Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 14 October 2019), July 1870, trial of ROBERT BOWMAN (22) (t18700711-550).

ROBERT BOWMAN, Theft > mail theft, 11th July 1870.

550. ROBERT BOWMAN (22) , Stealing from a post letter bag, a post letter, the property of Her Majesty's Postmaster General.

MESSRS. METCALFE and SLADE conducted the Prosecution; and

MR. MONTAGU WILLIAMS the Defence.

LEOPOLD SWARBERG . I am traveller for Messrs. Rice, of Watling Street—on 25th of May last, I was at Leicester—I had occasion to write to our firm, on that day, enclosing a 5l. note, No. 34312, dated 29th April, 1869, issued by the Bank of England; this is the note (produced); I posted the letter, about 4 o'clock on the 25th, addressed to Messrs. Rice & Co., 26, Watling Street, London, E.C.—the envelope was fastened.

WALTER THOMPSON . I am a sorter in the Leicester Post Office—a letter for London, posted at 4 o'clock in the afternoon would go up by the 7.10 train, by the mail bag—I made up the relief bag on 25th May—there were 104 letters for the E.C. district—this is the memorandum I made at the time, 72 were tied up in one bundle, and 32 in the other—I tied and sealed the bag, it was in a perfect state—Watling Street is in the E.C. district.

WILLIAM WHITE . I am a mail porter, at Leicester—on 25th May last, I received the Leicester and London relief bag, I took it from the Post Office to the station, and gave it to Henry Gardner; it was then perfectly sound.

HENRY GARDNER . I am a mail porter, at Leicester—on 25th May last, I received the Leicester and London relief bag, from White—I gave it to the guard of the train that left at 7.32.

JOHN SMITH . I am a guard in the Midland Company's service—on 25th May, I received the Leicester and London mail bug, from Gardner; I had it in my possession till I arrived in London, at 9.58, when I handed it over to the Post Office porter.

JOHN POTTER I am a mail porter, attached to the Post Office, at the St. Pancras Station, of the Midland Railway—William Folkard was the other porter, we were partners, there were only us two, one off and one on—I had a key of the mom in which the mail bags were deposited—I was on duty on the night of 25th May, for Folkard, that was by arrangement between us—when the Leicester train comes up, it is the duty of the porter in attendance to take the bags from the train and place them in the room—I did so on that night with the Leicester bag, and others, it was then in good con-dition—after placing it there, I locked the door, and went to the King's Crow Station, to get other bags that came up by the Great Northern line—I brought those to the same room at the St. Pancras Station; I was absent about twenty minutes, or perhaps more—sometimes I have remained in the room with the bags, and sometimes I have locked the door and remained about the station—I can't say how I acted on that particular occasion; but I should not leave the station again—it was my duty to wait and deliver up the bags to the mail van—I did so that night, at a few minutes after 11 o'clock, on the arrival of the 11 o'clock train—the Leicester bag comes at 9.50—sometimes it would be a few minutes later—the bag would remain in the room until 11 o'clock, when it was sent up with the others in the van—no one could have entered the room whilst I was at the station without my seeing them—whilst I was away at King's Cross it is possible they might have got in, if they had a key—there is only one other key that I am aware of—I know the prisoner—I had known him as a letter carrier in the Post Office—I was not aware until recently that he had left—I have seen him at the St. Pancras Station—not very many times, perhaps four, five, or six times—I think I have seen him in the month of May, with my partner, Folkard—I have never seen him except with Folkard—I have seen the prisoner's brother, Richard, with him, at the station—I saw them all three together on one occasion—I did not see Robert Bowman that night, and I don't remember seeing him afterwards—one morning, a few minutes before 6 o'clock, I found four men in that room—they were Richard and Robert Bowman, Folkard, and a man that I had seen before, who told me he was a sorter in the Post Office, but I did not know his name—they were all asleep, I could not get into the room, I had to arouse them in order to get in—the door was locked on the inside—when I inserted my key I could not get in—they had no right there, except Folkard—I should think that was some time in May.

Cross-examined. Q. Folkard, you say, would have a right in that room? A. He would have a right there; but not on that occasion—he was not on duty—he had one key and I the other—I have heard that he is charged with stealing letters from the railway, and the prisoner's brother also.

RICHARD WILLIAM BURKINSHAW . I am a mail van driver—I was on duty on the night of 25th May—I received the mail bag that night at the Midland Railway Station—I took them to Euston Square Station, and from there to the General Post Office—I got there about 11.40—the van was locked when the bags were in.

Cross-examined. Q. At what time did you receive the bags on the 25th? A. About 11.5.

CHARLES JAMES CHAPMAN . I am assistant inspector at the General Post Office—on the night of 25th May, between 11 and 12 o'clock, I received the bag from Leicester; it was tied up and sealed—I opened the bag and counted the letters—there were only thirty-five letters for the Eastern

Central District—they were tied in a bundle, labelled for the E. C. district—Watling Street it in the E.C. district—I did not at that time notice anything about the bag—it was subsequently shewn to me, and I then found a slit in the bag, in the seam—this is it (produced)—it would not be seen when folded, and might escape attention—it was tied and sealed as it ought to be—there was only one E.C. bundle, and that was a bundle of thirty-five letters—they were done up as they should be.

WILLIAM MATTHEW MINTY . I am employed in the bag room at the General Post Office—on 25th May, about 10 o'clock in the morning, inquiries were made about the Leicester mail bag—I had before that examined the mail bags that came from the Inland Office, and found a slit down the side of the Leicester bag—I put it aside to be repaired.

JOHN GARDNER . I am a clerk attached to the Missing Letters Department—on the morning of 26th May I gave directions with respect to the Leicester Post Office, and I had a return from Chapman and one from the Leicester Post Office—I compared the returns, and found a difference of sixty-nine in the number taken in London from those sent from Leicester, sixtynine short—I caused inquiries to be made about the Leicester bag—this is it—it was in the state it is now, with the slit down the side.

HERMAN RICE . I am a partner in the firm of Rice & Co., of 27, Watling Street—I did not receive a letter, dispatched from Leicester on 25th May, containing a 5l. note.

ALFRED FAYER . I am landlord of the Pindar of Wakefield, in Gray's Ion Road—I know the prisoner—I saw him on 25th May, between 10 and 11 o'clock at night, in my bar—he came in and called for some ale, and he then asked to have a 5l. note changed—he handed it to my barmaid, and she brought it in to me—this (produced) is the note—I took it, and went with it to the bar—there was another person with the prisoner—I asked if they wanted change for it—the prisoner said "Yes"—I then asked him to endorse it—pen and ink was handed to him, and he wrote a name and address on the back—it has been partly stamped out at the back—it was "James" something; but what the name was I can't remember, "No. 4, Bird Street"—I saw the prisoner write it—knowing Bird Street I asked him about a man named Russell, who lived there; but he did not know him—I expressed my surprise at his not knowing him—he made some excuse that satisfied me—I gave him the change in gold—there might have been 10s. in silver, and they went away, after drinking what they had called for—no it morning I paid away the note to Mr. Clayton, the gas collector.

Cross-examined. Q. Was the prisoner brought to your place tome days afterwards by Mulvany? A. Yes—Mulvany said "Good morning; you remember that little affair I called on you about?"—I said "Yes"—he then said, pointing to the prisoner, "Do you know this person?"—I said "Yes"—Mulvany had been to me previously about it—I knew the prisoner again at soon as he was brought into the house.

MR. METCALFE. Q. Had you before that been taken to the House of Correction? A. Yes—I there saw Folkard and the prisoner's brother; but I did not know them—I said they were not the men that brought the note.

COURT. Q. At what time exactly was the note brought? A. It was between 10 and 11 o'clock—I can't say to a half or quarter of An hour—I should think it was nearer 11 than 10 o'clock—I had never teen the prisoner before, that I know of.

SUSAN COULSON . I am barmaid at the Pindar of Wakefield public-house—on Wednesday, 25th May, between 10 and 11 o'clock at night, the prisoner came to our house with another young man—he asked for some ale, and gave me a 5l. note, which I took into the parlour to Mr. Fayer, and he came out and gave him change, and the prisoner wrote a name and address on the back—I saw him write it—the address was "4, Bird Street"—he received the change and went away.

Cross-examined. Q. It was just upon 11 o'clock, was it not? A. Yes, near to 11 o'clock—I was attending to my duties as barmaid.

JURY. Q. How long was the prisoner in the bar, do you think? A. About half-an-hour—not longer.

COURT. Q. Do you mean it was near upon 11 o'clock when he came, or when he left? A. When he left—it was nearer 11 than 10 o'clock—there were no other persons in the same compartment as the prisoner—I don't think I was attending to more than one other person—we were rather quiet that evening—there was no one serving besides me and Mr. Fayer.

JOHN MULVANT . I am an inspector of the detective police—I was instructed to watch at the Midland Station, St. Pancras—on Monday, 30th May, I saw the prisoner come on to the platform, about 10.10, and try the mail-room door—he did not open it, it was locked—I had seen Folkard and the prisoner's brother, Richard, on the platform, some short time before that—Folkard had collected the bags in the usual course, taken them to the mail-room, locked them up, and gone away—after the prisoner tried the door he left the station—Folkard afterwards came to the station again, a few minutes before 11 o'clock, with the bags from the Great Northern Railway—he collected the bags from the up mail train at 11 o'clock, gave them to the mail driver, and then went out of the station, along the Euston Road, to the Victoria public-house, at the corner of York Road, where he joined the prisoner, his brother, and another man—that is about five minutes' walk from the Midland Station—I left them there—on the night of 2nd June I took Richard Bowman into custody—Folkard was taken by Sergeant Moon, on the morning of the 3rd, on another charge—on the morning of the 3rd I went to the prisoner's lodging, Julia Cottage, Marlborough Road, Dalston—he was in bed—his sister brought him down to me—I asked if he knew a person named Folkard—he said he did—I asked when he saw him last—he said "Last Monday," that he was at the railway station with him, and also at the Victoria public-house—that was Monday, the 30th, the day to which I have been referring—I asked him to allow me to look in his room—he did so—I found nothing—on Thursday, 9th June, I again went to his lodging—he was in bed—he was called down, and I said "You know me, I am an officer; I am going to ask you some questions; you need not answer them unless you please; were you in a public-house in the Gray's Inn Road on last night fortnight?—he said "What public-house? '—I said "The Pindar of Wakefield"—he said "I don't know such a house"—I said it was a house not far from the coffee-house in which you and your brother very often slept, in the Gray's Inn Road—he said "I don't know anything about it"—I said "A 5l. note was changed in that house, on that evening"—he said "I know nothing about it"—I said "Were you in any public-house in the Gray's Inn Road on that evening?—he said "No"—I said "Where were you on that evening?"—he said "I can't remember"—I then said "Have you any objection to go with me to the Pindar of Wakefield?"—he said "No, I have not, I will go with you"—we went in a cab to the

corner of Swinton Street; we got out, and when about thirty yards distant, I said, pointing to the house, "That is the house I mean"—he said "Oh, I know that house very well, I have often been there with Folkard"—on going in Mr. Payer and the barmaid were both at the bar—I said to Mr. Fayer "You remember that affair I was speaking to you about the other night? '—he said "Yes"—I said "Do you know this young man?"—he said "Yes, that is the man; do you remember my asking you a question about Bird Street?—the prisoner said "No, I don't"—Mr. Fayer said "Why, you endorsed the note"—he said "No, I know nothing about it"—Mr. Fayer then said to his barmaid "Do you know him?"—she said "Yes, that is the man that gave me the note"—I said to the prisoner "You hear what they say now?"—he said "Yes, I do; but it is a mistake"—I then said to Miss Coulson "You are positive this is the man?"—she said "Yes, I knew him the moment he came into the house"—I then told him he would have to go with me to Bow Street, and I took him into custody—on searching him I found two duplicates, one for a gold Albert, pledged on 17th May, for 15s., and another for a silver watch, on 18th May, for 12s.

Cross-examined. Q. How long have you been an officer? A. Twentytwo years—I took the prisoner to the public-house to see if he was the person, to see if they knew him—I did not think it necessary to place him amongst others—the first time I went to his lodging was between 6 and 7 o'clock in the morning—Folkard was then in custody—I told him that Folkard was in custody for stealing letters from the Derby mail bag—I said nothing to him about his brother at that time, I did to his sister—I did not then say that Folkard had got his brother into trouble; that was on the 9th, in the cab.

MR. METCALFE. Q. When you took the prisoner to Mr. Fayer's, was he in custody? A. Certainly not; he came voluntarily—I took him there to see whether I should have to take him into custody.

JANE NEALE . I and my husband keep a coffee-house at 301, Gray's Inn Road—I know the prisoner and his brother—they frequently slept at my house—I remember their being, there the latter part of last month; on 28th or 29th they slept there—they paid for their lodging separately—one was in bed before the other came home on the Saturday night—the 28th they each paid for their own bed—the prisoner paid me 2s.—he gave me a half-sovereign—he had more money in his hand, silver and gold.

Cross-examined. Q. Had he slept at your house before that in that same week? A. Yes, on the Wednesday or Thursday night—I am not positive whether it was Wednesday or Thursday, whichever night it was he came in between 10 and 11 o'clock—they did not go out again that night; that I am sure of—my servant's name is Elizabeth Atkins.

MR. METCALFE. Q. How near is your house to the Pindar of Wakefield? A. A short distance on the other side of the road, about two minutes' walk—I know it was not past 11 o'clock when the prisoner came in—I know it was not 11 o'clock because my husband always goes to bed a little after 10 o'clock, and he was just gone to bed at the time—he always goes to bed between 10 and 11 o'clock, a little after 10 o'clock—I can't say to five minutes—he is not often after 11 o'clock—I remember that night particularly, he was just gone to bed, but I don't know whether it was Wednesday or Thursday.

CHARLES PEDLER . I know 4, Bird Street—Mrs. Strong, Mrs. Spicer, and Mrs. Adams, live there—the prisoner does not live there, to my know-ledge—I should know if he did—I have never seen him there—I live in

the next house, but I collect the rent a at No. 4, and know everybody who lives there.

RICHARD ADYE BAILEY . I am a clerk in the Bank of England—there is no other note in existence of this number and date.

Witnesses for the Defence.

ELIZABETH ATKINS . I am servant at the coffee-house, 301, Gray's Inn Road, kept by Mr. Neale—I know the prisoner—I remember his sleeping at our house at the latter end of May—I can't tell what night he slept there—it was either Wednesday or Thursday—he came home that night about 10.30, or between 10 and 10.30, about that time as near as I can judge—I am sure he never went out again, because directly he had had his supper, I gave him a light and he went up stairs—I know the time he came in because master generally goes to bed about that time—we have a clock—this was either Wednesday or Thursday night—I don't know which.

Cross-examined. Q. Did his brother sleep there too? A. Yes, he did so that night, in the same room—there was no third man, only those two—I have never seen a third one with them—they did not sleep there very often—about once or twice a week—I don't think he had slept there before in that week—I believe he slept there on the Saturday night after, but I was not there, I had gone to bed—I did not know his name—I used to call him "Sir"—he paid me for his lodging on the Wednesday or Thursday—I think it was 2s. he used to pay—I think he gave me a 2s. piece—they both slept in one bed—I don't know Folkard, I have never seen him there—the prisoner and his brother are not alike.

COURT. Q. When were you first asked about this? A. Last Friday, not before.

GEORGE EMILE PAWLET . I am the prisoner's brother-in-law—I know his handwriting—the writing on this note is not his—it is something similar, but it is very different—I decidedly do not believe it to be his—I recollect Thursday, 26th May—I did not see him that evening because he was ill in bed at my house—I believe he had a severe swollen foot and ankle.

Cross-examined. Q. When did you first see this note? A. In Court, just now—I never applied to see it before—I have not been asked to come here—I came voluntarily to hear the trial—I knew that the prisoner was charged with stealing this note, and that it was stated his handwriting was on the back—I knew that two days after he was charged—I never applied to see whether it was his—I never saw it till now—I was absent from home the whole day on Thursday, and when I came home, between 7 and 8 o'clock, I found he had arrived—I did not see him—he was in bed—my wife told me so—my house is called Julia Cottage—he has lived there since February—he has a regular room there—he does not pay any rent—he did not sleep out very frequently—at times he has—I took no notice of it if he did—sometimes he went out to see a friend, and said he should not he home.

CATHERINE PAWLEY . I am the wife of last witness—the prisoner is my brother—I know his handwriting—this writing on the back of the note is certainly not his—I remember Thursday, 26th May—he slept at our house that night—he was not well all day—he was in bed a good deal of the day.

Cross-examined. Q. What is your brother? A. Nothing at present, he has been out of a situation since Christmas; before that he was in the Post Office—I never saw this note before to-day, it has never been shown to me fill just now—it is not a bit like his writing.

COURT. Q. Did he sleep at your house the other nights of that week? A. On the Tuesday night he did, and on Friday—I am sure he slept there on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, I am not so positive about the other nights—he generally slept at our house—he has been living with us—I know he did not sleep there on the Wednesday or Saturday, been uses he went to the hospital on the Wednesday, and did not come home—he a boil on his thigh—he left after an early dinner on Wednesday to go to the hospital.

GUILTY. Recommended to mercy by the Jury on account of his youth, and having probably acted under the influence of more guilty persons, — Twelve Months' Imprisonment.