On the 6th November 1852, the first sitting of the Canterbury Supreme Court took place at the Lyttelton Immigration Barracks, in the same room used by the future Christ’s College.
George Johnston was charged with breaking and entering into a merchant warehouse owned by David Laurie. He was accused of stealing a pair of blankets, a bag of flour and a crate of tea. When he approached the publican of the ‘Robin Hood’ public house with a pair blankets to sell a few days after the robbery, suspicions were raised.
He was found not guilty as many blankets of the same description could be found throughout Lyttelton at that time. Unfortunately for George, his freedom did not last long as he was found guilty of stealing a watch a few days later. He was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia.
George apparently didn’t take his re-arrest well; he tried to escape custody and as a result faced assault charges. These charges were dropped at his sentencing for the stolen watch.
*Images courtesy of Papers Past – http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz*