Cheshunt contractor convicted of theft

Hertfordshire Mercury, 28th August 1915


At Cheshunt Petty Sessions Alfred John Rainer (60), of 2 Moray Place, Cheshunt, Oliver White (45), of 143 Turner’s Hill, Cheshunt, carman, and Albert Hawkes (44), of 36 Windmill Lane, Cheshunt, were charged with being concerned together in stealing and receiving on August 19 one load of coke, value £1, the property of Messrs Varney and Bonnett at Cheshunt Railway Station.

Mr Windsor (of Tottenham) prosecuted, and the defendants were represented by Mr G. G. Breeze.

Henry Varney, of Longfield Lane, Cheshunt, of the firm of Messrs Varney and Bonnett, nurserymen, said he knew Rainer as a contractor, carman, and coal dealer, and for some time past he had done carting for him to his Windmill Lane nursery.  Prior to August 19 there were two trucks waiting for him at Cheshunt Railway Station goods yard, and Rainer received orders on August 18 to cart the coke from the station to the Longfield Lane nursery.  On August 19 he went to Cheshunt Police Station, where the three defendants were in custody, and a tip-cart belonging to Rainer was in the yard.  He examined the wheels of the cart, which appeared to be well greased.

By Mr Breeze: ‘He admitted that Longfield Lane was hilly and that there might be difficulty in getting a load up the hill.’

PC Leakey, of Cheshunt, stated that on August 19 he kept observation on the goods yard at Cheshunt Station.  He saw two trucks of coke numbered 288 and 328 there belonging to the prosecutors.  Just after 6 a.m. three carts belonging to Rainer came into the yard.  Two loaded at truck 288 and one at truck 328.  About 7.30 the carts left the yard.  At 9.30 he saw White in the company of Hawkes.  White was driving a tip-cart, which he drew up to truck 288.  They both started loading the cart with the prosecutor’s coke.  When it was loaded the men went with the cart up Windmill Lane.  He did not notice the cart groaning or squeaking.

The cart was taken into Rainer’s yard and the coke was tipped on to a large heap of coke which was laying there.  The witness went to White and said: ‘Where did you get that coke from?’ and he replied: ‘From a truck at Cheshunt Railway Station, but I don’t know the number.’  The witness asked if he knew who it belonged to, and he said: ‘No, not particular.’  He further inquired if he knew it belonged to Messrs Varney and Bonnett, and he replied: ‘Yes, I believe it do.’  Whilst engaged in that conversation Rainer came up and the witness asked if he knew anything about his two carmen shooting a load of coke on the heap.  He replied: ‘I do not know how they came to shoot it on the heap.’

He arrested White and Hawkes and took them to the Police Station.  There White said: ‘Mr Rainer told me to take a load of coke to Mr Varney’s, Digdag Hill.  I took it in to the yard and shot it because the wheels began to squeak.  I did not think it would take the load up there.  It weighed about 17 or 18 cwt..’  Referring to Hawkes he said: ‘This man don’t know anything about it. I only asked him to help me.’  The witness examined the cart and found the wheels well greased.

Cross-examined by Mr Breeze the witness said that when he passed the cart in Windmill Lane he passed on the offside.  White did not say it was the nearside wheel which squeaked.  It would not be possible for the load of coke to be picked from the heap in the yard.  The coke was shot as much on top of the standing heap as possible.

Mr Windsor: ‘Was there plenty of other room in the yard for the men to have shot this coke in a heap by itself?’  ‘Yes, plenty.’

PC John Arnold corroborated Leakey’s evidence.

Inspector John Luxton deposed to going to Rainer’s yard in Windmill Lane and seeing Rainer sitting beside the coke heap.  The witness said to him: ‘I shall arrest you for being concerned with your two carmen in stealing and receiving the load of coke tipped on your heap this morning.’  He replied: ‘I did not tell them to tip it.’

By Mr Breeze: ‘It would be impossible to separate the load of coke from the main bulk.’

The defendants elected to be dealt with summarily, and pleaded not guilty.  White said that on August 19 he received instructions from Mr Rainer to cart, with other men, a truck of coke to Mr Varney’s at Longfield Lane.  After filling the cart he went up Windmill Lane and took the cart into the coal yard because the near wheel groaned and was a bit warm.  He shot the coke near the big heap, because it was easier for picking up again.  The coke was now in the same position as when he shot it on August 19.  He could not have eased the wheel without removing the coke.

Mr Windsor: ‘When did the cart groan?’  ‘Coming up the lane.’  ‘And the nearer it got to Rainer’s yard the more it groaned?’ (Laughter)  The witness: ‘It got worse.’

The Clerk (Mr F. C. E. Jessop): ‘Can you explain your statement to the police  ‘This man (meaning Hawkes) don’t know anything about it?’  ‘He merely came to help me.’  ‘Who pays Hawkes?’  ‘Mr. Rainer.’

Hawkes said he was an odd man working for anybody.  On the day in question he helped White load the coke, and he went to Rainer’s yard with White because he had some other odd jobs to do.  If White had gone to Longfield Lane the witness would not have gone with him.

Mr Windsor (to the Bench): Inspector Luxton thinks this man was a tool, and if you, gentlemen, share that view I ask that he be discharged.  We are satisfied he had no guilty knowledge.

The Chairman said that the Bench agreed with Mr Windsor, and Hawkes would be discharged.

Hawkes: ‘Thank you, good morning.’ (Laughter).

For the defence of Rainer and White, Mr Breeze submitted that the groaning of the wheel was the real reason why White tipped the coke in the yard.

The Chairman: ‘The Bench are against you on that point.’

Mr Breeze went on to submit with regard to Rainer that there was no evidence of guilty knowledge on his part.

The Bench retired, and on returning the Chairman said they considered it a serious case, Rainer would be fined £10 4 shillings, or seven weeks, and White 40 shillings or 25 days.

Mr Windsor applied for three guineas costs of the prosecution, and the Bench allowed a guinea costs.




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