Stealing turkeys

Hertfordshire Mercury, 16th March 1907


George Townsend, of North Mymms, and Edward Edwards, of Stapleford, were charged with stealing two turkeys, the property of Mr S. B. Pope, on January 19th. Reuben Austin, labourer, in the employ of Mr S. B. Pope, stated that on January 19th he saw his master’s five turkeys all right at about 4.45 p.m. in an open shed in a meadow close to the house. At 7.50 the following morning he noticed two of the turkeys were missing. He valued them at 14 shillings each.

Thomas Philips, of Bell Bar, in the employ of Mr Titmus, stated that on January 19th at 10.55 pm he was in the Eight Bells, Hatfield, and saw the defendants there. They left together just before closing time. He followed soon after and caught them up along the road going towards Bell Bar. They talked to him about work, and Edwards asked witness if he would go with him. Witness asked ”Why” and said he was going to a hen roost at Welham Green, close to the Policeman’s house. Witness replied ”No”.

At the turning leading to Mr Pope’s place, Townsend went straight up the lane towards Mr Pope’s, and ”Darkie” then shook hands with witness and gave him a shilling and said ” You have not got a heart as big as a mouse not to go with us.”  ”Darkie” then left saying ”You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.” Edwards said he would go with Townsend; he was that drunk witness did not believe he knew what he was saying: neither of the defendants could hardly stand upright. They did not mention ”turkeys.”

P.C. Wright, of Welham Green, stated that on Sunday, January 20th, at 4.45 p.m., he received a report of turkeys being stolen. He saw Townsend on February 12th and told him he suspected him of stealing the turkeys in the company with a man named ”Darkie.” He at first denied all knowledge of the offence. Witness saw him again at 11 p.m., Philips was with witness, and he then read the latter’s statement to Townsend. Upon hearing the statement, Townsend replied ”That’s quite right. I was with ‘Darkie ‘  and ‘ Lester’ (Philips) on the Saturday night and had a drop of beer or else I should not of done it. I left ‘Lester’ at the Rookery and me and ‘Darkie’ went and stole the two turkeys. We got one from the roost and one from a heap of clay. We then went down and slept the night in one of Crawford’s straw heaps, and ‘Darkie’ and me went on Sunday morning and sold the two turkeys to Mr Nash, Maypole public-house, Water End. I had 2 shillings but I do not know that ‘Darkie’ had: He sold them. That is quite true.”

On February 15th, ”Darkie” came to witness’ house and they went to see Townsend. He saw the latter at Bell Bar in Darkie’s presence and read the statement out that Townsend had previously made. Townsend stated that  ”Darkie” was not with him on the night in question and said among other things ”I done it myself. I shall have to put up with it. I stole the two turkeys myself and sold them for 4 shillings and killed them in the meadow and stopped the night in one of Crawford’s ricks. ”

Robert William Nash, landlord of the Maypole, Water End, stated that he did not know Edwards, and had not bought two turkeys from the defendants. The statement made to that effect was false. On the Saturday night named, at 10 o’clock Townsend was turned out of his house and given the can to fetch witness some milk in the morning.  Defendants pleaded not guilty, and elected to have the case settled at once.

Townsend went into the witness-box and admitted he had made the statement to the policeman, but said he had had a little beer and did not know what  he was saying. He knew nothing about the turkeys and was at Mr Nash’s at the time. He was not at Hatfield with Philips; that was false.  Edwards said the summons came as a surprise to him, as he knew nothing about the turkeys. He was not at the Eight Bells with Townsend; that was all lies.

The Bench decided there was not sufficient evidence to convict Edwards and discharged him, but Townsend was fined 30 shillings or 14 days’ hard labour.

This page was added on 18/11/2014.

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