18th February 1830
Reference Numbert18300218-70
VerdictNot Guilty

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566. ROBERT FINCH was indicted for stealing, on the 3rd of February , 1 purse, value 2d.; 5 sovereigns, and 2 half-sovereigns, the property of John Thompson , from the person of Sophia Ann Thompson .

SOPHIA ANN THOMPSON . I am the wife of John Thompson . On the 3rd of February, about half-past ten o'clock in the evening, I took a coach in Tottenham-court-road, being very ill and unable to walk - the prisoner was the coachman , and between Battle-bridge and the Angel, at Islington , as we were going along, he stopped the coach and opened the door; I asked why he intruded, saying it was not a stage - he shut the door, came round on the other side, got into the coach, and picked my pocket.

Q. What did he do when he first got into the coach? A. He was impudent, and said he should like to kiss the old lady, or something; the door was shut, and the coach drove on - it went slow, as it was up hill; he took my purse two minutes after he got into the coach, and got out directly - I do not know whether he stopped the coach, for I was terrified; if it did stop it drove on directly- when the toll was demanded at the turnpike, I told the toll-man I was robbed, and refused to pay; the prisoner drove on - I wanted to get home: I never saw him before- the robbery made me know him, for I trembled liked a leaf: he was dressed in a light coat and buttons as a hackney-coachman; a man whom he called his brother was on the box with him, driving; I was going to Lower Islington - when I asked the fare at the stand, which is near Oxford-street, they said 3s.; I saw this chariot, and he refused to take me under 3s.; I told him to take me as far as he could for 1s. - he took me to Battle-bridge; I gave him 1s., got out, and told him if he would take me home I would give another one - he said he would; I went into a public-house, changed half a sovereign, and had half a pint of porter - the prisoner and his brother had a glass of gin each; I pulled out my purse to change the halfsovereign, and he took the change under pretence of looking at it, and put it into his pocket; I was ill, and too timid to say any thing.

Q. Did you get into the coach again? A. Most assuredly - he said, "Old lady, I will take you;" I got in- he drove half way up the hill, and then stopped; he came first on the left side, then on the other, and said he wanted something out of the chariot - I said, "This is not a stage; what do you want?" he felt about me - he knew my money was on my right-hand side; he went round to the other door, got in, and sat by my side - I felt him take my purse; he jumped out immediately - I did not know what to do; I had been laid up for five weeks with the rheumatic gout, and could not walk - the coach went on, and I came to the turnpike - the prisoner came, and asked me for the toll: I told him I should not give any thing, I had given enough; but I did pay it - the prisoner took the sixpence; I told Mr. Bury, who kept the gate that I had been robbed, but said no more, for I thought I was in very bad hands, and the sooner I got home the better - he drove me to Norfolk-street instead of New Norfolk-street, where I live, and sat me down in the middle of the street, in the middle of the snow, and left me there - that is two or three streets from New Norfolk-street; the person, he called his brother, was still with him - I saw the watchman coming up; the chariot drove down to the end of the street, which is no thoroughfare - the watchman said, "You are left in a distressing situation;" I said, "Never mind me, stop that chariot," and he tried. but said he could not - the watchman took me home; I did not see the prisoner again till Saturday.

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. Are you in any business? A. I have a husband who supports me - he is in the surveying line , and was formerly an officer in the army - I do not assist in his business; I have had the rheumatic gout about two years - I have taken a small quantity of brandy, when I have been sick; I had some that day - I begged of the coachman to give me brandy, for I thought I should die from the inclemency of the weather - when I had the beer I gave him a glass of gin- the weather was cold; the beer did not agree with me- I threw it off my stomach immediately, and said I should like brandy; this was after I had rode some distance in the coach, he got me the brandy.

Q. How had you been employed that day? A. I had been very busy with my daughter, who had been laid up; I do not know why I am to say where she lives to bring her into trouble; she is young and blooming - I had been on business with her.

COURT. Q. How far does she live from where you took the coach? A. I took a cabriolet for her in Rathbone-place, and walked to where I took the coach, which was at the stand near the New-road - I had gone out to receive the money; I was not in a public-house before I went into one with the coachman; I had fetched a trunk from Seymour-street, and had half a pint of beer between me and my daughter - I do not know the name of the public-house - I bought some boots in Seymour-street -I dined at home that day, and had no more than I usually have, a pint of porter - I am frequently very ill; it is always attended with sickness - the prisoner never tried to kiss me; he said, "Old lady, I should like to kiss you;" I turned a deaf ear to that; that was after I had been to the public-house, at the time he took the purse -I distinctly felt his hand in my pocket when he took it, and I tried to binder him with my band, but was too feeble - I was too weak to cry out - I was unfit to be out of doors; my daughter wished me not to go, but I was anxious for her sake - I was afraid she would not be treated well on the road; I placed her in a cabriolet, paid the man, and told him to take care of her - I took the number; she was going to her destination - she dined with me that day; she is not here - I should have gone home in the Omnibus, but there were none at half-past ten o'clock; I left home abont six, and took my daughter to Rathbone-place.

Q. How were you engaged for four hours and a half? A. We had to walk; it is a long distance, and my daughter had a trunk.

Q. When you told the man at the turnpike you had been robbed, did you not say who had robbed you? A. I spoke of it, but I thought the gate-keeper might be as bad - I knew I had a husband at home; and when I got home he said, "Good God! what an hour to be out;" he had advised me not to go out - he was not pleased at this.

Q. When you arrived in Norfolk-street were you not in such a state of intoxication you could not walk the rest of the way? A. No, the watchman will tell you the same; I was stupified with fear - I have no power with my right hand, having the gout in it; I received the money at No. 71, Lombard-street.

Q. Now, after all this, is it true you paid the coachman 3s.? A. He paid himself - I gave him no money, except 6d. to pay the toll - I was a helpless woman, and thought it much better to go to my husband; I did not take the number of the coach - it was my daughter that took the number of the cabriolet.

Q. After the man left you alone in the coach. why not put down the glass and say you were robbed? A. Islington is not a very thronged place; I thought he should drive me to my own door - I did all I could to have him detained when I got out; two watchmen came up - I was placed in the snow; I told them to follow the chariot, and it very nearly turned over.

COURT. Q. You set out about six o'clock to walk with your daughter? A. Yes; I walked all down the road to Seymour-street, Euston-square, where I bought my daughter a pair of boots - I then went to Rathbone-place, and put her into a cabrioet at half-past eight o'clock - we had staid a little time in Rathbone-place; I called there to pay a sovereign.

JAMES BURY. I keep the turnpike at Islington. On the 3rd of February, between eleven and twelve o'clock, I remember seeing a yellow chariot driven by the prisoner - I knew him before, having taken toll of him many times; his chariot is No. 226 - when he got to the gate I knocked at the door, and asked for 6d. for the toll two or three times - nobody answered; I then opened the door, and saw the old lady Thompson sitting on the left hand corner of the chariot - I asked for the toll; she said she would not pay it, that she had been robbed - she did not say who by; the coachman got off his box, and came to the gate - there was nobody with him at the gate; I asked for the toll again - Thompson said she would not pay it; the coachman said she must, and in about half a

minute he paid it himself - I cannot say where he got it from; he gave it to me, shut the door, and drove away.

Cross-examined. Q. Did the prosecutrix appear to have been asleep? A. No, I could not see what state she was in - she sat up in the corner; she did not name the prisoner as having robbed her; if she had I could have called the watchman - there is one near the Angel, and another near the toll-house; it was between eleven and twelve o'clock at night - there was nothing to prewent her giving information; the chariot door was open- she came to me on the Friday evening, at the Highgate gate - she was alone; she said nothing about her busband's insisting on her prosecuting.

JOHN WILLSHER . I am a constable of St. Pancras. I received information of this robbery from the prosecutrix on Friday, the 5th of February - she wished to find out Bury, the toll-gatherer; I told her where to find him, and to apply to him for the number of the chariot - he afterwards told me the number, and I apprehended the prisoner - Bury pointed him out to me on the Friday night; I had no difficulty in finding him - he was at the house he frequents.

Cross-examined. Q. Is that a watering-house? A. Yes, in Tottenham-court-road.

WILLIAM CHAPPEL . I am a watchman. On the morning of Thursday, the 3rd of February, I was on duty, and saw Mrs. Thompson sitting in the snow in Old Norfolk-street - a chariot brought her there; I did not see the coachman, but heard his voice - I saw the chariot come down nearly to the bottom of the street; I told him it was no thoroughfare - he instantly said, "Then I must turn round;" I came up to Mrs. Thompson again - I had not seen the coachman set her down; she then said,"Stop the chariot, I am robbed;" I went out into the main road, and the chariot got away - it drove very fast; I went about two hundred yards, but could not overtake it.

Cross-examined. Q. How long is Old Norfolk-street? A. I should think about one hundred and twenty yards; I saw Mrs. Thompson sitting in the snow before I saw the chariot - I led her home; she walked.

Q. Could you account for her sitting in the snow? A. No; I went very close to her, but smelt no brandy - she seemed much agitated; she spoke to me first, and said"Stop the chariot, I am robbed;" I had come in at the bottom of the street - the chariot came down to the bottom, and then I saw her sitting on the snow; it was after the chariot turned that she spoke to me - I saw the chariot coming down the street before I spoke to her - there was a watchman with me, named Element; he was not before the Magistrate.

Q. Have you had any money for coming here? A. No - I have drawn 1s. from the constable last night.

Q. Do you mean to say that is all - be cautious how you answer - how much have you had? A. Two shillings, no more - I had them from the constable Willsher- one last night, and one the day before; I asked him for it, because I wanted it - I had one on Monday, and the other yesterday; that was at Clerkenwell - I did not refuse to go in at Clerkenwell until I had it; I cannot tell whether it was before or after I gave my evidence -I think it was about two o'clock.

Q. Will you swear you did not make it a condition on which you went before the Grand Jury, that you were tohave 1s.? A. No; the officer desired me to attend - I brought Mrs. Thompson with me part of the way; I went to her house once before that, and had a glass of rum, but no money - she gave me the rum; I did not ask her for it - I have received no money from any body, except the 2s.; I have eat and drank - the prosecutrix was sober; she seemed very much agitated, and trembled - I cannot say she had been drinking; I swear she appeared sober - she was much agitated at losing her money.

Q. If you followed the coach two hundred yards, why not call out? A. It drove away, and got out of my sight- when I came to the top of the street it was gone; I did not say I saw it for two hundred yards, but that I followed it.

COURT. Q. When you got to the main road, did you see the chariot? A. No, it was gone away.

MR. CLARKSON. Q. How do you know it went fast? A. It went from the top of the street to the bottom; that leads in to the Lower-road, which is lighted with gas; I could see two hundred yards, and more I should think; I was not with the prosecutrix a minute before I went to look after the coach - I did not see it turn the corner, and do not know which way it went.

Q. How do you know it went fast? A. I went from the the top of the street to the bottom; the next turning is King-street, which is about thirty yards - I cannot say it did not turn down there; I did not tell the Grand Jury I saw the coach for a considerable distance.

MRS. THOMHSON re-examined. When the chariot came up the street again it was almost turned over by the furious driving - when he drove through the turnpike he used an expression to the man; he said, "The old b-r had like to have taken me into -" some term, meaning the prison.

WILLIAM CHAPPEL . The chariot did not drive very fast when it went up the street.

Prisoner's Defence. When I sat the lady down at the corner of Norfolk-street, she paid me 3s. for my fare - she was very tipsy, and fell down on the snow; I picked her up once and put her against the railing, where I left her - I got on the box, turned round, and came away; I did not drive fast.


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