Theft of a bicycle

Hertfordshire Mercury, 24th April 1915


At Hatfield Petty Sessions, Edward Charles Carslake (42), of East Finchley, a painter, was charged with stealing a bicycle from the Swan Inn, Bell Bar, on April 14, the property of Henry John Plummer, farmer, of North Mymms.  The prosecutor stated that on April 14 he rode his bicycle from his farm to the Swan at Bell Bar, where he left it outside at about 1 o’clock.  He stayed in the house about a quarter of an hour, and when he came out the bicycle was gone.  In the mean time the prisoner had been in and had a glass of beer, and he was suspected of having taken it.  The witness saw the bicycle at the police station the next morning.  The bicycle was left in his charge by a soldier who had gone to the front.  He valued it £1 10s. or £2.  He gave information to the police at once and they seem to have made a very smart capture.

P.C. Harry John Bignell, of Ware, stated that on April 14, at 3.15 p.m., he was on duty in High Street, Ware, when he saw the prisoner pushing a bicycle, going towards Wadesmill.  As he answered the description of the man who had stolen a bicycle from the Swan at Bell Bar, he went to him.  The man said he was looking for the Benzol Carbide place somewhere in Ware.  He told him that he did not know of such a place.  Whilst the prisoner was speaking to a cycle agent close by, the witness examined the bicycle and found it answered the description of the lost one.  He took the prisoner to the police station, and Supt Handley asked him where he came from, and he said Finchley.  Asked if he rode through Hatfield that day he replied ‘yes’.  When questioned about the bicycle he said he bought it from a man named Ford, but could not give his address.  The prisoner was detained and after he had been there for about 20 minutes he admitted stealing the bicycle and made a full confession.  The prisoner pleaded guilty to the theft, and said he was exceedingly sorry for what he had done, but he had no intention of stealing the bicycle.  He came away from home that morning, taking a train as far as Barnet, and then walking to Bell Bar.  On the way he had four or five half-quarterns of whisky, and absolutely lost his head.

He remembered having a glass of ale at the Swan, but after that it was all oblivion.  When he walked to the police station at Ware he did not know what he was doing, and when he was told that he had stolen a bicycle he did not even then realise what he had done.  He had some good testimonials as to his character, which he would like the Magistrates to see.

P.C. Bignell, in answer to the Bench, said there was no appearance of drink about the man when he arrested him.  Supt Sullivan said the man had a good record.  The Chairman said this appeared to be the prisoner’s first offence, but it was a serious one.  Taking into account, however, that he had a good character, he would be let off by paying the costs, 8 shillings, and be bound over for 12 months.  This ought to be a great warning to him, for he was a very lucky man to escape so lightly.  The prisoner, who has been a local preacher and was of very respectable appearance, thanked the Magistrates for their kindness.

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