HENRY WHITE, CHARLES SMITH, JAMES TOPP.
1st May 1893
Reference Numbert18930501-461
VerdictGuilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude; Imprisonment > penal servitude; Imprisonment > hard labour

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461. HENRY WHITE (24), CHARLES SMITH (50), and JAMES TOPP (29) , Stealing twenty-three wooden cases, eight pieces of silk, and other goods; a mare, a van, and set of harness, the property of Joseph William Baxendale and others. Second Count, For feloniously receiving the same.

MESSRS. C. F. GILL and E. BEARD Prosecuted; MR. PURCELL appeared for White; and MR. KEITH FRITH appeared for Topp.

CHARLES GEORGE COATES . I am in the employ of Messrs. Pickford and Co., carriers—it is part of my duty to be at London Bridge Station to receive goods sent to our firm, and place them in vans according to their delivery sheets—on 4th April last I was at London Bridge Station—the carman Boyce was there with van No. 385—I received twenty-seven cases—I have the bill enumerating them—they were placed on Boyce's van; he was instructed to deliver four cases at Higgins and Eagle's, in Cannon Street, and some at Cook and Son's, in St. Paul's Churchyard, and other places—the cases contained drapery and silk goods—each case had its own number entered on the sheet—I saw the cases before they were put on the van—I afterwards saw them; they were the same cases.

JAMES BARTON . I am fourteen years of age, and am a van-boy in the employ of Pickford and Co.—on 4th April I was with Boyce and his van, 385 at the station—I led the horse—the van was driven to Cannon Street—we called at Higgins and Eagles' and left four cases there—we then drove to Cook's, in St. Paul's Churchyard—Boyce went in there; while he was there a man came and spoke to me—when Boyce came out I told him what the man had said to me, and he sent me round to Higgins and Eagles'—I did not see the man there that spoke to me; when I came back to Cook's the van was gone—I cannot recognise any of the prisoners.

JOHN BOYCE . I am a carman in the employ of Pickford and Co.—on 4th April I was with van 385 at London Bridge Station—I received from Coates twenty-seven cases—I went to Higgins, Eagles and Co. and delivered four cases, and afterwards to Cook and' Co.—I went in there, and when I came out the boy spoke to me—in consequence of what he said I sent him back to Higgins's—when I came out from Cook's the van was gone—I went back to the head office and gave information—I have since seen the van at the Mansion House—it was the van I was driving—it was about 3. 30 when I missed it.

GEORGE FOALE . I am employed by Pickford and Co. at the Deptford depôt—on Tuesday, 4th April, my business took me to Lewisham High Road to deliver goods—in going along, about ten minutes past five, I noticed one of our vans standing under the trees in the main road, in the gutter at the side of the road—the horse's head was as though it had come from London—it was loaded with cases—I saw a man in charge of it, leaning on the top of the cases—about ten minutes or a quarter, of an hour after I passed again and saw the van, and the man was then getting up on the front of the shafts, and the horse was beginning to move towards Lewisham—I know Friendly Street; it is the third turning on the left from where I saw the van, and about thirty yards from Topp's shop.

Cross-examined by MR. KEITH FRITH. Topp's shop is marked on this plan (produced)—if he was going from his stable in Friendly Street to market he would have to pass his shop.

GEORGE WILSON . I live at 21, Friendly Street—I know Topp by name, but I never saw him—my father is the householder of the house and yard, 21, Friendly Street—we have a stable there—Topp or Mr. Pressley occupied the adjoining stable, and kept a horse and van there—on April 4th there was an empty stable to let; there was a notice on the wall that it was to let—about five that afternoon a man came to the door and asked if I had a stable to let—I showed him the stable, and after bargaining with him for it for the night, he gave me 5s.—I had never seen the man before—he went away, and came again in about a quarter of an hour—I then saw a van with some boxes on it—I did not count, them, but I should think there were over twenty—it was a one-horse van of Pickford's—there were three men, and they started unloading the cases and put them in the stable, and left them there, and went away—as a, rule we do not let a stable for one night unless anyone wants it—I am not, sure whether I have ever let it for one night before, I don't know whether my father has—I am a compositor—I was not at work that day—my father came home afterwards, and I believe he went for the police—I do not recognise either of the prisoners.

Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. I believe I could recognise two of the men if I saw them—I was taken to the station and shown the prisoners among others, but failed to recognise them.

Cross-examined by MR. FRITH. The yard is open to all comers at any time; it is not locked.

MARY ANN FOSTER . I am the wife of Henry Foster, and live at 25, Friendly Street—on Tuesday, April 4th, my attention was attracted to a horse and van drawn into the yard opposite where I live—it was a Pickford's van—I saw three men, and I saw George Wilson there—they went into the stable, and I saw the cases taken from the van and put into the stable—the van was backed into the yard; it was drawn straight up to my front window—after it had been unloaded the men went away—I saw one man back the horse out of the yard into the Lewisham Road, and Wilson went out with one or two of the men—I knew White; he is not dressed as he was when he was in the van—I have not good, sight—I recognised him at the station; I was close to him then (The witness was directed to go close to the prisoners)—yes, that is the man, I am sure of it—the next night Wilson spoke to me about the matter—the van was unloaded

close under my window—White held the reins and assisted in the unloading—he put all the boxes out of the van—this is a photograph of the yard, showing my cottage.

Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. They were about ten minutes unloading—I was sitting at my window, and when the van was nearly empty I came to the front door and stood looking at it—I had not seen the three men before—next morning I was taken to one of the cells and shown White—he was washing—Inspector Butcher said, "Can you recognise him?" and I said "Yes"—he was in a cell by himself—Butcher afterwards showed me into a cell where Smith was, and I said I did not know him—he did not show me Topp, because I knew him—I was taken to two cells—White had on a blue handkerchief with white spots—he looks quite different to what he was when I saw him in the cell—I believe he is the man I saw in the cell—I swear to him.

Cross-examined by Smith. I came to see you that morning by Mr. Butcher's directions, and he said to you, "Is this your wife? She wants to see if you are her husband."

Cross-examined by MR. FRITH. My cottage adjoins the stable that Topp occupies—I was looking out of my bedroom window when he was arrested—he said nothing, I am quite sure about that—I did not hear him say, "I have come to the stable for the horse, I was going to market"—I knew him as a greengrocer, living in the neighbourhood—I knew him from the time he had the stable—he has a very nice shop—I have never been in it—it was not unusual for him to be at the stable as early as between four and five; he always had a boy with him—I did not see a boy that morning—the boy came in the yard before he was taken away.

Re-examined. He always had a boy with him on market mornings—on this morning I was awoke by the policeman blowing his whistle very loud for some time; so I looked out of my window and I saw Topp come out of the stable, and they said, "That is the man"—that was a "long time after the whistle had been blown—the boy came into the yard afterwards, about half-past five—it was about five when the whistles were blowing—I think Tuesday is market morning—I have heard him very early in the morning—this was on Wednesday morning—I really don't know which is market morning.

By the COURT. At the Police-station I identified White as the man who had held the reins and taken the cases out of the van—I was near enough to see him well at the Police-court—he did not speak to me—he was only the length of the horse from me when I saw him holding the reins; the horse's head was close to my window—he was sitting on the seat of the van.

WILLIAM BUTCHER (Detective Inspector R) I received information of this robbery—about 12. 30 on the morning of the 5th April I went to 21, Friendly Street, and went to the stable—I saw a number of cases deposited there—one was broken open and a bale of silk lay on the top of it, and there was a small box minus the contents—I kept observation of the stable, and about 2. 30 I saw Smith and White come down Friendly Street—they came into the yard on their tip toes—they went round the yard, and White struck a number of matches and looked into the stable—I was in a little recess between Topp's stable and the cottage—Smith went and opened the door of the stable where the cases were, and White

held the door open while Smith went in to examine the cases—he was in there about a minute—they then came out of the yard in the direction of Friendly Street—I went out and went into a front garden in Ashmead Road and kept further observation—about a quarter to five Sergeant Hedge and Constable Bragg came there and kept observation with me—shortly after the three prisoners came up Friendly Street, Topp being on the extreme left of the other two—they turned into the yard—Topp went straight on; Smith and White turned to the right to where the cases were—I then came out of the garden with the other constables, and we went to the front of 21, Friendly Street, and there we could sideways see the van—I saw them put two or three cases in the van—we went into the yard—I made a rush and caught Smith as he was in the act of lifting a case—I pushed him down—he said, "It's all right, you need not fear"—I got him up and held him—White ran back into the corner of the stable—Hedge had a struggle with him—I told him to blow his whistle—he did so for about seven minutes—we had lost Topp all this time—all at once I turned round and saw Topp putting his head out of the stable door—I immediately said, "There is the other man, seize him," which the constable did—we told the prisoners they would be charged with stealing this horse and van and these cases of silk—they said, "It's all right"—Smith said that—we took them to the station and they were conveyed to the City—the charge was read over to them—they made no answer.

Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. I did not hear White say anything.

Cross-examined by MR. FRITH. There is no gate to the yard—I knew that Topp had a stable there—his van was left in the yard at night—the van these things were put into belonged to him, and had his name on it—anyone could go into the yard day and night—I know now that Topp is a greengrocer, and had a shop in the High Road—when he came into the yard with the others he was apparently in conversation with them—I did not hear him say anything.

Re-examined. Market days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday—this was on Wednesday—I saw Mrs. Foster there that morning—her husband came and helped Hedge bind up Topp's hands—the whistling went on for seven minutes before Topp put his head out of the stable.

WILLIAM HEDGE (Sergeant 12 R). I went with Constable Bragg to the yard at 21, Friendly Street, and about half-past eleven I saw there twenty three cases; two had been opened, and one was empty—I saw the silk in one that had been opened—I left Bragg there and went back to the station—about 4. 45 I went to the yard again, and at three o'clock I concealed myself in a front garden—my attention was attracted to three men coming in the direction from Friendly Street—they were walking close to each other, as though together; they appeared to be in conversation—they turned into the yard—White and Smith went to the place where the cases were, and Topp went in the direction of the stable—I waited till I heard the noise of a case apparently put into the van, and then went across and seized White; he struggled to get away—I threw him to the ground, and he was secured—the van had the name of Pressley on it, and on the shafts the name of Topp—Bragg blew his whistle for assistance for six or seven minutes.

ARTHUR BRAGG (370 R). I was with the last two witnesses—I arrested Topp in the stable—I had blown my whistle about seven minutes when he

came out of the stable door—he said, "I know nothing about it; I came here for my horse; I am going to market."

Cross-examined by MR. FRITH. I was in uniform—it was after I caught hold of him that he said, "I know nothing about it."

JOHN EGAN (City Detective Sergeant). On the morning of 5th April, about 4. 45, I was in Deptford, and saw the three prisoners in custody of the police—I went with them to the police station in Black heath Road—I said I was a police sergeant of the City, and all three would be charged with being concerned in stealing a van, horse, and twenty-three cases—I took their names and addresses—Topp said he was a florist and carried on business in Lewisham High Road—I said to Topp, "The two police officers state that they saw you come down the road this morning with the other two men, and that you all three turned into the yard together, and said the goods were being loaded up in your van, and two cases are in your van now; have you anything to say?"—he said, "I don't know these two men; I went into my stable to find my horse and go to. market"—they were searched—on Topp was found 3d. in bronze—they were taken to the City and charged.

Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. I have made inquiries, and find that Topp is a greengrocer and florist—he appeared to be carrying on a respectable trade—there was an ordinary stock.

Re-examined. Among the things found on Topp was this post-card addressed to "H. C, 17, Richmond Road, Dalston."

SARAH ANN TUNSTALL . I am married, and live at Stoke Newington—about the beginning of May I was present when the premises 17, Richmond Road, Dalston, were let to a Mr. Henry Cranfield—I see Mr. Cranfield here; it is the prisoner White.

JOHN GEORGE DOWNES . I am an architect and surveyor, of Brockley Road—in November, 1892, I let the shop, 156, Lewisham High Road, to Topp—I required a reference as to his respectability, and he gave as a reference "Henry Cranfield, 17, Richmond Road, Dalston"—this is the answer to my inquiry.

Cross-examined by MR. FRITH. With the exception of the last quarter his rent was regularly paid—I disposed of the premises last Christmas, and I don't know what happened afterwards—the rent was £70, rising to £75—I looked upon him as a good tenant—I knew nothing to the contrary of his being a respectable man.

JOHN SMITH (365 P). On the morning of April 5th I found a van, No. 385, with a horse attached, in Bournemouth Road, Peckham—I took it to the station—it had on it a whip, a nose-bag and a tarpaulin.

CHARLES MULLET . I am in the employ of Pickford and Co., of Gresham Street—I examined the cases recovered by the police with the marks on the delivery sheet—the entire load was of the value of £1,246, apart from the mare, van, and harness.

GUILTY .—White then pleaded guilty to a conviction at this Court on 28th March, 1887, in the name of Henry Cranfield, and Smith to a conviction at the Clerkenwell Sessions in 1886, and several other convictions were proved against him. Topp received a good character. WHITE— Six Years' Penal Servitude . SMITH— Eight Years' Penal Servitude . TOPP— Fifteen Months' Hard Labour.


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