Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 06 October 2022), March 1890, trial of CHARLES HOFFMAN (44) (t18900303-276).

CHARLES HOFFMAN, Theft > simple larceny, 3rd March 1890.

276. CHARLES HOFFMAN (44) , Stealing nine violins and twelve bows, and a mandoline, the property of Jerome Aubonville Lamey. Second Count, receiving the same.

MR. ST. AUBYN Prosecuted, and MR. ABINGER Defended.

JOHN WATKINS . I am shopman to Jerome Aubonville Lamey, of 10, Charterhouse Street—on 9th January I sent some violins to Mr. Moore, of Seymour Place, by my man on a cart, also ten bows and a mandoline and case—they were wrapped in this cover and directed in my writing—they were worth about £3 12s.

JACK COURSE . I am porter to Mr. Lamey—on 9th January I went with this parcel to Mr. Moore—I had to go up Drury Lane and deliver goods, leaving the truck outside; when I came back they were gone—I believe these are the violins, but I did not see them; they were inside paper similar to this—I informed the police.

ALFRED NEGROPONTE . I belong to the Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland Yard—I received instructions from Inspector Conquest, and on January 15th, about half-past nine, I went to the private bar of the Horse and Groom, Neal Street, Long Acre, dressed as I am now—the prisoner is the landlord—after some conversation about the weather

I asked him in French if he had any violins for sale—he said, "Yes, but it is too late this evening"—I pressed him to show them to me, and he-asked me into the bar parlour, and spoke to a man named Webber in German, which I did not understand—Webber left the house, and returned in about fifteen minutes with a parcel, which he handed to a barman, who placed it on a table in the bar-parlour—Hoffman then left the room and came back, and we both opened the parcel, which was in a coloured handkerchief; it contained 7 violins and 10 bows; I examined them and found marks corresponding with those given by the loser—there were tickets on them then, which are all off now—I asked how much he wanted for them—he said £5—I. said, "No, I will give you £3"—he said, "I cannot do it for that"—I said, "I will give you £4—he said, "Split the difference, and give me £4 10s."—I said, "Yes," and gave him 10s. deposit—we had some refreshment—he went out to the bar, and returned in five minutes, and brought this piece of leather, and said, "Do you deal in anything else?"—I said,. "It all depends"—he said, "Is this anything in your line?"—I said, "I don't know; my father is the head of the firm, and I will consult him"—he said, "All right; see what you can do"—I took it away, and gave it to Mr. Conquest—I left about 7. 30, and arranged to come at 4 the next afternoon and take them away, which I did, and saw the-prisoner behind the bar—he asked if my father was coming—I said, "I don't know; he promised to"—I asked him if he had got the violins all ready—he said, "That is all right; they are upstairs"—I forgot to mention that on the previous day I asked him if be bad got a mandoline, as one was lost at the same time as the violins, and when he said he had got the violins upstairs I said, "What about the mandoline? are you going to get that to-day?"—he said, "Yes"—that conversation was in the private bar; he asked me into the bar-parlour, and went out and told Webber something in German—Webber left the house, and returned in a few minutes—while he was gone the prisoner called me to the kitchen at the back of the bar-parlour, and showed me this invoice, and said, "What am I to do with this leather? you see what it cost"—it was for thirty dozen of glazed kid—Webber then returned, and spoke to Hoffman in German—I only understood one word, which I took for "Police"—Hoffman got very uneasy and went out, and I went into the passage and looked through the little window of the door, and saw somebody speaking to him—when he returned I said, "What is the matter?"—he said, "Oh, it is nothing, it is only the police outside at the corner"—I said, "What has the police to do with us? it will be all right"—but he went outside again to look; I followed him—several people in the bar asked him what was the matter—he said, "There has been a row round the corner"—he-came back and said, "Wait half an hour, it will be all right, you know how things stand, it is not the first time I have done them"—I made—this note of the conversation at the time—we returned again into the kitchen, and I gave the signal; we both went into the bar; he went behind the bar, and I went to the other side—he said, "Wait half an hour, because if anything happened I might get five years"—I said, "I hope you will not get me into trouble"—just at that time Bowden and Conquest appeared, and there was a conversation between Conquest and the prisoner.

Cross-examined. I heard Conquest say, "You see who we are; we are police officers"—I have been over four years in the police, and one year in the detective department; this is not my first case by a long way—I had never soon the prisoner till I went there on the 15th—I had no warrant; I only went to find out if it was true, and if they were really the violins—there was a Frenchman in the private bar; I do not know his name—I met him casually—I had not made appointments with him before; I did not meet him by appointment; I never knew the man before—he told me they were for sale when I met him at the house—if I said at the Police-court that I met him by appointment that was a mistake; I had never seen him before the night of the 15th—he told me at the house that there wore violins for sale, not in the street—if an appointment was made with my superior officer I did not know it; I made an appointment with Inspector Conquest—I mot the Frenchman there again on the 16th, and I saw him, after Hoffman was charged on the 16th, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Bow street, in the Strand—I do not know what instructions my superior officer gave; I made no arrangements—I did not know the name of the man who gave me information that the violins were for sale, but I have heard it now—I do not think he is here; I have not seen him—while I was in the house the Frenchman was in the bar the greater part of the time drinking with mo—I paid for some of his drink–I understand French—I am an Englishman, but of Greek descent—I did not hear the Frenchman say to the prisoner, "I have some fiddles for sale; if I get ten shillings I can get them out and can sell them"—I did not hear him say anything about ten shillings deposit—I said that I was the buyer, and I said to the French-man, "My father is a buyer"—I believed that the prisoner had the violins for sale, not the Frenchman—the Frenchman did not say, "I have some violins for sale"—I asked the prisoner in French if he had any violins for sale; I had heard it from my superior officer—the Frenchman did not pass the leather to the prisoner—the Frenchman and another man came into the bar-parlour—the Frenchman seemed to know Hoffman—I had "Webber arrested, but he was discharged by the Magistrate.

Re-examined. A lot of questions were asked me at the Police-court—my depositions were read over very quickly, and something may have escaped me.

THOMAS BOWDEN (Detective C). On 16th January, about 4.30, I went with Inspector Conquest and another constable to the Horse and Groom—the prisoner was standing behind the bar—he said, "Oh, Mr. Bowden, here you are"—I said, "Yes"—he said, "If you had been here three days later I should have gone, I run away from you before, but it is all up now; I made a mistake in buying the d—fiddles"—in answer to something Conquest said, he said, "You will find the violins in the cupboard"—Conquest wont to the cupboard, and took cut the violins in this bag—the prisoner looked at me and said, "The two lads I bought them of were in the bar just before you came in"—the violins were counted, and there was one short—I said, "What has become of the other violin and the mandoline which I am told you bought?"—he said, "I have sold the violin, but the mandoline is at the baker's (Embach's) a little way up the street; I sent for it, but the old man was in the street"—I said, "Yes; I know"—I then went with Conquest and Negroponte to Embach's and made inquiries, and searched, and then went back to

the prisoner, and told him that I could not find the mandoline—he said, "Then the old man must have taken them (or it) away, and deceived me"—I said, "Do you mean Barron?"—he said, "Yes, Webber; they are the same person"—I then went downstairs with Conquest, and the prisoner was charged with Webber—he replied, "Webber is not guilty; come what will, I will take it all on myself, and put up with it."

Cross-examined. The prisoner has a licence; he has had it a month or two—I have known him two years—he would have to go to the Magistrate for his licence—it is never granted to a man who has been convicted, if it is known—I have been looking out for the prisoner on other occasions—I do not know whether I have got him to-day—I had no warrant—I had a conversation with Negroponte the day before—I had received information that the fiddles were there—the prisoner knew we were policemen—he volunteered the information—I said at the Police-court, "I said what part has Webber taken in this transaction?"—the Magistrate said that Webber had nothing to do with it—my suspicions were at fault there.

JOHN CONQUEST . I am an Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department—on 16th January I went with other officers to the Horse and Groom, Neal Street, of which the prisoner is the licensed landlord—Negroponte had preceded me three-quarters of an hour or an hour before—I remained in the neighbourhood—I saw a signal, and went in and saw the prisoner at the bar parlour door—I said, "You know me?"—ho said, "Yes"—I said, "I understand you have in your possession some violins which you have been offering for sale to this man," pointing to Negroponte, and I said he knew all about them—I said, "I also understand you have offered some skins for sale like this one (producing it); this is what you gave him last night" (Negroponte had given it to me)—he said, "I know nothing about it'—Negroponte said, "You showed me an invoice for the skins"—I said to the prisoner, "Where is it?"—he said, "I don't know"—I took hold of him to search him, and he put his hand in his waistcoat pocket and pulled out this invoice—it is made out to W. II. Dean and Son, for thirty dozen glazed skins, £66—I then said, "Where are these violins?"—he said, "I daresay you will find them"—we then searched the house, and in a sack in a cupboard in the first floor back room I found these seven violins and fifty bows—I showed them to the prisoner and said, "I believe these are stolen property, how do you account for the possession of them?"—he said, "A Frenchman brought them here to sell—I took him to the station, and he was charged with receiving the skins and the violins, well knowing thorn to have been stolen—I afterwards received this sewing machine from Mr. Embach—I showed it to the prisoner and said, "I have received this from Mr. Embach, ho Mays it belongs to you"—he said, "Yes, I have had it for a long time; I bought it for a young woman who was staying with us, and when she left my missis gave it to Mrs. Embach to take care of."

Cross-examined. The Magistrate discharged Webber—I was not charged to inquire when the prisoner applied for his license, unfortunately—he has got either a protection order or a license—the Frenchman's name is Veylon—I decline to give the name of the man who gave me the information about the fiddles—I do not produce him as a witness, because the evidence is conclusive without him, and he is not here—I did

not know from the prisoner's defence at the Police-court that the French, man brought him the violins for sale—he is not in the pay of the police—I wrote out this conversation in his house, and afterwards as soon as I could—I went to the station before him—I did not have a drink with him then, but on the previous occasion I did so, it was necessary; other people were in the bar—I am sure no one ran out, because I had the door secured—I did not see the Frenchman in the bar.

ELIZABETH EMBACH . I am the wife of John Embach, a baker, of 60, Neal Street, Long Acre, a few doors from the prisoner; I know him by sight—on 13th January, a man who I knew by sight, but whose name I did not know, brought a parcel to me which he said was from Hoffman—it was covered with this sack—the man used frequently to come to our shop from the prisoner for bread—I never heard his name mentioned—he left the parcel with me, and Webber fetched it about 9 p.m.—he is a servant of the prisoner—some weeks before this a square box was left with me, which I have ascertained contained a sewing machine—Hoffman left it, I believe—I gave it to Inspector Conquest, and it was taken away after the bag was taken.

Cross-examined. I have known the prisoner eight or ten years, and consider him a respectable man—he has complained of things being stolen, he has not brought other things to me—I never heard anything against his character—he had another public-house before this for a year or two—I do not know whether that was his own, or whether he was a servant in it.

JOHN EMBACH . I am the husband of the last witness—I saw this sack at my house, and saw the head of a fiddle poking out at the top.

Cross-examined. I have known the prisoner ten or twelve years—I never heard anything against him—I have known him keeping public-houses for ten years—I knew him at four houses—I knew he had a license at the last, and I believe he had at others—he complained of things being stolen from his place; a week or a fortnight before he lost several sheets and towels.

THOMAS ARTHUR SHEPHERD . I am housekeeper to Eastlake, Fisher, and Co., 73, Aldermanbury—on l«5th January, between four and five p.m., I left their place with a truck with parcels of leather in it, and an invoice in one of them—I delivered some goods to J. S. Deeds, in Oxford Street, and when I came out about forty minutes past four the parcel of skins in which the invoice was gone—this is the invoice.

JOHN PADDINGTON . I am a carman employed by Davis, the sewing-machine people—on 15th October I took a number of machines to deliver to customers; this is one of them—I had to deliver goods in Bedford Square, leaving it in the closed van, and when I came out it was gone.

Cross-examined. I was driving; there was no boy.

Evidence in Reply.

JOHN CONQUEST (Re-examined). I have known the prisoner for the last five or six years; he has been under my observation a considerable time, and has been seen in the company of thieves—I found some stolen bonds of 1871 in a drawer behind his bar; there is a warrant out against him from the Excise because he did not pay the fine.

Cross-examined. There is no conviction of felony against him; I have not charged him with any offence till now, nor has he been charged, to

my knowledge—I received a communication from the French Police that the bonds were stolen.

Re-examined. We have not been able to get sufficient evidence to charge him.

THOMAS BOWDEN (Re-examined). I first knew the prisoner as a companion of thieves and prostitutes, at the Booth's Head, Charing Cross Road—no license was granted—his brother-in-law took the house, and he was put in as manager—a man named Deverell was summoned and fined for keeping a disorderly house, and harbouring thieves.

Cross-examined. The prisoner was not summoned—a man named Muller took a public-house, and put the prisoner in as manager, and Muller was summoned for serving drink on a Sunday, and I traced eight £5 notes to Hoffman, stolen by a prostitute—he then took a temperance house, The Shades, in Victoria Street, Westminster, and was summoned for selling beer without a license—I have no animosity against him—Mark Van Roller, a German Jew, who was convicted, and had fifteen years, was one of his companions—I have drunk with him frequently in the execution of my duty—I do not know of any convictions against him in England.

GUILTY of Receiving.— Eighteen Months' Hard Labour.

There were two other indictments against the Prisoner.