9th February 1891
Reference Numbert18910209-240
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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240. ROBERT CUTTS, Stealing eight pounds of kidneys, the property of Joseph Henry Baxendale and others, his masters.

MR. E. BEARD Prosecuted, and MR. KEITH FRITH Defended.

THOMAS CREAGH . I am a dock constable, attached to the Royal Victoria Docks—on Monday, January 12th, about 7.20, I was in the docks with Jeffers, a dock constable—we saw a van belonging to Pickford standing outside their office, inside the docks; the van-guard Branch appeared to be fumbling among the frozen sheep, with which, and four

cases of kidneys, the van was loaded—it was rather dark, and I could not see what he was doing—I spoke to Branch, and he said something to me, in consequence of which I searched the van and found this cloth, which had been taken off a sheep, with six pounds of kidneys—I also found this handkerchief, with two pounds of kidneys concealed between two sheep—the sheep were placed lengthways in the van—I asked Branch if the handkerchief was his, and he said, "Yes"—while I was examining the contents of the van the prisoner came up—I said, "Do you know anything about these kidneys?"—he said, "Yes, that is all right, the case fell off the van and got broken; the kidneys got scattered about the road; I picked them up, and I put them in this bag"—he said he took the bag off one of the sheep—the carman came up then—when he came up he said he had been to the office to borrow a hammer to nail up the case—that was his excuse for being away from the van—that was all the conversation I remember—kidneys are generally placed in square boxes with the battens one or two inches apart to let air in, as they are kept in refrigerators—the centre batten was removed from the one which was deficient in kidneys—I should think it would be quite easy to raise one of these battens; it had the appearance of having been nailed down again, the nail was bent—if it had fallen off the van it would have fallen two to three feet; I examined the case—I found no other damage to it than that of the batten having been raised—the case is not here, it has been delivered—the general state of the roads on that night was very slushy and dirty; it had been thawing all day, and the roads were completely cut up—there were no marks of mud on the case; it was quite clean, and the kidneys in the. cloth and handkerchief had no marks of mud on them, they were almost frozen together—if the case and the kidneys had fallen on the ground, and the kidneys been scattered, the kidneys would have been covered with mud—the prisoner accompanied us to the Police-station, where he was handed over to the Metropolitan Police.

Cross-examined. He told me the case fell off the van in the docks; I could not say at what place—there are railway metals in the docks—I am positive all the dock roads were dirty that day—if the case did fall off and break, it was possible for the kidneys to come out—I should say that they and the box had not been wiped; I should not believe they had been—I saw no hammer—I only had his statement as to his going and asking Mr. May for a hammer; I do not know it is true—I nave great doubt as to his asking for a hammer—I heard May say at the Policecourt, "Cutts came to me and asked for a hammer "—Branch was charged and discharged; he is here.

Re-examined. If the kidneys had been wiped they would not have had the appearance they had; they were crystallised with the frost.

By the JURY. The bag had been taken off a sheep—the prisoner said he made it into a bag such as it is now—I noticed no other damage to the box except the raising of this batten—I thoroughly examined it.

By the COURT. The prisoner's van was loaded at 29 shed, and then he came to Messrs. Pickford's office, all inside the dock—it is 600 to 700 yards from where the van was loaded to where this discovery was made—the prisoner was then in Messrs. Pickford's employment.

JOHN JEFFERS . I live at Pennington Buildings, London Docks, and am a superintendent in the employment of the London and India Joint

Dock Committee—on Monday, January 12th, I was with Creagh at the Victoria Docks, about 7.20 p.m., and I saw one of Pickford's pair-horse vans standing within a few yards of Messrs. Pickford's office inside the docks—it was loaded with fifty-five carcases of mutton and four cases of sheep's kidneys—I saw the boy Branch handling the carcases in the body of the van—Creagh got into the van and discovered the kidneys; some in this white cloth were between the boy's feet in the body of the van, and others in this red handkerchief were between the carcases in the van—the cases were on the floor of the van, one on the left and three on the right-hand side—the tail-board was up—I saw the prisoner come from Pickford's office when Creagh was in the van—I said, "What is the matter?"—Creagh said, "Do you know anything about these kidneys?"—the prisoner replied, "Yes, they were part of the contents of one of the cases that fell off the van into the road. way"—he said he picked them up the best way he could, and intended to put them back in the case—he said he had been to the office to borrow a hammer to cooper the package up—one case had apparently been tampered with; a batten had been moved and the nail was driven in crookedly—it would not be a difficult matter to lever a batten up—externally the case was clean—the kidneys were thoroughly clean, frozen, there was not the slightest particle of dirt on them—the roadways, from the refrigerator to where the prisoner pulled up that night, were very muddy—I do not think the kidneys had been wiped—it was never suggested before that they were wiped—Kitching, the dock sergeant, came up and said, "What is the matter?" and the prisoner said, "It is me," and Creagh told him what was the matter; and the prisoner was taken to the Police-office with the kidneys and the case; and then I got a lantern and searched round the office—then the prisoner was given into the custody of a Metropolitan constable and charged—I have not seen the case since—I did not give evidence before the Magistrate.

Cross-examined. The roads all through the docks were very muddy that day—Branch was asked if the handkerchief belonged to him, and said, "Yes"—he said nothing about using it to take up dropped kidneys in—Creagh was present; I won't be positive if Creagh said that at the Policecourt.

By the JURY. Bound plain nails are used for these cases—the kidneys were loose in the case, not wrapped in anything—if kidneys were taken out you could see through the battens that some were gone—they could not fall through the battens—he should have taken them into the office—I don't know if he would have to weigh again before finally delivering—it is our duty to examine these vans.

Re-examined. I examined the case in consequence of the prisoner having said it had fallen off.

FREDERICK KITCHING . I am sergeant of the dock police at the Royal Victoria Docks—on 12th January, about twenty minutes past seven, I was on duty, and my attention was drawn to Creagh and Jeffers by one of Pickford's vans—I went up to it and saw the prisoner, who told me a case had fallen off the van—I said, "What is the matter?"—the prisoner said, "It is all right, Mr. Kitching; it is me; a case has fallen off my van into the road, broken open, and a quantity of the kidneys shook out; I took this cloth off one of the sheep, tied it up at the bottom, and put the kidneys in"—I examined all the cases, and found them all securely

nailed up, and there were no signs of their having been in the road; the middle batten of one of the cases, about three inches wide, had been prised up. and in nailing it down again the nail had turned over instead of going into the wood—he did not say at what part of the roadway it fell off—he would be inside the docks all the way from the refrigerator to Pickford's office—the roads were in a very bad state of slush that night, in consequence of the thaw—the case and the kidneys were perfectly clean, the kidneys were quite crystallised with frost—if they had been in the mud, and the mud had been wiped off, they must have shown it—I saw no hammer—the prisoner would receive a pass to go out of the gate; I asked him for it at the police office; he said he had lost it—I believe he should also receive a waybill—when the case was weighed after this it weighed 2 cwt. 1 qr.—I do not know what it had weighed before.

Cross-examined. It was not freezing on the night of 12th January—the case is not here; the goods were perishable, and Pickford's people wanted to deliver them—I think the prisoner said he had bent the nail in nailing it down.

WILLIAM JOHN MAY . I live at 6, Orient Terrace, Brunswick Street, Poplar, and am a clerk in Pickford and Co.'s service at the Victoria Docks office—about twenty minutes past seven on 12th January the prisoner came to the office for his waybill, the permission to take goods out—he also took a hammer, but I did not hear him ask for it, because I was busy then; the first I knew of it was when he afterwards brought it back, and said he had taken it, as he had had an accident with a case, a case had fallen off, and he wanted the hammer to mend the case up with—he would keep the ticket, it is his pass out of the docks—I made out this waybill: "Fifty-five sheep and four cases of kidneys. "

Cross-examined. I don't know if the goods would be weighed again when he got to his destination; we put no weight on the waybill—I saw Moss weigh it again—he said the kidneys had fallen out, and that he had picked them up.

WILLIAM MOSS . I live at Chanelsea Street, Stratford, and am a foreman in the employment of the London and India Joint Dock Committee—on 12th January I was on duty at the refrigerator at Victoria Docks—about a quarter-past six the prisoner came to me with one of Pickford's vans, and took fifty-five sheep and four boxes of kidneys—I had them weighed; they weighed 2 cwt. 1 qr. 6 lb.—I gave him a pass—the roadways in the docks were very muddy and dirty on this night; there had been a very sharp thaw during the day—about half-past seven Mr. Kitching sent for me—the prisoner was there, and could hear the conversation—Kitching asked me if I had delivered the sheep and kidneys to Messrs. Pickford's van—I said, "Yes"—he asked me if I knew the weights of them—I said, "Yes"—he said, "We have found some kidneys in the van with the man"; and I said, "We had better re-weigh the cases"; so we re-weighed them, and they weighed 2 cwt. 1 qr.—it was 6 lb. deficient—I noticed the cases; all appeared pretty clean and in good condition—the kidneys were all clean—the prisoner said nothing to me about a case having fallen off.

Cross-examined. I cannot say if there is any man at the gates to search vans going out—two constables are there for the purpose of searching men, not for searching vans—the vans are always liable to be searched

—the prisoner's load was not covered up when he left my place—the cases were actually delivered to the prisoner by the checker while I was some yards off making out the pass.

Re-examined. I did not see them weighed—I saw the condition of the cases—I have the checker's book in my pocket, with the weights—the checker called out the weights to me; the prisoner was not there, but he was there when the cases were weighed—the checker is not here.

HENRY SUMMERS "WELLS I live at 15, Birchwood Street, East India Road, and am an agent in Pickford's employment—on 12th January I was called to the Victoria Docks, and got there about 8.45—certain information was given to me about these four cases of kidneys, which I examined—this case was the same as the others, it had no appearance of any dirt—I found one batten had been sprung, and had been nailed down with a French nail, which had been bent over—the kidneys alleged to have fallen out were quite clean—I did not see the roadway at the part this happened, but, judging from every other portion of the road, it must have been in a very bad condition—it was a skeleton case, and you could see between the battens that some kidneys were missing—the value of the kidneys was about 8s.—the police-officers at the dock gates are supposed to examine our vans as they come out, to see that the packages correspond with the pass.

Cross-examined. Kidneys were evidently missing from one of the cases; there was not the slightest difficulty in seeing that—I don't suppose the officers would have gone so far as to have looked through the battens; it would be sufficient for them to see that the number of the packages was right—they would not know how the cases came from the refrigerator.

HERBERT DUBERRY (K 114). On January 12th I was called to the Victoria Docks, and the prisoner was given into my custody for stealing kidneys—on the way to the station he said, "How can they charge me with stealing the kidneys? they did not find them on me; they found them on the van"—when charged at the station he made no reply.

Witnesses for the Defence.

WILLIAM BRANCH . I am fifteen—I was in Messrs. Pickford's employment on 12th January, and had been with them for three months—I am not with them now—I was van-boy to the prisoner—on the night of 12th January, as we were coming from the meat-stores, our van skidded along the railway metals, and a case of kidneys fell off, and one of the battens flew open, and a lot of the kidneys fell out of the case—they and the case fell on to some frozen snow between the railway metals—there was no mud where the kidneys fell, only frozen snow—I kicked them together, and a man holloaed out to my mate, "Do you want any help?"—he said, "No; I think I can manage"—my mate gave me an order to get this sheep's cloth off a sheep and gather them up, and I did so—then I took my pocket-handkerchief for some other kidneys—I never counted how many I put into it—I heard the weight in the handkerchief was two pounds—I was subpoenaed to come here—we threw the kidneys on to the van, with the intention of getting a hammer at the office and putting them back again—we picked up a stone and tapped the case together—the prisoner told me he went for a hammer, but temporarily he just bent the nail over with a stone—we drove down to the office to get a hammer and nails to put them back and nail the case up, to prevent them coming out again—I put the clothful and handkerchief full of kidneys on a sheep nil

we got to the office—they were not concealed in any way—I was charged before the Magistrate, and discharged.

Cross-examined. Mr. Willis appeared for the prisoner at the Policecourt—I was discharged there before the case was finished—Mr. Willis called me into the witness-box, but I gave no evidence—the prisoner has been out on bail—I have seen him several times since he was sent for trial—I have never said a word to him about this case—we had gone a distance equal to about the width of this Court from the refrigerator when the case dropped off—we were quite close to where Mr. Moss was—we did not go back to him, we thought we would get back to Pickford's clerk—that office is a good distance off—these cases were packed behind on the tail-board, which was up—I told nobody that night that the case had fallen off on frozen snow; my mate told Creagh, Moss, and Kitching that he had had an accident—this was not a heap of frozen snow; it was level—the road was not slushy; it was frozen snow—the kidneys rolled about a little distance—they were perfectly clean when I picked them up—I did not wipe them; I have not heard any suggestion of the kidneys being wiped before—it was impossible to put them back; it was dark; we wanted to fix them properly, because they are weighed when we get to the market—my mate threw my handkerchief out, and said, "If you find any there, put them in that"—the man who asked if he should help us was one of rickford's men—he is here—I did not accept his offer of help—I made a statement to Mr. Millett; I do not know what I said to him, I was so threatened and bullied—I did not tell him the case fell off on frozen snow; I do not know what I did say.

ALBERT BECKLEY . I live at 12, Market Place, Wandsworth Road, and am a carman in Pickford's employment—on 12th January I was coming from the meat-shed to our office, and saw a van standing alongside the road—when I got to it, I saw it was one of our vans, and a man, who was the prisoner, I believe, was standing at the tail-board stooping down and picking something up—I called out "Do you want any help?" and he replied, "No, I think I can manage now—I went on, it was very dark and slippery; I had all my attention to pay to the horses; the ground was very hard indeed that night—there are metals on each side of the road, and between the metals it is a hard black road, which was frozen very hard—I don't believe there was snow where the case fell, it was a hard black road, clean ground—the prisoner drove up to the office just after me and said, "I have had an accident"—he recognised me by my holloaing out—he said, "Thad a case fall off, and I am going to ask for the loan of a hammer "—I went on with my load, and that is all I know—that was the first time I ever spoke to him, I believe—there are thousands of carmen in Pickford's employment; I don't know them all—I have been subpoenaed to come here—I have lost six days' work through coming here—I have not been discharged by Messrs. Pickford, I believe I am with them still—I did not go to the Police-court.

Cross-examined. I passed right by the van, it was very dark—I saw a man picking up something, I don't know what it was; I was on my dickey—there might be difficulty in finding all the kidneys in the dark—I did not know a case had fallen off till I got to the office—I saw no case on the ground—all I can say about the case is what he told me—I knew that the prisoner was in custody the same night, because some more carts

were behind me, and the carmen said, "Did you hear about that carman getting into trouble just now?"—I said, "Who is that?"—they said, "The man that had the case fall off his van to-night"—I did not go to the Police-court—the road from the refrigerator to the office was not in a very slushy condition; I cannot swear it, but it was very hard indeed, I had a job to get along with my horses; it was a hard frosty road—it is not very often I am down there; I go through there about once a week—I have not had any conversation with the prisoner about this case.


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