Corn stealing case - licensed victualler convicted of receiving

Hertfordshire Mercury, 27th November 1915

Transcript

Harry Evans and Arthur Livings were fined £5 each or one month’s imprisonment for stealing a sack of corn, the property of Messrs A. McMullen and Co., and were allowed a month to pay.

George Robert Martin, landlord of the Great Northern Tavern, Cowbridge, was then charged with receiving the corn, well knowing it to have been stolen.  He pleaded not guilty, and elected to be dealt with summarily.  Mr A. Clark, of St Albans, appeared for the prosecution, and Mr S. M. Robinson, St Albans, defended.

The evidence given in the previous case was read over.

PS Harry Wright further stated that when he saw the defendant Martin in reference to the corn he said: ‘That’s right, it is here somewhere.  I don’t know where as I have not seen it.  Evans came to my place and said: ‘I have got a sack of rough corn that will do for your chickens.’  I said; ‘How much is it?’  He said: ‘Six shillings’, and I paid him the money there and then.’  The witness asked Martin if he had got a receipt for the payment, and he replied ‘No’.

Mr Clark said that the defendant knew that the corn came from McMullen’s because he knew the carmen and also the fact that it was taken to his premises in the firm’s own cart.  According to the defendant’s story he bought a pig in a poke, and gave 6s. for rubbish without seeing it.

Mr Percy Medcalf, in further examination, said that the price put on the corn was only a nominal figure.  The wheat was worth 27s. 6d., and the clover seed that was mixed with it was worth 5d. per pound, five times the value of the wheat.  It had been put in the warehouse to be sifted, and anyone buying it as it was for 6s. would be getting a bargain.

In cross-examination the witness said that Martin had been carting rubbish from the premises of Messrs Elkins and Co., but not from the warehouse where the corn in this case was stored.  The rubbish that he carted was building materials and some old corn which had been lying between the floor boards for 40 or 50 years, and all the goodness had been taken out of it by rats.  The corn that was stolen was quite different, and had been kept under lock and key.

Livings was called and said that after they stole the corn they took it straight to Martin’s stable and shot it into a bin without seeing Martin, but they saw his son.  There was no previous arrangement with Martin so far as he knew.

Evans said he told Martin he had a sack of mixed wheat rubbish which would do for his fowls, and that if sifted out half of it would be no use.  He admitted that he had not seen what was in the sack before he delivered it.  Having seen it now he valued it at £1.

Mr Robinson in defence said that Martin treated it as an ordinary business transaction, and he had no reason to suspect that the corn was stolen, especially as he had recently been carting rubbish and corn away from the premises.  Martin had been in the town 25 years, and during 16 years of that period had been a licensed victualler, and it was hardly likely that he would throw away all those years of good character for the sake of a few shillings.

Martin said when he bought the sack he thought it contained the same sort of rubbish that he had himself been carting from the premises for Elkins and Co., a load of which he had shot into his yard for the chickens.  Now he had seen it he did not think it was worth 6s..

The Bench decided to convict and inflicted a fine of £10, or two months’ imprisonment.

The Clerk, in answer to Mr Robinson, said that Martin being a licensed victualler his licence ceased upon this conviction.

Mr Robinson said he would take time to consider an appeal.

Pending the appeal the licence was temporarily transferred to Mrs Martin.  If the appeal goes forward and the conviction is quashed by Quarter Sessions, Martin would be restored in his former position, it was stated.

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