From The Register, 8 September, 1927


Extraordinary Revelations.

     PORT PIRIE, September 5.

A charge that a man had sold a house which he believed belonged to his father-in-law, in order to defray the cost of the funeral of his mother-in-law, who was then alive, was told in the Port Pirie Police Court to-day. The purchaser paid 30/- ($3.00) for the dwelling, which, however, did not belong to the father-in-law. James Allen, of Solomontown, labourer, was charged on the information of Sgt. Noblet with having falsely pretended to John Murray Hunt that he had been authorized by Alfred George Gregory to sell a two-roomed weatherboard and iron house in the Hundred of Napperby, and thus obtained from Hunt £1 10/ with intent to defraud. The case was heard by Mr. D. C. Scott, S.M.  Gregory, who had lived in the district for 50 years, is approaching 90 years of age.

 A Missing House.

Harold William Goode, agent, produced the deeds of block 272 (land grant), Hundred of Napperby, on which had been erected the two-roomed house referred to in the information. The property was owned by his brother, B. P. Goode, who had allowed the former owner, A. H. Gregory, to live there rent free. Witness had not inspected the block since the end of 1926 until last July, when he found that the house had been demolished. Gregory came to his office to report that the house was missing, and witness notified the police. On the property of a man named Hunt in Solomontown he saw some iron and timber similar to that in the house, which was probably worth from £15 to £20. There were at Hunt's place about 24 sheets of iron and wood, the former (worth about 2/6 a sheet) used in the fence and the latter (worth altogether about 10/ or 12/) on the back verandah.

By Mr C. E. Hannan (for the defence) -It was an old property. Gregory and his wife came into the town to live with defendant and his wife about Christmas, 1925. Mrs. Gregory died there about January last. Gregory was very feeble.

"It's Mine."

John Murray Hunt, butcher, Solomontown, deposed:- "I saw the house at Nelshaby (Hundred of Napperby) and noticed it was unoccupied. I said to accused, "Will you sell that there house on your block at Nelshaby that is falling down?"  Accused replied, "It isn't mine; it belongs to the old man, my father-in-law. I will let you know later." A fortnight later accused told me "The old man will sell the place for 30/." I said, "It's mine." Later accused told me that the old lady (Mrs. Gregory) had died and he would like the money, as they wanted to pay the funeral expenses. I paid him. About six weeks later I fetched the wood and iron in. The wood, excepting the rubbish that was burnt, was put on the back of my house, and the iron on my fence."

Alfred George Gregory, an old man, said he had lived at Nelshaby for 40 or 50 years, and would still live there "when they got the house up again." The house belonged to him, for he "paid the Government."

Accused, his son-in-law, had authority to do what he liked with the place. The whole business was turned over to him when he (witness) went into hospital.

Paying for Funeral.

Detective Harris gave evidence that in July accused reported that Gregory's house had been stolen. He also enumerated a lot of furniture that had been taken away. He said old  man Gregory had gone out there recently and had found the house and contents had gone. Witness told accused that Hunt had stated that he (accused) had sold him Gregory's house for 30/ in February. Accused said he did sell Hunt a few pieces of iron and wood, but they only comprised part of the place. Gregeory had given him authority to sell. Witness said, "The place did not belong to Gregory," to which accused replied, 'Well, he told me to sell it and it could go off Mrs. Gregory's funeral expenses. Witness pointed out to accused that Mrs. Gregory was not dead. "Well," accused replied, "she was expected to die it any time." Accused admitted that he knew the property belonged to Goode, but thought he had given it to Gregory. Witness interviewed Gregory, who said he had never given Allen authority to sell. When told of this Allen said, "He is very old and his memory is bad." 

Mr. Hannan submitted that the prosecution must show that Allen had falsely pretended to Hunt that he was authorized to sell the house; also that he was not authorized to sell, and that he obtained money by false pretence. It was essential to prove that money had been obtained on the faith of the representations. The gist of the whole information was that Allen alleged he was authorized by Gregory to sell the property.

The S.M.- Gregory would have had no right to sell it.

Mr. Hannan- Yes, the house was his, if the posts had rotted away so that it could be said to be separated from the land.

The S.M.- As far as I can see neither accused nor Gregory had the right to sell the place. Accused, however, may have thought that Gregory had a right to sell.

Sgt. Noblet- But accused reported at the police station that the place had been stolen.

The S.M.- That would not affect the issue.

The case was dismissed.