Theft of coal

Hertfordshire Mercury, 20th February 1915


At Ware Petty Sessions, Richard Baldock (56), of Stanstead Abbotts, was summoned for stealing coal on February 5.  Abel Brett, a carman in the employ of Mr A. Stevens, of St Margaret’s, said that on February 5, about 9 a.m., he went to St Margaret’s station goods yard and carted some steam coal to his master’s place.  The defendant was there unloading gas coal from the next truck to the witness.  When the witness left at about twenty minutes to one there was about half a ton of steam coal in the truck.  When the witness was unloading, some of the coal fell off, but he would not pick that up until he had finished unloading.

PC Frogley said that that on February 5, about 5 p.m., he was in plain clothes near the station, when he saw the defendant driving a horse and cart, coming from the direction of the Great Eastern goods yard.  As he passed the witness glanced into the cart and saw a sack lying at the bottom of it containing something.  He had suspicions and followed the cart.  The defendant turned into South Street and stopped outside his stables.  As he was about to remove the sack the witness said to him: ‘What have you in the sack?’.  He made no reply.  The witness said: ‘I must see it’.

The defendant then removed the sack from the cart, saying ‘It is only a few scraps of coal, the sweepings-up’.  The witness opened the sack, and found it contained the large lumps of steam coal produced.  The witness said: ‘These are funny sweepings’.  He replied: ‘Stevens’s men were unloading a truck of coal next to mine, and this fell off.  They never troubled to pick it up, so I did’.

The witness told him he had no right to the coal, and he should take possession of it, pending further enquiries.  Mr Arthur Stevens, timber merchant, of St Margaret’s, said that the coal produced was steam coal, similar to that which was being carted that day.  It was not sweepings, and was valued at 1s. 3d.  he asked that Baldock should be dealt with leniently.  He had known him for many years.

George Fowler, Inspector of the Great Eastern Police, said the coal was too clean for sweepings.  In answer to the Chairman, the witness said men were not allowed to take any sweepings.  The defendant said the coal was only what he collected off the ground, and he maintained it was sweepings.  He was fined £1.


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