21st November 1870
Reference Numbert18701121-29
VerdictGuilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude

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29. ROCO METELLI (24) , Feloniously and knowingly uttering two forged promissory notes of the State of Sardinia, with intent to defaeud.

MESSRS. POLAND and STRAIGHT conducted the Prosecution.

The Prisoner being a foreigner, the evidence was interpreted.

PHINEAS HANDS . At the time in question I carried on business as a money changer, at No. 1, Strand—on the afternoon of 7th September the prisoner came to my shop and offered me these two notes (produced for 1000 live each, on the National Bank of Sardinia; in English money that would be 40l. each—they are very good imitations—he asked me to give him the value of them in English money—he produced these from a packet which he had in his pocket—I spoke to him in French—I did not give him the money, but, from what I noticed, I sent my clerk to some other gentleman to make certain, not liking the look of the notes—while my clerk was away I said to the prisoner, "I don't like the look of these notes, have you any others about you that I might choose from?" and he then brought out these fourteen notes—I said "Have you any passport to show me who you are?" and be brought oat his passport, which I detained, not liking the look of the notes or the man—I sent for the police, and handed the notes over to them, saying that the man could not give a proper account of himself, would they kindly make inquiries, and if they were satisfactory, they would give the notes back to him—the prisoner was in my office all the time—I spoke in English to the police, but I translated to the prisoner what I said—the officers asked him some questions through me—he said he was a commercial traveller, and I think he said he received the notes from some man at some hotel in Soho—he could not give a distinct number of the house, or the place where it was situated—he did not say what firm he travelled for—I think he said be came from Milan—he did not say he had received the notes from some man in Soho, he said he received them from some man in Milan, and he gave a reference to some place in Soho.

Prisoner. When I was asked for a reference, I said if they wanted to know anything about me they were to go to the Hotel D'Italie, in Soho Square.

Witness. Yes, that was the reference he gave—he gave me that reference and the passport before the police came.

WILLIAM REIMERS (Detective Sergeant). On 7th September I was sent for to Mr. Hands, and found the prisoner there—Mr. Hands gave me those two notes, and also the fourteen—I had the two notes in my hand, and I said to the prisoner, in English, "Are these yours?"—he nodded, and said "Yes"—I then said "Are the fourteen notes yours?"—he again said "Yes;"

but seeing that he spoke imperfect English I requested Mr. Hinds to translate what I had to say to him—I am a German—I then asked him whether he could refer me to anybody in London who knew him as a respectable man—he wrote this on paper, "Hotel d'Italie, Mons. Polli, Soho Square"—I said "What does that gentleman know of you?" said "I am a silk merchant from Italy, and I go to Mons. Polli's Hotel, where I meet gentlemen of whom I buy goods"—he said that in French to Mr. Hands; I understand French sufficient to understand that he said "I buy silk at Polli's Hotel, but I don't know the gentlemen of whom I buy it"—I asked if he could refer me to anyone else who also knew him; he then became very sullen, and would not answer—I told him I had reason to believe these notes were false, and I should take him into custody, which I did—on searching him I found two pawnbroker's duplicates, dated 6th September, 1870; one for a watch and chain for 6l., and the other for a pair of solitaires and four studs 1l. 10s., in the name of J. Metelli—found no money nor any scrap of paper of any description—he afterwards told me he was staying at the Charing Cross Hotel, at room No. 17 went there and assisted to search that room—his luggage consisted of three portmanteaus and a hat box—torn up in the grate I found pieces of paper which were afterwards pasted together, and proved to be a letter, dated Turin, from Metelli to Roco Metelli in London, and I see by the date of his passport, he was in Turin at that time—it is a receipt for a registered letter—I found very excellent wearing apparel in his portmanteau, but no papers of any sort, except a jeweller's bill, and no money whatever.

EUGENE BERETTA . I keep the Hotel Milan, in Denman Street, Golden Square—I don't remember when I first, saw the prisoner, but it was a few months ago—in June last he owed me 30l. for board at my hotel—he had come there several times to dine and breakfast—he was lodging at 9, Sherwood Street, Golden Square—on 22nd June, he showed me two notes for 1000 live each, and asked me to change them—I could not, but I offered to go with him to Mr. Baum's office, in Regent Street, where he changed them and received 76l. in gold and English notes—he paid me 25l. in gold on account—he went back with me to my hotel; where he went afterwards I don't know.

Prisoner. Q. Did I not come back to your hotel? A. Yes, two months afterwards—not to reside there, you came two or three times without stop-ping—when you left in June you said you were going abroad—when you came back you said you had been in Italy—when you went to Mr. Baum's you wrote down your name and address on a piece of paper—I saw you writing—I did not see what you wrote—I did not know where you were domiciled in Milan.

ALFRED PEARSON . I am now a bullion dealer, in Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square—I formerly managed Mr. Baum's business—on 22nd June I purchased two notes of the National Bank of Sardinia, for 1000 live each—this (produced) is one of them, No. 670—the other was sold before we had notice of its being forged, and it has not ret come back-speak as to the prisoner being the man I bought them of; but I remember Mr. Beretta being with him—I paid to the person 53l. in Bank of England notes, and 26l. in gold—I requested him to give a name and address, and he wrote "Nicol Romeo, 9, Sherrard Street"—I copied it into my book—I am positive that was the name he wrote, and not "Metelli"—I knew Mr. Beretta, or I should not have changed them—I had my doubts about them

—I subsequently told Beretta they were false—I think it was on 1st July that I was advised they were forgeries—Beretta must have seen the prisoner afterwards, and he ought to have let me know.

EUGENE BERETTA (Re-examined). Mr. Pearson told me I need not mention anything, inasmuch as the matter was put into the hands of the Italian Consul.

MR. PEARSON (Re-examined). Mr. Beretta came to me with a paper, stating that he had found out the name was "Metelli," and some address in Italy—I told Mr. Baum about it, and went to the Italian Consul—Mr. Beretta called in the meantime, and I told him I could not tell him how to act or what to do, as Mr. Baum had not got further advice from the Consul.

THOMAS MCKEOWN . I am a bullion dealer, of 15, Fenchurch Street, City—on 18th August last a forgeries gentleman came to my shop to change notes—I could not swear it was the prisoner—he stood rather sideways, and he gave me three notes to change—I did not change them myself, I sent my clerk, Mr. Ward, to Mr. Venables, of the Royal Exchange—the foreign gentleman remained with me—Mr. Ward returned with 105l. 5s. 3d., in bank notes, and I gave 103l. 4s. 3d. to the foreign gentleman, deducting 2l. odd—the only way in which I can identify these (produced) as the notes I gave are because they have our stamp on them—I did not take the numbers—I could not swear to them—we generally put our stamps on notes—when the man came in with the notes I asked him what he wanted for them, and when we got a price out of him I told my clerk to sell them, and finish the transaction, and make no entry in the books—I have had to pay for them—they were notes like these 1000 live notes on the Sardinian Bank—I would not change them on my own judgment.

HENRY GEORGE HOPPER . I am manager to Mr. Tenables, of the Royal Exchange—on 18th August these three notes of the National Bank of Sardinia were brought to me by a clerk of Mr. McKeown—I wrote Mr. McKeown's name on the back—I gave the clerk this cheque for 105l. 5s. 3d. on the National Bank, where Mr. Venables keeps an account—we sent the notes to Italy and heard that they were detained—we did not get the money for them.

—Boss. I am a cashier at the National Bank in Old Broad Street—Mr. Venables keeps an account there—on 18th August I cashed Mr. Venables' cheque for 105l. 5s. 3d., and gave in payment these bank-notes (produced), four twenties and one ten.

ELISE WAGLEY . I am barmaid at the Charing Cross Hotel—on 18th August the prisoner was stopping there—on that day his bill amounted to 17l. 11s. 4d.; it was paid that day—I don't know how long he had been staying there—if it was paid with a bank-note it would be my duty to hand it to Mr. Higgs, the manager.

THOMAS HIGGS . I am manager of the Charing Cross Hotel—on 18th August, in the course of business, I received 20l. bank note, No. 33494—I have an entry of having paid it in to Williams, Deacon & Co., the bankers, next morning—I have not the date of it—I find here a 20l. note of that number.

HEINRICH HUNRAH . I am groom of the chambers at the Charing Cross Hotel—I know the prisoner—I keep an account of the time persons come and leave—the prisoner came there on 12th August, and left on the 18th.

Prisoner. Q. Do you remember that I had been there the previous year?

A. Yes, in 1869—after leaving on 19th August this year you returned again on 4th September; I have got it in the book.

WILLIAM WINCH . I am a porter at the Charing Cross Hotel—I remember a person of the name of Metelli leaving the hotel on the evening of 19th August, to go by the mail train to Dover—I booked the luggage for Dover, and he took his ticket for Dorer—I hare the hotel luggage ticket that was issued for the 8.30 train.

WILLIAM WARD . I am station clerk at the South-Eastern Railway Station at Dover, and was there on the night of 18th August—to the best of my belief the prisoner is the passenger who tendered me a 30l. note on that night on the arrival of the 8.45 train from London, between 10 and 11—he wanted a first class ticket to Paris, which was 1l. 15s. 1d—he gave me this 20l. note (produced), No. 33494—I don't take the number, but I impress the ticket stamp on a portion of the note—as he was going to Paris, and as I had a quantity of French money on head, I asked whether he would take a portion of the change in French money; I spoke in Flemish, and he replied, in imperfect English, "What you like"—I thereupon gave him 250 francs in French gold, eight sovereigns, and 4s. 11d. in French silver—I put the money on the end of the counter, and instead of counting it as an ordinary passenger would do, the whole was swept into his hand and deposited in his pocket, and he hastily left the office and went on to the platform, towards the pier—having such a curious customer I followed him on to the platform—I noticed that he was a foreigner there was not much margin of time for him.

Prisoner. Q. In putting the change before me, did you not count it place by piece? A. I put it in piles of 100 france and fifty, and the eight sovereigns in another pile, but I did not count it originally—I don't think you could see the English gold, and you could not judge of the number of napoleons; there might have been only four in each pile instead of five—I have no doubt I gave the exact change.

FILICE BUZZI (Interpreted). I am cashier at the National Bank of Italy at Milan, and am a shareholder—the two notes uttered to Mr. Hands are forgeries; they are good imitations—the genuine notes are printed on special paper at Florence—I produce one of the genuine notes—these four-teen other notes are all forgeries, and are identical with the other two; the one uttered to Mr. Baum is a forgery, and the same as the others; the three with Mr. McKeown's name on the back are false, and of the same description.

Prisoner. Q. Do you know if there is a money-changers at Milan in the Piazza del Pionel? A. There were several; there was one of the names of Polli and Perelli; one of the partners of that firm was condemned to ten years' transportation and hard labour, for attempting to put forged notes of the National Bank in circulation.

COURT. Q. Are you the cashier of that bank? A. Yes; it is now styled the Bank of the Kingdom of Italy; it is made a corporation by the law of Italy, approved by the Parliament—this paper is a receipt given when a letter is posted to the person posting it—it would not be produced by the person who had to receive the letter in London.

ALPHONSO GALEINI . I am acquainted with the Italian language, also with English—I have made an accurate translation of these notes; they are for 1000 live each, on the National Bank of Sardinia, payable on it demand to bearer.

Prisoner's Defence (Interpreted). These twenty-one notes which have been found to be forged were given to me as genuine, and I received them as genuine from the firm of Perelli and Polli, money-changers at Milan, at the beginning of April in the present year, in exchange for a certificate of Italian stock. Later I came to know that one of the partners was condemned to ten years' hard labour for having attempted to put in circulation forged notes. My good faith is proved by being in the company of Mr. Beretta when I changed the notes, and by leaving my address in London. If I had known they were forged I should never have sought the company of Beretta to have them exchanged, especially as he knew me intimately. After two months I returned to London, and continued to frequent the hotel kept by Beretta, who never told me anything about the notes being forged; on the contrary, he received me well; therefore, he could not have suspected they were forged. When I obtained exchange for three of the notes in the City, the clerk went out and returned and said they were genuine; therefore, that confirmed me that they were genuine. I was astonished, when I went to the third money-changer to have two more changed, to be told they were forged. I then gave up all the remainder that I had, my passport, and everything. I had no idea of it before then. If I had been a forger I should have acted in a different way. I should have tried to obtain change of the whole lot in one day, of different money-changers, and I should not have travelled with a passport in my own name; consequently, I protest that I am innocent I had two witnesses I had requested to attend, one of the name of Duncan, and the waiter at an hotel, whose name I don't now recollect; but it appears they are not here.

GUILTY .— Five Years' Penal Servitude.

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