Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 27 September 2022), April 1855, trial of CHARLES KING (t18550409-484).

CHARLES KING, Theft > pocketpicking, 9th April 1855.

484. CHARLES KING , stealing on 31st Dec., 1853, 1 purse, value 3s.; and 17s.; the property of a person unknown, from the person.

MESSRS. BODKIN and CLERK conducted the Prosecution.

JOHN REEVES . I am thirteen years old—I come from the Bridewell at Westminster—I am a convict there—I was convicted last May, at the Middlesex Sessions, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, for picking a pocket—I had been in prison a dozen times before that for picking pockets—I know the prisoner—I first became acquainted with him about three years

ago—I knew he was a policeman—I first became acquainted with him in Dean-street, Soho, and I had been in the habit of occasionally seeing him till Christmas, 1853—I recollect the frost about Christmas, 1853—I went up to the Serpentine one day during that frost—I saw the prisoner that day—I met him in a public house in Pulteney-street, Soho—I do not recollect what day of the month it was—I had some conversation with him in that public house—he said he could take us to a place where we could get plenty of money, up at the Serpentine, on the bridge—I met him before 12 o'clock—after that we went with the prisoner up to the Serpentine—we went on the bridge—there was a young man, about twenty-one, with the prisoner when I spoke to him—I knew that young man—his name was Donovan—he went with us to the Serpentine—there was plenty of skating going on on the Serpentine—when we got there we met several other thieves, boys and men—some of the boys I had known before—the prisoner spoke to a man whom we met on the bridge—he was a man that goes about with the boys, picking pockets—I forget his name; I know him; he is in prison now—when we were on the bridge there were persons skating below on the ice, and a great number of persons on the bridge looking at them—the prisoner pointed to a lady, and told me to come over to her—the lady was looking over the bridge at the persons skating—I went over to her, and picked her pocket—the prisoner was standing close behind me at the time I did it—I took from the lady's pocket a purse, and gave it to the prisoner, and then the prisoner, and Donovan, and I walked up towards the park—as we went up higher in the park, the prisoner took the money out of the purse, and showed it to me, and put the purse into a hole in a tree—we went towards the Bayswater-road—the tree is not above thirty yards from the bridge—there is a guard-house close by, where the soldiers are—when the prisoner showed me the money, I saw how much there was—there was a half sovereign, and six shillings, and a sixpence—when we went into the park, we went in at a large gate in Park-lane—we went straight across to the Serpentine, and then turned and went on the bridge—we went on the right hand side of the river—we went from Pulteney-street, and in at the gate nearest to the Statue, and straight across the park to the Serpentine, and then went by the side of the water—we went to the Humane Society's house, and on the bridge.

Q. What was done with the money, after you saw it? A. King gave it to Donovan to mind—it was afterwards parted amongst us—I and Donovan and King were present when it was divided, in a coffee shop, in Sloane-street, Chelsea—I do not recollect how much each of us got—it was divided equally—after King had placed the purse in the tree, we went over to the bridge—we went underneath the bridge afterwards—we went to the top of the bridge before we went underneath—before we went under the bridge the prisoner said we could get nothing there, for the people were all fancying they would get their pockets picked, because there was such a lot of thieves about them—he said it was no use to go there, the people were too sharp—we then went under the bridge, because there were plenty of people walking through there as well—while we were underneath the bridge I picked a lady's pocket of some loose silver—I and Donovan King were under the bridge—in the course of that afternoon another got taken up for picking pockets, at the side of the water, in my sight was not close by; I could see it—it was about thirty yards from the bridge—I do not know who it was that took that boy up—I saw King there at the time—the people ran across the ice, and King put his foot out,

and a man fell over his foot—I had known King for some time before that day—I have been to the Zoological Gardens with Donovan and King and Arundel, another young man, that used to pick pockets—I do not know when it was; it was after the frost, it was after this taking the purse—I have been to the Zoological Gardens twice or three times—I had been there once with King, and once with Donovan.

Cross-examined by MR. SLEIGH. Q. You are thirteen years old? A. Yes—I do not know how many years it is ago since I was first taken into custody—I do not know how long it is ago since I was first put in prison—I think it is about three or four years ago—I was first taken up for stealing bread, in Newport-market—I was in prison seven days for that—I do not know how long it was after I came out before I was taken again; it was more than a week—I do not know what that was for—I know it was not for picking pockets—it was for stealing something out of a shop; I do not know what it was—I was not a pickpocket then, I only used to steal things out of shops—I do not know what kind of shop it was from which I stole something on that occasion—I do not know whether it was a draper's, or a jeweller's, or a bootmaker's—on my oath I do not remember what kind of shop it was from which I stole something—I was not committed for trial—I do not know whether I was in prison seven days or three days—I do not know how long it was after I came out on that second occasion before I was taken again—it was more than a week; I do not know how long it was—I was then living with my mother, in Church-lane, St. Giles's—after I came out of prison the second time, I was taken into custody a third time, f or stealing a bundle of cigars—I was not committed for trial on that occasion; I got three days, and a whipping—I do not recollect how long it was after I came out before I was taken again—it was not for picking pockets—I do not know what it was for; I think it was for stealing from a shop—I do not know what shop it was, nor what I took from it—I was not tried by a jury on that charge—I do not know what office I was taken to on the first occasion—it was at Marlborough-street that I had three days and was whipped—I think the next time was at Bow-street—I cannot recollect for what offence I was first taken there—on the fourth occasion I was taken to Bow-street—I cannot recollect what for—sometimes I was taken with other boys—Donovan was not one—I did not know him then—I have known Arundel about three years—Arundel and Donovan were not with me on the fourth occasion—I forget whether I was tried, or whether the Magistrate disposed of that case also—I do not recollect how long I was in prison; they can tell you better at the prison than I can—I do not recollect how long I was out before I was put into prison again—they can tell you at the prison; I do not recollect—I do not know what length of time elapsed before I was taken into custody again—they can tell you better at the prison than I can—I never thought how long it was—I do not remember on what charge I was taken on that occasion, or how long I was in prison—I remember being once taken for some bacon—I was not in gaol a dozen times before I picked a pocket—I dare say I have been in gaol a dozen times—I dare say I was in gaol six times before I picked a pocket—I do not know how long it was after the first time I was in gaol before I picked a pocket—I never took any notice to think how long—it was about nine months from the time I was first put in prison till I first picked a pocket—on the first occasion when I picked a pocket I was not taken up—I cannot say whether I was caught the second time I picked a pocket—I picked pockets a good many times before I was caught—Donovan and

Arundel were my companions—Donovan was most with me—he was with me sometimes, and sometimes the two were—I cannot tell how many times I picked a pocket before I was taken—Donovan and I went shares in the picking pockets—I do not know the name of the officer who first took me on a charge of picking pockets—I was taken to Bow-street—I should know the officer who first took me if I were to see him; he had No. 11 on him—I got let off on that first occasion—I do not know how soon I picked a pocket again; about a week after—it was not the same officer who took me again—I got three months once for picking pockets—I do not know whether that was the next time to the one when I was let off—as soon as I got off on each occasion, or got out of prison, I went on picking pockets again, Donovan helping me—Arundel did not always help me; he did sometimes—King never took me into custody.

Q. Did not this man take you on a charge of picking pockets, another policeman being with him? A. Not as I know of.

Q. Will you swear you were not taken by a police officer for picking pockets, and that King did not immediately come up while you were being taken to the station? A. I do not know whether King was present; but I know if he was present at the time he would try to get me off—on what occasion was it; I will not swear that King was not there; I will swear he never gave evidence against me—I have never been tried in either of the courts in this building—I have not been in prison twenty or thirty times—I will swear I have not been twenty times, or else the officers would know it—I do not think I have been in prison twenty times—I would not swear it—Mr. Baker keeps the public house in Pulteney-street—I did not notice Mr. Baker in the public house when I went in—I know him, and he has seen me there—I have been in the habit of frequenting that house since then—I was never there before—when I went to that public house King was there first with some women—I believe it was on ft Saturday—it was a day or so after Christmas—I knew one of the women that was in the public house with King—her name is Baker—I knew her by name before that occasion, and knew she was a thief—I have seen her frequently since—the last time I saw her was at the time I got my two years—she was in prison—King was talking to that woman, Baker, at the public house—I did not go alone to that public house, Donovan went with me—I left Baker at the public house, when I and Donovan, and King, went to the park—Donovan and King and I had something to drink—the woman did not have anything with us—she was with other persons—I knew the woman before, and knew her to be a thief—I used to call her Poll Baker—I did not speak to her in the house.

COURT. Q. Did you know Poll Baker before that day? A. I knew that she was a thief—I did not know her by the name of Poll Baker before that day.

MR. SLEIGH. Q. You said you knew her by the name of Poll Baker? A. Yes, afterwards; but not before that day—that is what I have always heard her called since—we staid about a quarter of an hour in that house after I and Donovan went in—I and King and Donovan had something to drink—a young lady was serving behind the bar—I was never there before—I have been there since, and there were two young girls serving behind the bar—on that day there might have been two, but I did not notice them—I did not notice the landlord or the landlady—I do not know what the bar maid was called—I do not know the name of either—in going over the bridge, before I picked the lady's pocket, I mot several thieves, boys and

men—I know some of them—one was a red headed boy, I forget his name; his father and mother live in Nottingham-court—I have not been out with that boy on thieving expeditions—I have given that boy's name since I was examined, but I cannot think of it now—I gave the name of some others to the same gentleman—Murray was one man, and Matthews was the red haired boy—I knew those boys and men to be thieves—I did not count how many there were altogether—there were several others—I have given the names of others to the gentleman who examined me—Smith was one—I met two or three of them together—King was close to me at the time I met these men and boys—King used to walk before me sometimes, and sometimes behind—I cannot say whether he was always alongside or not, or whether he was betwixt me and Donovan—King spoke to one man who was a thief—I had often seen that thief before, and I have seen him since—I have given a description of that man to the gentleman in prison—I believe I gave his name to that gentleman—I had seen that man that King spoke to, a couple of days before I got into prison—I have had conversation with that man regarding this robbery in the park—I have just told you his name before—Murray his name was—I do not know how soon after the day I was upon the bridge I talked to him about this matter—I do not think I spoke to him for three months after—he knew what Donovan and King and I were doing—he was doing the same himself—the lady whose pocket I picked was on the bridge looking over—it was when we first came there that Murray spoke to King—Donovan was close by at the time that King and Murray spoke—I and Donovan were standing together—it was before the pocket was picked that King spoke to Murray—I do not think he spoke to him afterwards—it was not in my sight—I kept with King till the money was divided, but there were crowds of people on the bridge—I did not notice any policeman on duty in uniform—I noticed the soldiers—I do not think I saw a policeman in uniform on the bridge—I did not see any policeman in plain clothes on the bridge, only King himself—while we were walking across the park, and before we got to the bridge, I do not remember that we met any policeman, either in plain clothes or in uniform—I do not think we did—we walked on the Bays water side, amongst the people.

Q. Do you remember whether you met any policeman in plain clothes or in uniform? A. There were several policemen there, but not on the bridge—by the side of the Serpentine there were policemen about—they were not officers whom I had known previously; I did not know anything of them—I did not know any of them by sight—I did not know the officer who took the boy into custody—he was a strange boy—it was not a policeman who took hold of him—there was a policeman there; I did not know him by sight.

MR. BODKIN. Q. As early as you can recollect, were you living in Church-street, St. Giles's? A. Yes—I have no father; I have a mother, who is a dress maker—I was never taught to read, or to write, or anything—when I got out of prison, after these short imprisonments, I had no means of getting my living—when I was taken for what I am now suffering, it was for picking a lady's pocket on Hay-hill, Berkeley-square—it was a police sergeant who took me, No. 2C—I had not seen King the day I committed that robbery—I was with him the day before, in the next street to it—I do not know whether King was near Hay-hill the day I committed that robbery; I had not seen him that day.

BENJAMIN SIMS . I am park keeper in Kensington-gardens, and have been so three or four years. I recollect the frost at the end of 1853—there were many persons skating on the Serpentine during the frost—on one

afternoon I saw some persons near the bridge, over the Serpentine; I do not know what day it was—it was the end of 1853, or the beginning of 1854—I recollect one afternoon, while the skating was going on, seeing some persons do something—there was something about them that attracted my attention—there were five of them together—I saw them standing by a tree, about thirty yards from the Serpentine bridge—I saw them dividing something—I saw a policeman, Kemp, in the gardens, and I called his attention to it—he was in plain clothes—when the persons saw me and Kemp looking towards them, they left the tree, and divided in different directions—I went there, and picked up a purse in a hole in the trunk of the tree, near the root—I took that purse home with me—there was no money in it—I kept that purse till Jan. this year; and one day in Jan., sergeants Jackson and Denning came to me, and I gave sergeant Jackson the purse—I had seen Denning in the park about two or three days after the purse was concealed—I mentioned to him what I had seen done, and how I found the purse.

Cross-examined. Q. Can you tell me the time of day it was? A. I think between two and three o'clock—I cannot exactly tell.

COURT. Q. Do you know what policeman it was whose attention you called to it at the time? A. I know him by seeing him on duty in the park—I do not know his name.

ELEAZER DENNING (policeman, A 38). I remember, during the frost of 1853, and the beginning of 1854, being in Kensington-gardens one day during that frost—I had some conversation with Mr. Sims—I did not know his name at that time—on that occasion he showed me a purse, and told me where he got it—after some inquiries had began to be made this year, with regard to the statements of the boy Reeves, I was in Hyde-park, and saw sergeant Jackson, who was apparently searching for something—I communicated to him what I had heard from the witness Sims, in the previous year; and he accompanied me to the house of Sims, who produced this purse, and gave it to sergeant Jackson.

CHARLES JACKSON (police-sergeant, A 5). After the statement made this year by Reeves, I went on 8th Jan. to search in Hyde-park for a purse—while I was searching, the last witness communicated to me what he had heard from the park keeper, Sims—I went to the park keeper's house, and he gave me this purse.

THOMAS HUBBERSLEY (police-sergeant, A 7). I have been ten years in the police force—I recollect the frost that took place at the end of 1853—I was on duty on Saturday, 31st Dec. that year, in Hyde-park—there were persons skating on the ice—I saw the prisoner near the Serpentine that day—I met him between the receiving house and the bridge—I spoke to him—he was in plain clothes—I believe the words I said to him were, "Well, King, are you going to look at the skaters?" or, "Are you looking at the skaters?"—he was then on the gravel path, next to the water—at the time he stopped to speak to me, I observed some boys in the road—I suppose they were ten or twelve yards from him—he was in the path, and they were in the road—they were a little in advance of him, I should think about two or three yards—at the time King spoke to me he stopped, and the boys made a sort of halt—they stopped also—they were turning round as if listening to the prisoner and myself—they looked half round as it were—after King had spoken to me he moved on towards the bridge—I believe the boys went also—I did not watch them afterwards—they were common

looking boys; I did not notice them particularly—they were of different sizes—I believe this was between half past 2 and 3 o'clock.

BERNARD SHANLEY (policeman, C 76). I was in Hyde-park on 31st Dec, 1853, during the frost—I do not know what day of the week it was—I was there by accident—I was in uniform—I passed under the bridge—I heard of a boy being taken into custody for picking pockets under the bridge—he was taken by some man in the first instance—I knew the prisoner at that time—I saw him there—I dare say he was about two yards from the boy who was taken up—the prisoner spoke to me at the time—he asked me what the boy was taken for; I told him I thought for picking a lady's pocket—I asked him if he knew the boy—he made no reply but walked away—he was in plain clothes.

Cross-examined. Q. What o'clock was this? A. About a quarter past 3—I do not know the boy's name who was taken—I am not sure who the officer was who took him, I think it was A 186—there is nothing uncommon if an officer sees a person taken, to ask another officer what he is taken for—I have known King about two years, or a little more—I have not been in the force so long as he has—I never heard a whisper against his character up to the time this charge was made against him.

COURT. Q. It was a civilian who took the boy first? A. I understood it was a private individual—a policeman came up in about four minutes afterwards—the other policeman was coming up at the same time I was, and King came up and asked me this question—a gentleman called my attention first to the boy being taken—I dare say I was about 100 yards off—I went up as fast as I could, and seeing the man who was on duty coming up, I did not interfere—the boy was not taken under the bridge, I dare say he was about fifty yards from it—I first saw King where the boy was apprehended by the private individual—I cannot say whether King was standing there, or whether he followed me—he came up to me—I did not see in what direction he came—I came from the bridge.

MR. SLEIGH. Q. How is it you fix this day as the 31st Dec.? A. I recollect the charge being taken at our station—I was not on duty—I do not know the name of the officer whose beat that was—I do not know how many policemen were usually on duty at that time of the year.

COURT. Q. You said you were within two or three yards of the boy when King came to you? A. Yes—I did not see King at all before he spoke to me—my attention was first drawn to him when he was face to face to me, and spoke with me.

WILLIAM GODFREY (police sergeant, P 14). The prisoner was in the C division in 1853—I was a sergeant in that division—the prisoner was frequently employed in plain clothes—it was not always my duty to direct the constables in plain clothes as to what duty they were to perform in the course of the day—if I did not, some one else did, and the constable was to report the same day, or the following morning, what he had done and where he had been—this is the book in which I recorded the proceedings (producing it)—on 31st Dec. I directed him to make inquiries respecting a robbery in Piccadilly, and also a robbery in Gerrard-street, till 6 o'clock in the evening—the next morning the constable would tell me what he had been doing, and I put it in here—I gave him no particular directions, only to make those inquiries—on 1st Jan. I find the entry of the report I made: "Making inquiries respecting robberies in Piccadilly and Gerrard-street, till 6 o'clock, and then patrolling some streets from. 7 till 9.

Q. If he had been in the course of that afternoon near the Serpentine-bridge, would it have been his duty to communicate that fact? A. No; not whether he had been there or at any other place respecting a robbery—he may commence in the morning making inquiries, and his inquiries may last across four or five hours—if he had been employed as a police constable in Hyde-park he should have reported it to me, certainly.

Cross-examined. Q. If he had been ordered to go to Hyde-park, or to any particular place, to do duty there, it would have been his duty to report it the next morning? A. Yes; but if he had been desired to make inquiries respecting a robbery in Piccadilly, it would not have been his duty to tell every street or place he went to—the report he made, and which I entered, was such a report as I was satisfied with—I was satisfied that he had made inquiries—it was no part of his duty to tell me of whom he made this inquiry, or where he made it.

COURT. Q. Would a detective policeman under such circumstances have any part of the day to himself? A. If circumstances transpired to keep him out the whole of the day, it would be his duty to attend to them—he reported that he was there till 6 o'clock in the evening, and then the next hour would be for him to get his refreshment.

MR. SLEIGH. Q. Had you ever heard any imputation against him till this charge was made? A. No; he has always given satisfaction to me.

JAMES ABRAHAM (policeman, S 296). In the spring of last year I was on duty in plain clothes in the Zoological Gardens—it was one day in March, the 16th, 24th, or the 30th; it was either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday—I saw the prisoner twice that day—I saw him there at the time I went in, and I saw him again, and he had two lads with him; Reeves was one—I should know the other boy if I saw him—the prisoner spoke to them—the boys were giving the monkeys buns in the monkey house—King said did the monkeys like buns, and he said one would eat as much tobacco as the other would buns—the prisoner said he had got two friends with him—I knew the prisoner at that time—I afterwards saw the prisoner in the elephant house, and the same two boys were a short distance before him—in two or three days afterwards, I saw them all three together in Bayhamterrace, Camden-town, near the Mother Red Cap—the prisoner and the same two boys were then going towards London—I did not know Reeves at that time.

Cross-examined. Q. You did not know who either of the boys were? A. No—King had not his wife and family along with him—there was no female at all with him—that was in March, but I cannot tell what time—the first place I saw King was on the terrace, and I did not see the boys with him then; he was alone—when I next saw him, he was in the monkey house, and talking to those two boys—I did not know who Reeves was till Feb. in this year; that was after King had been taken on the charge on which he is now tried—I was not shown Reeves at all—he was in Bow-street, in a place where there were about fifty other boys—I was told to go and see if there was any one I knew, and I said, "That is the boy I saw with King at the Zoological Gardens"—when I saw the boys with King, they were both dressed very respectably—I do not know King's family; I believe he is married, and has a family—I do not know where he lived—he told me the boys were two friends—I should know the other boy if I saw him—I have not seen the boy Donovan.

MR. BODKIN Q. How soon after this affair, in the Zoological Gardens, did you see King and the two boys again in Bayam-terrace? A. It might be

about a week—I recognized the boy Reeves, and I saw him on one or two occasions afterwards, and when this matter was under inquiry at Bow-street I was sent into a room where there were twenty of them, and I recognized Reeves at once.

EDWARD LANGLEY (police sergeant, A 25). I took the prisoner into custody on 3rd Jan.; he lodged at No. 56, King-street, Soho—he kept a coffee shop—he had left the police—I took him to Scotland-yard, according to my instructions—the next day I had to take him to Bow-street station, opposite the police court—the charges that he was in custody for, were read to him, and this was one of the charges that was inquired about—I was about taking him across to the Magistrate's Court, and when we got outside the station he made a sudden start right away from me—I pursued him nearly half a mile, crying, "Stop thief!" and doing everything I could; at last somebody stopped him, and he was secured and brought back.

(Mr. Bishop, of Bond-street, gave the prisoner a good character.)

GUILTY . Aged 32.— Transported for Fourteen Years.

(There were four other similar indictments against the prisoner.)