Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 23 October 2014), May 1844, trial of JOHN BRIAN (t18440506-1425).

JOHN BRIAN, Theft > theft from a specified place, 6th May 1844.

1425. JOHN BRIAN was indicted for stealing 3 wooden cases, value 3s.; 12 bottles, 18s. 8d.; and 56 quarts of wine, 18l. 10s.; the goods of William Joyce and another, in a certain boat on the navigable river Thames.

MR. BALLANTINE conducted the Prosecution.

JOSEPH JOHN SAVAGE . I am lighterman to William and Edward Joyce, of Water-lane, Tower-street. On the 4th of April I was sent for some cases of wine—I got to the Batavia about half-past four o'clock, and received eighteen cases from the Custom-house officer on board—I took them to St. Katherine's Docks in a lugboat—I covered them with a tarpaulin—I was not able to get into the dock, and left the lugboat outside, in charge of a Custom-house officer—next day I went to the Thames police station, and found the lugboat with fourteen cases of wine in it—four cases were gone.

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q. What time did you get to the Dock? A. About a quarter before five o'clock—Rye was the officer I left in charge—it was his duty to remain with them.

JOHN CARR . I am a Custom-house officer. On the 4th of April I was on board the Batavia, and delivered Savage eighteen cases of wine, marked "S. F. and C.," and numbered from 96 to 113.

Cross-examined. Q. Where is Rye? A. I think he is on duty at the Custom-house—he has been ill.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. Would the Custom-house officer have the charge, of the cases, and was he to remain outside the whole time? A. Yes.

ROBERT POLLON waterman. On Thursday night, the 4th of April, I was on watch at East-lane stairs, Bermondsey—three men came on shore at East-lane stairs in a boat—I asked them which way they came—they said from, upwards—the prisoner was one of them—a party stepped forward, and asked whether I would assist in landing three cases of wine, and seeing them on shore—they were not yet arrived—I told them I would not get into trouble (or them—they pressed me to have a bottle of' wine and a half-sovereign—the prisoner was within hearing—I do not recollect his speaking—they said they had three or four cases, that they-did not know which way to land, nor what sort of policemen there were on shore—they all appeared to be very thick together indeed—I said the policeman was a stranger to me, I had seen him once or twice—they then wanted to know where they could get a cab or cart—I said they bad better go to London-bridge, it was the nearest place I knew—the tide was within three quarters of low water—I first saw them about nine at night—the tide was running down—it would take six, or seven minutes to get a boat from St. Katherine's Dock across the river—I made a communication to Little, then returned, and threw my coat into the watch-box—nothing was in the box then—I went to my boat, and took a, fare over the water—when I returned there was one out of the three men. missing—I did not see the prisoner then—I took another fare at the pier, and saw a wooden case between the-barge and the wall—I afterwards found the prisoner in Little's custody—there was no case there before I rowed the fare.

Cross-examined. Q. Did the man ask whether it would be right to land a few cases? A. Yes—they were all talking and whispering to one another.

GEORGE LITTLE (Thames police-constable, No. 42.) On Thursday night Pollon made a communication to me—I placed myself in some ruins in East-lane, where I could see the stair-head—I saw a cab drive to the corner of East-lane—I saw one man get off the box—two men shortly after came from the stair-head, and went towards the man who got from the box—the prisoner and another were carrying a box or case from the stair-head—I saw

them go to the cab—they were putting the case in, I came up and' caught them—they were too much for me, and the prisoner got away—he was running round the back of the cab when I apprehended him the second time—the other had previously gone off—I called for assistance, and Pollon came up—I asked the prisoner what the case contained—he said he knew nothing about it—that he had been employed by the other man to assist in putting it into the cab—he said he left Deptford at ten o'clock—I asked what he had been doing there—he said, "To sell a bushel of apples"—I asked where the money was—he said in the scuffle I had caused him to lose 2s.—I found 2s. on him.

JAMES CHRISTOPHER EVANS (Thames police-inspector.) I received the prisoner on the 4th of April, and a case marked "F. S. and C. 104"—I opened it, and found it contained bottles of a German light wine—I went to East-lane stairs, and found another case, "No. 106"—I looked in the watch-box, and found another case, "No. 108"—I took the prisoner to the office—he said he knew nothing about it, he had been to Deptford, and coming by East-lane stairs, two men asked him to lend them a hand with a case, and he was assisting one with a case into a cab, and the officer took him—I examined a lug-boat that was produced by Webb—there were cases in it, the numbers running from 96 to 113, and there were three missing corresponding with what I found.

GEORGE WEBB , inspector of the Thames-police, On Friday morning, the 6th of April, I found a lug-boat adrift near the Tower—it was the boat spoken to by Evans—a vessel would lie at the entrance of the Dock if she could not get in—she could be reached from the shore—a Custom-house officer on duty would stand in the head or stern sheets of the vessel—if he had been attending to his duty he would not have left.

ANTHONY COOPER . I drive a cab. No. 572. On the day before Good Friday a man got on my box—by his direction I drove him to East-lane-stairs—I stopped there—the prisoner and the man who fetched the cab came with a box, and then the prisoner was taken.

NOT GUILTY .