Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 24 October 2021), July 1833, trial of THOMAS SMITH (t18330704-4).

THOMAS SMITH, Theft > housebreaking, 4th July 1833.

Second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Gaselee.

1028. THOMAS SMITH was indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Joseph Harris , on the 8th of June , at St. Margaret, Westminster, and stealing therein 13 silver pencil-cases, value 13s., his property .

GEORGE COLLEY . I am shopman to Mr. Joseph Harris, who lives at No. 54, Tothill-street, in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster ; he is a pawnbroker and silversmith . On Saturday night, the 8th of June, about five minutes to eight o'clock, I was in the shop, and heard the window broken - I ran out, and saw the prisoner running along; I ran after him about a hundred yards, and then called out stop thief; a man stopped him immediately - I brought him back about twenty yards; I then gave him in charge to a policeman - he had got thirteen silver pencil-cases - he had them in his hand, and gave them to Mr. Harris when the policeman took him into the shop - I had seen them in the shop in the afternoon - I did not look at the pencil-cases before I ran out - I had seen the window whole about an hour before; I did not observe the pencil-cases then - I suppose there were about a hundred pencil-cases in the window; they were in a tray.

WILLIAM BURT . I am a policeman. I was on duty in Tothill-street on the evening of the 8th of June - I was about thirty yards behind the prisoner, and saw him pass Mr. Harris's window, and saw him hit his hand into the window; he broke the window, but I was not aware that he had taken anything - he walked three or four paces, and then ran as fast as he could possibly go - the last witness got out of the door before I got up to the window; he cried stop him; he was stopped by a man turning out of Princes-street - I went up, and Harris's shopman was then bringing him back - I took him back to the shop, and he delivered up to Mr. Harris fifteen silver pencil-cases; they have been in my possession ever since - I have them here - I said nothing to him at all; he said nothing to me, except that it was distress drove him to it, and that he had no home nor any employment.

JOSEPH HARRIS . These pencil-cases are mine, and are worth thirteen shillings; they were delivered up to me by the prisoner - I asked how he came to do it; he made no reply - I had seen them safe that afternoon, and saw the glass whole then.

The prisoner made no defence.

WILLIAM BREADBEAR . I am a cabinet maker; I live in the Curtain-road, Shoreditch. I have known the prisoner from infancy; his character was exemplary in all respects, as a sober, industrious, honest man - he was employed in a cotton manufactory when young - I never heard anything disrespectful of his character - I think this must have been done under mental excitement - about a year and a quarter ago, he lost his father, mother, and sister, who were all the near relatives he had, and he was committed to my care; and he has conducted himself with the strictest propriety - he has had work to do up to the day this transaction took place - he was with me; he never lost his time, and was never out at night, and never had any vicious propensity whatever - I always considered his propensity on the side of virtue - this was under influence of mental excitement; his mind I believe sustained great injury from the loss of his father, mother, and sister; and since that I believe there has been some other causes - he had no medical attendant - he was at work as early as five or six o'clock in the morning on the day of this occurrence - he is a cabinet maker, and a very industrious ingenious young man.

Q. What do you mean by mental excitement? A. There has been something of an exchange of sentiment between himself and a female - he met with some difficulty in this attachment; and I believe this was the cause of his leaving my house in the morning - he had received some objections to his overtures that day, and I account for this being the principal cause - many have committed suicide under such circumstances - he has never been in a state of confinement, nor under medical treatment.

Elizabeth Storey , Curtain-road; James Matlock , cabinet maker, 123, Curtain-road; and George Thornton , 123, Curtain-road; gave the prisoner a good character.

ELISHA MILLWALL . I live at No. 10, Park-street, Dorset-square; I am a tailor. I have known him since he was about two years old - his character has been undeniable; he was an industrious honest boy - he lost his father, mother, and sister, all within a few months; it was about the time a fever was raging so much in London about a year and a quarter ago - I do not myself know that he did not know what he was about.

Jury to BREADBEAR. Q. Supposing his Majesty should be disposed to treat him leniently, would you take him back? A. Yes, with the greatest pleasure.

GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 20.

Strongly Recommended to Mercy by the prosecutor and Jury .

A COMMUNICATION having been made to the Court on the Fourth Day of the Sessions, that the witnesses on the several bills of Indictment preferred before the Middlesex Grand Jury, at Clerkenwell, on the Tuesday and Wednesday, had not been sworn before the Court but by the Crier, at a time when the Court was not sitting. Inquiry was made, and this having been ascertained to be the fact, the learned Judges have determined that the said bills are illegally presented, and no judgment has been passed in those cases; but a Special Commission it is expected will issue for the purpose of fresh bills being preferred, and the cases in which prisoners have been convicted to be re-tried. The Court have accordingly ordered those prisoners, as also those whose cases have not been tried, to be detained; and only passed judgment upon those prisoners against whom Indictments were found at the London and Westminster Sessions. The indictments which have been illegally found are printed in ITALICS.