Tomatoes and custody

Hertfordshire Mercury, 20th October 1906


Alfred Lee, 19, labourer, was indicted for stealing 14lbs. weight of tomatoes, value 6s., belonging to Mr Joseph Rochford, at Wormley on July 16th.

Mr E. A. Hoffgard appeared for the prosecution; the prisoner, who was undefended, pleaded not guilty.

P.C. Scovell of the Metropolitan Police stated that on the morning of July 18th he was on duty in Windmill Lane, Cheshunt, when he saw the prisoner, carrying a sack, going towards the railway station. Witness asked him what he had in the sack and the prisoner replied ”Tomatoes, which I fetched from Mr Taylor’s this morning; I gave him 6d. a pound for them.” Witness asked him if he had a receipt, and he replied ”No.” Witness asked him where he was taking them and the prisoner said ”Wormley”. Witness examined the tomatoes, and as they looked to be freshly gathered he took the prisoner into custody.

Enquiries were made of Mr Taylor, who denied he had sold the tomatoes to the prisoner. Prisoner afterwards said ”I bought them at 2d. per lb off two men near the George public house”: and later on he said ”I got them off Mr Rochford on Monday night.” Mr Guy, Mr Rochford’s manager, was sent for and recognised the tomatoes as the same kind as Mr Rochford’s. Mr Guy asked prisoner what house he got them from and he replied ”I took them from a packing shed at Wormley nursery, with two other men, on Wednesday night about 11 o’clock.”

Prisoner denied that he said he got them from Mr Rochford and said that he stated that two other men got them.

Joseph Bromley of 18 Macer’s Lane, Wormley, foreman to Mr Joseph Rochford at the Wormley nursery, stated that on the morning of July 18th he missed 11lbs. of tomatoes from a basket in the packing-shed and some had also been taken from two other baskets. He saw the tomatoes at the police station and they were the same variety as those they had lost.

Prisoner handed in a written statement in which he denied taking the tomatoes from Mr Rochford’s and said he was carrying the sack for two men whom he had met in Cheshunt Street on the morning named.

The jury found the prisoner guilty and he admitted a conviction for felony at the Herts Assizes in February of this year.

P.C. Gray said that prisoner was convicted at the Assizes and sent for two months for stealing beef and rabbits at Wormley.

When he came out of prison he was found a situation by the prison authorities. He remained there about a month and was then discharged for dishonesty. Since then he had done nothing.

The Chairman said The Bench thought prisoner had been very rightly found guilty. He would be sentenced to three months’ hard labour.



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