William Cooper of Widford was summoned for doing wilful damage to a fence, to the amount of £1, being the property of Mr James of Hunsdon, on July 6th. He pleaded guilty.
PC Gray said that he had been in Hunsdon at about 5:45pm when he had received a report of a fence being broken nearby. He made enquiries, in company with Mr Bishop, the chauffeur to Mr James. He then went to Widford and saw the defendant in a meadow on Mr Adams’ farm. He saw the wood in a 2-wheeled dog-cart, partly covered by a sack. He asked the defendant to account for the wood, and the defendant had told him that, on his way back from Stanstead Abbots, he had seen a man picking up the pieces of wood and that he had then said to that man that, if he could have the wood, he would buy the man a drink. The man had agreed. The defendant had then taken possession of the wood.
The constable had asked the defendant if he knew the man’s name, and the defendant had replied “No”. The Constable then himself took possession of the wood but, at the same time, took measurements of the cart. The Constable then visited the site where the wood had been found to be missing and noticed wheel marks on the grass verge that precisely matched the dimensions he had of the cart.
Mr Bishop, the chauffeur, said that, at 2pm on the day in question, the fence had been in good order but, at 5 pm, he had noticed that a section had been broken. In answer to a question from the defendant, Mr Bishop agreed that some fencing, in the past, had been broken by falling trees but that this particular section of fencing was 50 yards from the trees. The defendant still affirmed that a man had given him the wood.
The Bench fined the defendant 9 shillings or 7 days, together with damages of £1.