Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 01 March 2021), July 1839, trial of JAMES PUNT BORRITT JOHN STAPLETON CORNELIUS STRONG ROBERT WISEMAN (t18390708-2057).

JAMES PUNT BORRITT, JOHN STAPLETON, CORNELIUS STRONG, ROBERT WISEMAN, Theft > theft from a specified place, 8th July 1839.

2057. JAMES PUNT BORRITT , JOHN STAPLETON, CORNELIUS STRONG , and ROBERT WISEMAN , were indicted for breakingand entering the shop of Michael Henry Hart, on the 15th of June, at St. Paul, Shad well, with intent to steal, and stealing therein, 11 jackets, value 8l.; 3 coats, value 3l.; 4 pairs of trowsers, value 3l.; 5 waistcoats, value 1l.; and 2 handkerchiefs, value 6d.; his property.

MR. PAYNE conducted the Prosecution.

HENRY SOUTHAM . I am shopman to Mr. Hart, of High-street, Shadwell. On Saturday night, the 15th of June, I shut the shop up myself, and left it at half-past ten o'clock—the window shutter outside was fastened up—I went next morning about seven o'clock, opened the door, and found all the goods scattered about the shop, the doors open, and half the shelves cleared of goods—I went backwards with the policeman, and found the shutter taken down, the window taken out of the frame, and the outside shutter broken completely off.

JOHN BROWN . I am a shoemaker, and live in Prospect-place. On Sunday morning, the 16th of June, I was passing along West's-gardens, between half-past one and two o'clock—the back of Mr. Hart's shop comes towards West-gardens—I saw Borritt and Stapleton—I heard Borritt say, "Here is a crab"—I do not know what he meant—I went a little further on, and saw a man very much like Strong, but I did not see his face—he was dressed in a blue jacket, not like he is now—he was standing against the wall making water—as soon as I passed he went to the corner, and whistled—he joined the other two, and they all walked together towards the back of Mr. Eyle's premises, which are next door to Mr. Hart's—I went to the top of West's-gardens—I then went back, and saw Stapleton with his hands against Mr. Eyle's back premises, and the same two I had seen before, but I had no better opportunity of seeing them then than I had before, as there are no lamps—I know Strong by seeing his back, and I know his walk—I have seen him before—I saw Stapleton stand with his hands against the wall, and heard Borritt say, "You get up, and I will stop here, they know you, and they don't me"—I went home to bed, and saw no more.

Cross-examined by MR. DOANE. Q. Have you always been a shoemaker? A. Yes—I work with my father at No. 13, Prospect-place, Back-road—it is not near this place, but I was going along with two lads down to the forest to get some birds' nests, but they thought it was going to rain, and went home—I have always lived with my father—I got into trouble about this—there was a pair of shoes left, and they said they were my shoes, but I had never seen them—somebody said they knew the fit of my shoes—I was not taken into custody—I gave my account of it on Monday morning to Barber the policeman—he did not come to my house—I went down to the Thames-police to tell him of it—I did not know what these people were about—I only saw them at the back of the premises—I thought nothing about it—I did not think it an honest transaction—I believed they were not after any good there—I did not know what they were after—I cannot say why I did not go to a policeman at once—I have never been in trouble myself, never in charge of any policeman, or in any dishonest transaction—I was the length of four houses from the prisoners—I am positive of Stapleton—I never said I was mistaken in swearing to him—I never expressed the least doubt about him—I never said he was not the man, and that I only swore to him by his hat—they were scarcely any time in my sight at first, and about two minutes when I came back—I heard of the robbery on Sunday evening, and gave

information on Monday morning—there was a young woman with me—I might be mistaken about persons in the dark.

Borritt. Q. What can you swear to me by? A. I never saw you before—I can swear it was you I saw.

SARAH CLARK . I am the wife of Thomas Clark, and live in New Gravel-lane, not far from West's-gardens. On Sunday morning, the 16th of June, about ten minutes before four o'clock, I was in bed, and was awoke by a noise in my yard—I got out of bed to see what it was, and saw Borritt in my yard, which leads into Mr. Whiting's at the beer-shop—I returned to the bed side, but could not awake my husband—I returned back to the window, and saw two men both in my yard with a bag containing something—Borritt was one—I cannot speak to the other—I went to open my yard door, and Borritt got over the wall towards Norton's-buildings, which are in Back-lane—he could get out that way—he would have to get over three walls before he came to mine—when I saw him getting over the wall I opened the street door, and called "Police"—the short man was standing in the yard—he had handed the bag up to the tall man, (Borritt,) who sat across the wall—I opened the side door, which opens into Norton's-buildings—a person coming from there must pass my door—I saw Borritt come past—he passed me close, and when I called police he said, "You b—fool, what are you making a noise about? there is nothing going to hurt you"—I said, "I don't know that, you had as lief hurt me as any one else, it is you, is it, sir?"—I saw who it was, and knew him when he spoke to me—I knew him by the name of Punt—I went out to the end of the court, and saw a policeman, and then Borritt ran round—the bag was dropped over the wall as Borritt jumped over—it fell on the outside in my court—I kept it till Barber the policeman came, and gave it to him—I swear Borritt is the man that spoke to me.

RICHARD BARBER (police-constable K 250.) On Saturday night, the 15th of June, I was on duty near New Gravel-lane—Hart's house is seven or eight doors from High-street, and West's-gardens about the same distance—a person coming from the beer-shop could get into Norton's buildings without going up New Gravel-lane by getting over a pigstye, and coming round Dockwall, then getting over into the beer-shop yard, and from there over some fences into Norton's-buildings without coming into the street at all—a man came to the door next door to the beer-shop, and called "Police," a little after three o'clock—in consequence of what he said I went up to him, and heard a cry of "Police" from Norton's buildings—before the man could hardly speak to me I turned round, and saw Borritt running as fast as he could—I immediately sprang my rattle, and followed, but could not catch him—they then said, "Here are some more backwards in the yard"—I went through a house into the beer-shop yard, and looked round—I saw a short man dropping from the beer-shop wall into Norton's-buildings—I went round to catch him, and in the court was Mrs. Clark, who gave me a sack containing property, and said Borritt had just dropped it—I searched for the short man, but he got away—about twenty minutes after as I returned from the station-house I saw Wiseman at the top of New Gravel-lane close by Norton's-buildings—I knew him, and said, "Wiseman, do you know any thing about the sack you lent Borritt?"—he said, "Yes, I lent him a sack, he said it was to get some tobacco out of the Docks, and I am very sorry I did now"—when Borritt was taken into custody, which was on the Monday week following, I went to

Wiseman, and said, "Borritt is taken into custody, now we shall want you to explain what you stated to me"—he went with me without making any objection—he came very quietly to the Thames-police, and was put at the bar as a prisoner by the Magistrate, in consequence of what he stated, and he was committed.

Cross-examined by MR. HORRY. Q. You found Wiseman at home? A. Yes—I knew him by his carrying coals.

MRS. CLARK re-examined. I saw Wiseman that morning about twenty minutes after I saw the others—he said, "What is the matter?"—I said, "There have been thieves in my yard, and they have run away"—he said, "Yes, one was Punt, and I lent him a bag, and I am sorry for it."

WILLIAM SHAW (police-constable K 73.) I apprehended Borritt about three-quarters of an hour after midnight, on the night of the 24th of June, in a public-house in Whitechapel—I told him I wanted him for a burglary at Mr. Hart's, in Ratcliff-highway—he asked me when—I said, "Last Sunday morning week"—he said, "So help me G-v-d I was not in London"—I said, "It is said you were in New Gravel-lane in company with three other persons with a sack and a quantity of property"—he said, "I know nothing about it"—he said he would walk quietly with me if I would not hold him—I consented, but suddenly he knocked my hat off, tried to trip me up, and ran away—I followed him about two hundred yards, and at last secured him with the assistance of a constable who came up.

THOMAS SQUIRE (police-constable K 282.) I took Stapleton into custody, and told him it was for breaking into Mr. Hart's house on Saturday night, the 15th—I took him on board a ship—when I got him on the quay he said, "This is the fruits of getting into bad company"—in going along I cautioned him that if he said any thing I should certainly make use of it against him—he then said, "What time was it?"—I said, "It was last Saturday week"—he said, "Let me recollect, I slept at my brother's, I think"—when we got a little further he again questioned me as to the night, and I gave him the same answer—he then said, "I recollect myself, I slept at my father's, in Mary-street, Stepney"—I afterwards went to the Docks, and apprehended Strong, at work there—I told him it was on suspicion of breaking into Hart's house—he said he knew nothing about it.

MICHAEL HENRY HART . I am owner of the shop, No. 10, High-street, Shadwell. I have seen this property, and know it to be mine—it is worth altogether 14l. or 15l.—my house is in the parish of St. Paul, Shad well.

HENRY SOUTHAM re-examined. This property was in the shop the night before.

BORRITT— GUILTY . Aged 25.— Transported for Fifteen Years.

STAPLETON, STRONG, and WISEMAN— NOT GUILTY .

Before Mr. Justice Bosanquet.