Theft from Wormley butcher's shop - part 2

Hertfordshire Mercury, 10th February 1906


Alfred Lee, 18, labourer, Alfred Hunt, 25, stoker, and John Aldridge, 20, labourer, were indicted for stealing a piece of beef and two rabbits, together of the value of 6s., from the shop of Thomas William Smith, at Wormley, on January 30th. Lee pleaded guilty, and the other two not guilty.

Mr Forrest Fulton, who appeared for the prosecution, said the theft was committed whilst the policeman was watching from the outside and the butcher from inside through a transparent door. Lee took the meat and rabbits and handed them to Hunt, and all three men then ran away.

P.C. Grey stated that he knew the three prisoners well. On the day in question he saw them in the square at Wormley walking past Mr Smith’s shop. He was on the opposite side of the road hiding in a gateway. Aldridge came along and said to the two other men ”It’s alright, he’s not about ”. They all then went across to the shop, and Lee leaning over the open window took out a piece of beef and handed it to Hunt, who stood in the dark. Lee then took two rabbits and all three ran away up Church Lane. Witness and Mr Smith ran after them, and when they caught Hunt he was being held by Mr Smith’s man Gutteridge, who had gone in front of them and captured him. One of the rabbits witness found in the road afterwards. The three prisoners were subsequently arrested and taken to Hoddesdon police station but they made no reply.

The prosecutor stated that on January 30th, at 6.30 p.m., he was in his house adjoining the shop. He was looking through the glass door into the shop, when he saw Lee come up and take a piece of beef. Afterwards he came back and took two rabbits.

The Judge: Didn’t you rush out when you saw the beef go? – No, I waited, because I expected they would come back. When the rabbits disappeared I ran out and joined the chase. In cross-examination he denied that he knocked Hunt down and kicked him. He only helped to hold him down, as he did not intend he should get away.

Thomas Gutteridge, who was in the prosecutor’s employment as a butcher, said he came on the scene just as the men were running away. He followed them, caught Hunt and held him until the policeman arrived. He also denied that Mr Smith struck Hunt.

This closed the case for the prosecution.

Hunt had nothing to say, but Aldridge made a long rambling statement, in the course of which he denied that he had anything to do with the theft. He admitted that he ran away when he heard someone coming after him, but he thought it was the landlord of The Globe Hotel coming after him because he had been in his yard.

The jury found Hunt guilty, but they thought there was insufficient evidence to convict Aldridge, and they found him not guilty. He was thereupon discharged, his Lordship telling him to keep clear of bad company in future.

With regard to Lee, Supt Duke said he would work when he could get it. He lived with and belonged to very respectable parents, but had got into bad habits and bad company.

His Lordship : What a pity!

Supt Duke, continuing, said Hunt had not such a good record. He had done no regular work for some time. In 1897, after a previous conviction, he joined the Navy as a stoker, but was invalided home. In 1902 he joined the Army, but was discharged on being convicted of stealing a bicycle. When he did get work he took to drink instead of helping his mother.

His Lordship : Oh, dear!

Hunt replied that he had been working regularly from the time he left the Army in October1904, up to the end of August, 1905, but since then there had been a lack of employment.

His Lordship said that Lee was a young man and he should deal with him leniently in the hope that he would mend his ways. He would be sentenced to two months’ hard labour; but in the case of Hunt, who was older and had a much worse record and he was he feared the ringleader, the sentence would be seven months’ hard labour.

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