At Hertford County Sessions, on Saturday, Dennis Cunneon, of Essendon, was charged with burglary at the Rectory in that village on December 24th.
Mrs Hodson, whose husband, the Rector of Essendon, was too ill to attend the Court, stated that on Tuesday the 24th of December, at about 11.30 p.m., she and her husband were asleep and were suddenly awakened by a strange noise. Mr Hodson said “What’s that ?”, and just afterwards they heard a similar noise which sounded like the breaking of glass. Her husband took an electric lantern and went downstairs. He went towards the kitchen, and she heard him say “Get out.” The witness shouted “What’s the matter ?” and Mr Hodson replied “It’s Irish Jack. He’s drunk and is trying to get through the window.” There was a scuffle and Mr Hodson came upstairs. He was bleeding profusely from his face and arms. He said the man had then gone.
The witness then went for assistance and got the services of a man named Swain. As she was going for him, she saw the defendant in the road. She knew Swain understood first-aid work, and that was why she fetched him. There was nothing missing from the house. Mr Hodson was too ill to attend and was in bed. He lost a tremendous lot of blood.
In answer to the Chairman, the witness stated that she knew the defendant by the name of ‘Irish Jack’. The Chairman said “In the absence of Mr Hodson, I don’t think we can get much further this morning”, and the witness responded, saying “I don’t think he can tell you much more.”
William Swain, coachman to Col H.F. Barclay, of Essendon, stated that he was called on Christmas Eve, at about 11.30 p.m., by Mrs Hodson. She told him what had occurred, and he went to the Rectory and found Mr Hodson in bed. He was bleeding from both arms, the centre of the left hand, and the right eye. The witness told him to keep quiet, and attended to him. His pulse was very weak indeed, and the witness did not at the time think the Rector would last much longer. He did what he could, and asked Col Barclay to send for the doctor, and the witness sent for the police. In the meantime, the witness bandaged the wounds up.
PC Allen stated that on December 25th, at 1.15 a.m., he received a report about the alleged burglary from Col Barclay. He at once went to the Rectory and examined the broken window, and there was a large quantity of blood both inside and outside. He afterwards saw Mrs Hodson and, in consequence of what she told him, he went to the defendant’s lodgings and found him in bed. He woke him up and told him he was making enquiries about a man breaking into the Rectory. The defendant asked the witness on whose authority he fetched him out of bed at that time of night, and the witness told him it was through the information of Mrs Hodson and Col Barclay. The witness asked the defendant to show his hands and, on the right hand, there were several fresh cuts which the defendant said had been done at his work – hedging and ditching. The witness then brought him to Hertford Police Station. The defendant was then charged by Supt Pear with the burglary, and he said he did not do it. The Clerk asked “Was he drunk ?”, and the witness responded “No. He walked upright with me.” Supt Pear stated that at 3.00 a.m. on Christmas morning he charged the defendant with burglary, and he said “I know nothing about it. I was in bed at half past ten.”
On Boxing Day, at an occasional Court, formal evidence of arrest was given by PC Allen, and the defendant said “I am guilty.” He was then remanded. Mr Wodehouse asked “Had he been drinking ? He did not appear to have been.” The case was adjourned for a fortnight and the defendant was allowed bail in the sum of £5.
Dennis Cureen, of Essendon, was charged on remand with burglary at Essendon, on December 24th. The case was adjourned from a fortnight ago as the Rev N.S. Hodson, the Rector of the parish, was unable to attend owing to the injuries he sustained at the time. The Rev Nathaniel Shirley Hodson now stated that on the night of December 24th he was awakened by a noise at about 11:30 or 11:45pm, which he heard repeated shortly afterwards. It sounded like the falling of glass or crockery. He got up and put on his dressing-gown, took an electric lantern in his hand, and went downstairs. When he got to the foot of the stairs he heard a third crash which seemed to come from the kitchen. He opened the kitchen door and the lantern shone onto the window which is directly opposite. He saw the prisoner with his head and shoulders through the opening which he had made in the window, the glass of which was broken. The Clerk asked “His head and shoulders were in the room?”, and the witness responded “Yes, that is the impression left upon me.” The witness, continuing, said he recognised the man as ‘Irish Jack’, which is the name the witness goes by. He concluded that the prisoner was the worse for drink. The witness rushed at him and shouted at him to get out. He could not remember whether he had pushed the prisoner out or whether he withdrew, startled. The witness hoped the prisoner would have gone away, but he tried to get at the window again. The witness must have been leaning partly through the broken window for he remembered dropping the lantern outside it. He also remembered addressing the prisoner by the name of ‘Jack’, thinking it might influence him.
In answer to the Chairman, the witness said the window was 2ft 9ins x 1ft 6ins. After the struggle which the witness had had with the prisoner, which lasted a few moments, the latter suddenly turned around and made off as if he had just realised what he was doing. The Clerk asked “While this was going on did any words pass between you?”, to which the witness responded “I can’t remember. I do remember, however, his Irish accent.” The Clerk asked “Did you miss anything from your house?”, and the witness replied “No, nothing.” The Chairmen asked “Was it a moonlit night?” and the witness replied “Brilliant moonlight.” The Clerk asked “What condition did you find yourself in?” and the witness replied “I was badly cut and bleeding. I have no doubt it was the jagged edges of the window that did it.” The Clerk asked “You do not suggest that these wounds were done by the prisoner?”, to which the witness responded “No, he had not got any weapon. I have no doubt that I cut myself.” The Chairman asked “Was there any struggle?”, and the witness replied “Certainly. I should say he hit out at me, and I hit him back. I did not realise that it was a broken window that I was struggling through.” The witness, continuing, stated that at that moment he had heard his wife calling out to him from upstairs, and she asked what was the matter. He had briefly replied to her, and then went upstairs to his bedroom. The witness was helped to bed by his wife who did what she could to stop the bleeding. The Clerk asked “Was the bleeding dangerous?” and the witness responded “There was an immense amount of bleeding and I lost a great deal of blood.” The Chairman asked “You have been ill since?”, to which he responded “Yes.” The Chairman “Are you right again now?”, to which he responded “I am feeling rather weak.”
The prisoner asked “Do you believe I did it with felonious intent?” to which the witness replied “I did not believe so at first, and I do not believe so now.” The Chairman asked “You say you concluded he was the worse for drink but, as a matter of fact, have you any idea he was drunk?”, to which the witness responded “I thought so at first, and still think so.” The Chairman asked “How long has the prisoner been in the village?” and he responded “About 4 or 5 years.”
The evidence which was given a fortnight ago was then read over and confirmed. That given by Mrs Hodson, wife of the Rector, was corroborative of her husband’s statement.
The evidence of William Swain, coachman to Col H.F. Barclay, was to the effect that he was called by Mrs Hodson about midnight on Christmas Eve to render first-aid to Mr Hodson, which he did. He also despatched messages for a doctor and the police.
PC Allen, in his evidence, stated that he arrested the prisoner, at 1:15am on Christmas morning, when he was in bed in his lodgings. He had several cuts on his hands ,which he said were done at his work – hedging and ditching. He then denied the offence. Supt Pear stated that when the prisoner was charged at the Police Station he denied all knowledge of the affair, but at an occasional court on Boxing Day he said “I am guilty.” The prisoner was then formally charged, and in reply said “I am very sorry for interfering with Mr Hodson, and it never would have occurred if it had not been for drink.” He said he wished to call evidence as to his character, but he was advised by the Clerk to reserve it until the trial.
The prisoner was then committed for trial at the Assizes, bail being allowed in the sum of £10 and one surety in a similar amount.
(TO BE CONTINUED)