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SMUGGLING ACROSS THE BORDER
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
ECHUCA, FRIDAY EVENING
The first prosecution which has taken place in this district for a number of years arising out of the border duties was instituted this morning at the Moama Police Court, before Mr. Lester Stuart Donaldson, PM, and Messrs Caimes and M'CulIough, JP's when Joseph Wright, the proprietor of the Vine Hotel, Moama, was charged with obstructing the custom-house officers in the discharge of their duties, by attempting to detain goods which were seized as being contraband, the duty not having been paid thereon. A second charge was also entered against defendant, viz., that of smuggling dutiable goods in New South Wales from Victoria. The charges were laid under section 101, 9 Vict., and the minimum penalty for the obstruction to the officers is fixed at a fine of £10, with a maximum of £100. Mr. Boyd, assistant to the collector of customs, prosecuted. Mr. Conant, solicitor, also appeared for the prosecution, defendant being unrepresented. Mr. Conant stated that it was not the desire of the custom-house officers to press the two charges. If defendant would plead guilty to the first, that of resisting the customs authorities, and would pay the costs of the prosecution, the customs officers would withdraw the charge of smuggling. The cases had been brought more for the object of vindicating the law, and to act us a warning to others not to attempt to smuggle. Since the new bridge across the Murray had been opened numbers of people endeavored to evade the payment of the border dues by crossing the river at unauthorized places, relying on being able to get away without detection, as the vigilance of the customs officers was chiefly directed to keeping watch at the bridge. Defendant agreed to Mr. Conant's proposal, and pleaded guilty to the charge of obstructing the officer. A cheese and two shirts constituted the property alleged to have been smuggled. The Bench inflicted the lowest fine, £10, which was ordered to be recovered by distress, in default of which one month's imprisonment in Deniliquin gaol. Costs of the court were also given against defendant, the police magistrate remarking that they had no power to inflict a lesser penalty. Mr Conant withdrew the charge of smuggling on defen dant's promising to pay all the costs, in cluding payment of witnesses.
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