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Corpun file 8703 at www.corpun.com
Otago Daily News, Dunedin, 14 February 1902
Kaitangata Rifles in camp.
[The significance of this headline is unclear. - C.F.]
Ernest Beaman, aged 14 years, was charged with, on February 12, at Halfway Bush, attempting to set fire to the Halfway Bush Post Office, the property of the New Zealand Government. The lad was not defended by counsel, but his mother appeared in court to speak for him. She said he admitted doing the act.
Chief Detective Campbell stated that at half-past 7 on the evening of the 12th a boy came into the postmaster, Mr Bunting, in charge of the Halfway Bush Post Office, who also carried on business as a storekeeper, and told him that the accused had put lighted paper into the letter box. Mr Bunting ran to the receiving box, in which he found lighted paper, which he took out and extinguished. There were six letters in the box, one of which had caught fire and was much damaged.
Mr Bunting then placed the matter in the hands of the police, who took the lad into custody. Being interrogated, the boy simply said, "I did it, but I didn't mean to do it".
His Worship said this was an act for which he could order a good, sound birching, and seemed to be the act of a very thoughtless and malicious nature, and just such a one as should be punished by a good thrashing, which it was in his power to order. He would, therefore, order that the accused receive 12 strokes of the birch rod in the presence of an officer of the police, and, if they so desired, in the presence of the parents or guardian of the boy, and he hoped that would act as a salutary warning to him.
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