Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 16 May 2021), March 1884, trial of GEORGE SHORTER (33) CHARLES SHORTER (25) (t18840317-451).

GEORGE SHORTER, CHARLES SHORTER, Theft > animal theft, 17th March 1884.

451. GEORGE SHORTER (33) and CHARLES SHORTER (25) , Stealing 10 tame fowls of George James Smith.

MR. WOODGATE Prosecuted.

GEORGE JAMES SMITH . I am a builder at Brockley—I keep fowls in a fowl-house there—on 1st March, about a quarter to 5 o'clock in the evening, I saw my fowls safe—a police officer afterwards called upon me, and I found that the front of the glass panel of the fowls' house had been knocked out, a wire fence broken open, and all my fowls gone but one—the detective has since shown me some fowls which I have recognised as mine—they were gold and spangled Hamburgs—I lost 10, and 10 were shown to me—they were worth about 5l. 10s.—I know the prisoners; I believe they have both worked for me.

JAMES HYDER (Detective). On the 1st March, about 10 minutes past 8 o'clock in the evening, I was in Wickham Road, Brockley—I heard a noise at the rear of Mr. Smith's house—I went round to the back to a piece of waste ground, and concealed myself—about 10 minutes afterwards the two prisoners came out—George was carrying a large sack on his back containing something very heavy—they turned in the direction of Deptford—I followed them for about half a mile, and not meeting with any assistance, I apprehended George, Charles immediately ran away—I asked George what he had in the sack; he said "A few totts," meaning rags and bones—I put my hand in the sack, and found it contained warm birds—I took him to the station, examined the sack, and found it contained 10 gold-spangled Hamburg fowls, recently killed—I then communicated with the prosecutor, who came round and identified the fowls—I found the fowl-house had been forcibly entered, a large glass panel had been smashed, and one person must have got inside and handed out the fowls to the other—on the following Tuesday I apprehended Charles in Deptford—I told him it was for being concerned with another man in stealing fowls and ducks—he said "All right; my brother Jack came to my house last night and said he expected one of us would be taken for this"—at the station he said "I can easily prove where I was on Saturday night; I was at Botherhithe; I left by a train that left St. John's Station at 20 minutes to 8 o'clock"—I asked him what ticket he took; he said he took a return ticket; he said he went to a Mr. Dobinson at Rotherhithe, the son of the landlord of a house he frequented—I had a good view of the prisoners, and am certain of them—I heard something like the smashing of glass before I saw them.

WILLIAM ROBERT FOSTER . I am office clerk at St. John's Railway Station—there are two of us who issue tickets there—on Saturday, the 1st March, the other clerk was on duty in the morning, and I in the afternoon and evening, and nobody else—I didn't issue any return-ticket to Rotherhithe that night.

The Prisoners' Statements before the Magistrate. George: "I never killed them." Charles: "I reserve my defence."

George Shorter's Defence. I was up at Wickham Road with another chap; this sack stood at the corner, we picked it up and were going to look in it, When the detective took me. He tried to bring my brother into it, but he was not with me.

Charles Shorter's Defence. On 1st March I was at work all day for a publican named Dobinson till about 20 minutes to 5 o'clock, when I went up the yard with the son and stayed there till 20 minutes to 7—he aside me to go to Rotherhithe for him, and the daughter gave me a parcel to take there—I took a ticket at St. John's Station at 20 minutes to 8 and went to Rotherhithe—I stayed there some time and lost two or three trains—I then went straight to Rotherhithe Station and stopped there till 12 o'clock—I know nothing of this affair—I live close by Mr. Smith and have worked for him for three months.

GUILTY .— Nine Months' Hard Labour each.

There was another indictment against the prisoner for stealing three ducks which were also found in the sack.

Before Mr. Recorder.