Burglary At Bengeo vicarage

Hertfordshire Mercury, 2nd January 1931



During Saturday night last, Christ Church Vicarage, Bengeo , was broken into by two men of the road , who purloined two of the Vicar’s best overcoats and other clothing , some money belonging to the servant and the Parish Lay Sister , and various other articles . Early on Sunday morning the men were met by two police officers ten miles away , beyond Hatfield , footing it towards London , wearing the parson’s overcoats , and in possession of other of the stolen property.

They appeared in custody before the Borough Bench at Hertford (Thursday) , and were committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions on Monday . One of the men has since been identified as being concerned in the burglary at the Co-operative Stores at Hoddesdon a month ago , when nearly £50 of clothing  and other things were stolen .

The Magistrates present were the Mayor ( Councillor S . Purkiss-Ginn ) , the ex-Mayor ( Sir Lionel Faudel-Phillips, Bart.) , Alderman W. Graveson , Alderman A.P. Ginn , Messrs A.S. Gilbertson , and W. Burgess .

The prisoners were Michael Ryan (29) ,a scaffolder, and Ernest Brooker (24) , a cabinet maker .

Miss Barbara Edgar , a servant at the Vicarage , stated that before going to bed at 11 o’clock on Saturday night , she went around the house , locked up the doors , and fastened the windows . Shortly after getting to bed she heard a noise and went downstairs into the kitchen , but noticed nothing different then . When she came down at 7.15 on Sunday morning she found the drawers in the kitchen disturbed  , and the table covered in oddments , including chocolates and date stones , and a missionary box broken open and lying on the floor . The previous night the box was on the plate shelf with money in it . She had an electric torch , a wrist watch , a screw driver , and a handbag with several shillings in it, in the table drawer , but they were all missing .

The Rev. George Walmsley stated that he retired at about 10.50 on Saturday night , and everything in the house was then in order .When the maid called his attention to the disorder in the kitchen on Sunday morning he went to his study and found that his desk had been ransacked , 14 shillings in money taken , and two of his overcoats , of the value of £10 , were missing from the hall , together with his gloves and other articles .

Sister Edith Farnsworth , a Church Army lay worker in the Christ Church parish , who resides at the Vicarage , stated that an envelope containing two £1 notes had been taken from her coat .

P.C. S . W. Johnson , of Hertford ,  stated that when the burglary was reported at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning he went to the Vicarage and found that a trap-door had been unscrewed and removed ; entrance  had been gained to an outhouse , then through a small courtyard , and admittance gained to the house by removing a pane of glass from the scullery window . He found the kitchen and study in disorder as described .

Sergt. A Camp , of Hatfield , stated that a few minutes before 7 a.m. on Sunday he was patrolling the Hatfield to Barnet Bye-pass Road in company with Sergt. Reeves in a motor tri-car , when they saw the two prisoners walking quickly towards London. When stopped they said they had come from Ware . Camp noticed they were both wearing almost new overcoats , which did not correspond with the rest of their clothing , and told them that he suspected the coats were stolen property , so that they would be detained pending inquiries . On the way to Hatfield Police Station, Brooker admitted that they had broken into a house some distance from Ware , and when he told Ryan that they would be charged with stealing at Hertford ,  he exclaimed  ” You win , it was Christ Church Vicarage . “

Sergt. S.C. Reeves , of Hafield , stated that Brooker admitted to him that he took out the pane of glass to get into the house . On Brooker he found a £1 Bank Of England note , 10s. 4d. in cash , a pocket torch , a pair of suede gloves , a screwdriver , and other tools including a rule and pliers . Brooker admitted that the  money , coats, gloves , handkerchief , and torch were stolen from the Vicarage , but he said the tools were his own . On Ryan were found a number of foreign coins , one of the stolen overcoats , a lady’s silver wrist watch , a £1 note , 8s. 2d. in coins , and a new black leather wallet . Both prisoners broke into the house because they were cold and hungry and wanted some food and clothes , and it had to be somebody’s house . The place where they were arrested was ten miles from Christ Church Vicarage .

The prisoners had nothing to say and were committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions at Hertford next Monday .





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