25th October 1869
Reference Numbert18691025-919
VerdictGuilty > pleaded guilty; Guilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude

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919. CHARLES HOLDEN (34), and GEORGE WHITEHEAD (23) , Feloniously setting fire to three stacks of wheat, the property of Matthew Newman.


MR. BESLEY conducted the Prosecution.

ELIZA SHEPHERD . On the 18th October I and other women were at work in a field on the Cold Harbour Farm, occupied by Mr. Newman—between I and 2 o'clock I saw the prisoner Holden come into the field, from a lane—we spoke to him, when he said, "Don't you women hurt yourselves"—we told him that we thought a day's work would do him good, to which he made no reply—he was close to the stacks of wheat—he went to take some potatoes from a basket, and we told him to put them down, and he did so, and passed on towards the ricks—about three minutes after we lost sight of him—I looked round, and saw a man running, without his hat—it was one of Mr. Newman's men, who was going to give an alarm—I saw that the first of the wheat ricks was in flames, and was blazing up—the wind was blowing the flames towards the other ricks—three wheat ricks were destroyed—Holden was brought back to the fire, in custody, when he said he would rather be in prison than not, walking about with nothing to eat—I never saw the other prisoner there at all.

GEORGE SHEPHERD . I was in a meadow, alongside some water, on Mr. Newman's farm, on the afternoon of the 8th October, and about 200 yards from the ricks—I saw the prisoner Holden run across the meadow, and make towards the water, in a direction away from the ricks—he passed on to the side of the water, and after running a little further he slipped in—I did not see him again till the policeman brought him back to the ricks—when the man was by the side of the water, I turned towards the ricks, and saw they were in a blaze—I did not see Whitehead at all that day.

FRANCIS KING . I was ploughing one of Mr. Newman's fields on the 8th October, about 130 yards from the ricks—I saw Holden ran about forty or fifty yards, then stop and look round—I then saw that the ricks were on fire—I did not we Holden go to the ricks—no one could run away from the ricks without my seeing him—I had a full view of the ricks when in flames—Holden was running away in the direction in which the last witness was—I never saw the prisoner Whitehead.

FRANCIS COPPIN (Policeman X 214). On the 8th October I saw the prisoner Holden at Southwell, about two miles from the ricks—I tad traced him there, from information I had received—it was about 2 o'clock when I apprehended him—his clothes were very wet, at if he had been in the water up to his neck—I told him there had been a man in the water, and asked him to go back with me to see if he knew anything about it—he said he did not know anything about the water—I took him back into Mr. Newman's field, and then told him that he had been in the water—he said he knew he had, somewhere—I then called the witnesses, to know if he was the same man they had seen run away from the ricks, and they said that he was, and that no other man had been in the field—the prisoner made no reply—I saw that his left eyebrow had been singed very recently—I told bun I should charge him with setting fire to one of the ricks, when he said, "I may as well be in prison as starving"—on searching him at the police-station, I found upon him six lucifer matches, a threepenny-piece, a knife, and a pipe.

MATTHEW NEWMAN . The three ricks destroyed were my property, and worth 450l.—Holden was apprehended by my directions—he was cold and wet when taken to the police-station—I heard him say that he might as well be in prison as starring.

CATHERINE HUMPHRIES . I was at work with Eliza Shepherd and others in the potatoes garden—on the day in question I saw the prisoner Holden come into it from the road—he was afterwards brought back by the constable—his clothes were wet—I was sure he was the same man.

HOLDEN— GUILTY Ten Years' Penal Servitude.

MR. BESLEY informed the, COURT that the prisoner WHITEHEAD called at the police-station on the 11th October and insisted that he was the guilty man. He could give no-account of himself, and it was believed that his intellect was affected. He was only liberated from the gaol at Wandsworth at 9.30 on the morning of the fire, and could not have waited the distance in the time.

The COURT ordered sentence on WHITEHEAD to be postponed till next Sessions.

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