Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 10 December 2023), June 1882, trial of FREDERICK COATES, Stealing (t18820626-720).

FREDERICK COATES, Theft > simple larceny, 26th June 1882.

720. FREDERICK COATES, Stealing a mowing-machine, the property of William Augustus Older.

MR. FULTON Prosecuted; MR. PURCELL Defended.

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS OLDER . I keep a school at Carrington Lodge, Marsh Gate, Richmond, and have a house next door in which my masters live——in October last I had a lawn-mower; at the close of the season I placed it under a table in the back kitchen; the box and the shield were placed in a pantry which I do not use, and were locked up—it is an American machine known as the Excelsior, with "Burnett, Weight, Higgins, and Co., London and Paris," stamped on it—this is it (produced)—I purchased it from Mr. Clarke, who is a witness—when I wanted it in May this year it had disappeared, but the box and shield were safe—I employed the prisoner as a gardener—he was last employed at Carrington Lodge on 14th January—he knew where the machine was kept in the winter—on 3rd June I went with Sampson to the prisoner's house, 5, Park Villas, Queen's Road, and there found the machine—these two holes have been made in it since, they are lubricating holes, and a new box and shield have been made to it—I said to the prisoner, "I have lost my lawn-mower, and I understand you have one just like it; I should like to see it"—he said, "I bought it; it is not your machine, Mr. Older; your machine had not a box like that, nor the holes"—I said "No"—the detective then came in and said, "Where did you buy it?"—he said, "Of the firm at their premises"—I said, "I want to know where their premises are"—he said, "In Whitechapel"—I said, "What did you give for it?"—he said, "3l. 10s. "—I said, "I suppose you have a receipt?"—he said, "No, I never had one," and that he sent a post-office order in payment—I said," Do you mean to say that these people did not send you a receipt for your post-office order? how did it come down to Richmond?"—he said, "By the South-Western Railway; you don't mean to accuse me of stealing it?"—I said," No, I don't like to do that, but you will have to show by the books of the firm that you bought it"

—I had not then seen Wallis or the assistant—I said, "Yon hare had an alteration made"—he said, "Yes, the man that did that was named Wallis "—there was a new bolt in the side, and the end of the bolt had been filed—he was afterwards given in custody.

Cross-examined. My servants were not living in that house, but they went over there to do their work; only the servants were allowed access to the kitchen; there was nothing to prevent other persons going there—there is a roadway in front of the house and a garden at the back—the servants would only go to the kitchen to get water—no one could walk into the kitchen without being observed, because a gentleman has a bedroom over it in which he studies—the prisoner has worked for me from the end of last June—I have had the machine since 1879; it has been worn—I knew it by the feel of the action directly I handled it, it was like an old familiar friend—I have tried others; I tried a new one yesterday, that had not the same feel; that is my strong reason—I sometimes saw it two days consecutively—the prisoner is the only man who used it—I know it by its general appearance, the worn handle and the behaviour of it—mine was a little greyer, a darkish grey—this has got a little greyer since it has been in the hands of the police—the prisoner lives not very far from me—I have heard that he has been using it openly in my neighbourhood—he gave me the name of Wallis as the person who put the bolts in, but I had some difficulty in getting his name and address—he said nothing about the box.

Re-examined. He pointed to it and said, "Yours was a different box and shield, and had not two holes in it"—my machine was enamelled, and had some red lines on it—this has been painted over, and I have scratched some of the paint off and found the red line there.

THOMAS CLAEKE . 1 live at Twickenham, and have a place of business in the City—in June, 1879,1 sold a lawn-mower to Mr. Older—it was similar to this; it had "Burnett, Weight, Higgins, and Co., London and Paris," cast on it—I sell machines still—they used to be stamped in that way to the end of 1880; the name of the agents was then left out entirely—that is the agent's name—this is not the box which I sold with the machine—the price of the machine new would be it. 10s. including the box.

Cross-examined. We sell from 100 to 200 machines every week; 150 is the average during the season—each would be the same pattern—Mr. Older's was a 12-inch; that is the medium size—I sold hundreds of them in 1879—they are made in America, and come directly from there to me—we do not sell many second-hand; I have no doubt there are some—I am unable to say that this is the machine I sold to Mr. Older—they are not numbered because all the parts are interchangeable—this is not the same colour now as the one I sold, and there are two holes in it which I did not make—this shank is not in the Excelsior.

Re-examined. I have not seen it since it has been scratched. (Examining it)—this red line would be as we sent it out—we have no agency in Whitechapel.

GEORGE WALLIS . I am a smith, of Mortlake Road, Richmond—the prisoner asked me to alter and repair this machine—there was then no box or shield to it, and these two lubricating holes were not there; it was painted as it is now—it would not cut the grass right, and I packed the sole plate and made the cog right, and made the two lubricating holes—I had a bit of zinc, and I said, "I can give you this and out it just for a

makeshift for a shield"—he asked me where I could get a box; I referred him to Mr. Reynolds or Mr. Pearce.

Cross-examined. I tried the machine before I altered it—Í should say it had been in use two or three years, but not frequently—I have seen other machines like it in Richmond—I have known the prisoner twelve months, and never heard anything against his character.

SAMUEL SAMPSON (Police Sergeant V). On June 3rd I went with Mr. Older to the prisoner at Park Villas—I heard him say to Mr. Older "It is not your machine; yours was quite different; yours had not got a box like this, and it had not got anything like this," pointing to the grass mower—I asked him where he got it—he said he bought it of the farm—I asked him the name—he said "You will see on the machine"—1 asked him again, and he said he bought it in Whitechapel, and tent a post-office order for it, and the machine was sent to Richmond railway station in the middle of February he thought, and he fetched it away—T told him I was not satisfied, and should take him to the station, which I did, and when the charge was being taken he said "I did not send for the machine myself; a man of the name of Hill, who I had worked with several days, I gave him the order, and he sent for it—I asked Hill's address—he said that lie did live at a beerhouse in Red Lion Street.

GUILTY.—Recommended to mercy by the Jury. Two Months' Hard Labour.

Before Mr. Justice Denman.