Sergeant Lambden v Ray Doyle (1914) H&FLR 2014-54

Seymour Police Court (Australia)

3 August 1914

Coram: Unidentified Magistrate

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Inspector Corkill (Police Prosecutor)
Appearing for the Defendant: Mr Minogue (instructors not identified).

Catchwords: Australia – football – assault between players – charges withdrawn – costs

Facts:  On 18 July 1914 the defendant (Doyle) was playing football for Seymour against Avenel.  He was playing in a ‘rather aggressive’ manner that day.  During the first half he was pushed backwards by an Avenel player (Robert Fontana).  He was caught by another Avenel player (Albert Robinson).  Doyle turned around and struck Robinson on the side of the face.  Sergeant Lambden was present and the game and took it upon himself charge the defendant with unlawful assault.

Counsel for the defendant noted that Doyle did not have a criminal record, that the incident occurred in the heat of the moment and the assault was trivial.  With the prosecution’s agreement it was submitted that it would be appropriate for the charge to be withdrawn, subject to the defendant agreeing to pay court costs.

Held: That the charge could be withdrawn with costs fixed at 27 shillings (in today’s value, approximately A$145.00 / US$127.00).  The Court considered however that there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of unlawful assault.  It was stressed that players must keep their temper while on the field and that any further such cases would be dealt with severely.


Unsurprisingly, no written judgment is available.  This report has been prepared based on the account in the Seymour Express of 7 August 1914, reprinted in the Seymour Telegraph of 1 October 1914 at p.12.


Poignantly, this case unfolded at the very earliest stages of the First World War.  Mr Fontana appears to have put his athletic skills to use and served in I Anzac Cyclist Battalion.  He was killed in action in France on 1 September 1918.  Ray Doyle served in the 4th Light Horse Regiment, served in Europe and was discharged in 1919.

I have not been able to trace Robinson, Lambden, Corkill or Minogue with confidence.