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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

The Informer's Story

The Informer's Story.

Lambert's story, as told to Mr. Justice Ward and an Invercargill jury, before whom the case came for trial on the 16th December, 1887, was that on the night of the 17th October, he saw Arthur Meikle, a lad of fourteen years, driving a mob of the Company's sheep with the aid of a single dog from the Company's land towards his father's. In answer question the lad said that he was "taking them home to get a fat one," and he drove them away, Lambert following two of three chains behind. After they had arrived at Meikle house, which was about a mile away, the elder prisoner came out with a lantern and helped his son to put all the sheep into the smithy through a door subseaquently proved to be eighteen inches wide; and there the sheep were counted and found number twenty-eight, including one ram. Under his father instructions, the lad killed one sheep, cut off the ear-mark as fire-brand, and cut them into small pieces. Meikle them marked to Lambert, who had been allowed to watch the who proceedings unchallenged, that he "could defy the Company or any one else." Lambert saw the Company's ear-mark on sheep that was killed, and the Company s paint-brand on so of the others.

One remarkable discrepancy between this story and that which Lambert had told before the Justices only four were before might have been supposed sufficiently glaring to credit him fatally. To the Justices he had not mentioned seeing the ear-mark on the sheep that was killed, and when cross-examined he had denied with great emphasis and iteration the observation of any marks to identify it:—

"The sheep was killed in my presence. I cannot say what brands were on it. For all I know, it might have been of Meikle's. I suppose it was one of the Company's! she but I did not look at the brand. I did not notice the ear-marks. I thought it was the Company's sheep because was in the mob he took off the turnips." (1887 Depositions—Quoted C. 322.)

In the Supreme Court, however, he was equally positive I that he had seen the ear-mark, and knew whose it was:— page 13

"After sheep dressed he returned, told his son to cut fire-brand and ear-mark off, and to cut them up into small pieces. That was done. Ear-mark was two notches, either back or front. That was Company's ear-mark."—(P. 19.)

In November he was perfectly certain that he had not seen the earmark; in December he was perfectly certain that he had not only seen it, but identified it as the Company's. Could any contradiction be more precise? or more impossible to have been honestly made? Remember that it was not the normal case of memory fading with lapse of time; the interval, as already stated, was only a month, and Lambert's memory had not faded, but grown in a most convenient and picturesque manner during that period.