17th October 1904
Reference Numbert19041017-783
VerdictGuilty > pleaded guilty; Not Guilty > unknown

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783. JOHN PETERSON (28), GEORGE WESTOVER (31), and GEORGE SAUNDERS (47) , Stealing on March 19th, July 9th. And September 2nd, four tons of flour on each day, the property of James Benton.



JAMES BENTON . I am manager for my father, James Benton, a biscuit manufacturer, in Commercial Road—we have a store in Lowell Street, whore we keep large quantities of flour in sacks and bags—a sack contains 280 lbs., and there are eight to the ton—a bag contains 140 lbs., and there are sixteen to the ton—we sometimes have as many as 8,000 or 9.000 sacks and bags in the store—it is what we call a low

grade wheat flour—it comes from America principally, but some from Russia—it is used for making biscuits—we give 14s. 3d. to 17s. 6d. a sack for it—it costs us over £7 a ton when rent and carriage are paid—Peterson had been in our service fourteen or fifteen years—he was a labourer—he had no authority to sell any of the stuff—Westover bought some old bags, and some years ago one lot of sweepings—about August 31st. in consequence of information I received, I went and examined the store at the arches—I found that a large number of bags had been removed from the back—on examining the stock book, there was a large deficiency—on September 2nd I saw that four tons of flour had been seized at the Devonshire Street Goods Station—I identified that as our property—it was in first-rate condition, as good as new—it was in bags—this is one of them if it is not stamped—on September 6th I went to Saunders' place in Essex and identified twenty empty bags—some bags are marked "Chandos" in a diamond, some "Army and Navy," and there are various markings indicating the kind of flour, and sometimes the name of the maker is put on it—every lot is shipped so marked—about four London firms deal in it—I went to Mr. Lowes at Broxted and saw about 113 bags marked "Army and Navy" and "Chandos," about seven or eight tons in very good condition—I have one of the bags here—the flour is delivered in bags sewn up in this way, and as clean looking as this one—I next went to Mr. Freeman's, and saw twenty empty bags, marked "Army and Navy" and "Chandos," I believe—then I went to Mr. Bains's, at a farm called Broxted Hall, Dunmow, and I saw thirty full bags marked "Chandos," and I fancy "Army and Navy" in fair, but not in quite so good a condition as the others—the bags had been stacked in a dirty place before they reached Bains's—the flour was all right—this bag is marked with an "L"—I had no dealings with Saunders, nor with Benjamin, to my knowledge.

Cross-examined. Without knowing the history of these different bags I could not swear to them coming from my place—the marks have not been tampered with in any way—the full bags were sewn up when I saw them—I only opened one—I selected it—I examined the flour in it—I had seen the flour in four or five out of the 113—I should say the condition of all the flour was the same, from the condition of the outside of the bags if they are of the same, and that it has not been examined in this country—I cannot say whether Saunders ever saw the contents of the bags.

ARTHUR ALBERT EELE . I am a carman in Bethnal Green—Westover sometimes employed me to take a pair horse van and he went with me to Beston's railway arch between 6.30 and 7—Peterson opened the gates—bags like these produced were loaded on to my van by Westover, and I helped sometimes—Westover and I drove with the bags to the Devonshire Street goods station of the Great Eastern Railway—I was paid 10s. for the job—Westover generally used to give it to me—the first time I went was in January—Westover generally went with me—Peterson did not always open the gates; I generally used to meet him—I always took the sacks to the same place—I have been paid for the cartage by a man

named Benjamin, who came to my place—on one occasion I saw him at the railway.

Cross-examined. I have been to Benjamin's shop—I have seen Westover there—I believe he used to work for Benjamin, so far as I can understand—he was in the shop with Benjamin.

JOSEPH SMITH . I am a carman to Mr. Eeles—I used to go with one of his vans to Benton's wharf in Lowell Road; first, some time in May—Westover went with me to the arch—Peterson was at the arch except the last time—the van was loaded with bags and sacks—we took them to Devonshire Street goods station where they were unloaded into a truck—the last time, the load was seized by the police—Westover was there, and a person I do not know—I had not seen him before, and I have not seen him since.

RICHARD FREEMAN . I am a farmer and carter at Broughton House Farm, Thaxted, Essex, near Elsenham—Saunders is a farmer and pig dealer at Broxted, six miles from Dunmow—in January I was keeping some pigs for him—on January 18th he wanted me to fetch a ton of pig meal from Dunmow Station and store it in my barn for the pigs—it was in all sorts of sacks and bags, and not so good as that in Court—I fed the pigs with it—about a month afterwards Saunders told me he got it from Horncastle in London—I fetched a second ton on January 25th, and another lot on January 26th or 27th of five tons—these are entries I made at the time—on March 30th I started again—I carted about seven tons in January—he said in February he paid £3 15s. a ton in London for it—on March 30th I fetched three tons—some of it was very good, and some of it was very bad—it was in 2 cwt., Il stone, and 10 stone bags; the weight varied—that was used for the pigs—some was in lumps as big as a bushel; it had got damp, and we had to break it to pieces—some of it had been heated, and stunk horribly—one lot on April, 20th of 2 tons 18 cwts., came to Elsenham—the last time I went was on July 14th—altogether I brought away about 19 tons, I believe—some of it was very funny stuff, I do not know what to call it; it was damaged—some was black and looked like sweepings—I never carted more than a couple of tons like that—when the police came I had nothing left but the empty bags—I believe Saunders went with me to the station once to fetch it, when he signed for the stuff—at other times I signed—I had some of the stuff for my own use in payment for the carting—5s. a ton I charged for the hauling—the rate to me was £4 0s. 10d. a ton with the carriage from London to Dunmow station—the price varies from £6 to £5 for middlings. but I had bought it for 50s.—it is the offal that is left over when the wheat has been ground into flour; I do not call it flour—it looks like biscuit meal or something like that—I could not tell whether it is wheat or oat meal by looking at it.

Cross-examined. I have been at the farm just over eight years—I have known Saunders about two years—he is a neighbour, and is well known and respected in the neighbourhood—I first saw stuff like this in Court on

September 9th, 10th and 12th—I instructed Inspector Nicholls to bring back 4 tons—I never received from Saunders any stuff of the quality produced—the only dealings I had with flour of this quality was when I carted it for the police from Mr. Lays to the railway—Saunders' stuff was not fit for feeding purposes, even for pigs—I keep from 20 to 50 pigs—I feed them on middlings—I use this book as my ledger to keep anybody's account in—my wife makes entries in it every day as the facts happen—I have seen Horncastle at Saunders' farm in the summer twice or three times.

HENRY LOWE . I am a corn merchant at Thaxted, Essex, seven miles from Elsenham, and between Dunmow and Saffron Waldron—in March, Saunders, whom I did not know, called and said he had pig meal to sell, and produced a sample, about a handful, in a piece of paper—it seemed like middlings, it had a funny smell as if it had been heated or damaged—he said his friend bought it at the docks, and sent it to him—I asked him what price he wanted for it; he said £3 15s., or if he paid the carriage £4 0s. 10d. at Dunmow—I asked him if that was the lowest he could take—he said he could take no less—I agreed to buy some—he said the people he bought it from had a lot of it, and that they had bought it by auction—the first transaction was 4 tons 1 cwt. 2 qrs. on March 2nd in cwt. bags—this is the invoice I got from Saunders—I paid by this cheque, deducting £2 for bran I had sold him—I did not notice that the invoice calls it flour; I call it middlings; he called it pig feed and pig meal—I had lots on March 26th, April 7th and 23rd, July 3rd and 15th, and August 24th, making altogether about 38 tons—these are. the invoices, except of the last lot on August 24th, when the police came—I had then in my possession 7 tons—the police opened some bags in my presence and took the stuff away, and 200 or 300 empty bags—it was stuff like this in Court, and all about the same grade, except the first lot which was not so good—the bags were marked "Army and Navy" the last two, and some "Chandos," and some had foreign writing on—I had told Saunders the stuff was bad, and I would give him another order if it was a better quality—we keep some of the bags—sometimes we are charged 1s. a sack—when we buy from abroad we get the bags in—some of them go rotten and are all to pieces—Saunders asked me to write a cheque to Benjamin—I wrote out two cheques for £8 10s. and gave Saunders the balance, £3 12s. 6d., in cash, because he had no banking account—he never told me who Benjamin was.

Cross-examined. I sold the stuff for pig food—it is used for dog biscuits—we carted it from Elsenham station ourselves—it arrived there in bags sewn up—as far as I know the bags had not been sampled—they were consigned to Saunders, who gave me an order to the station master in his own name with the consignment note—the stuff is called by different names on the documents, which I did not pay much attention to—the transactions with Saunders took place at my shop as a rule, once or twice at the mill—it was stored at the mill and in the store room—there was nothing in the transaction to give me an idea the stuff

had been improperly come by—the price was fair—I made a fair profit—I know that flour sweepings are sold for pig feed.

Re-examined. I sold it at £4 15s. 5d. a ton, and some was mixed with other stuff—what the police fetched was what was left of the last two lots of 8 tons 10 cwt. 2 qr. and 7 tons—about 8 tons of those lots had been sold as pig meal at the same price as the rest of it, £4 10s. to £5 a ton—I sifted some that was heated, and some I gave my pigs without sifting.


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