Masters was arrested in 1886 for indecent exposure in the presence of
a young girl, and again in 1888 along with a charge of indecency.
After being found guilty for the 1888 offenses, the Judge opened it
up to a jury whether or not Masters should be whipped as well as
serving a gaol sentence. This was a legal punishment at the time, but
only if recommended by a jury. Despite three previous convictions,
the jury unanimously opposed whipping after a statement by Masters in
which he claimed “he was not master of himself when he committed
the offences, and knew nothing about them until he was arrested.”
He asked the Court to have steps taken to prevent him from doing such
things again. He was medically examined as to his sanity, and the
Gaol Medical Officer deemed that Masters was “sane but of filthy
habits.” The Judge sentenced him to two years, and warned him that
if he came before him again charged with the same offence he would
receive a very severe sentence.
Sadly, this did not deter Masters,
and after his release in 1889 he was charged with indecent assault of
a girl only 8 years of age. For this crime Masters was sentenced to 5
years. According to the Evening
asked during his trial whether he had any reason to offer why
sentence should not be passed, he responded in a 25 minute rambling
“I don’t know whether it is my nature, or whether it is ordained that I am to go through a certain amount of trouble in life, but my main object is to get married and lead a proper life, and not to go on this way. I promised Mr. Garvey, the gaoler, that I would try to get married, and I’m positive I would have been married this Christmas if I’d been out of gaol. I’ve had two or three chances – (laughter)- but I haven’t looked them up.”
Chelsea Nichols, March 2010. Unless otherwise stated, all images and information found on this website are property of the New Zealand Police Museum.