THE J.H. GREY FRAUDS.
CLAIMS AGAINJT THOMAS AUSTIN'S ESTATE
An action, which was described by the presiding judge as novel and difficult and the first of the kind in his experience, was commenced before Mr. Justice A'Beckett in the Supreme Court ycslcrdny.
The action is brought by Samuel James Warnock, as trustee in insolvency of the estate of Joseph Henry Grey, the default- ing Geelong solicitor, for whose arrest a wairniit was recently issued. There are 23 defendants, and a strong bar is retained to
represent the various parties.
The circumstances giving rise to the case
are as follows:—The late Mr. Thomas Aus- tin, grazier, of Barwon-park, near Winchel-
sea, who died on 15th December 1871, left the whole of his property, subject to an an- nuity, to his widow, equally between his
eight children, four sons and four daugh-
ters, each child's share being worth about
£20,000. The estate has not yet been rea- lised. One of the sons, William John Aus- tin, from time to time obtained advances from Messrs. Taylor, Buckland, and Gates, who were the solicitors to the estate, and eventually these advances practically swal- lowed up the whole of his share. Under
these circumstances, on 21st May, 1890, he assigned to Charles Edward Gates and Joseph Henry Grey, two of the members of the firm, the whole of his interest under his father's will, acknowledging that he
was at that time indebted to Gates and
Grey in the sum of £19,808/14/6. Gates
died in 1898 and in April, 1899, Grey ab- sconded, and on subsequent investigation of
the firm's books it appeared that most of the moneys, if not all, which were ad- vanced to William John Austin, were ad- vanced by Taylor, Buckland, and Gates on behalf of trust estates whose moneys they held. A number of claims were then sent in by these clients to the trustees of Thomas Austin's estate. In July last year two of these claimants established their case in an action brought against Austin's trustees and Grey's trustees. This action was tried by the Chief Justice, who or- dered Austin's trustees to assign the in- terest of William John Austin in his father's estate to Mr. Warnock, as trustee
of Grey's estate.
Mr. Warnock, after the judgment was pro- nounced, commenced the present proceed- ings, setting forth that certain claims had
been made against the fund, which, so far as he could ascertain, were made on the
basis that the amounts respectively claimed were placed in the hands of Grey for in- vestment, and that they were invested on the security of the deed of 21st May, 1890, and formed parts of the moneys so se- cured. The various claimants are made defendants, and the plaintiff asks an in- quity to ascertain what persons are en- titled, and in what amounts respectively, to the £19,808/11/6, or to any other sum which might be received by the plaintiff in respect of the security of 21st May, 1890, with necessary accounts and administration by the court, and distribution of the
From the pleadings it appears that the claims referred to amount to £19,760/19/6; that the plaintiff, in addition, claims £14,891/7/2 as moneys belonging to Tay- lor, Buckland, and Gates, actually lent; and the trustees of Thomas Austin's estate, who are also defendants, claim to set-off two sums of £1,900 and £1,521/12/10, which were misappropriated by Grey as a trustee of the state, and claim to be paid these sums in priority to any other creditors.
Before evidence was entered upon Mr. Higgins, who appeared for a number of de- fendants, took a series of technical objec- tions as to the plaintiff's right to bring the action, and arguments had not con- cluded when the Court adjourned till to-
Mr. Hayes (instructed by Messrs. Har- wood and Pincott) appeared for the plain- tiff; and Mr. Guest (instructed by Mr. T. C. Alston). Mr. Agg (instructed by Messrs. M'Laughlan and Eaves), Mr. Topp (in- structed by Messrs. Whiting and Aitken), Mr. Higgins (instructed by Mr. C. H. Bird- sey), Mr. Sanderson (instructed by Mr. H. A. Harwood), Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Wei- gall (instructed by Messrs. Lawson and Jar- dine), Mr. Wasley (instructed by Messrs. Strongman and Crouch), and Mr. W. H. Williams (instructed by Messrs. Brahe and Gair) for the various defendants.