Burglary at Much Hadham

Hertfordshire Mercury, 9th January 1915


William Henry Frederick Johnson (29), a labourer, of Takeley, Essex, was brought up in custody, charged with burglariously entering the Hoops beer-house, Perry Green, Much Hadham, and stealing one dead fowl (value 3s. 6d.), 2lb. of cheese (value 1s. 6d.), various small articles, and the sum of 3 shillings in copper coins.

Charlotte Williams. landlady of the house, said on Tuesday, the 22nd ult., between  6 and 7 p.m., the prisoner came to the house and asked for a glass of beer, and went out at 7.  She closed the house at 9, and at 10 o’clock locked up and went to bed.

Next morning she got up about 7 o’clock and a man who came for some tobacco said her window was broken.  She went out and found it was broken, and the bottom sash was a little way opened.  On searching the house she missed some coppers from a mug on the shelf in the living room, a trussed fowl, and 2lb. of cheese.  The coppers had farthings amongst them, and some of the coins were mouldy.

On the 24th ult., she went to the police station, and was shown the chicken, cheese, a buckle, three studs, and some coppers, all of which she identified.  (The articles were all produced in court, as well as some packets of Woodbine cigarettes which had been found on the prisoner).

In answer to the prisoner, Mrs Williams said she had missed cigarettes similar to those produced, but she could not swear to the latter as her property.

PS Lee deposed to visiting the Hoops public-house in company with P.C. Emerton on the 23rd.  He found a pane of glass opposite the catch in the parlour window facing the road, smashed.  In the parlour he saw mud stains on a plant standing in front of the window.  Mrs Williams complained of having lost the articles already mentioned.  Witness made inquiries, and proceeded to the house of William Dawes, of Green Tye.  After two or three minutes Mrs Dawes opened the door.  Witness said ‘I want to see the man who lodged here last night’.  She said ‘What do you mean?’ and appeared surprised, and further said ‘I’ve got no one here, look where you like, you won’t find any one here’.  On going upstairs witness found the prisoner lying on the mattress of a bed, with a feather bed pulled over him.  When the bed was pulled off him, the prisoner said ‘What do you want?’ and commenced kicking and striking out. Witness seized him and with the assistance of PC Emerton handcuffed him.  When he rose to his feet he said ‘You have never read the —- charge out to me’.

Witness then charged him with breaking into Mrs Williams’ house and stealing the articles mentioned in the charge.  After being cautioned he said ‘I know nothing about it’.  During the struggle upstairs a number of copper coins fell from his pockets onto the bed and also on to the floor, and witness took possession of them.  He also found, tied up in a table cloth in the room, the dead fowl and piece of white cheese, produced.  The prisoner was so violent that they had to tie his legs as well as handcuff him in order to take him in a cart to Hadham Police Station.  On being searched at the station there were found on him a hat buckle or brooch, three studs and some copper coins, two sixpences, and a threepenny bit, making in all 4s. ½d.  The fowl, cheese, hat buckle and studs were seen by Mrs Williams on the morning of the 24th ult., and identified as her property.

Prisoner: ‘Was there any one else in the room?’. There was another man in the room on the floor.

PC Emerton corroborated the evidence of PS Lee and added that on the way to the police station, the prisoner became very violent and kicked witness in the face and stomach, and they had to get a cart to convey him up to the station.  On December 24, in the waiting room at the railway station at Much Hadham, the prisoner said that when he got in the cellar he got round the beer barrel.  He was drunk all the time he was there, and was put up to the job.  He also said there was not 3 shillings worth of coppers, but there might have been 2s. 6d. worth.  This was said when he was being conveyed to prison after being remanded by Mr. H. Bacon.

Kathleen Dawes, wife of William Dawes, said on Saturday, December 19, prisoner came to her house at night at 10.30, alone, and asked for Jack Baker, who opened the door and let him in, and he stayed there the night with her husband’s permission.  He slept there on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights, and left on Tuesday, the 22nd, before her husband came home at 5 p.m.  He came back again on Tuesday night at 10.30 and slept on some sacks on the floor in the back room with the lodger, Jack Baker.  The next morning the police arrived, but witness knew nothing of what took place.  She did not see Johnson the previous night, as he was let in by the lodger.

Prisoner said he slept with Baker that night, and Mrs Dawes knew nothing about him at all, or that he had brought anything there.

The Chairman said the Bench had decided to commit the prisoner for trial at the next assizes.

Prisoner: ‘Can I have the money what’s over the amount in the charge to take to prison to get stamps, so that I can write letters for my defence ?’.

The Chairman refused the request, but said if prisoner made out a good case the authorities would do all they could to help him.

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