Theft of brass

Hertfordshire Mercury, 18th September 1915


At Barnet Petty Sessions last week, before Sir Samuel Boulton, Bart., and other Magistrates, Ernest Edward Tolman, (40), farm labourer, of Black Cottage, Potters Bar, was charged with breaking and entering the shop of Frederick Arthur Fountain, and stealing 10 brass caps and collets, 2 brass carriage-door fasteners, and 1 brass motor horn; and John Isaac Watson (42), general dealer, of 2 White’s Cottages, Enfield, was charged with receiving the goods knowing them to have been stolen.

Sergt. Crack, Potters Bar, said on August 30, he went to Mr Fountain’s shop and took a description of property reported missing.  He afterwards saw the prisoner Watson driving a coster’s cart up to the prisoner Tolman’s house.  Watson pulled round sharply as if in answer to a call.  He went into the house, and afterwards returned with a bag which contained something heavy, placed it on his cart, and drove off towards Barnet.  The witness and P.c. Knott went to a public-house at which the prisoner had pulled up, and said to Watson: ‘Show us your last purchase.’  Watson showed the contents, which answered the description of the missing property.  The witness examined Mr Fountain’s premises, and found a window unfastened.

P.c. Knott said that he saw Tolman at home and said to him: ‘You had a rag-and-bone man call here.’  Tolman replied ‘Yes.’  The witness asked: ‘Did you sell him anything?’  Tolman replied: ‘Yes; I sold him some old brass for 4s..’  The witness then asked: ‘Was it your property?’  The reply was ‘Yes.’  Asked where he got it, he said: ‘I found it in a field at the back of my house at half-past five this morning.’  On the way to Barnet the following morning Tolman said: ‘This will teach me a lesson.  I didn’t find them in a field as I told you yesterday.  I got through the window at the back of the shop and took the things away.  I don’t know what made me do it.’

Thomas Pallett, Mr Fountain’s manager, said that when he left the premises on Sunday he locked the doors, but the window in question was not fastened.

Tolman pleaded guilty, and Watson not guilty.  Tolman said that he bore a good character, and hoped the Bench would deal leniently with him.  Watson was innocent.

Watson, who said he never suspected that the goods were stolen, was discharged, and Tolman was sentenced to six weeks with hard labour.

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