At Hatfield Petty Sessions William George Eastman, of Enfield, engine driver, was charged with stealing coal at Cuffley on February 10, the property of Messrs R. McAlpine & Sons, railway contractors; and John Griffan and Albert Roberts, also of Enfield, labourers, were charged with stealing wood on the same day.
Mr Thomas McMillan, agent to Messrs McAlpine, said that owing to a large quantity of coal and wood having been stolen from the works between Cuffley and Hertford, notices were put up warning the men against taking it. On February 10 the police were put in to watch, and caught these men coming off the works with wood and coal in their possession. P.C. Newman, of Newgate Street, stated that he was on duty at Cuffley station on February 10 just after six o’clock in the evening, watching the workmen coming from their work in the tunnel to see if they were carrying anything away with them. Eastman came along with a bag on his back and the witness asked him what he had got in it, and he replied: ‘Only a few pieces of wood’. On looking inside the bag he found the large piece of wood produced. He also saw Griffan with some pieces of wood, which were identified by Mr McMillan as having been cut off some 12 foot lengths used in the tunnel for shoring up.
All three defendants pleaded guilty. Mr McMillan said he had no desire to have the men punished severely, but this petty pilfering had been going on for some long time, and he wanted a conviction so as to put a stop to it. The value of the timber was enormous, compared with the pieces which were the subject of this charge. He had kept these men in their employment, but after this any one who was caught stealing wood or coal would be discharged instantly. The Chairman said that these kinds of petty theft might not appear to be much to the defendants, but if several hundred workmen were doing the same thing it amounted to a considerable sum.
Owing to Mr McMillan’s kindness and consideration for the defendants they would not be punished on this occasion, but he bound them over in the sum of £5 to come up for judgment, if called upon.