Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 06 October 2022), May 1885, trial of EDWARD POWELL (40) (t18850518-539).

EDWARD POWELL, Theft > mail theft, Theft > mail theft, 18th May 1885.

539. EDWARD POWELL (40) , Stealing a post-letter containing valuable securities, he being employed in the post-office. Other Counts for embezzeling and for receiving.

MESSRS. COWIE, Q.C., and BAGGALLAY Prosecuted; MESSRS. MONTAGU

WILLIAMS and PURCELL Defended.

ISABELLA COX . I am the wife of John Cox; we live at Market Street, Warwick—on the morning of 28th Feb. I sent three postal orders for 20s., 3s., and 3s., from the Warwick Post-office, in an envelope with an account to H.C. Wilkinson and Co., 135, Regent Street, London—I fastened up and posted the letter myself at a quarter to 9 a.m.—Mr. Roberts was the post-office assistant who issued the orders to me—I shortly afterwards communicated with the post-office about that letter.

CHARLES JAMES ROBERTS . I am employed as an assistant at the Warwick Post-office—on 28th February I issued three postal orders to Mrs. Cox, entereing the numbers in a book which I have here—these three for 20s., 3s., and 3s., correspond to the numbers I took down—those were the only three orders I issued that morning—a letter addressed and posted before 9 o'clock would be dispatched from Warwick shortly afterwards at 9.5 to London.

JOSEPH FRAYER . I am overseer to the Inland Branch of the post-office—the 9.5 a.m mail bags from Warwick arrive at the chief office at 1.27 p.m., and a letter such as that described by Mrs. Cox would be transferred at 2.9 to the E.C. Office, and afterwards to the W. District in Vere Street, which it would reach 25 minutes after 2.9—allowing for stoppages, it would reach Vere Street before 3.2.

CHARLES RUSS . I am clerk to Messrs. Wilkinson, 135, Regent Street, jewellers—they take their letters from the Western District Office in a private bag, one key of which is kept at the office, and one at the firm—I fetch the bag daily from the office about 8 o'clock a.m.—after fetching it at 8 o'clock on Saturday morning I should not fetch it till 8 o'clock on Monday morning—on Monday, 2nd March, I fetched it and handed it to Mr. Rollison, Messrs. Wilkinson's manager.

HERBERT WILDERS ROLLISON . I am manager to Messrs. Wilkinson' 135, Regent Street—I received the letter-bag from the West District Office on Monday morning, 2nd March—I did not take out a letter from Mrs. Cox of Warwick with three postal orders—none of the names of the payees on these orders are the names of any persons in our firm—I don't recognise the handwriting at all—postal orders from customers are always paid in every morning to Messrs. Ransom, Bouverie, and Co., the firm's bankers, with our stamp across them—I afterwards had a communication from Messrs. Cox, and wrote to the post-office.

Cross-examined. We receive about 350 letters every morning.

Re-examined. No one has any access to them before they get to me.

GEORGE IMESON . I am a post-office receiver at 122, Caledonian Road—this postal order (produced) is one issued at Greenock, 878, 315, for 3s.—on 24th April it was presented at our office for payment, I don't know who by—he gave the name of Henry Hoare—all these postal orders are

signed in the same handwriting—after that I communicated with the post-office—two of these three orders from Warwick were paid at my office—one is signed Frank Howard; it was presented by Hoare and paid by me on 18th March.

WILLIAM DOWLING CHEVALIER . I am a counterman at the Vere Street Office—I paid this Warwick order for 3s.; it is my signature attached to it—I have no idea to whom I paid it.

CAROLINE REED . I am an assistant at King's Cross Road Post-office—I paid this order for 20s. over the counter—I do not know to whom.

HENRY HOARE . I am a harness maker, and live at 37, Stanmore Street, Caledonian Road—on 24th April I went to the post-office receiving house, 122, Caledonian Road, with a postal order for 3s. from Greenock—I presented it for payment, and was detained by Mr. Imeson—it is my receipt on the Greenock order—I presented these three other orders, one for 20s., and two for 3s. each, and got them paid—I got them all four from Lizzie Harris—the signatures to all four are in my writing—one is payable to J. Holloway, another to G. Hart, both body and signature are in my writing, hird to Lizzie Harris, signed by me, and another to F. Howard; both body and signature are mine—I cashed the 20s. order on 6th March, at King's Cross Road, the 3s. one at Vere Street on 23rd March, and the other on 17th March, at 122, Caledonian Road—I saw Harris after I went to the General Post-office, and the prisoner five hours afterwards—I had seen him before, once at King's Cross, and again at King's Cross in volunteer's clothes, and once in the Caledonian Road—on those occasions he was in Lizzie Harris's company—I did not speak to him; I only saw him in her company—it was about eight weeks ago I first saw him with her; I could not say the date—I don't remember the number of postal orders the girl has given me, but I was told 26 altogether; that was about it—no one else has given me postal orders in this way to cash—they were all given me within the last six months—I did not know Preston, employed at Vere Street, until he was pointed out to me at the Post-office when I was taken there; I had never seen him before that, either with Harris or any one.

Cross-examined. I have only passed by one other name besides what I put on the orders, I have not counted how many names I signed—when I took the orders to be cashed I signed the first name that came into my head—I am known by the name of Harris at Stanmore Street—I am a harness maker, I have done no work lately—Lizzie Harris provided the money I lived upon—I lived on her prostitution before I helped to bring this charge against the prisoner, a little over 12 months—I have done work occasionally at my own trade—I was in no person's employment for twelve months prior to this charge being brought—I knew the girl earned her living by prostitution—I did not follow her about, only on the three occasions when I saw her with the prisoner, she might have crossed my path when I was out—I said before the Magistrate "I have walked behind her to look after her to protect her," it was not to see what custom she got—I call following her protecting her—I said "Inspector Peel suspected me of a jewel robbery a year or more ago at Windus and Co's. in Hanwell Street"—that is true—I took the bed and board knowing how Harris got her living—directly Powell came in the door I pointed him out—I was asked the question "Was

that the man that gave Lizzie Harris the poet-office order?" and I said "Yes"—I had not seen him give her any orders.

Re-examined. I was not charged with any robbery at Clerkenwell—I first saw the prisoner at the office about 9 o'clock in the evening; there were 10 other gentlemen in the room, I dare say—Mr. Hurst took me to the room, the prisoner was not there then—they asked me what I knew about the prisoner, and I made my statement—Mr. Woodward asked me questions—I had not seen the prisoner before that in the room.

LIZZIE HARRIS . I live at 37, Stanmore Street, Caledonian Road, and am 19 years old next August—I became acquainted with Hoare three years or a little more ago, and have been living with him lately—I first met the prisoner one evening about three months ago at the back of King's Cross Station—I had before that seen him now and again in a shop in Bingfield Street, Caledonian Road, where I dealt on and off—when I met him that evening he asked me to have a glass of ale—I said I did not mind, and I had a glass with him in the Globe public-house—After that we went to a greengrocer's shop in the King's Cross Road and into a room there together by ourselves—we remained there for some time—when he left he gave me a postal order for 7s. 6d. and said he had not any money, but I could get the money just the same if I took it to the post office, they would change it for me—I said to him "It is all right, isn't it?"—he said "Oh, yes my girl, you have got nothing to fear, I should not give it you if it was not all right," and he said all I had to do was to write my name on the top, "You can sign any name and they will give you the money "—when we first went into the room the prisoner said "Don't you know me?"—I said "I know you now you have taken your hat off, I did not know you before, you are the gentleman that keeps the provision shop"—he said "That is right"—that was the shop in Bingfield Street—the night after I saw him again—he said he might see me next night and might give me something—the following night I saw him at King's Cross Station and he gave me some orders of the same kind—he said "I can be a very good friend to you, but at the same time I cannot afford to give you all the money, you must return me half"—he gave me other orders at other times, altogether he gave me about 30—he gave mo this Warwick order—I wrote "Hart" in the body of it; it is Hoare's signature at the bottom, I gave it to him—I gave these other two Warwick orders to Hoare, it is not my writing on either of them—I got some of the money from time to time, and I always gave the prisoner back half, sometimes in the street, sometimes in his shop—I got this Greenock order from him the night before I charged him (I think it is the one Hoare was stopped with), on the Thursday night—I forget if he gave it me in the shop or street—when he gave me the order in the shop it was in a little piece of newspaper, sometimes rolled up—the "Smith" in the body is mine—the signature "Henry Smith" at the bottom is Hoare's—when the prisoner gave me this on 23rd April I bought some provisions in his shop; two duck's eggs, and a bundle of wood, and a tin of salmon—it was late in the evening—I had to meet him on Friday evening at 6 o'clock at King's Cross Station, where I nearly always met him—the next day I was out with Hoare and he went to change the order at the chemist's shop in Caledonian Road—I waited outside, I could not see into the shop—as he did not come out I went in to get a pennyworth of glycerine and rose-water, and saw him

sitting there with a policeman—I came out, and as I did not know what to do went down to King's Cross; and alter talking to a friend went to the police-station—from there I was taken to the General Post-office, where I saw Mr. Woodward, to whom I made a statement—I did not see Powell there when I first went, and did not know he was there; there were a lot of gentlemen there—alter I had made the statement I saw Powell there—I said "That is the man that gave me the orders"—the prisoner said 'I don't know you, I have never seen you before"—I said "Oh yes, he does know me, on my word he knows me, gentlemen"—I never received any post-office orders from any one else—I gave these pos al orders to Hoare to change—I don't know Preston, a postman, I never had anything to do with him.

Cross-examined. I might have changed four or five orders, not more—I told Hoare where I had got them from—he said nothing as to whether he thought they had been improperly come by—he took them as a matter of course and cashed them—I don't know the name of the greengrocer's shop, it is in the King's Cross Road, at the corner of a court, with a provision shop at one corner and this shop at the other, and a large public-house right at the corner—I never noticed the name of the court—I went to that shop five or six times, I cannot be sure; I used to go in at the side door—there used to be a man or a woman there who took the money; they would have an opportunity of seeing the prisoner—I have not seen anybody here from that shop—I don't know whether anybody was called at the police-court from that shop—there is a young woman, Annie Key, here who who saw me with the prisoner—she was before the Magistrate—she is a dressmaker; I knew her by living in the same house before Christmas last.—she is not an unfortunate that I know of—I was living the same life then in that house at 22, Storey Street—I left there a week before Christmas—I am 19, and have known Hoare about three years, he has been living on me for the last year—he cashed all the orders except the two or three I cashed.

Cross-examined. The greengrocer's shop is now shut up—I know that because the woman threatened me for shutting it.

FREDERICK WILLIAM WOODWARD . I am a clerk in the confidential inquiry branch of the General Post-office—in the course of my duty I was making inquiries about the loss of letters passing through the Vere Street office, where Powell was employed—on 24th April Hoare was brought to the General Post-office, and in consequence of a statement be made Powell was brought there and Harris was sent for—Hoare was in the room when Powell was brought in—immediately he entered the room Hoare said "That is the man that gave these orders to Mrs. Harris"—I said to Hoare "Do you know this gentleman?"—he said "Yes"—I said "Who is he?"—he said "I know him by the name of Powell"—I said "Is he the gentleman who gave those orders to Mrs. Harris?" Hoare said "Yes"—I took that down—I asked Powell his name and age and so on, and said "You know who I am?"—he said "Yes"—I said "A large number of letters addressed to the firm of Wilkinson and Company, Regent Street, have been stolen in transit through the post, and the orders which were enclosed in them have been fraudulently negotiated; this afternoon this young man," pointing to Hoare, "whose name is Hoare, presented one numbered 878515 for 3s. for payment at Caledonian Road receiving house; he was stopped, and on being

questioned about it states that he received it from Mrs. Harris through you"—the prisoner replied "I deny it, it is a falsehood"—Harris then came into the room, and Powell was placed where he could not be seen by her, but could hear what was going on—she made a statement, which Powell heard—I said to her "Do you know why you have been brought here?"—she replied "That young man," pointing to Hoare, "I gave him an order to charge this afternoon, and I was waiting outside for him and saw the policeman go in, and I went in for a pennyworth of glycerine and rose-water; I saw the policeman and the young man sitting by his side; I did not know whether to say anything; I went out and walked down as far as King's Cross Station, and was there about half an hour, when I saw this gentleman "(he was a third person who had come down with Harris)" and I asked him what I should do, as I thought Harry was locked up, and he said I had better go to the station and tell the truth how I got the order, and I told the gentleman that; and with that the gentelman brought me down here"—I produced the order and said to Harris "Where did you get this order?"—she said "A man gave it to me"—I said "Do you know him?"—she said "I do not know more of him; he met me one evening at King's Cross Station and gave me the order; I said 'Is it all right?' he said 'Quite right, you have nothing to do; it was before Easter he had to do with me; each time he asked me to give him half of the orders he gave me; I did; this is the order he gave me last night over the counter of his shop, and at the same time I bought two three-halfpenny duck's eggs, a bundle of wood, and a tin of salmon; he said I was to meet him to-night at 6 o'clock, at King's Cross Station, where I nearly always meet him; I did not meet him, because I went to the other place"—I asked her to look round the room and see if she could identify the person who gave her the order; she looked at Powell and said "That is the man"—I said to Powell "You have heard what Mrs. Harris has said, what have you to say about it?"—he said "I deny it, I never gave her any orders, I never saw her before"—I asked him where he lived, he said 42, Bingfield Street, Caledonian Road—I said "Have you anything belonging to the Post-office?"—he said "No, only a few cases I take home to do"—I searched his house, and found two Bank of Ireland notes; I asked him to whom they belonged, he said "To me"—me said "Where did you get them from?"—he said "I took them over my counter as cash"—I said "Who from?"—he said "Customers I don't know; they were for goods a week ago"—I then produced 30 postal orders which I told him had been stolen from post-letters and fraudulently negotiated, and the matter would be laid before the secretary—he made no reply.

Cross-examined. The prisoner was assistant overseer at Vere Street; he has been in the service of the Post-office for 19 years—I cannot speak for certain—letters from Warwick would pass through a great many hands before reaching Vere Street—a good many hands are employed at Vere Street—I cannot say how many; many persons would have access to the letters there—some letters come straight from the country there; some pass through the General Post-office.

ROBERT ROMFORD HOADE . I am assistant overseer at the Western District of the General Post-office—Powell was assistant overseer at the same office and had been in the Post-office service since 21st September,

1868; his wages were 50s. a week—a letter addressed to Messrs. Wilkinson and Co., Regent Street, if dispatched from the East Central District at 9 minutes past 2 would reach the Western District at 2.33—I was on duty on Saturday, 28th February, in the morning, not in the afternoon—the prisoner would be on duty if I was not and would have access to letters passing through the office—on Friday, 24th April, I was in the General Post-office when the prisoner was there—I have heard Woodward's account; it is perfectly correct—the next morning, 25th April, I again saw the prisoner at the General Post-office—he said "Good morning" and then beckoned me over to where he was sitting, and he said "There is more implicated in this affair, and you will find out as time goes on who they are; you will be surprised"—I said "Why not say who they are?"—he said "I have been thinking it out during the night, and it has come to my mind that Preston paid a visit to my shop some time ago in company with another man; I have been thinking what a strange thing it was that Preston should call upon me, a thing which he had never done before"—I said "Who was the other man, was he any one employed in our office?"—he said "No, he was a stranger to me; I can quite see through this affair, they have been getting this up against me, but of course I shall have to suffer; these orders have been given to this girl by Preston; the girl was instructed if she was questioned concerning where she obtained the orders, she was to say Powell gave them to her; this is all a get-up; I am innocent, but will have to suffer as all these witnesses are against me; I have seen Preston with this girl in the neighbourhood of King's Cross a great deal"—I know man named Preston in the Western District office—he was on duty in the office on the morning of 28th Feb., and left the office for delivery the last time at 12.15 in the afternoon—the prisoner was in the habit in the course of his duty of taking money to the bank from the office—on Saturdays he generally did that in the morning—the prisoner would know of the inquiries and complaints of Messrs. Wilkinson passing in the office.

Cross-examined. There had been complaints at the office that somebody had been stealing letters for some time—the prisoner was well aware of that, and if dealing with stolen post orders he would know of the suspicion—the prisoner had nothing to do with letters.

Re-examined. In the course of his duty he would have access to the tables where they were sorting letters—I cannot remember the date when orders began to be cashed at different offices; I know it is about three months from the commencement of the cashing.

JOHN WILLIAM PRESTON . I am a first-class postman at the W. District post-office, Vere Street—I have been in the post-office service 17 years—I am in the same volunteer corps with the prisoner—on one occasion I went to the prisoner's shop with another man, Sinclair, on Good Friday, 1st April, at the prisoner's invitation—I introduced Sinchair to the prisoner—I never went to his house on any other occasion—I never saw Harris nor Hoare to my knowledge—I have never been in Harris's company in the neighbourhood of King's Cross—I never gave her a postal order.

Cross-examined. I have been to King's Cross to see my brother, but not lately; I went to York Road on Good Friday—I had never seen the girl before till I saw her at the General Post-office on Saturday—the prisoner is a married man, and I am too.

ANNIE KEY . I live at 22, Storey Street, Caledonian Road, and am a dressmaker—I know the prisoner, I have dealt at his shop on and off for two years—I knew Lizzie Harris by her living at 22, Storey Street—I saw her with the prisoner on one occasion at Derby Street, Gray's Inn Road, they were entering the Globe public-house—I am quite sure the prisoner was the man with her—she had not spoken to me about the case at all till a week last Thursday.

Cross-examined. I have only seen Hurst the police-constable twice—he asked me the question whether I had ever seen the girl in company with the prisoner—that was the first I was asked about it—I did not speak to her when I saw her going into the Globe; I was passing through Derby Street; she did not see me and did not know I had seen her—she asked me if I would be a witness for her—I have lived in the house for two years—I did not know she was a prostitute at the time, not for two months after she was there—Hoare was living in the same house, but I went to business of a day, and did not know their business—I believe they occupied the same room.

Re-examined. Hoare gave the name of Harris, the same name as the girl—the girl asked me to be her witness last Thursday after I saw Hurst—I said I did not mind as I had seen her with him, I told her, at the Globe—I was astonished when I knew her occupation.

WALTER HURST . I am a police-constable attached to the General Post-office—I took the prisoner into custody on 25th April.

NOT GUILTY .

There was another Indictment against the prisoner for a like offence, on which MR. BAGGALLAY, for the Prosecution, offered no evidence.

NOT GUILTY .

THIRD COURT.—Tuesday, May 19th, 1885.

Before Mr. Common Serjeant.