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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Armed Cap-a-ple

Armed Cap-a-ple.

Character, motive, opportunity, and equipment are the chief elements to be considered in weighing the probabilities of any criminal charge. How does Lambert satisfy these tests? That he was a station rouseabout, with two convictions against him for drunkenness and one for larceny, says enough for his character. His motive is obvious enough when it is remembered that an impecunious man whose normal wage was "£1 a week and found" was to get £50—practically a-year.'s salary—spot cash for a conviction, and nothing if he failed. The opportunity was not wanting if he found himself on a dark night in the neighbourhood of Meikle's smithy after the family had retired; and the occasion, be it noted, was not casual or sudden, as Mr. Justice Cooper im- page 31 plied in an otherwise happy quotation from Bacon—" the occasion sudden, the opportunity dangerous "(C. 283)—but had been deliberately created by a false pretence. Lambert's equipment was also complete if he had brought with him the sheepskins for which he had asked McGeorge, or to which, as Mr. Justice Edwards prefers to believe, he could have helped himself without asking anybody. Thus in every quality and circumstance Lambert is seen to have been fully armed for the crime; and we believe that Mr. Atkinson's, remark to the Premier was fully justified—viz., that no jury in the land would hesitate for five minutes in acquitting. Meikle of sheep-stealing on the evidence of Lambert himself, and at the same time convicting Lambert, on the same evidence, not merely of perjury, but of having also planted those skins where the police found them in order to make his perjury successful.