Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 08 December 2023), May 1818, trial of ROBERT GUTHRIE (t18180506-68).

ROBERT GUTHRIE, Theft > grand larceny, 6th May 1818.

806. ROBERT GUTHRIE was indicted for stealing, on the 20th of April , 3lbs. of coffee, value 3s. , the goods of Edgar Corrie and William Corrie .

SECOND COUNT, the same, only stating them to be the property of William Fielden .

THIRD COUNT, the same, only stating them to be the property of John Morris .

JOHN COLE . I am a watchman, in the employ of John Morris, who is a lighterman . On the 20th of April I was watching on board the Bainbridge, which belonged to him, and laid at Alderman's Wharf, on the Middlesex side of the river-the prisoner was an excise watchman , watching the cargo, which was coffee. About two o'clock in the day he said he was sleepy. I told him he might go and lay down, and if they began to work I would call him. He went down to the fore-scuttle; he could get to the coffee-bags there - They were all safe before he went down. He staid there about half an hour, then came up, and went over the ship to the Berwick, which laid about five ships off. About six o'clock I saw him again coming ashore. Leckey told him to be sure and return by six o'clock in the morning-Leckey was come to relieve him. I noticed to Leckey that his coat pockets knocked against his legs, as if something was in them-Leckey followed him. I had seen the bags all safe half an hour before he went down. The hatches were all locked-no person went down but the prisoner.

ROBERT LECKEY. On the 20th of April I was extra excise watchman, and was put on board the Bainbridge, which laid opposite Alderman's Wharf. The prisoner and I were to relieve each other - I watched at night and he by day. I first went on board on the 18th; there were 500 bags of coffee on board, which were stowed fore and aft in the main hold. About a quarter before six o'clock I went to relieve the prisoner. In consequence of what Cole said, I followed him through Ratcliff-highway, and saw some coffee drop out of his hat as he walked. His grent-coat pockets were bulky - I overtook him. We went into a public-house together, and I sent for an officer, whofound coffee in his hat and coat pockets. He begged forgiveness, and said it was his first offence.

ROBERT WILLANS . I am constable of Shadwell. On the 20th of April I was fetched to the White Lion, public-house, about a quarter after six o'clock, and found some coffee in the prisoner's hat and in his left-hand coat pocket-it weighed 3lbs.. He said it was a trifling thing, and he never did so before. He left his great-coat in the public-house - I did not search it.

JOHN BROWN . I am a constable. I fetched the prisoner's coat from the White Lion - He said it was his; I found some coffee in it. He begged of me to say nothing about it.

WILLIAM HURST . I am inspector of the Excise. On the 21st of March, hearing the prisoner was apprehended. I went on board the Bainbridge, and found 500 bags of coffee there-one of them in particular had been cut open and sewed up with tar twine-it appeared loose; some must have been taken out. It is marked T N, No. 163, JB/C, and weighed 107lbs.

JOHN SHEPPERSON . I am foreman to Mr. John Morris.

On the 15th of April I weighed the bag JB/C, No. 163, T N-it weighed 120 lbs.

EDWARD FAULKNER . I am clerk to Edgar and William Corrie , of Mincing-lane, broker s; they bought the 500 bags of coffee for Mr. Fielden - They were put on board Morris's lighter.

(Property produced and sworn to.)

Prisoner's Defence. I bought the coffee of a strange man.

GUILTY . Aged 42.

Transported for Seven Years .

First Middlesex Jury, before J. Vaillant, Esq.