PERCY LEACH, ERNEST WILLIAM HARMAN, RICHARD DOE, Theft > housebreaking, Sexual Offences > bigamy, 28th February 1911.

LEACH, Percy (29, paperhanger), HARMAN, Ernest William (29, labourer), and DOE, Richard (27, labourer) , all breaking and entering the dwelling-house of William Manning and stealing therein 6s. 5d., the moneys of the South Suburban Gas Company; Harman feloniously marrying Rosina Emily Berry, his former wife being then alive.

Mr. Landers prosecuted.

Harman pleaded guilty to the bigamy indictment.

MARGARET HILDA MANNING . I live at 22, Chaplin Street, Forest Hill, with William Manning, as his wife. On February 6 Harman and Doe were in my house from about 3 to 7.45 p.m. We Were talking about my gas meter (a "penny-in-the-slot" meter); they asked me how long it was since it had been emptied; I told them three or four weeks. We left the house at 7.45; I locked the place up securely. On returning about 10.30 I found the place had been broken into, and the meter had been robbed.

Cross-examined by Leach. I did not know you before, but on this night after I left my house I saw you talking with the other two.

EDWARD PANTIN . I run odd jobs for people. I know all three prisoners; I saw them in the afternoon of February 6 in a coffee shop in Perry Vale at about three p.m. Harman asked me if I would take a message to Mrs. Manning; I was to ask if a young woman named Rose was living round there. I took the message and was told to tell Harman to go down. He went down, I remained in the coffee shop. When I came out again I was standing outside, when I saw Doe go down after remaining "up top" for about five minutes. Leach asked me to go down to ask Harman if he was coming up to the top Again and if he was going to do that job to-night. I went down and saw Harman and Doe. I gave Harman the message and he told me to tell Leach that he would meet him to-night. I went and told Leach and then I saw Leach go down. I went down afterwards and saw Harman and Doe go out; Leach was not there then, nor was Mrs. Manning. Harman and Doe came back at 3.30, and Mrs. Harman, who had come in, gave them a shilling to get some grub. I went out leaving them there. I heard no conversation about a gas meter. Between 8 and 9 p.m. I was standing outside a lodging-house in Hendley Place, about 40 yards from 22, Chaplin Street, when I saw

Leach and Doe come out of No. 22 and meet Harman, who was standing still about 20 yards away from them. All three went up to Church Vale; I did not see where they went. I saw Leach again at 9.30 p.m. outside "The Signal."

Police-constable ROBERT MOIR, P Division. On February 7 at one a.m. I was at Catford Police-station and saw Harman. I told him I was a police officer and should convey him to the police-station where he would be charged with breaking and entering 22, Chaplin Street, and stealing 6s. 5d. from a gas meter. He said, "I don't know anything about it; you can search me; you won't find money on me." On the way to the station he said, "I may as well tell you the truth; we done the job; Percy Leach and Doe broke through the window and I kept watch; they afterwards gave me 2s., my share of the gas meter; don't be too hard on me." I conveyed him to Syden-ham Police-station, where he was detained. At 5 p.m. I went to 15, Dalmain Road when I saw Leach. I told him the charge, and he said, "All right; I was with the others, but I did not break into the place." I charged the two prisoners. They made no reply. I searched them, and found on Harman 2s. 4 1/2 d. and on Leach 2d.

To Leach. I have seen your references. I believe you are honest.

Cross-examined by Doe. I called on Mr. Bolton, of Perry Vale, and was given four names on a piece of paper of men who were left in charge of that place between the 16th and 18th. Pantin was one; he was there four days. He said his meter money was taken between Christmas and a fortnight ago.

Police-constable JOHN FITZGERALD, 204 P. I saw Mrs. Manning at Catford Bridge on February 6 at 11.45 p.m. She spoke to me. The three prisoners were standing close by. She said, "I want to give those three men into custody for breaking into my house and breaking open a gas meter." On hearing this the three prisoners turned to run away. I caught hold of Harman and Doe. Doe wrested himself from my custody. I took Harman to Catford Station. I assisted in arresting Leach at 15, Dalmain Road. I subsequently identified Doe from nine men at the station.

To Leach. I did not make a rush at you, as you say. You came to the station afterwards and surrendered. You were not detained.

Detective-sergeant WILLIAM SHARPE, P Division. On February 7 I saw Harman and Leach in the passage adjoining Greenwich Police Court. Harman said, "I will give you the name of the third man that is wanted and tell you where to find him; it will save a further remand."

EDWIN MERCER , Inspector, South Suburban Gas Company. I found the lock of the meter broken off and the money box with it. There should have been 6s. 5d. in it.

Sergeant ROBERT WILLIAM CHARLES, P Division. I knew Leach about three and a half years. He works occasionally, but locally his character is very bad. He was convicted in April, 1906, for obtaining £3 by means of a worthless cheque and sentenced to four months' hard labour.

To Leach. You are a painter. You were in a gentleman's service with your wife for 18 months after you were convicted.

(Defence.)

PERCY LEACH (prisoner, on oath). On February 6 I was coming from the L.C.C. offices, where I had been working till that date. I met Harman and Doe in Stanstead Road. I said to Harman, "Hullo, strangers, what are you doing about here?" I had never seen Doe before. Harman said, "I am up here to find out where my wife lives." We walked together to Forest Hill. He said, "Do you know where she lives?" I said, "I will ask the flower-seller." I asked him and he motioned to Pantin. He said, "He knows; he is always round there." I went to fetch Pantin as Harman did not know him. Pantin came up, goes down the road for Harman with a message, and comes back again. Harman and Doe go down; I go away. I said, "I might see something of you later." I went home, had my dinner and tea. At 7.50 p.m. I go straight to Forest Hill Station. As I stand there talking I heard a woman talking to a man and a woman came out of a telephone box using bad language. That is what made me notice Harmon and Doe standing there. She was speaking about being charged 5d. to ring up to the police station. After that Harman and this woman go across to the "Signal" to have a drink. On coming out they stand at the corner of London Road and they followed the other woman up the London Road. About 8.30 or 8.35 Harman and Doe came back. They said, "Coming up the road?" which means London Road. I said I might come up later, nine or after, as I had some business with a man about work. About 9.15 I met Harman and Doe talking to two women under the railway arch, Harman's wife and Mrs. Manning. They shouted out to me to go and have a drink. I followed them down the road and went into the "Grove" to have a drink. Me and the two prisoners came out of the "Grove" at half past 10. We had another drink in the "Swiss Cottage." I said I would go a little further and see them off and ride to Greenwich. We got to Catford; up runs the constable and makes a rush. I runs away, thinking there was a squabble. I met another person, who said, "That man is locked up for stealing money from a gas-meter." I said, "I am going up to the station; I can clear him as a witness that he was in my company from 9.15 until the time of being locked up." This referred to Harman. The sergeant at the station said, "Mr. Leach, we don't want you here; go out of it." I went home. Next morning my landlady comes to the door, knocking. She said there was a woman downstairs who wanted me to bail her husband. I said, "That is funny; I can't go and bail her husband." I goes down to see who it was and I am arrested and taken to the station. I asked what it was for and said, "Why did not you keep me last night and not come upsetting my wife and children in the morning?"

Mrs. BLENKINSOP (to Leach). I saw you about 8 p.m. on February 6 standing at Forest Hill Station. I went up to the picture palace and saw you again when I came back about 8.30. I talked to you for two minutes or more. I went across the road and back and saw you still there. Two men spoke to you, one is beside you.

JAMES HOPE , house decorator (to Leach). I met you on the night of the charge about 8.20. I talked to you for 10 or 15 minutes. I left the station at 8.55; you were there then.

---- GRIFFITH, labourer. On February 6, between 8.45 and 10.5 p.m., I saw Pantin standing outside the "Signal." That is 300 yards from Chaplin Street. About 11.30 a.m. on February 11 Pantin stated in my presence to Leach that he was fetched out of the lodging-house in Chaplin Street at 1 a.m. by a detective and accused of stealing the money from the gasmeter. He said he would fetch his two brothers if he got into any trouble over it. I refuse to say why I noticed Pantin so much on the evening of February 6; it concerns myself and my family affairs.

To Doe. Pantin was not in my ompany. From where he stood he could not see anyone come out of Chaplin Street unless he could see through brick walls.

GEORGE HEBDITCH (to Leach). I saw you outside the station at Forest Hill on February 6, at 7.50 p.m. A woman came out from the telephone box using dirty language. She was there from 12 to 8 to exactly 20 past. You were there all the time.

---- BREACH, painter (to Leach). I saw you at 8.45 p.m. You, Gibbs, and me stood talking until about three minutes to nine, when I left you talking to Gibbs.

---- MUNDY, gas stoker (to Leach). I am the landlord of the house you live in. A woman came at 5 a.m. one day and said, "Does Percy Leach live here?" Then she said, "Tell him Rosie wants him to go and bail her husband out." I had to go to work and said I would knock the missus up. I did so. When I got outside I saw two policemen. I do not know if they were detectives. There were two men and three women. I cannot give you a bad character. You have paid your way.

Mrs. LEACH (prisoner's wife). On the 7th the landlady knocked me up and said my husband was wanted by a woman named Rose to go and bail her husband out. I told the landlady he could not do it; he went down to see her. Then a woman came up and asked for his clothes. I said, "You cannot have them," and wanted to know what was the matter. She said, "It is no use making a fuss; two splits have got him at the door." I called to him to come up. Two detectives then came into the room and they all four left together.

(Thursday, March 9.)

ERNEST WILLIAM HARMAN (prisoner, on oath). On February 6 I met Doe at Albany Street, I think, it is, at 10.30 or 11 a.m. We went for a walk to Forest Hill and met Leach in Stanstead Road. He said

to me, "What are you doing in this part of the world?" I said, "To tell you the truth, Pearce, I have heard my missus is stopping out here with Hilda Metcalf," meaning Mrs. Manning, "Do you know where she lives." He said, "I know she lives in Chaplin Street, but I don't know the number." We all walked up to Forest Hill Station, where I met another young man and asked him whether he knew where Mrs. Manning lived. He said he did not, but "I can tell you who does," pointing to Pantin, who was outside a coffee-shop, "he is always in and out there." I said to Pantin, "Is that right, you are living at Hilda Metcalfe's, meaning Mrs. Manning." He said, "No, I am not stopping there; I run and get their errands and light their fire for them in the morning." I then said, "Do you know whether there is a party of the name of Rose stopping there?" He said yes. I said, "Would you mind running down and asking her whether she would come and meet me." He said, "Who shall I say?" I said, "Tell her it is a tall, slim fellow." He went and came back and said, "She is not there; she has gone by train." I went down myself, and on being there ten minutes Doe and Leach came down. Doe, I think, knocked and Mrs. Manning said to me, "There is two friends of yours outside." I said, "There is only one," meaning Doe. She said, "You had better ask him in," which I did. She asked us if we would have any tea. Me and Doe went out to get tea. We saw Pantin again at the coffee-shop. He said, "Hullo, are you off." I said, "No, we are just going down to get a bit of something to eat." When we got back we found Pantin talking to Mrs. Manning. As we went in he said, "All right, I will bring the coals round later on." About 5.30 my missus came in. She said, "Hullo, what are you doing over here." I said I had come over after some collars and ties. She had a cup of tea and went out, leaving me, Doe and Mrs. Manning together. We talked a considerable time; then Mrs. Manning said, "I must see about washing and going out." We all went out of the house together. We got to Forest Hill Station about 8 or 8.20. Mrs. Manning said, "I am just going on the 'phone to Detective Moir." She returned in about a quarter of an hour and said it cost her 5d. Then we went into the "Signal." At the corner of London Road she said, "Here is Detective Moir; I am off; follow me up." We did so. She talked to Detective Moir under a lamppost in a turning out of London Road. We came back and saw Leach still talking to some friends; I do not know who they were. That was 8.35. I said to him, "We are going up to Lordship Lane; are you coming?" He said, "No, I will follow you up." Me and Doe saw Mrs. Manning going towards Lordship Lane and followed her. When we got there we go over to them. That was close on nine. After talking some time we went to have a drink. On the way at the other side of Lordship Lane railway arch she said, "Ain't that Percy Leach over there?" I said "Yes." She said, "Call him over," and me, Doe, Leach, my missus, and Mrs. Pantin went to the "Grove," where we had I do not know whether it was one or two drinks and a bit of something to eat. My missus and Mrs. Pantin left about 10, my missus saying, "I won't say good night; we might

see you later at Catford." We stopped there till about 10.30. Me, Doe, and Leach called at the "Swiss Cottage" and then went on to Catford and a police constable came up and sprang on me and Doe as if a cat was springing on a rat. Doe got away and I tried, as I thought he was locking me up on account of having a row with a young woman named Julia about her husband. When he gets me over the bridge up comes Mrs. Manning and another young woman and my missus. The constable says, "I arrest you for breaking that woman's gas-meter open." I said, "What gas-meter? I know nothing about no gas-meter so I will come quiet." Some time after I was in the station Detective Moir came to me and said, "Hullo, what about this gas-meter?" I said, "I know nothing about no gas-meter." He said, "All right; I will have to take you to Sydenham station." At the station he kept on coming two or three times, saying, "You had better tell me the truth; you know about this gas-meter; it is no good saying you don't because you do, and you know you was in the house." I said, "I admit me and Doe being in the house to tea, but as for the meter I know nothing at all about it." Pantin has said where I was supposed to be seen. It is 50 yards from the top of the street to the lodging-house. At that distance it would be impossible to identify. I say Pantin was thinking "Harman has come back and found his wife out; what is the best way to work him out of it," and the blame has been entirely put on me for spite.

Cross-examined. I was not in the coffee shop in the afternoon, where Pantin says he saw me. It was 1.30 or 1.45 when I sent him down to Mrs. Manning. While we were in Mrs. Manning's we did not talk about the gas-meter. Mrs. Manning gave Doe 1s. to buy food, of which we spent 2d. We were very friendly together. I think the reason why she brought this false charge is that she had an idea if I took my wife away she would be left on her own. We left the house about eight.

RICHARD DOE (prisoner, on oath). I met Harman in Bridge Street, Deptford, this day. It is four or five miles to Forest Hill from there. It was the first time I had been in Forest Hill in my life. We met Leach. When we got to the other side of Forest Hill Station Harman walks across to some chap that was selling flowers. I do not know what he said to him. He came back and said to Leach, "Call that chap that is in that coffee shop for me." The chap was Pantin. Harman said to him, "Are you living down in Hilda Metcalf's place? "He said, "I am not living there exactly; I am down there occasionally and have a bit of food and runs their errands." Harman then said, "Do you know a woman named Rose? "Pantin said "Yes." Harman said would he mind going to see if she was in. Pantin said should he mention names. Harman said, "Tell her a rather tall, thin fellow." When he came back he said, "Hilda says Rose is not in now; she has gone by train somewhere, but she would not be long; whoever you are you had better come down and wait." Harman goes down and leaves me, Leach, and Pantin talking. Pantin wanted to know the particulars. He said, "Who is he?" I said,

"This is Mrs. Harman's husband." He seemed a bit wildishfied, and left me and Leach talking. I said, "I hope he ain't going to be long." After about a quarter of an hour me and Leach walked down. I knocks at the door. Mrs. Manning opened the door. I went in. She was making or going to have a cup of tea. She said she had something for us to eat, but on looking she found she had nothing. As she did not want to make a fool of us, after asking us to have something to eat, she bungs me a shilling to get something. I said to Harman, "We will both go and then there will be no talk." We goes out, and as we gets to the top Pantin was peeping round the corner. He said, "Hullo, are you off?" rubbing his hands pleasified. I said we were going to get something for tea. We got twopennorth of fresh herrings. When we got back we met Pantin at Mrs. Manning's. Mrs. Harman came in about five or 5.15. Mrs. Manning said to her, "I thought you was coming back at four?" She said, "I could not get away." She did not say where she had been. She said, "I have to go somewhere particular; I cannot stay; give us a cup of tea." She got away very quick, saying, "You know where to see me later." She left me and Harmer and Mrs. Manning in the kitchen. About a quarter of an hour afterwards a tap came at the front door, like with a knuckle. She said, "I wonder who is that." She crept to the door, opened it, and was whispering to someone. She said it was Pantin. I said, "What does he want?" She said, "He came down to see if you two was gone; he is always dodging and squinting about here." Then she said, "Time is rolling on; I must wash and dress and get to go on the phone to phone to Detective Moir." I said "Who?" She said, "Don't you know Detective Moir?" I said I did not know him. She said, "I have been on the 'phone to him many a time. I am going to phone about my chap." She had been talking about a chap she had been living with. As we went out it struck eight by the Forest Hill clock. I noticed Leach and two or three more standing by. That was the first time I saw him that day. Mrs. Manning said, "I won't be long; wait for us, Era," and she popped down on the 'phone. Up she comes. She said, "That settled him all right; it has cost me f—g well 5d." I said, "5d. on the 'phone?" She said, "Yes, all that I can hear them say is, 'Shove a 1d. in; shove a 1d. in.' "She said, "I have to meet Detective Moir in 10 or 15 minutes' time up London Road. After we had a drink we walked to the corner of London Road. All of a sudden she says, "There is Mr. Moir across the road; follow me up." She ran across. I did not know Mr. Moir. They were talking under the lamp. We walked back to the corner where Leach was. It was then between 20 and 25 to nine. I told him Mrs. Manning was with Detective Moir. Leach, Harman, and I remained in the "Grove" till half-past 10. At Catford Bridge Harman was rowing with a woman about her husband. All of a sudden a copper rushes out, got hold of me and Harman, and started shaking us. I ran down a side turning and Harman goes another way. I ran down to see if I could see Leach. I Wondered what Harman was locked up for. I went to my uncle's at

Deptford and stopped there for the night. When I was arrested on the 14th on this charge I said, "I know nothing about the meter." I was then about four and a half miles from the scene of the robbery. Pantin says he saw us come out of the house between half-past eight and nine. One witness says he saw me at an election meeting from 8.45 to after 10. We were not out of Mrs. Manning's company a quarter of an hour, and that was while she was talking to the detective.

EDWARD PANTIN , recalled. They came out of the house between 8.30 and nine. It was after nine when I was at the political meeting outside the "Railway Hotel." I did not know anything about the robbery then.

Verdict, Leach, Not guilty; Doe and Harman, Guilty.

Doe confessed to a conviction of felony at Greenwich on March 12, 1904, and other convictions were proved against him.

Sentences: Doe, Five months' hard labour; Harman; Five months' hard labour, and Three months' hard labour on the bigamy charge, to run consecutively.


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