignorant of that which common experience teaches to all men? 1 East, P. C. 417; 1 Russell, 619.
Where an indictment stated that the prisoner "feloniously, by menaces did demand the monies of the said J. K." it was held insufficient, because it did not state from whom he had demanded them. Dunkley's case, 1 Moo. C. C. 90 (a).
Proof of the threat or force.] The prosecutor must show that the
(a) 2 Eng. C. C. 90.
demand was made with menaces, or by force. With regard to the menaces, they must be of the same nature, as, if the money had been delivered in consequence of them, would have constituted the offence of robbery. Vide supra. In the same manner the force used must be such as would have been sufficient to render the taking a robbery.
Proof of the intent.] The intent, as in similar cases, will be proved from the circumstances under which the demand was made. The decisions upon the animus furandi in robbery, (vide ante, p. 829) may be referred to as governing the evidence in this case also.
Proof with regard to the thing demanded.] In order to bring the offence within the statute, the thing demanded must be such as the party menaced has the power of delivering up, or is supposed by the offender to have the power of delivering up. Where several persons were indicted for demanding with menaces the money of W. Gee, with intent to steal it, and it appeared that they had by duress extorted from him a check, (which he wrote on a paper furnished by the prisoners,) upon a banker, for large sum of money, the offence was held not to be within the statute. Edwards's case, O. B. 6 C. and P. 515 (a). The prisoners were afterwards charged with demanding by menaces a valuable security for money, but the court held this offence likewise not within the statute, on the ground that the check never was in the peaceable possession of Mr. Gee. Edwards's case, Id. 521.
[ *862] *Where the prisoner in one count of the indictment was charged under the 7 Wm. 4 and 1 Vict. c. 87, s. 7, with demanding the monies of the prosecutor with intent to steal the same, and it appeared that he had actually obtained money from the prosecutor; Law, Recorder, said he should hold that if the menaces were used to obtain money, that count was sustained, although the money was actually obtained. The prisoner was found guilty upon the above count, but was subsequently sentenced upon another count in the same indictment. Norton's case, 8 C. and P. 671 (b); see ante, p. 846.
Statute 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 29.]
The offence of demanding money by a threatening letter was provided against by the statute9 Geo. 1, c. 22, s.
(a) Eng. Com. L. Rep. xxv. 518. (b) Id. xxxiv. 577.
1, which enacted, that if any person or persons should knowingly send any letter without any name subscribed, or with a fictitious name, demanding money, venison, or other valuable thing, he should be guilty of felony without benefit of clergy. This enactment was extended by 27 Geo. 2, c. 15, to threats to kill, or murder, or to burn houses, &c., and by 30 Geo. 2, c. 24, to threats to accuse of any crime punishable with death, transportation, pillory, or other infamous punishments. There were several important differences in the defining of the different offences created by these statutes, which it is not now necessary to specify. See 2 Russell, 579 (n.) These statutes were repealed by the 4 Geo. 4, c. 54, s. 3, and their provisions re-enacted, and the latter statute is also repealed by the 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 27, except so far as relates to any person who shall send or deliver any letter or writing, threatening to kill or murder, or to burn, or destroy, as therein mentioned, or shall be accessary to any such offence, or shall forcibly rescue any person being lawfully in custody for any such offence.
*And now, by the 7 and 8 Geo. 4, c. 29, s. 8, it is enacted, [*863] that if any person shall knowingly send or deliver any letter or writing, demanding of any person with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause, any chattel, money, or valuable security, every such offender being convicted thereof, shall be liable, at the discretion 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 exceeding 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 imprisonment. For the remainder of the section, see post, p. 868.
Upon a prosecution under this clause, viz. for knowingly sending or delivering any letter or writing demanding of any person with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause, any chattel, money, or valuable security, the prosecutor must prove, 1, the knowingly sending or delivering of the letter by the prisoner; 2, the nature of the letter or writing, and that it contains a demand, with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause; and 3, that the demand is of some chattel, money, or valuable security.
Proof of the sending or delivering of the letter or writing.] The sending or delivering of the letter need not be immediately by the prisoner to the prosecutor, if it be proved to be sent or delivered by his means and directions, it is sufficient. Upon an indictment on the repealed statute 27 Geo. 2, c. 15, for sending a threatening letter to William Kirby, it appeared that the threats were, in fact, directed against two persons named Rodwell and Brook. Kirby received the letter by the post. The judges held that as Kirby was not threatened, the judgment must be arrested, but they intimated that if Kirby had delivered the letter to Rodwell or Brook, and a jury should think that the prisoner intended he should so deliver it, this would be a sending by the prisoner to Rodwell or Brook, and would support a charge to that effect. Paddle's case, Russ. and Ry. 484 (a). Where the prisoner dropped the letter upon the steps of the prosecutor's house, and ran away, Abbott, C. J., left it to the jury to say, whether they thought the prisoner carried the
(a) 1 Eng. C. C. 484.
letter and dropped it, meaning that it should be conveyed to the prosecutor, and that he should be made acquainted with its contents, directing them to find him guilty if they were of opinion in the affirmative. Wagstaff's case, Russ. and Ry. 398 (a). So in a case upon the 9 Geo. 1, c. 22, for sending a letter demanding money; Yates, J., observed, that it seemed to be very immaterial whether the letter were sent directly to the prosecutor, or were put into a more oblique course of conveyance by which it might finally come to his hands. The fact was, that the prisoner dropped the letter into a vestry-room, which the prosecutor frequented every Sunday morning before the service began, where the sexton had picked it up, and delivered it to him. Lloyd's case, 2 East, P. C. 1122. In a note upon this case, Mr. East says quare, whether, if one intentionally put a letter in a place where it is likely to be seen and read by the [ *864] party for whom it is intended, or to be found by some other person who, it is expected, will forward it to such party, this may not be said to be a sending to such party? The same evidence was given in Springett's case, (2 East, P. C. 1115,) in support of the allegation of sending a threatening letter to the prosecutor, and no objection was taken on that ground. 2 East, P. C. 1123, (n.) So where the evidence was that the letter was in the handwriting of the prisoner, who had sent it to. the post-office, whence it was delivered in the usual manner; no objection was made. Heming's case, 2 East, P. C. 1116.
It must appear that the prisoner sent or delivered the letter in question, knowing it to be such a letter as is described in the statute. In a case upon the 27 G. 2, c. 15, the evidence was, that the prisoner delivered the letter at the gate of Newgate, to a person who was employed in doing errands for the prisoners; that this person immediately carried it to the penny post-office, whence it was regularly conveyed, as directed, to the prosecutor, but there was no proof of the prisoner's handwriting, or that he was acquainted with the contents. Hotham, B., left it to the jury to say whether, from the fact of the prisoner having delivered the letter as before mentioned, he knew of the contents, and the jury having found the prisoner guilty, the judges held the conviction right. Girdwood's case, 1 Leach, 142. 2 East, P. C. 1120.
Where the only evidence against the prisoner was a statement he had made, that he would never have written the letter but for W. G.; Lord Abinger, C. B., held it insufficient. Howe's case, 7 C. and P. 268 (b).
Proof of the nature of the letter or writing.] It must be proved that the letter or writing was one demanding of some person with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause, some chattel, &c.
The act mentions letter or writing in general, and does not specify whether it shall or shall not have a signature, or a fictitious signature, or initials; and the questions, therefore, which arose upon the 9 G. 1, c. 22, respecting the mode of signature (see Robinson's case, 2 Leach, 749, 2 East, P. C. 1110,) have become immaterial. Nor need the document have the form of a letter; any writing containing a threat of the nature mentioned in the statute, is within the section.
Proof of the nature of the letter or writing-the demand.] The
(a) 1 Eng. C. C. 398. (b) Eng. Com. L. Rep. xxxii. 506.
letter must contain a demand with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause. Whether the demand is such as is laid in the indictment is a question for the jury. Girdwood's case, 1 Leach, 142; 2 East, P. C. 1121. The demand need not be made in express words; it is sufficient if it appear from the whole tenor of the prisoner's letter. See the cases cited infra. That the demand was made with menaces, and without any reasonable or probable cause, will also appear in the same manner; but should any doubt exist upon the latter point, the prosecutor should be *called to give some evidence of the want of reasonable and pro- [ *865 ] bable cause.
A mere request, such as asking charity, without imposing any conditions, does not come within the sense or meaning of the word "demand.” Robinson's case, 2 Leach, 749, 2 East, P. C. 1110.
The prisoner was indicted for sending a letter to the prosecutor demanding money with menaces. The letter was as follows:
"Sir, as you are a gentleman and highly respected by all who know you, I think it is my duty to inform you of a conspiracy. There is a few young men who have agreed to take from you personally a sum of money, or injure your property. I mean to say your building property. In the manner they have planned, this dreadful undertaking would be a most serious loss. They have agreed, &c. Sir, I could give you every particular information how you may preserve your property and your person, and how to detect and secure the offenders. Sir, if you will lay me a purse of thirty sovereigns upon the garden edge, close to Mr. T.'s garden gate, I will leave a letter in the place to inform you when this is to take place. I hope you wont attempt to seize me, when I come to take up the money and leave the note of information. Sir, you will find I am doing you a most serious favor, &c., &c." Bolland, B., doubted whether this letter contained either a menace or a demand, and reserved the point for the opinion of the judges, who held that the conviction was wrong. Pickford's case, 4 C. and P. 227 (a).
Proof of the thing demanded.] It must appear that the thing demanded by the letter or writing was a chattel, money, or some valuable security. Where the indictment charged, that the prisoner, intending to extort money, sent a threatening letter; and it appeared that it was for the purpose of extorting a promissory note, it was held that the evidence did not support the indictment. Major's case, 2 Leach, 772; 2 East, P. C. 1118; and see Edward's case, 6 C. and P. 515 (b), ante, p. 861.
(a) Eng. Com. L. Rep. xix. 357. (b) Id. xxv. 518.