7th February 1898
Reference Numbert18980207-175
VerdictGuilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > hard labour

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175. WALTER PLATTS (31) , Forging and uttering a request for the delivery of certain incandescent mantles with intent to defraud.

MR. ARTHUR GILL Prosecuted.

GEORGE BATES . I live at 12, Belgrave Road, Earl's Court—I am an errand boy for Rabbitts and Sons, of Brompton Road—I was in the Brompton Road, on July 17th last, at mid-day, the prisoner came to me and said, "Do you mind taking this note to Fenton and Barnes," as he was waiting for his boy—he gave me this note which I took there—(purporting to come from C. L. Hacking for six or a dozen incandescent mantles, to be returned when their stock was replenished)—in consequence of what was said to me I took the note to Hacking's shop, 227, Brompton Road, where the prisoner had told me to take the goods—I next identified the prisoner at Walton Street police-court, on January 22nd, in the charge room, from about a dozen others.

Cross-examined. by the prisoner. I am sure you are the man—I saw another like you.

ROGER BARNES . I am manager to Messrs. Fenton & Barnes, 94, Brompton Road—on January 17th, this order form was brought to me by a boy—I know Messrs. Hacking well and would have supplied them, but we had not the goods in stock.

Cross-examined. I never saw you to my knowledge.

WILLIAM LEARY . I am cashier to Mr. C. L. Hacking, 227, Brompton Road—the order form produced is not ours—this billhead is not ours—it is quite different—we never had a billhead like that—the handwriting is not that of anyone of our staff—it was never sent out of our premises—it was brought by the boy Bates.

Cross-examined. I have never seen you before.

RICHARD NORRIS (Detective T). I arrested the prisoner on Saturday, January 22nd, at 524, Fulham Road, in a back room on the first floor—I was with another officer—I told him we were police officers, and I should take him into custody for obtaining goods from various tradesmen by false pretences—he replied, "you have made a mistake, I am not the man"—on leaving the room he handed to his wife this circular—I took possession of it—I afterwards said, "Are these addresses on this circular of any use to you"—he said, "They are the addresses of bottle merchants, which I have copied from the directory, where I tried to buy bottles, as I was going to start in a new line—he was taken to Hammersmith Police-station and detained.

Cross-examined. This envelope was taken from you by Detective

Whitlock—you asked me to search your place and, your wife's over the road—I found nothing else.

FRANK BRUNSDEN . I am a barge builder, of 1, Lombard Road, Battersea—on January 6th, in the King's Road, Chelsea, the prisoner tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would do a day's work for him—I said I did not mind—I was looking for work—he said, "Would you take this order to Mr. Crapper, of Marlboro' Road, get those things and bring them to me at 9, Goodge Street Tottenham Court Road—this is the paper which I saw him write (An order on a form of Wilson & Sons, and signed E. K. Wilson, for stop cocks, &c., addressed to Crapper & Co.)—I want to Crapper's and presented and order—I got a stop cock—when I got to the King's Road, Chelsea, and asked the way to Goodge Street, I was stopped by Mr. Wilson and given in charge, and taken to the station, and detained awhile for enquiries—I next saw the prisoner at Walton, Street police-station on a Saturday night, about a fortnight afterwards—I touched another man, and took my hand off the prisoner who was standing on the side of him—I am now certain the prisoner is the man.

Cross-examined. The man I saw in the street did not ask if my father had come from Barnes—I said I had come from Barnes, I did not say anything about my father.

Re-examined. Barnes is not my address, and not the address given before the Magistrate—the prisoner asked me where I had come from and I said from Barnes.

ROBERT EDWARD WILSON . I live at 32, Marguerite Gardens, West Kensington—I am managing director of E. K. Wilson and Sons, Limited—this is not our order form—it purports to be on one of our billheads—" it is not written by us—we have never had a billhead like this—this has not been authorized by us—on January 6th I had a communication from Crapper & Co., and spoke to Brunsden.

Cross-examined. I do not know you.

GEORGE CRAPPER . I am a sanitary engineer, living at 19, Gorst Road, Wandsworth Common—I have works at Chelsea in connection with Thomas Crapper & Co.—I remember Brunsden bringing this order for goods and supplying him with one article, value 3s. 3d.—I did not believe the order to be genuine—we kept the lad waiting while we communicated with Messrs. Wilson—he was taken to the station.

Cross-examined. There were other orders, the first was brought in about five or 5.30 p.m., and this one about between ten and 10.30 p.m.—I do not know you.

DANIEL BURRETT . I live at Landsdowne Crescent, North Kensington—I am in the employment of E. K. Wilson, at 13, Sussex Place—on January 11th I was employed with a truck—I took it to 123, Pall Mall—I left it at the back entrance, in Warwick Street, while I took some goods upstairs, about twelve o'clock—the name of the firm was on the truck—when I returned the truck was gone—I communicated with the police—I next saw it where I had left it, at about five p.m.

Cross-examined. I went to dinner at 1.20 p.m.—I usually go at one—I had to wait to see a gentleman to decide about colour—I am a caretaker—I had started work about 8.30 and gone out with the truck about 9.30 or ten a.m.

HENRY MILLER . I live at 73, Latchmere Grove, Battersea—I am

15 years old—I am employed by David Thomas, of Falkland Road, Battersea—on January 11th, about 1.15 p.m., I was near Trafalgar Square looking for work, when the prisoner tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I wanted a job—I said I would not mind—he gave me this invoice to take to 100, Cannon Street (purporting to come from E. K. Wilson's for India-rubber goods by return)—he pointed to the truck with "E. & K. Wilson," and said "Go to 100, Cannon Street, and get the goods and come back"—I got back about 3.40 p.m.—I met the prisoner about 20 yards down the Strand—he said, "Wheel the truck over there," that was at the top of the hill near St. Martin's Church—he took the goods off the truck and gave me 2d. to get tallow candles for him and to take them to 24, Haymarket—I went there, but could not find him, and the people knew nothing about it—I never was paid—I got the candles—I was taken to the police-station on a Wednesday afterwards, but was not sure I recognized the prisoner—I am now quite certain he is the man—he had his hat on—I did not see him take his hat off at any time.

Cross-examined. I saw seven men—I walked up and down four times—when I saw you in the police-court dock I was quite certain—the detective told me to look at you—they did not shew me a photograph—when you touched me I was looking in a shop window at the model of a ship—directly I heard your voice again I knew you.

ARTHUR STEWART LEACH . I live at 87, Ladbroke Road, Balham—I am employed at the Gutta Percha Works, 100, Cannon Street—Henry Miller brought me this order form, purporting to come from E. K. Wilson and Sons—I handed him the things to the value of £3 17s. and took his receipt—we have an account with E. K. Wilson's—I saw the name "E. K. Wilson" on the truck.

Cross-examined. I do not know you—the boy came with the truck between two and three p.m. on January 11th.

GEORGE WHITLOCK (Detective Sergeant B). I saw the prisoner at Hammersmith police-station on January 22nd—I said, "I am a police officer, I shall take you into custody for having obtained a brass tap stop cock from Mr. Crapper, of Marlboro' Road, on the 16th of this month, by sending a boy with a forged order"—he was taken to Walton Street police-station, detained and identified arid charged—he said, "I do not know anything about it"—on the way he said, "You have made a mistake, you have got the wrong man"—this envelope is produced at the prisoner's request—it is addressed to Richard Major—it was handed to me at Hammersmith, with other documents, by the officers who arrested him.

Cross-examined. On the circular produced are names of bottle merchants—I have been to some of them and enquired about you—they do not know you—I have not been to 7, Long Lane, because I thought it was useless to go further—the Magistrate did not reprimand me at the Westminster Court because the boy had identified the prisoner improperly—I did not take the boy there.

DANIEL PHILLIPS (Sergeant T). I produce the property book at the South Fulham police-station—it contains the prisoner's signature when property was returned to him—I saw him sign, and signed the book myself as giving it up to him.

THOMAS HENRY GUERRIN . I am a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical

Society and an expert in handwriting, of 59, Holborn Viaduct—I have given evidence in cases for 12 years—I have examined these orders and find the writing to agree with the prisoner's proved writing in the address which was written in the street and in the property book—I have no doubt they are all written by one person (The witness pointed out the similarities in the documents).

Cross-examined. The cards you now produce, I should say, from the cursory examination I have been able to make here, are in the same hand, but I have not had the opportunity of going into the examination so carefully as to fully analyse them before expressing a decided opinion—I could deceive you, and I am not certain whether anyone has not been trying to imitate your writing; they are your writing or else very skilfully imitated—(These cards were addressed to the prisoner at Holloway, the address being now blotted with ink; they stated the writer had heard of the case but that he was the person who met the boy who stated his father came from Barnes, and the boy in Trafalgar Square, who was looking at a boat in a shop window, and that he had written and ordered the goods).

WILLIAM SCOTT (Chief Warder, Holloway). The prisoner has been in Holloway—he is entitled to see a visitor for a quarter of an hour every day, and to write and receive letters—he would not have the opportunity of giving a letter to a person to post unless it was done clandestinely—a warder is always present during an interview—I could not say what visits he has had from his wife or others without reference to the books—clothes are sent and taken away, and the prisoner has had visits and written letters.

(Another letter was produced, in which Mr. Guerrin pointed out the similarities, and stated that, to the best of his belief, the writing was the same in all.)

WALTER FREEMAN . I am a journalist employed on the reporting staff of the Evening News—I handed this letter to the police this afternoon—it was brought to our office yesterday, about 2.30 p.m., by a person who said she was the prisoner's wife—(This was dated February 14th, 1898, and desired that attention should be called to a man having been convicted innocently of a crime of which the writer was guilty, having imitated the writing, and stating the circumstances given in the evidence—it was signed, "C.S. Hawkins.")

The prisoner's statement before the Magistrate (where he was also asked if he called any witness): "I am not going to. All I have got to say is, they could have arrested me at my house. I told them they were mistaken. I know nothing about it. I can prove where I have been. They have got an innocent man. I have got a witness, but I shall reserve him for the Old Bailey."

Evidence for the Defence.

LEWIS ROWAN . I live at 58, Fortis Road, N.W.—I am a lamp manufacturer—you called at my office, 20, Victoria Street, Westminster, between eleven a.m. and one p.m. on January 6th—I gave you the circular produced by the police—I told you to come to the City office, 14, St. Mary Axe—on January 11th you called between 11.30 and 1.80—I recollect the date by the receipt you gave me—you had waited over an hour—I found you waiting when I returned from Westminster about 11.45 to the City office—I went out to dinner—I go out to dinner at various times, one, two and three o'clock.

Cross-examined. I can swear to seeing the prisoner at 11.45 on the 11th—my clerk has the receipt—he is here—I have no diary entry of his calling—I can remember the 6th, because I told him to see me in the City—it was on a Friday and the 11th was Tuesday—on Tuesday he came, I am sure, about eleven—I think he came on Friday—I cannot be certain—I am certain it was the 6th, because I looked up my accounts on particular days.

THOMAS EDWARD PEARCE . I am clerk to Mr. Rowan, gas lamp manufacturer, 14, St. Mary Axe—you came to see me on January 11th at St. Mary Axe—this is your receipt for a burner that day—it was beforelunch—to the best of my recollection I was late at the office that morning, and you were sitting in the outside office—it was after eleven—Mr. Rowan came from the inner room and asked me to make out a receipt, and you signed it in my presence and went away—Mr. Rowan arrived before one o'clock—Mr. Rowan left you in the office with me—all I remember is I handed you the burner, and you gave me the receipt—I remember now he went out and left us there—I generally go to lunch from 1.15 to 2 p.m.—it was some time before that.

Cross-examined. I am sure the prisoner was there after twelve—it might have been half-past—the receipt is in the name of Leon—I did not know the prisoner as Platts—I had not seen him before, and should not recognize him now had he not been waiting so long—it was not a cash transaction, I understood he was going to try and sell the burner—I am sure he is the man—I received a subpoena by registered post which was addressed to Mr. Thomas Rowan, and asking for the receipt, and he thought I had better come—the burner is a new invention to do away with the mantles.

JAMES HERBERT MILMAN . I am a grocer, of 509, King's Road, Chelsea—I do not recollect your calling to show me a burner—I have so many callers—I do not recognize you.

The prisoner said he should not gel justice and would not address the JURY in defence; that he knew nothing about it and there was no proof he sent the letters out of Holloway; he was searched; and that he knew nothing of the letter to the "Evening News."

GUILTY **—He then PLEADED GUILTY to a conviction of misdemeanour at this Court in June, 1896, in the name of Thomas Wilson. There were other cases respecting other similar orders.— Twelve Months' Hard Labour.

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