Sarah Fryers aka Sarah Mulholland

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
13 November 1838



SATURDAY.—Before His Honor Mr Justice BURTON and a Military Jury.

SARAH FRYERS alias MULHOLLAND, and MARY QUINER alias MULHOLLAND, were indicted for aiding and assisting in a highway robbery committed by one JOHN NELSON on JOHN PURTELL and others, at Bathurst, on the 24th of May last. A second count laid the robbery to have been committed by some person or persons to H. M. Attorney General unknown.

ANN CALAGHAN or PURTELL—I stopped at Mrs DILLON’s, at Bathurst, and was travelling from Sydney to Mr INNES’, at Capita, by a dray, some time in the latter end of May. Between three and four o’clock, the dray camped at MULHOLLAND’s; I saw the tall prisoner come out of the hut to get some wood for the fire; we were camped about 40 or 50 yards from MULHOLLAND’s house; JAMES HORN, PURTELL and myself, were with the dray; I was making some tea for the bullock driver, and I saw a man watching me from behind the hut; it was not MULHOLLAND; we placed a rug round the dray to keep the cold out, and went to bed; two men came to the back of the dray, tore away the rug, and swore if we moved, they would blow our brains out; one of the men was armed with a gun; they took all the things from under our heads and afterwards one of the men went on the top of the dray, and took a quantity of things belonging to Mr INNES from there; they took fustian jackets, trowsers, 3 bonnet shapes, a gown of mine; they pulled every thing off the dray; whilst the dray was being robbed, the two prisoners came up, and asked the robbers for a light of the pipe; the prisoners were whispering with the robbers, and one of the men gave something that was taken from the dray to the prisoners; the prisoners seemed to know the robbers well; next morning, one of the prisoners brought a gown and a handkerchief, which had been taken the night before, and returned them to me; some blankets were taken from the dray, which were the same as those produced; one of the prisoners told me, the next morning, that one of the robbers said, “there is a titter on the dray, and I’ll have her to-night, or have a fall for it.” Some things belonging to me and PURTELL were returned to the dray, the next morning, whilst I was away at Mr DULHUNTY’s, to whose place I had gone for safety; I saw the women the next morning, and asked them why they did not go and tell their husbands to come and prevent our being abused; I was abused by both the men against my consent; whilst the men were ill using me, two prisoners were laughing and talking just by the dray; I cried out, and the men told me if I made any noise, they would blow my brains out.

The witness was cross-examined rather roughly by the prisoners, who wished to make it appear, that the witness was quite drunk, and did not know what she was about.

JOHN PURTELL.—I was in company with a dray going to Capita in May last; JAMES HORN and MARY CALLAGHAN or PURTELL were with the dray also; we camped at MULHOLLAND’s house, which is a sly grog shop; the bullock driver called for half a pint of run, which was divided amongst us; the last witness had a glass of rum, and she was perfectly sober; she had had nothing to eat or drink since that morning at breakfast; the bullock driver then camped about 30 or 40 yards from the dray; I saw two men come out of MULHOLLAND’s house, but could not recognize their features; we went to bed under the dray about 9 o’clock; there was no more rum drank that night until after the dray was robbed.

The other part of this witness’ evidence corresponded nearly with that of the former witness, and after he had gone some way with his testimony, His Honor put the question to the witness whether the prisoners had taken any part in the robbery, to which he replied that they had taken no active part, and that the only communication he saw between the robbers and the prisoners was, their asking for a light of the pipe to which one of the robbers answered, “if you don’t be off, I’ll blow your brains out, too.” This witness also stated that the prisoners afterwards appeared to compassionate the last witness, and took her into the house, saying that it was no use to fret, after it was all over. His Honor appeared in some doubt as to whether the evidence would support the indictment, but finally said he would leave the case to the Jury, and Mr THERRY proceeded with the case.

JAMES HORN, a bullock driver, described the robbery as the former witnesses had done, and gave further evidence; on Saturday morning, (the robbery was done on Thursday), SALLY MULHOLLAND brought a pair of blankets, a bar of soap, a gown and a shirt, and asked him to put them on the dray; MARY MULHOLLAND, also shewed witness where three bonnet shapes were planted in the bush, and begged him not to say any thing about it; he asked her to tell him where some of the other things were planted, and she replied that she would not, as it was nothing to him.

ANN PURTELL recalled.—When I was in the house, I saw two blankets, a bar of soap, my gown and PURTELL’s shirt on the prisoner’s bed, and I told PURTELL of it directly.

This was the case for the prosecution.

The prisoners had no witnesses, and stated that the witness ANN CALAGHAN or PURTELL was drunk. They conducted themselves throughout with the most callous audacity.

His Honor put the case to the Jury, who retired for ten minutes, and found the prisoners guilty.

His Honor ordered the sentence of death to be recorded against the prisoners, with a recommendation that their sentence should be commuted to three years confinement in the third class of the Factory.


Female Factory Online, (, “Law Report of SARAH FRYERS aka SARAH MULHOLLAND,”, accessed [insert current date].

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© Copyright Michaela Ann Cameron 2018