Horse stealing at Hitchin

Hertfordshire Mercury, 6th January 1906


Henry John Bullard, 35, labourer, pleaded not guilty to an indictment for stealing a bay gelding, of the value of 9 guineas, being the property of Henry Bright, at Walsworth, Hitchin, on December 1st.

Mr Forrest Fulton said the prisoner admitted selling the horse but did not think he had stolen it.

Mr Bright went to a sale at Messrs Jackson’s yard, Hitchin, and bought the horse in question for 9 guineas. The prisoner was lounging about and asked if he might have the job of taking the horse home for him to Buntingford, a distance of 14 miles. Mr Bright agreed to this, and was to pay him 3s 6d. for the job in addition to beer money. The prisoner started off with the horse, but when he got to The Ship Public House at Walsworth he offered it for sale to the landlord, who did not buy it.  Later on, however, he did sell it to a man called Jenkins for £2, stating he had given £1 15s for it.  That same night Jenkins sold the horse to another man called Smoothey for £4, and it was from him that the horse was recovered by the police.

Nothing was heard of the prisoner for nearly a week, but he was then detained at King’s Cross police station and handed over to the Hertfordshire police.

The owner of the horse, Mr Henry Bright, publican and mail contractor, of Buntingford, Lewis Jenkins, of Walsworth, Hitchin, a fireman in the employ of G. N. R., and Albert Smoothey, of Grove Road, Hitchin, gave evidence in corroboration of counsel’s statement.  P.C. Knight stated that when he had arrested the prisoner he had admitted selling the horse, but did not think he was stealing it.

The prisoner had nothing to say in his defence, except that he had taken a sovereign from the Militia, and that he had had so much to drink he did not know what he was doing.

Mr Forrrest Fulton said he was told that the prisoner was in the Hertfordshire Militia and had served in the South African War.

The jury found him guilty, and the Deputy Chairman said the prisoner had been convicted of minor offences before, but not for larceny.

In sentencing him, the Deputy Chairman said the court had taken into consideration the fact that the prisoner had served his country in South Africa, and that he had been in custody for a month, and he would therefore treat him leniently, but he must be punished, and the sentence of the court was four months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

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