20th April 1909
Reference Numbert19090420-35
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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PROWEN, John (48, horse dealer) ; being entrusted by Alfred Steel with certain property, to wit, the sum of £10 in money and two Bank of England notes for £5 each, his goods and moneys, in order that he might apply and pay the said property for a certain purpose, did unlawfully and fraudulently convert the same to his own use and benefit.

Mr. Drummond prosecuted; Mr. Purcell defended.

ALFRED STEEL , 41, Hatcham Park Road, New Cross, horse dealer. Prisoner was in my employ at 10s. a week and commission. He had to go and buy horses at different places, receiving a commission of 5s. on each horse bought. On March 1, at about 8.30 p.m., prisoner asked me if he might go to Maidstone auction on the following day. I said, "Yes, you can go, but I must go and get some money first. We will go to Mr. Penney's." Penney is a greengrocer and general dealer who owed me money. Prisoner, my horsekeeper and myself went to Penney, who handed me two £5 notes and £13 in gold. I handed prisoner the two £5 notes and £10 in gold and told him as soon as he bought a horse or whatever he did he was to wire direct to me as soon as the sale was over. I never received a wire and never saw prisoner until the following Sunday. One horse was delivered at my place, but not from the prisoner. That was bought by W. Dalton, of Deptford, and I paid him for it £6 10s. I was looking for prisoner, and on Sunday, March 7, I saw him in the "Artichoke" public-house, Camberwell Green. He had a crowd of men with him. I asked for my money. He said, "I have got no money of yours," and got up to walk away. I got hold of him and stopped him. He said, "I have got no money of yours. Do not let him kill me, mates." He made a slash at me with his stick, which I took from him; there was a scuffle and the police came in and turned us out. Prisoner followed me out and gave me into custody for assault. I said, "Well, I will give him into custody for robbing me of £20." We all went over to the police station, which was opposite the public-house. The inspector said, "Have you reported this case before?" I said, "Yes." He said, "If you have I will keep the prisoner here." I charged prisoner at Deptford Police Station at about 6.30 p.m., he having been taken there from Camberwell. When I came out of Camberwell Station I met Bird, who made a statement to me and afterwards gave me £7 in. a purse in the presence of Sergeant Beevis. I refused to receive the money except in the presence of the detective.

Cross-examined. Penney was not present when I arranged with prisoner to go to Maidstone—he was present when I gave him the money. I then told prisoner in front of Penney, "When you get to Maidstone, when you have done your business, Jack, send me a telegram." Penney keeps a shop and some stalls. I have known him a good many years, and have bought one or two horses from him and he has bought horses from me. My horsekeeper, Farbey, was also present when I gave prisoner the money. I know Ovenell—I saw him on Saturday, March 6. I received no horse from him. He did not tell me he sold a horse to prisoner for me for £5 10s. Phil is a boy employed about my stables; he cuts the chaff. Ovenell's horse was not delivered to him. I drove to the "Artichoke" in a brougham alone. I did not go into the public-house with four men and hit prisoner with a stick—he hit me with one. I wrenched the stick away from him and it scratched his face and made it bleed. Prisoner

then crawled under the table, to try and get out of the door. Bridge drove me there—Bridge was not charged with assaulting prisoner that I am aware of. I have known Bridge a good many years. He is not in my employ. He did not come to Court with me. I have seen him to-day here.

(Friday, April 23.)

I did not see prisoner hand his purse to the barman—the barman was not there. I told the magistrate that the prisoner handed his purse to the barman so that I should not get it. The barman told me so. Prisoner walked out of the bar and told the sergeant I had assaulted him, and we went to the police station. I then charged him with stealing £20, having previously reported it to the police. Prisoner said he had only had £7. He repeated that at the Deptford Police Station. At 2.30 p.m. on that Sunday afternoon Beevis went with me to Bird, and Bird handed me the purse containing £7. I did not say, "I shall charge the barman with having stolen the money." Bird had told me the barman had the £7 and I asked him to get it. I refused to take it from him except in front of a police officer. I told Bird to get the money if he could—then I knew the money was safe. I did not go to Maidstone myself because I am an undischarged bankrupt and the Maidstone people made me a bankrupt. My liabilities were £605. No dividend has been paid, but there is £700 or £800 owing to me. When prisoner bought horses for somebody else he shared the commission with me, or he should have done; he was my servant, and any horse he sold for another man I should share in the profits of. I have no banking account. I have known Palsey eight or 10 years. I do not know if he has a banking account. I do not use his banking account. I could not swear to his Christian name. I do not know where he lives. He was in my employ 10 years ago. He is in business for himself now. We used to call him "Bob." He has been subpœnaed by the prisoner. He did not go with me to the police court. He drove away with my solicitor from the Court. I may have told the Examiner in my bankruptcy Palsey's name and address, but I do not know his address to-day. I then gave his address at Widrington Road. At the time of my bankruptcy I pawned my watch and chain for £10, thanded the ticket to prisoner, and gave the £10 to my wife. My wife gave me the watch and chain and the rings, so I gave her the money back. I had an organ valued 10s. I had not bought corn and horses since my bankruptcy and not paid for them. This is the third transaction with prisoner, and it is the third time he has run away with my money. I have trusted him again, and perhaps will do so again. I do not wish to see a man in trouble and would give him a chance. In March, 1908, prisoner bought a gelding from Lunn, of Orpington, I for me for £9 5s. He robbed Standen, of Waterbury, of a horse and I never paid for it. I had the horse and paid prisoner £9, and he I never paid the owner. I have known that about five or six months. I

This is the second time in my life I have charged people in my employ with robbing me. I charged a man at Greenwich and asked the magistrate to dismiss him as I got my property back. I was a witness at this Court against a man named Yorkey. The Jury acquitted Yorkey. He may have said that I ought to be in the dock I instead of him—he is a fellow that would say that.

Re-examined. Nothing was said about charging Bridge with assault. Before I charged prisoner on Sunday I had reported the matter to the police on Saturday, March 6. The watch and chain my wife bought for me with a little money that she had. We had to make use of the money and I gave it to her.

GEORGE FREDERICK PENNEY , 36, Acorn Place, Peckham, greengrocer. I have done business with prosecutor at different times. I had bought two horses and a set of harness. On Monday, March 1, between nine and 10 p.m., prosecutor, Farbey, and prisoner met me at New Cross Gate and I paid prosecutor, £23 in two £5 notes and £13 in gold, Prosecutor gave the two £5 notes and £10 to prisoner and told him to go to Maidstone in the morning early and wire him back sharp if he did any business. Prisoner said, "All right, Alf," I and went away. I then went away on a tram.

Cross-examined. I have known prosecutor 10 or 12 years. I keep one shop and some stalls. I have recently sold a shop in the Commercial Road and taken another one at 36, Acorn Place, rented at 14s. a week. I also keep a stall, where I sell plants. I keep horses—sometimes two, sometimes four; I have three now. I use them in my business and hire them out. I have two vans. I bought two I horses and a set of harness from prosecutor about three days before March 1. I think I could tell you where I got the two £5 notes from—I think it was the Royal Horse Repository, Barbican. Prosecutor has not told me what evidence he had given here. I heard him I tell prisoner to go to Maidstone and wire at once if he did business. He did not say to prisoner, "Here are £7. If you want any more I will wire it, as we always do." Farbey was standing near us and could have heard what was said. I have been warned not to come here to give evidence this morning, because the prisoner has got a gentleman here who can give me two years' imprisonment. Prisoner pulled me up last Saturday week and told me he would give me two years if I came here to give evidence. I took the notes out of my pocket. I had three and handed two of them to prosecutor.

Re-examined. I have been 36 vears in business and have done fairly well.

GEORGE FARBEY , 10, Dean's Building's, South Street, Walworth, horsekeeper to prosecutor. On March 1, between nine and 10 p.m., I was at New Cross Gate with grosecutor and prisoner when we met Penney. Prisoner said he wanted to go to Maidstone to-morrow to buy some horses and asked prosecutor for some money. Prosecutor said, "Come along, I am just going round to meet Mr. Penney." We went along and met Penney, who said to prosecutor," I was just coming round to your place—I have got some money to give you." He gave him two £5 notes and £13 in gold. Prosecutor gave prisoner

the two £5 notes and counted out £10 in gold into his hand Prisoner counted it over and put it into his pocket. Prosecutor said "Whether you buy or whether you do not, send a telegram so that I know." I have been in prosecutor's service between nine and ten years.

Cross-examined. I have seen prosecutor give other people money when he has bought horses. Penney had bought two horses and a set of harness from prosecutor for £23. I saw Penney had more £5 notes in his pocket. Prisoner said before Penney that he wanted to go to Maidstone in the morning. Prosecutor said, "Send us a wire back whether you buy or not. Do not run away with it this time." If I did not say before the magistrate that prisoner said, "Wire to-morrow morning whether you buy anything or whether you do not," it was because I was not asked. Prosecutor did not tell me that he had given that evidence here. Prosecutor never said anything about this to me after March 1. About a week afterwards he told me I was to go to the police court and give evidence.

Re-examined. I knew prisoner was missing. I had not received any telegram from Maidstone. There is no truth in the suggestion that I have been coached by prosecutor what to say.

Detective-sergeant FRANK BEEVIS , R Division. On March 6 prosecutor met me and made a statement, and on Sunday afternoon, March 7, I saw prisoner at Camberwell Police Station. I told him I should charge him with stealing two £5 notes and £10 in gold. He said, "Steel never gave me any notes; he only gave me £7. I bought a horse which I paid £5 10s. for, and the other 30s. I kept as expenses." When charged at the station he said, "He only gave me £7." On that afternoon I went with prosecutor to Bird, who handed over £7 to prosecutor in gold in my presence.

Cross-examined. Prisoner said he had bought a horse for prosecutor at £5 10s. from Ovenell. I know Ovenell's address. I told prisoner I would go to him and he could have Ovenell as a witness if he wanted one. Prisoner told me he had handed £7 to the barman at the public-house in Peckham because he was afraid the prosecutor and others were going to turn him up—. that was the £7 prosecutor received from Bird. Prosecutor told me Bird had shown him the £7 and he would give it to him before a witness. I asked Bird if he wanted a receipt.


JOHN PROWEN (prisoner, on oath). I live at 22, Nutcroft Road, Peckham. I have been working with prosecutor three or four years. I go into the country buying horses for him, and he gives me what he thinks I am worth—according to the amount of profit he gets on the horses. If I buy none I get no money. Prosecutor pays my expenses, generally about £2 or £3. The reason he sends me into the country is because he must not go himself—he has robbed auctioneers and dare not go; they will not take his bids. He carries on his business by getting men like myself and others

to buy for him; 'be has got four or five men now buying for him Palsey is a man that works for prosecutor as a stableman at 25s. a week; prosecutor has got a banking account in Palsey's name and all the cheques are written by prosecutor. I have known prosecutor eight or 10 years, and know that he and Palsey have worked together in that way. I buy horses for different people who pay me commission, which I keep—I do not share it with prosecutor. On March 1 prosecutor said, "I want you to go to Maidstone to-morrow. You know I must not go there because I robbed Waterman" (that is the auctioneer) "of over £200. Here is £7." I said, "All right, I will go; give me the money." He gave me £7, saying, "That is all the money I have to-night. If you want more pay a deposit and wire me as usual." I have been in that way going for him to Maidstone, Strood, Chatham, Rochester, all over the country, and if he has not much cash I can buy 20 horses, pay a deposit of £5, and wire to him to send me more and clear them. No one else was present when he gave me the £7. Farbey was then at the Elephant and Castle Horse Repository. I went to Maidstone the next morning and bought a cob for a gentleman I took with me—nothing to do with prosecutor—named Webster, a glass merchant, from George Russell, a big horse dealer, at £20, receiving £25 for it and making £5 for myself. I returned from Maidstone, and the next day (Wednesday) I bought a horse from J. Ovenell for prosecutor for £5 10s., which Ovenell delivered to prosecutor. On Sunday, March 6, I was in the "Artichoke" public-house at about 1.20 p.m. with Bird. Prosecutor came in followed by four or five ruffians—one of them was a man who knocked me down and tried to rob me nine months ago—named Arthur Bridge. Prosecutor struck me with a stick and cut my chin, making it bleed, and knocked me on the floor. It was his stick. It is not true to say I hit him and he took the stick from me and scratched me with it. I had £7 in a purse and 4s. 11d. in loose money. I got up, ran to the barman Southgate (who is here), said, "Mind this," and handed him the purse. The barman jumped over the counter and turned prosecutor out; a police sergeant came to the door. I said to the sergeant, "I wish to charge him with assaulting me; look at my chin." The sergeant said, "You had better both come over and settle the job." We went across to the police station. Prosecutor went up to the inspector and said, "I charge this man with stealing £20." They bundled me into the back. I said, "I have not had £20; I have had £7." I was kept there for about two hours, when Sergeant Beevis said, "Steel is going to charge you with stealing £20." I told him I had only had £7; that I had bought a cob at Maidstone and made £5 by it. I said Steel never gave me any notes; he only gave me £7, and that out of it I bought a horse from Ovenell for him, for which I gave £5 10s., and the other £1 10s. I kept for expenses. Beevis's account is substantially correct. I also told him that I had handed £7 to the, barman.

Cross-examined. It has been proved that prosecutor robs everybody; he dare not go into the market to buy horses. He has never

paid them—is not that robbing them? I have never robbed anyone in my life. I was charged at Lambeth Police Court on April 23, 1898, with embezzling £13 2s. I bought a horse, tried to get a profit out of it, and lost the horse. I admit that occurred 11 years ago. I think you will find prosecutor has been convicted too. I was working for Hayes at that time. I was not in prosecutor's employ; he did not pay me 10s. a week. It is absolutely untrue that money was given to me in the presence of Penney and Farbey. The £7 was given me by prosecutor in the New Cross Boad, close by the "Crown and Anchor," at about nine p.m., as I was going to the stables to meet prosecutor to see him about Maidstone. It is usual for a man employed as I was to buy horses at the auction, pay a deposit, and wire for more money. I bought a horse for prosecutor, at Deptford, of James Ovenell, for £5 10s. on the Wednesday after I came back. On Sunday at the "Artichoke" was the first time I saw prosecutor after going to Maidstone. I will give you my reasons: There was a horse sale at Tunbridge after Maidstone. He said to me, "I want you to go to Critchett's sale at Tunbridge. He knows you; take one of Palsey's cheques, give it to him, and we will stop it." I said, "I shall not do anything of the kind." "Here," he says, "take some of these bobby bank notes; you can sell these for 50s. apiece in the country"—they were Bank of Engraving notes, what they call "Sneyd notes." That was said on March 1 before I was going to Maidstone. On Sunday at the "Artichoke" prosecutor hit me on the chin with a stick; I went out to charge him; the policeconstable said, "Come over and settle the matter at the station." I was put in the back of the room and kept there from 2.45. till five o'clock. I did not authorise Bird to give the £7 to prosecutor. Bridge did not assault me on this occasion—he did nine months ago. I have been in Backhands employ—not on regular wages—buying horses for him and receiving on Saturday what I had earned, amounting to 25s. or'30s. a week; I was buying horses for anybody. I have bought 300 or 400 horses a year. I left Backham because prosecutor persuaded me to.

Re-examined. I pleaded guilty of embezzlement and received six weeks' imprisonment for ft in 1898; that is the only time I have been convicted. I have never robbed prosecutor. Waterman was the auctioneer at Maidstone, who had proved for £200 in prosecutor's bankruptcy for horses which prosecutor had bought and not paid for.

JAMES OVENELL , Hale Street, Deptford, carman and contractor. On March 3 I sold prisoner a horse, which he told me he bought for prosecutor, for which prisoner paid me £5 10s. I sent the horse by my man, George Santer, to presecutor's stables. On Saturday, March 6, I met prosecutor in a coffee-shop in High Street. He asked me if I had seen Prowen. I said, "I have not seen him since Wednesday; since I sold him the horse." He said, It is a cheap horse. I wish you had nine or 10 more to do at the same price—in fact, I should like to give you £6 10s. apiece for theme" I afterwards heard that prisoner was charged with this offence.

GEORGE SANTER . I have been employed by Ovenell 12 years. On March 3 I took a horse by Overall' orders to prosecutor's stable at "Crown and Anchor" Yard, and delivered it to a man in his employ named "Phil."

At this point the Jury stopped the case and returned a verdict of Not guilty.

Mr. Purcell applied for an order that prosecutor repay to prisoner the £7 paid to him, and also pay the expenses of the defence. Both orders were refused.


(Friday, April 23.)

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