Edward Moss Hale was an ex-police officer who had left the force because of injuries contracted in the line of duty. He became a butcher upon retirement and settled in Sawbridgeworth.
On the 12th September 1910 the turkeys and harness (the property of a convent school) went missing. Hale was witnessed three days later selling the turkeys at Bishop’s Stortford market and parts of the harness were discovered at his home.
He pleaded not guilty.
Clark Hall defended, and having reviewed the case suggested that his client remove the plea of not guilty in regards to the harness.
The defendant claimed that he had bought the harness three years ago at Saffron Walden, and produced an invoice – or an exact copy of an invoice – in support of this. The name on the invoice was Cleale, which the defendant suggested was a mistake for Hale.
However Mr Murphy (who appeared on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions) had Cleale as a witness, and as he had actually bought the harness could easily prove there had been no such mistake.
Clarke Hall then addressed the Court, asking that they take Hale’s excellent conduct up to this incident into account. He produced many letters from people who had worked with or employed the ex-officer who all vouched for his good character.
He said that the stress and expense incurred by Mr Hale as a result of this incident was a much more severe punishment than any the Court could inflict and that Mr Hale had learned his lesson. Moreover this offense was the only one that Mr Hale had committed, or would ever commit in his lifetime and thus he could be charged under the First Offenders’ Act.
The Bench decided to follow his suggestion and Edward Hale was bound under the First Offenders’ Act for twelve months in two sureties of £20 each.
The Chairman remarked that Hale had been treated very leniently.