JOSEPH BOON, JOSEPH COOMBES.
20th October 1908
Reference Numbert19081020-43
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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BOON, Joseph (33, flower seller), and COOMBES, Joseph (22, shoemaker) ; both uttering counterfeit coin twice in one day.

Mr. W. H. Sands prosecuted; Mr. Temple Martin defended.

EDITH SMITH , barmaid at the "Half Moon" Hotel, Herne Hill. On the afternoon of September 15 Coombes came in at about 20 minutes to four and asked for a glass of ale and a screw of tobacco, costing 2d. He put down what appeared to be a 2s. piece, and I gave him 1s. 10d. change. I put the 2s. piece into the till. He drank his beer and went away. The coin produced is the one he gave me; it

is dated 1907. I had taken no other 2s. piece that afternoon. My attention was called to it because it was bright. I have seen prisoner Boon in the house several times.

Cross-examined. I had not seen Boon in the house that day. The "Half Moon" is a large house and was rebuilt some years ago. There are six bars. Coombes came into what I call the front bar, or public bar. The bar is quite open and there are no screens round it. It is not my custom to serve in that bar, but on this particular afternoon the man who attends to it was putting up a mirror in the saloon. I usually serve in the saloon bar. I cannot tell how many customers I served that day. The house is just opposite the Herne Hill Railway Station. It is on the road to the London and County Cricket Ground at Sydenham. There was no football match on that day. I was serving from half-past eight in the morning till half-past five at night, with an interval of 20 minutes or so for lunch. We are never busy in the afternoon. I may have taken other 2s. pieces that afternoon but not in the front bar. I fix the time at which I took the coin by the fact that I had to call one of the young ladies from her rest time. I did not notice anything about the coin until the manager spoke to me about it at night. I had no suspicion about it at the time or I should not have taken it. I may served perhaps 100 customers in a day. I remember serving Coombes with the tobacco and beer because he was the only man I served in that bar. I identified him the same night at Brixton Police Station. The change I gave him was 1s., 6d., and 4d. in copper. I do not know that Coombes does not smoke. I do not know that no coppers or sixpences were found on him when he was arrested directly afterwards. The till is not in a drawer but is a cash register. I could not tell the number of florins it contained as the change is not takes from the same drawer. I was not present when the manager opened the till at six o'clock.

JOHN THOMAS JONES , barman at the "Half Moon." I was serving in the front bar on September 15 from about two o'clock in the afternoon until six o'clock. I asked last witness to go and serve a customer. I had examined the cash register before two o'clock. It then contained a few shillings and sixpences and some coppers, no half-crowns or 2s. pieces. I took two 2s. pieces during the afternoon, old Queen Victoria florins. I was not present when the till was examined.

Cross-examined. I could not say how many I served during the afternoon. I could not say how much money was taken in that time; probably not more than half a sovereign, so that if I served 40 customers they could not have averaged more than 3d. each. When I was away from the bar, about 3.45, I was hanging a mirror in the saloon for Miss Smith. I should not mistake the coin produced for a good one. I did not notice the coin, though I was going backwards and forwards to the till during the afternoon. My attention was not called to it.

GEORGE THOMAS MILLS , manager of the "Half Moon." About six o'clock in the evening of September 15 Detective-sergeant Hawkins

came in to see me. In consequence of what he said I went to the till in the front bar and examined it with him. I found in it the bad florin produced and two Queen Victoria florins.

Cross-examined. There are separate receptacles for shillings, sixpences, florins, and half-crowns, and a drawer to put gold in. I cannot say how much money there was in the till; there may have been 35s. with coppers. Any of the money in the till might have passed out as change.

DAVID TORR , barman at the "Commercial Hotel," Herne Hill. The "Commercial" is, I should say, about 150 yards from the "Half Moon." It is not so large as the "Half Moon." I was serving in the bar on September 15, at a quarter to five. The two prisoners came in. Boon asked for a shandy ale and a shandy bitter (shandy gaff) which came to 2 1/2 d., and tendered a counterfeit 2s. piece. As soon as I picked it up I saw it was counterfeit. I scratched it with a shilling and found it was soft. I handed it to my manager, who bent it. I told prisoners it was counterfeit. Boon said, "Is it a 'dud?" He did not say it in any surprised manner whatever. They asked for it back, but the manager said he was going to keep it. The manager then went round to the front of the house, and said, "Who is going to pay for these drinks?" Boon said, "Oh, I will," and took a half-crown from his waistcoat pocket and I gave him his change. Boon asked for the 2s. piece, but the manager told him he would have to wait. Coombes then said, "This is all right. I just met him and he asked me to have a drink, and I get into this trouble." Coombes offered to go and fetch a policeman, but he did not go, Just when he set out he turned round to Boon, and said, "Ask him for the 2s. piece back or else make him give you a receipt for it." They waited for 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour, but the policeman did not come. The manager remained at the door. Coombes said to Boon, "Well, take his (manager's) name and address." Boon said, "I will," and he went outside, Coombes stopping in the bar for a minute or so and then following. Boon stood at the front door with a paper and pencil and I could see them talking together. The manager remained with them all the time.

Cross-examined. I said at the police court: "After speaking to the manager they said they wanted to see a constable and get a receipt for the coin. They waited for one quarter of an hour." Prisoners to my knowledge made no attempt to get away, but, of course, I was in the house all the time. I do not know that Coombes went to the corner under the railway arch to look for a policeman. There is usually a policeman on point duty by the arch. On this occasion we were informed that he had, with two other constables, just taken a charge to the station. The point is in Railton Road, just opposite Herne Hill Station. A drayman was sent for a policeman but came back and said he could not find one.

CHARLES EDWARD GOODY , manager, "Commercial Hotel." I was serving in the saloon bar on September 15 when my barman brought me a coin which I found to be a bad one. I went round into the front bar where prisoners were. I asked, "Are you going to pay

for these drinks?" Boon put his hand in his pocket and threw down a half-crown. I went to the door and told a drayman who had just been delivering some beer to fetch a constable. I am sure prisoners could hear what I said. Having given orders to the drayman I remained standing in the doorway. There is no other exit from the bar. Coombes told Boon to go and get a receipt for his money. I said, "The policeman will give you a receipt for your money when he arrives." The drayman returned and in hearing of prisoners said he could not find a constable anywhere. As I would not give them a receipt for the money they went outside to take down the name of the house and Boon made out to be writing. Boon slipped out while I was talking to the drayman. Coombes afterwards came out and they stood talking 3 ft. or 4 ft. from the house. Coombes went towards Brockwell Park and said he was going to fetch a policeman himself. Boon went towards the passage running at the back of the houses leading towards Brixton. He stood there for some minutes, Coombes being a little way down the road. On Boon's seeing Coombes they walked towards one another again. After talking together a couple of minutes Boon made off towards Brixton again. Coombes then came towards me and was arguing with me about the matter four or five minutes. "It is a nice thing," he said. "Somebody asked me to have a drink and then passes a 'dud' coin. I do not know the fellow. He asked me to have a drink with him." He made off and I followed and as I was going down the road I met a constable. I showed him the coin and we went down and found prisoners in the "Britannia" beerhouse, Railton Road, about three minutes' walk from my place. I gave them into custody.

Cross-examined. I cannot see the entrance to the "Britannia" from my house. I do not know what change was given to Boon for the half-crown. I think there were two separate shillings. I did not hear Coombes say when he came back that there was no policeman at the point because he with others was removing a charge to the station. Motor-'buses pass my place but not trams, going to Vauxhall, Victoria, and Norwood.

Police-constable FREDERICK BRISTOW, 660 W. I was going on the point at Railton Road at a quarter past five on September 15. I had been engaged in helping to convey a prisoner to Brixton Station. Mr. Goody spoke to me and afterwards pointed out prisoners in the "Britannia" beerhouse. He said, "Those are the two men who passed the counterfeit coin." I told them the charge, and Coombes said, "All right, governor, we will come quiet enough." I searched them at the station. On Boon I found 3s. 3 1/2 d. in good money and 3s. good money on Coombes. Mr. Goody gave me a counterfeit coin which I handed over to Sergeant Hawkins.

Cross-examined. Coombes did not say on the way to the station, "I told them to go and fetch a policeman." I did not find any coppers on Coombes nor a sixpence. No pipe or tobacco was found on him.

Detective-sergeant HAWKINS, W Division. I went to the "Half Moon" at six o'clock on September 15 and received the first coin produced from Mr. Mills. At the station prisoners were put up for

identification and Miss Smith picked out prisoner Coombes from amongst eight other men without the least hesitation. The identification took place in the usual way. She also identified Boon as having seen him. I charged prisoners with uttering a counterfeit florin at the "Half Moon public-house with intent to cheat and defraud Mr. Whitmore; also with uttering a counterfeit florin at the "Commercial" with intent to cheat and defraud Mr. Comber. Boon said, "The 'Half Moon' we have not been in. I asked this man (Coombes) if he would come and have a drink. He said he would have shandy ale and I said I would have shandy bitter. I put 2s. down to pay for the drinks. Then the barman took the 2s. up and took it to the governor, and said it was a wrong one, and I said it was hard cheese for me to be a loser by it. I gave him a half-crown in payment of the drinks and the governor of the house stood in the doorway and sent for a policeman. After waiting 20 minutes I sent my friend for one and after five minutes he returned alone." Coombes said, "I did not know Boon had a bad coin at all, and after waiting 10 minutes or 15 minutes, he said, 'You fetch a policeman.' After looking round I returned and told him there was not one there. Boon then said, 'We will get towards home'; and I stood talking to the governor time enough for Boon to get down the road a little way. I caught him up and we went and had two half pints. I have not been in the 'Half Moon' for over six weeks, if not longer than that, and that woman who touched me I have never seen in my life." Notice of further evidence has been given since the hearing before the magistrate.

Cross-examined. I had charge of the case from the first and sent round to see if bad money had been passed in the vicinity of Herne Hill. The 'Half Moon' was the only house at which bad money was found on that night to have been passed. The money at the "Britannia" was all right. No pipe or tobacco was found on Coombes and no 1s., 6d., or 4d. in bronze. Prisoners' names and addresses were taken at the station and were found to be correct. Both are in the Vauxhall neighbourhood and about a mile apart. Boon was in the employment of Messrs. Barrett (bottlers) for 17 years prior to the past 12 months. He was discharged for irregularities. I do not know that he has since been employed by the Distress Committee of the Streatham Union. As to Coombes, he has been charged and discharged, and there is no conviction against him. He has been the associate of counterfeit men for three years past, and I should say his character is bad. I should also say that Boon's character is bad. Lately Boon and Coombes have been associated.

WILLIAM HAWKINS , barman, "Bell" beerhouse, Wandsworth Road (additional evidence). On June 20 last I was serving in the bar late at night. Prisoners came in and asked for two drinks. Boon paid with the counterfeit 2s. piece produced. I identify it by a tooth mark upon it. I called his attention to it, and he said, "Well, if it is a bad one take it out of this; let me have that one back," and he tendered a shilling. I did not give him back the coin. I called my governor's attention to it.

Cross-examined. This statement was taken from me last Sunday. I do not know as a fact whether Boon at the station gave his right name and address.

Sergeant HAWKINS, recalled, stated that he read the statement of fresh evidence to prisoners. Coombes said, "I cannot read. Will you read it for me?" Witness did so, and Coombes then said, "That is where he (William Hawkins) have made a mistake. It was not a shilling but a half-crown he (Boon) paid for the drinks." When the matter was explained to Boon he said, "All right."

WILLIAM JOHN WEBSTER , Officer of the Mint. The florins passed at the "Half Moon" and "Commercial" are counterfeit and from the same mould. As to the counterfeit florin passed at the "Bell," I have every reason to believe it is from the same mould, but it has been so much knocked about I would not like to swear to it. It is of the same date, but not necessarily from the same mould.

(Defence.)

JOSEPH BOON (prisoner, on oath). I have been living at 34, Hemans Street, Wandsworth Road. I have been living in the same street for 18 months, but not in the same house. For 17 years I was employed by Barrett's Bottling Company as carman. I left there because I lost a bit of time. I was put off, not discharged. I went round to see the manager and he said, "You are not discharged, but you will have to stand off for a while." Then, on account of slackness, there was nothing much going on, I applied to the Distress Committee for work and was there 11 weeks. Since then I have been buying flowers at Covent Garden to sell in the streets, or a bit of fish, or anything that would return a shilling. I should think it is about 14 months since I left Barrett's. I knew Coombes when he was at work there. I used to see him about when he was doing odd days as a carman for Alderman Howlett, coke contractor, Lambeth, and we used to drink together. With regard to September 15, about six o'clock in the morning I made my way over to Covent Garden Market to see what I could buy. I found nothing there that would suit me, so I went to a coffee house and had some coffee, and put down 2s. 6d. and received 2s. 4d. change. On the way home I spent 2d. for a glass of beer and bought a pennyworth of bacca. I left home again between two and three and went towards Herne Hill. I had a sister living there. I did not remember the house, but thought I should recognise it going by. What I thought looked like the house was empty, and her husband being a cab-driver I thought he might be standing on the rank at Herne Hill, and I met Coombes by Herne Hill Station about a quarter to five. After conversation I said to him, "Will you go and have a drink?" and we went into the "Commercial Hotel." In payment I put down a 2s. piece, and the barman, after testing it between his teeth, said, "You have got a bad 2s. piece." I said, "Well, that is hard cheese for me." With that, I do not know whether it was his manager or his governor, came round to the front bar and said, "Who is going to pay for these drinks?"

I said, "I will pay for them," and I put down a half-crown. I asked to look at the bad 2s. piece, and the manager said, "You will see that when the policeman comes." There were two brewers' drays outside and a drayman was sent for a policeman. He could not find one, so I said to Coombes, "You have a look and see if you can find one. I will wait here till you come back." Coombes came back and said he could not find one and said something about three policeman taking a bloke up who had been pinched. After waiting about 20 minutes altogether I said, "I am not going to wait any longer. Are you going towards home?" He said, "Why do not you get a receipt for it?" The manager would not let me see whether it was good or bad, and said I should get my receipt when the policeman came. When I went into the house I had a half-crown, a shilling, and a 2s. piece. When I had changed the half-crown I had three separate shillings and some coppers. While we were waiting at the "Commercial" we made no attempt to get away. I was not in the "Half Moon" that day at all. The last time I was in the "Half Moon" was when I was in the Norwood Road and used to take my van up there. I have not been in for 15 months. With regard to the happening at the "Bell," in June, I was there, but Coombes was not. I went in with a man who is a carman employed by a firm at Battersea. He used to go to Kingston three times a week and we used to have drinks backwards and forwards like. He was also a carman. When I passed the 2s. piece at the "Commercial" I had no idea it was a bad one. I think I must have received it at the coffee house in the morning, as it was there I got change.

Cross-examined. I know Herne Hill pretty well, and, in fact, most parts of London, being a carman. I cannot account for the two florins being from the same mould. I did not hear the drayman say that the policeman at the point was taking a charge to the station; I heard Coombes say it. I knew Coombes on June 20; the man I was with that day resembled Coombes, but there is no possibility of mistaking the two men. I sell mostly in Walworth and Wandsworth Road. I should have known the difference between bad and good coin if I had taken that amount of notice.

JOSEPH COOMBES (prisoner, on oath), 8, Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth. I was born and bred in this neighbourhood. I am a general dealer and sell in the streets. I have worked twice for Howlett, the coke contractor. I got to know Boon through him once giving me a pull up Brixton Hill with a load of coke. On September 15 I left home at three o'clock with 3s. I had 12s. in the house, stock money. I went first to Vauxhall. I then went up South Lambeth Road for a stroll, not feeling up to much. After going into the library in Wilcox Road I went towards Brixton, and afterwards found myself opposite Herne Hill Station. Before I met Boon I did not go into the "Half Moon" at all. It is not true that I bought beer and tobacco in that house, and received 1s., 6d., and 4d. in coppers change. I have left off smoking. When I was arrested the three shillings I had taken out were found on me, but no 6d., no coppers, and no tobacco or pipe. When I met Boon he said, "What cheer, how are you going on?

Have a drink?" I said, "I never went up to the market this morning." He said, "I went up but things are too dear." I cannot say I had ever been into the "Commercial" before. Boon put down a coin which the barman said was bad. (The remainder of prisoner's evidence was corroborative.)

Cross-examined. I was charged with my brother with uttering at Croydon. My brother was locked up but I was afterwards discharged.

Verdict: Both prisoners, Not guilty.


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