A special sitting of the Bench was held at Welwyn on Friday before Mr J.H.L. Deards (in the chair) and Mr Duncan Lockhart, when John Murray (aged 38), of no fixed abode, was charged on remand, and pleaded guilty to unlawfully stealing a gent’s overcoat of the value of £2 at Woolmer Green on December 3, 1914, the property of Frederick William Norris.
P.C. Field, of Stanstead Abbots, said that on Friday, May 14, he received a telephone message from Ware respecting a robbery at Hertford, and in consequence of inquiries he made in the village, and information received, he got on his bicycle and went to Roydon in Essex, and in company with a police officer he went to Epping Green, where he overtook the defendant. He was with his wife and child, and was pushing a truck along. The witness asked him where he had come from that morning, and he replied from Fisher’s lodging house in Hertford. The witness told him he was making inquiries about three articles of clothing that had been stolen. He searched the truck, but failed to find any of the property referred to, but in the truck he found a gent’s new double-breasted overcoat (produced).
He asked the defendant to account for having the coat in his possession, and he replied: ‘I bought it six weeks ago in Hertford of a man who was going to join the army. I gave him twelve shillings for it.’ The witness then said: ‘Can you describe the person you bought it of?’ and the defendant said: ‘No, I can’t’ and further added ‘ I have worn it five or six times, and wore it yesterday.’ The witness pointed out to him that it was quite new, and had not been worn, and also that on the day on which he said he had worn it was a very wet one, and the coat was quite dry. To this the defendant made no reply. The witness then took him to Hertford. The coat answered the description of one stolen from Woolmer Green last December. The defendant was afterwards charged with stealing the coat, and replied: ‘I did pinch the coat off a bicycle, but my old woman don’t know anything about it.’
Frederick William Norris of Pondcroft Road, Knebworth, a tailor, said he lost an overcoat on December 3. He went to the Red Lion, Woolmer Green, on business, and left his bicycle outside, with the coat on it, for about fifteen minutes. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and the time was about eight o’clock. He reported his loss to the police. He identified the coat as his property, and valued it at £3.
The defendant having pleaded guilty to the charge, the Magistrates decided to bind him over in the sum of £5 to be of good behaviour for six months, and placed him under the care of Mr H.J. Andrews, the police court missionary.