Offence: Theft > simple larceny
Verdict: Guilty > no_subcategory
Punishment: Imprisonment > hard labour; Imprisonment > hard labour
RATHBONE, Charles (42), and PAGE, William (29, commission agent) , being in the shop belonging to the Farmers' Union Direct Supply, Limited, feloniously stealing a safe and the sum of £83 16s. 6d., their goods and money.
Mr. Eustace Fulton prosecuted; Mr. Huntly Jenkins defended.
HARRY DAVIES , manager, Farmers' Union Direct Supply Company, Limited, butchers, 216, Well Street. At 1.30 a.m. on May 14 I locked up the premises, leaving everything secure. There was a locked safe in the shop-parlour containing £83 16s. 6d. in cash. At 9.30 the following morning I entered the shop and found the safe had gone. The door, which was locked with a key, was in the same condition as when I left it. The safe had been torn out of a recess in the wall. I found some cleavers and choppers, our property, lying about, they had apparently been used. I gave information to the police and on the afternoon of the following day at the police-station I saw the safe with the side torn open and the contents removed. I have known Rathbone a few weeks by sight; he used to come up to speak to one of the men. I last saw him on Saturday morning, May 13. I do not know Page. The whole of the premises belong to us, but the top part is unoccupied. Anybody upstairs could have come into the shop after I had gone. I left by the side door, which leads into the shop-parlour. The parlour leads into the shop. I had no occasion to go upstairs on the Sunday and, as far as I know, there was nobody up there when I left.
Cross-examined. Rathbone is not a customer. On the Saturday morning one of our "chaps" asked if Rathbone could have a leg of lamb, and I said that Rathbone could have it, but that I would book it up to our "chap," as I did not know Rathbone.
CISSIE ASHARD , cashier, Farmers' Union Direct Supply, Limited. At 12.20 a.m. on May 14 I was speaking to. a customer outside the shop, when at the side door I saw Rathbone speaking to somebody else. I heard him say, "That is all right." I had seen him once before. At 12.30 a.m. I left, leaving them there.
ELIZA CROSS , wife of William Henry Cross, 24, Arthur Street, Well Street. At 3 a.m. on May 14 I was in Pool Road, Hackney; my husband had had a drop too much and he had locked me out. I was quite sober. I saw Rathbone looking round the corner, watching me. The side door of the Farmers' Union Direct Supply premises is in Pool Road; Rathbone was standing close to it. I have seen him about for about 18 months, but I did not know his name. I walked towards the bottom of Well Street and on turning round I saw a greengrocer's van come down Pool Road and pull up at the side door. Two men got out, one of whom was Page; I have known him by sight about three and a half years; I know his wife also by sight. They left the man who was driving on the van and went in the side door with Rathbone. I was about six yards away at the time. They brought out the safe and I
was still standing in the same place. They put the safe on to the van and shut the door behind them. The van drove off and the three men walked up Arthur Street. At the top Rathbone stood watching me. I walked away in the other direction. On the morning of the 16th I identified prisoners at the police-court.
Cross-examined. These men deliberately committed this robbery under my very nose. They could see me quite easily. I thought it was a dishonest transaction. I walked about the streets till 7 a.m. and I told Mr. Frankel's daughter about it at 9.30. I did not see a policeman after three o'clock. I was too frightened to go to the policestation, because I knew the men would molest me; they were watching to see whether I would put them away. I never spoke to a policeman about it until Detective-sergeant Smith came at 11 a.m. and asked what I knew about it; Mr. Franklin has 'phoned to him. I know Page is known as "Weedon." I gave the police Rathbone's name, but not Page's, because I knew Page longer than Rathbone.
HARRY AINSWORTH , 14, Park Place, Hackney. I am employed by Mrs. Smith, a greengrocer, who has stables in Morning Lane; I drive the van taking out orders for coal. On the night of May 14 I had supper and then I went to her stable at the back of the premises. This was a little after 1 a.m. I slept there as I had often done before. I was woken up by a noise, and in the stable where I was I saw a square thing covered over with a sack. I saw four men, two of whom were the prisoners; I have known them both a good many years. I had tied up the gate of the stable as best I could with a bit of rope, but anybody could get in. I got up, walked down to the bottom and sluiced my face. They took the safe across the yard and put it into another stable which was empty; the sack fell off and I saw it was a safe; it was quite all right then. I then heard hammering and clinking. I have since seen the safe, and the side has been pulled open. One of the strangers came up to me and told me not to say anything about it. I said I would not, and went and had breakfast at a coffee-shop. It would be about 7.15 when I was woken up. About 10 a.m. Page came to me and said, "If anybody asks you anything, say nothing about it; say you do not know," and he gave me 2s. Subsequently I pointed out the safe in the empty stable to the inspector.
Cross-examined. Page works for Mrs. Smith as well as I. I sometimes clean his horse and harness for him. It was on the Monday that he asked me to do that for him, saying that he was going to a funeral. The 2s. that he gave me on the Sunday morning was not for work that I had done for him; it was to keep my mouth shut. I did not intend all along to tell the police; at about 2.30 they took me to the station with the safe. I there made a statement. I was getting a bit frightened then because I thought that they thought that I had something to do with it. They kept me in the charge-room till 1 the following morning, but I do not know why.
Re-examined. On the Monday Page gave me 2s., and I gave his missus a shilling out of it, keeping a shilling for cleaning the horse and trap.
ALFRED CLARK , schoolboy. At 7 a.m. on May 14 I was delivering milk at Valette Buildings, which look over Mrs. Smith's stable-yard. I was looking over the balcony when I saw four men lift a safe from one stable on the left to another stable on the right. Two of them were Page, whom I know as Weedon, and Rathbone, whom I also know. I knew Page as working for Mrs. Smith. I was afterwards taken to the police-station, where I identified them.
Cross-examined. The only person I told about this was a boy. The police first came to me on the Tuesday when I was at school. They spoke of "Rathbone" and "Weedon" to me, so that I knew who the men were that they were after. I knew their names when I saw them with the safe and I told the police I had seen them when they asked me if I knew anything about this safe and if I knew any of the men. They asked me their names and I told them.
Police-constable FREDERICK NELSON , 522 J. At 10.45 p.m., on May 14, I was in Well Street, when I saw Mrs. Cross; I did not know her before. About 3 a.m. I was in Valentine Road, which is a turning out of Well Street, when I saw the head of somebody looking over the railings of No. 16, but I was too far away to discern whether it was the head of a man or woman. I went there to ascertain if all was correct, and I saw nobody there at all. At 4.30 a.m. I saw Rathbone come up Pool Road from the direction of the Farmers' Union, and enter No. 16.
Cross-examined. I did not know him before.
Detective WILLIAM WOOD , G Division. At 12.30 p.m., on May 16, I was in company with another officer in Morning Lane, when Page drove up in a trap. I told him I was a police officer, and should take him into custody for being concerned on the Sunday morning with others in stealing a safe from the Farmers' Union. He said, "Yes, all right; I heard all about it." He had been drinking. I took him to the Hackney Police Station, where he was detained.
Cross-examined. On the way to the station he said, "You know this is not my game, Mr. Wood," or something to that effect. I believe what he was referring to was that he earned his living by making a book and there was no necessity for him to steal safes.
Detective-inspector ERNEST HAIG , G Division. At 10 a.m. on May 14 I went to 216, Well Street. Hackney, where in the shop-parlour I was shown a place in the wall where this safe had been; there had been a clip at the back of the safe which had been built into the wall and which was torn away. At 3 p.m. on May 15 I went to Mrs. Smith's yard and I searched the stables and sheds. One shed was locked with a padlock which I forced off. In there, covered with manure, I found a safe with the side torn off containing papers and the usual safe linings. Ainsworth was in the shed and I sent him with an officer to the station, as I thought I could deal better with them there. I took a statement from him and detained him while it was being verified. At 11.45 p.m. on the same day I was keeping watch at Pool Rood, when I saw Rathbone being led along by another man; he was very drunk, and could not have walked unsupported. I told him that I was a police-officer
and that I should arrest him. He did not understand what I was saying because he made some rambling statement asking whether he had killed the man. I took him to the station, where he was detained until next morning. He was identified by the witnesses and then charged. He said in reply, "I have had enough trouble lately from gout; I could have done without this." The prisoners were then taken to the court and when there Page called me on one side and said, "I do not see why I should take all this on myself. There were three others in it. I do not know their names, but if I get out on bail I think I can find them for you." I there and then put down that statement in my pocket-book. I told him that I should have no objection to his being bailed if reasonable sureties were forthcoming. He was bailed the next day.
Cross-examined. He did not say, "I do not see why it should all be put on me; there were three strangers in the yard. If I get bail I will try and find them for you," or anything like it.
CHARLES RATHBONE (prisoner, on oath), meat market porter. I live at 16, Valentine Road, with a woman named Haycroft, having as lodgers a Mr. and Mrs. Harvey. I was out with Mrs. Haycroft and the little girl on Saturday night, May 13, from about 9 p.m. We returned home at about 12.10 to 12.15 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I did not go out again until 6.30 a.m.; I am accustomed to getting up early. I went for a walk round Hackney and as I was passing Mrs. Smith's yard I saw the stable gates open. I am always up and down the yard so I walked up there; this would be about 7.30 a.m. I had a cup of tea at Mrs. Smith's. She was a friend of mine. In the stable I saw Ainsworth lying on some boards. Page was feeding his horse and I asked him what it was that was lying down there, as Ainsworth had a sack over him. Ainsworth then jumped up. I have seen Mrs. Cross out several nights when I have been going to work. I knew Ainsworth as I used to have a pony and trap at a stable up the same yard. I saw Mrs. Cross at about 8.10 a.m. as I was going home to breakfast. I only live about 20 yards off the Farmers' Union shop. When I was arrested I had no idea that it was for a safe robbery; I asked the detective if I was had up for manslaughter, because I had had a fight a fortnight previous and I heard that the man was dead. I was not sober, but I was not drunk.
Cross-examined. It took me an hour to walk from my place to Morning Lane on that Sunday morning; I did not hurry myself. It was quite a chance that I went into the stable. If anybody had brought in a safe whilst I was there I must have seen it. The evidence that Ainsworth, Clark, Mrs. Ashard, and Mrs. Cross have given is all false. It is true that I was at the Farmers' Union on Saturday morning, but I was not there at half-past twelve at night. Nelson's evidence is also untrue. I do not believe that Mrs. Cross knows me quite well, although it is true she lives opposite me. I was not more than five or 10 minutes talking to Page in the stable.
ESTHER HAYCROFT . I am a married woman and live with Rathbone. At 9 p.m. on May 13 I went with him to the Picture Palace and returned home about 12.10 a.m. We had supper and went to bed. He did not go out until the following morning at about 6.30
Cross-examined. I and my little girl went with him again to the Picture Palace on the following Monday night. He had had a drop to drink, but was not drunk. It is true that on the Saturday nignt after leaving the Picture Palace he could have got to the Farmers' Union shop by about 12 30, but he did not do so; I was with him all the time. I was at the police court, but I was not called as a witness. One day last week Rathbone asked me to come here and give evidence. I do not sleep very soundly. When he ame back on the Sunday morning from his walk he told me that he had seen Page at Mrs. Smith's yard.
WILLIAM HARVEY . I am a lodger at Rathbone's house at 16, Valentine Road. I first heard oi this burglary on Tuesday, May 15. On the Saturday evening before that I remember being at home. Rath bone and his wife came in about 12.20. I did not speak to him, I was having my supper. I heard them bolt the door.
Cross-examined. I did not see them. I heard them come up to their bedroom, which is on the first floor. I am on the second floor. I heard no one go out in the night. At 6.30 a.m. the following morning I looked through the window and saw him going down the steps. He asked me a month ago to come and say what I knew. Nobody else would go in the house but he and his wife.
Cross-examined. This is the first time I recollect his ever coming in after 12 o'clock and I have known him about eight years. I did not ask him what he was doing out so late, as it was not my business. There are only me and my husband in the house besides them. Nobody asked me to come and give evidence; I found my way here because I know the neighbourhood well. He asked me to come and say what I knew about what time he came in that night. I never heard any more until half past six the following morning. I am a very light sleeper and I believe my husband is also.
(To the Court.) I have never seen Page before. I did not go to the police court.
WILLIAM FREDERICK PAGE (prisoner, on oath), 40d, Stockmar Road, N. I am manager and carman to Mrs. Smith at 10, Morning Lace, and am also a commission agent for a betting man. At 10.30 p.m. on May 13 I was in the "Devon Arms," Morning Lane. I left there and went to the "Brunswick Arms," where I stopped till closing time. I then went to a jellied eel stall and had some jellied eels; and from there I went to Mrs. Smith's shop, where I remained till 1 a.m. They keep open till that time, as on Saturday nights there is a busy trade. From there I went to a chandler's shop, where I had some cheese and biscuits. I then went home and reached Stockmar Road at about 1.40. Thre was a bit of bother there and I stopped talking to a sweep named Yatton until about 2 a.m. My wife opened the window
and asked me if I were coming in, and I went into bed. The following morning I got up at about 7.10 and went to the stable to see if the pony had been fed, as it was usual for me to do. I saw Ainsworth there. I saw three strangers there and I asked them what they were doing up there. I have not seen them since. While I was in the stable and Ainsworth was lying on the boards asleep Rathbone came in. At about 11.30 I gave Ainsworth 2s. for the work he had done for me during the week; I always give him money, as he does odd jobs for me. I gave him a shilling the next day to clean a pony and trap for me to get ready to go to a funeral. I was arrested and on the way to the station I said, "You know what I do; I do not do safe robberies; you know different to that." At the court I said to Detective-inspector Haig, "Could you give me bail? I saw three strange men up the yard. If you give me bail I will try and find them for you and if you find them I will try and identify them."
Cross-examined. I know Mrs. Cross quite well and she knows me well. She is saying what she knows to be untrue, but I cannot suggest any reason why she should do so. I got to Mrs. Smith's shop on the Sunday morning at about 7.20 a.m. and I had not been there many minutes when Rathbone arrived. The three men were at the top of the yard when I got there and when I left they were still there. I could not see anything they had with them. I have known Ainsworth a long time as he worked for me when I had a shop once; I have never had a quarrel with him. His evidence is all untrue, but I cannot suggest any reason why he should tell falsehoods. Clark knows me quite well. I have had no quarrel with him. He is mistaken in his evidence. Rathbone sometimes comes to the yard, being a neighbour in the parish. When I made the statement to Inspector Haig he did not take it down in writing; this account of what I said is false.
Re-examined. I saw Mrs. Cross at 3.40 p.m. on the Sunday and she never said a word to me about what she had seen.
MARGARET PAGE , wife of prisoner. At 10.45 p.m. on May 13 my husband finished his business in Morning Lane and gave me my money and I went shopping. I met him again at the "Brunswick Arms" and had a drink with him. We then went round to Mrs. Smith's. I left him there and went on home. I got indoors about 10 minutes in front of him. I arrived home past one. I looked out of the window and saw him talking and then he came to bed. He went out next morning at about 7.30.
Cross-examined. I got home at about 1.40. My husband stood talking to Mr. Yatton about an hour before he came in. I was at the police court, but I did not give evidence.
Against Rathbone, a previous conviction on October 9, 1895, for stealing beef, three months' hard labour was proved. It was stated
that he had been getting bis living as an unlicensed market porter, but had of late become much addicted to drink. Page had been several times proceeded against for street betting.
Sentences: Rathbone, 20 months' hard labour; Page, 18 months' hard labour.
BEFORE JUDGE LUMLEY SMITH. (Monday, July 3.)