ECHUCA, Friday.-Intense interest
was shown by a large crowd which assembled at the Moama Court to-day when John Thomas Patten, compositor, of Redfern, Sydney, was charged with having enticed and persuaded Aborigines to leave the Cummeragunga Mission Station, at Barmah (N.S.W.).
Patten, who pleaded not guilty, was convicted and discharged on entering into a recognisance to be of good be- haviour for three months.
First-constable Arthur McAvoy, of Moama, said that he visited Cummera- gunga on February 3, and told Patten about inquiries being made into the man- ager's complaints that Aborigines had been persuaded to leave the station. Patten replied, "They are being victimised and starved." Patten produced a letter signed, "Secretary, Aboriginal Protection board," authorising a visit to the reserve to address meetings.
When told that he had no authority to tell Aborigines that the reserve would be made a compound, Patten replied that he had that morning telegraphed to the Premier and others that Aborigines were leaving because of victimisation and
Constable McAvoy described the arrest of Patten, and said that as the police car departed Patten shouted, "Go to it, boys! Now is your chance to leave the reserve. I will get all the publicity I want now!" The crowd was hostile, and trouble might have occurred.
Arhur James McQuiggin, manager of the station, said that he was present with Constable McAvoy when Patten said that the Aborigines were being intimi- dated, victimised, and starved. Two families had left after the meeting.
Patten said that as president of the Aborigines' Progressive Association, he had never tried to induce residents of Cummeragunga to leave the reserve. He believed that the people left because of intimidation by the manager, "who drove round with a rifle on his lorry and looked at them in a hostile manner."
Mr. Hawkins said that he was satisfied with the police evidence, which evidence for the defence had corroborated. He believed that Patten frightened and in- cited people with the inevitable conse- quences that they left. The Aboriginal problem was certainly very difficult, and he gave Patten credit for honestly trying to do his best for his own people although he had adopted a hopelessly wrong