Offence: Theft > simple larceny
Verdict: Guilty > pleaded guilty
Punishment: Imprisonment > hard labour
Mr. Davies prosecuted; Mr. Purcell defended.
GWENDOLINE ROOME , 35, Ickburgh Road, Upper Clapton. I am aged 13. At about 1.40 p.m. on May 24 I came home from school on my bicycle, which I left against the hedge in the front garden. Returning for it about 10 minutes later I found it gone. Its value was about £6 10s. I gave information to the police. I have not seen it since.
Cross-examined. You cannot see into the garden from the outside. I placed my machine about a yard in from the gate.
MARGARET WEBB , 33, Ickburgh Road. At 2 p.m. on May 24 I was coming up my road towards home when I saw prisoner running towards me on the same side. He opened the gate of No. 35 with some little trouble; I was then about five doors away. He went in and came out with the bicycle, which I knew belonged to Miss Roome. He got on it and rode down the road. I went and told Miss Roome. I had a good opportunity of seeing prisoner's face. On May 29 I saw him with a lady's bicycle in Clapton Passage. I spoke to father, who was with me, and he went up to him and said, "Is that your bicycle?" He said, "It's my young lady's." I said to him, "Did not you steal a bicycle from Ickburgh Road?" and he said, "This is not the bicycle from Ickburgh Road." Father asked him to go to the police station to verify it and he said, "I am not going to the police station," lifted the bicycle and threw it at my father. He then ran down the road and father ran after him, calling out, "Stop, thief!" I next saw him at the police station. I am quite certain that prisoner is the man I saw take the bicycle. On May 24 he was wearing the same clothes as he was wearing on the 29th, and as he is wearing now. The trousers were of the same stuff as the coat. He had black canvas and rubber shoes on on both occasions.
Cross-examined. I had never seen him before May 24. He "nipped" up the bicycle as quickly as he could and then went with it the same way as he had come. On May 29 I recognised him by his suit, his shoes, and the fact that he had a lady's bicycle with him, but I saw enough of his face on the 24th to be able to swear to it, and I identified him by that as well. I had an opportunity of seeing his face twice, once when he went in and once when he came out. The bicycle that he had on the 29th was not Miss Roome's. My father did not ask him if he had stolen it from Ickburgh Road. On my father asking him to come to the police-station he did not say, "Yes, if you will come with me first to Clarence Road, I will come back with you and go to
the station." Father did not say, "No, come with me at once," and he did not say, "Who are you?"Father did not catch hold of the bicycle, and prisoner did not try to pull it from him. Father did not strike him in the mouth with a stick. It is true father had a stick.
GEORGE SUTTON , housekeeper, Clarence Mansions. I am a retired police-constable, and have been recalled for 21 days' service. About 8 p.m. on May 29 I was standing outside the mansions, which are about a mile and a half from Ickburgh Road, when I heard cries of "Stop! Hold him!" I saw prisoner running as fast as he could along the top of the square. I ran after him and shouted to a friend of mine who was outside the "Duke of Clarence" to stop him. Prisoner then doubled and ran down Clarence Mews. There was a mechanic turning a motor up, and I shouted to him to stop prisoner. The mechanic went up to him with a spanner, and prisoner stopped and picked up a large stone. Before he could recover himself I seized him and wrenched the stone out of his hand. He said, "I did not take it," and struggled. I twisted his hand behind his back, and then he came quietly to the station.
Cross-examined. I gave my evidence at the police-court as I have given it to-day; I cannot help the clerk not putting down that I said the prisoner took up a stone.
Detective JAMES FORD . At 9.20 p.m. on May 29 I saw prisoner detained at Hackney Police Station. I told him I was a police officer, and should take him into custody for stealing a lady's bicycle from 35, Ickburgh Road, on May 24, about 2 p.m. He said, "Not me, guv'nor." I took him to the Stoke Newington Police Station, where he was charged, and he made no reply. I asked him how he had become possessed of the bicycle found on him, and he said, "It belongs to my young lady, Miss Hammond, at 64, Abbot's Road, E. Ham." His young lady does not live there; we cannot find to whom the bicycle belongs.
Cross-examined. Miss Roome's bicycle has not been found yet. I myself did not go to 64, Abbot's Road; the officer in charge of a case of unlawful-possession is not allowed to make inquiries; he was then charged with unlawful possession, but that charge was not dealt with.
Detective-sergeant ERNEST BROOK , N Division. On May 29 I went to 64, Abbot's Road, when I saw Mrs. Frances Smith; I have never found a Miss Hammond. We have not been able to find the owner of the bicycle which prisoner had with him.
Cross-examined. I learnt on the morning of May 30 at the police-station that Frances Smith lives with prisoner at 8, Queensland Road, and that her mother lives at 64, Abbot's Road. Miss Smith gave me that information herself without my asking her. On that evening I went to 8, Queensland Road, where I saw her, and asked her about this bicycle that prisoner had been found with, and she said, "The bicycle belonged to me; I sent my young man yesterday to get it repaired. He took it away, and I have not seen it since." I never made any inquiry as to whether she ever had a bicycle.
Re-examined. Miss Smith has never come to claim the bicycle as far as I know.
Miss ROOME, recalled, stated that the bicycle which prisoner had was not hers.
THOMAS HAMILTON (prisoner, on oath). I have been living at 8, Queensland Road, with Frances Hill. My real name if "Brace Gunn"; I have been known as Thomas Hamilton for two years. I did not steal Miss Roome's bicycle on May 24. I stayed in bed at 8, Queensland Road, until between 5 and 6 p.m.; my young lady was indoors the whole day; I could not go out as a lot of clothes were stolen from me, including my jacket ana vest. In the evening I sent Frances to my mother to get a jacket and vest that belonged to me. On her return we went to a picture palace. I remember seeing a Mrs. Chamberlain at Queensland Road that evening. On May 29 I was in Clapton Passage with a bicycle which belonged to Frances; I was going to take it to a bicycle maker in Clarence Road to have it repaired. A man stopped me and said, "You stole this bicycle from Ickburgh Road." I said, "No, it does not come from Ickburgh Road; it belongs to my young lady." He said, "Will you come with me to the station and verify the statement?"I said, "Yes, if you will come with me to Clarence Road first; I'm going to have this bicycle repaired; I will leave it at the cycle maker's and come back with you." He then said he wanted me to come to the station at once for stealing the bicycle. I said I did not know anything about it and went to push the bicycle along, when he caught hold of it. As I went to pull it away he struck me in the mouth with a brown walking-stick he had. I showed my mouth and handkerchief all smothered in blood at Hackney Station. I then said, "If you won't let my bicycle go I will soon fetch someone to make you." I then ran to see if I could find a policeman. As I turned into Clarence Mews I saw a man, who said, "Come here." I was going up to him, when Sutton caught hold of me. The suit of clothes I have on now I bought of a tailor named "Our Joe Lyons" at 218, Mile End Road, on May 26. On the day I was arrested 1 was wearing indiarubber and black cloth shoes, which I had bought at a shop exactly opposite Clarence Road in Mare Street on May 27.
Cross-examined. I told the magistrate about Webb making my mouth bleed. I did not throw the bicycle at him. I ran away in order to fetch a policeman. I did not hear cries of "Stop thief!" behind me. The reason why I went down Clarence Mews was because I saw a policeman there; it was not because I saw a man coming towards me. Sutton is telling a lie when he says I took up a stone; every word about that is untrue. I did nothing all day on May 24; about 14 or 15 of us, including Mrs. Chamberlain, were in the back kitchen. It was Mrs. Chamberlain's birthday and we were all keeping it up. I lost my clothes on the 23rd.
SIDNEY WEBB was here interposed by the Court. He corroborated the evidence given by Margaret Webb and added: At the station prisoner made a statement to the effect that I hit him in the face with a stick, which I at once denied. There were no marks whatever on his face.
Cross-examined. I had a stick with me. I had absolutely no reason for striking him.
FRANCES SMITH . I was living with prisoner at 8, Queensland Road. Mrs. Chamberlain also lives there with her husband. Her birthday was on May 24 and she, I, prisoner and Mr. Chamberlain with others were in the kitchen celebrating it. Prisoner and I did not go out that day until about 5 or 6 p.m. I stopped at home to do the washing. We had our clothes stolen and I washed a shirt, which he put on when it was dry. We went out in the evening. It was only our underclothes and collars and things like that that were stolen. When we went in the evening he was wearing a dark blue suit, which he had had far some time.
Mr. Purcell stated that after the evidence of this witness he did not think it right to persist in the defence, and prisoner, having taken his advice, pleaded guilty.
Prisoner confessed to a conviction of felony at the North London Police Court on July 22, 1909, in the name of Bruce Gunn; five other convictions for which he had received short sentences were proved against him. In 1899 he had been sent to an industrial school. Police evidence refuted prisoner's statements as to Sidney Webb having struck him in the mouth. It was urged on prisoner's behalf that there was no conviction between 1905 and 1908. He was never known to have done any work.
Sentence, 12 months' hard labour, the Recorder stating that the sentence would have been more severe had prisoner not withdrawn his plea.