Soldiers march off with stolen pipes


On the 29th June 1891 Arthur Coombes and William Bailey were charged with the robbery of two Meerschaum pipes worth 3 shillings each from Barnet tobacconist William Henry Graty on the 26th.

Graty stated that the two men entered his shop and asked to purchase the two pipes. Mr Graty got them out of a nearby case and placed them on the counter but when he turned back to shut the case he saw the two men running out of the shop them, pipes in hand.

“Stop them, Stop them!” he shouted.

Luckily his son, also called William, was in the shop and sprinted after the two men. He caught up with them at Barnet church, and the son asked if the two men would pay for the pipes. “Here you are” was the reply of Coombes and he returned his. Bailey denied he had one, but PC Charles Mayo had seen the chase and caught up and arrested the two men when they were charged by young William. Bailey now returned his pipe as the two men were taken to the station.

Though claiming they were only being arrested because they were drunk, Mayo found them to be sober at the time of arrest and also soldiers of the 17th Leicestershire regiment. In trial, Lt. Herbert Gordon claimed both men were of good character. This and a guilty plea perhaps ensured they got only 1 month in Pentonville.

This page was added on 19/12/2013.

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