Sleight of hand !

Hertfordshire Mercury, 11th April 1914


At Cheshunt Petty Sessions, Lewis Hills (65), of Albury Ride, Cheshunt, of independent means, was charged with stealing a tin of potted tongue and a jar of turkey tongue, of the total value of 8d, the property of Messrs Holland and Barrett, Crossbrook Street, Waltham Cross, on 6th April.

William George Copcoat, manager to Messrs Holland and Barrett, said that, on the Monday morning at about 10:40, he had been called into the shop where he saw the defendant with his hat off, near the counter.  There was a Constable standing by his side.  Mr Hills had turned to the manager and had said “You won’t give me in charge, sir, will you?”, to which he had replied “Yes”.  The witness saw that the Constable was holding 2 pots of meat.  The defendant was then taken to the police station where the witness charged him with the theft of the 2 pots.  The accused made no reply.

Cross-examined, the witness said that he did not know that the accused lived in his own house, but he did know that the accused lived in the district, and that he had been given credit at the shop.

Bert Perry, of College Road, Cheshunt, carman for Messrs Holland and Barrett, said that he had been concealed in the shop at 10:40am on the Monday, behind some boxes.  The accused had come into the shop and, after a few seconds, had placed the 2 pots in his coat pocket.  He had taken them off the counter.  The witness then went out and informed the police.  When he returned, with a Constable, the accused was still in the shop.  The Constable had asked him what he had in his pocket, whereupon the defendant took the articles out of his pocket and offered to pay for them.

Police Constable Leekey said that he went to the shop at 10.45 a.m. on the morning in question, where he saw the defendant.  He had told him that he had reason to believe that he had something in his pocket that didn’t belong to him, whereupon the defendant said “Yes” and took the 2 jars out of his pocket.  The manager had then come into the shop and had confirmed that he wished to charge the defendant.

The Constable then took the accused to the police station where, on being charged, the accused had said “I don’t know what made me do it”.  The accused said that he was not guilty of stealing.  He had put them in his pocket but had every intention of paying for them before he left the shop.

The Rev. C.B. Law said that he knew the accused was a retired milkman and had means of his own.  He had known the accused to be a man of good character since he had been in the neighbourhood.  The Clerk said “Some of the members of the Bench can go back 50 years”.

Mr Windsor, for the defence, said “The accused made no attempt to leave the shop whilst the man went for the Constable”.  The man was well known in that community.  Was it conceivable, therefore, that he would deliberately steal these goods?  There was such a thing as kleptomania.  He earnestly appealed for the man to be bound over.

The Bench retired.  Upon returning, the Chairman announced that they had decided to convict, and that the defendant would be fined 20 shillings or 14 days.

This page was added on 02/10/2014.

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *