Felony most fowl

Hertfordshire Mercury, 12 May 1900


Police Constables William Noble, of Ley Green, and Ernest Edgar Waller, of Offley, were charged on 2 May 1900 with stealing two fowls of the value of 6 shillings, belonging to Walter William Wise.  Waller was also charged with neglect of duty on the same day.

On the day in question, Constables Noble and Waller were in the Green Man Public House at Offley, leaving at a quarter past nine, after having stayed there for a considerable time.

Shortly after the publican’s family had gone to bed at around eleven p.m., his two sons heard a noise and, looking out, saw two men in the yard, one with a lantern, going towards a cart shed where hens were roosting.  They roused their father and the three of them went out into the yard.  The two men already in the yard apparently heard the public house door being opened and so one of them ran off into a nearby meadow.

The women of the household were very alarmed but their cries for help were heard by a passing bicyclist, a Mr Samuel Lucas.  As Mr Lucas then came into the yard to assist, bringing his bicycle lamp with him, one of the sons saw a man in shirt sleeves stooping in the cart shed.  As he gave the alarm the man rushed out, but was caught and taken into the house.

Once there, he said he was PC Noble and that he had been looking after the publican’s property.  PC Waller was sent for.  Although he was not due on duty until 2 a.m. he was in uniform,  and he said that he had been visiting a farm half a mile away.  It was noted, however, that his boots were clean even though the road was dusty, and a witness who had been on the road to Miller’s Farm had not seen anyone along the way.  The messenger who had gone to get PC Waller had only seen Mrs Miller at the Constable’s house.

Two recently killed fowl were found in the cart shed.  Both defendants were denied bail, although the second charge against Waller was withdrawn.

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