Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 02 December 2023), April 1909, trial of NEIL, Henry Edward (21, butcher) (t19090420-36).

HENRY EDWARD NEIL, Violent Theft > robbery, 20th April 1909.

NEIL, Henry Edward (21, butcher) ; robbery with violence upon John Anderson and stealing from his person one purse and certain money, to wit, the sum of £3 10s., his goods and moneys.

Mr. Johnson prosecuted.

Police-constable THOMAS HAMBLIN , 511 P. On the early morning of March 19 I was on duty in St. Thomas's Road, New Cross. I heard shouts of distress coming from the direction of Malpas Road. Proceeding there I saw prisoner and prosecutor struggling on the ground in the roadway. As I approached them prisoner broke away from the prosecutor and ran in the direction of Lewisham High Road. I followed him, and when I got near him prisoner threw something from his hand. I caught him. Going back to the prosecutor, who was approaching us, prisoner picked up this purse (produced) and handed it to me. It was, I should think, about 15 yards from where the struggle took place. Prisoner said, "I have not got his money"—there was no one else there at all—"he must have threw it away himself," or something to that effect. I examined the purse and found in it £3 10s. in gold, two sovereigns, and three half-sovereigns. Prosecutor then came up and said, "This man has stolen my purse" and gave him into custody. I took him to Brockley Police Station, close by, where he was charged with stealing £4 10s. When the charge was read over to him he said, "That is a false charge against me. He wanted to take a liberty with me. He wanted to take my trousers down." That was said in the presence of prosecutor, who made no remark. I searched prisoner and found on him 3d. in bronze.

To Prisoner. You mentioned something about a broken bottle. I saw some broken glass, but that was some distance from where the struggle took place.

JOHN ANDERSON . I am a Norwegian, and on March 19 was ship's carpenter on the "Kent," then lying moored to buoys at Charlton. About two o'clock I came ashore and went first to the "Red, Lion" to meet a friend. After closing time I went to go aboard the ship. I think I was then in High Street, Deptford; it was somewhere where there are trams running. As I was standing waiting for a

tram, wondering which way I ought to go, prisoner came up to me and asked me if I could spare him a couple of coppers for a night's lodging. I gave him the coppers I had in my pocket; I do not remember whether it was 2d. or 3d. I said to him, "Is there any more trams to be got; I want to go to Greenwich to the ship." I was lost a little bit like and asked him which way I should go. He said, "I am going tine same way; come along." I was not drunk. As I was walking with him I came to think we were going the wrong way; the houses seemed to be getting small like. I said, "You do not know yourself the way to Greenwich," and I turned and walked back again. Prisoner, who was walking a little bit behind me. then said the money I had given him was not enough to pay for a lodging. I had no more coppers loose in my pocket, but thought I might have some in my purse, so I pulled it out and tried to open it. Then all at once he was in front of me and forced it right out of my hand. I seized him at once by the jacket. Then we struggled for a bit and he got me down and knelt on my chest and I was trying to push him off. I got clear after we got up again. Then he ran, and I ran after him. The policeman ran after him and brought him back, and I charged him.

To the Recorder. There is no truth in prisoner's allegation that I attempted to take an indecent liberty with him and wanted him to take his trousers down. I did not throw away my purse.

To Prisoner. I did not ask you to take your trousers down; never; that is a lie; I never did ask such a thing. You did ask me for coppers I did not strike you with a bottle.

GEORGE DEACON , tram conductor, 75, St. Thomas's Road, New Cross. On the early morning of March 19 I was in St. Thomas's Road going home. I heard a man shouting, as though in distress, "Police!" or "Murder!" or something like that. I ran into Malpas Road, where the sound came from. There I saw two men, last witness and-prisoner, struggling in the gutter, both on the ground. One broke loose and got away before I and the policeman got to them, The policeman ran after him and caught him. When he was being Brought back he picked up the purse. I saw it opened; it contained £3 10s. I went with them to the station and heard prisoner allege that prosecutor had tried to take an indecent liberty with him and had tried to take his trousers down.

To Prisoner. I saw a broken bottle living on the ground.

Constable HAMBLIN, recalled. Prosecutor had been drinking, but was sober, though very excited.


Prisoner handed in a written statement, in which he said the charge was absolutely false. He had no cause to do such a thing, as he had a good home and good parents and was in regular employment at the time. He also referred to the fact that he was bound over at Newington Sessions in 1906 for warehouse-breaking, having, he said, been led astray by an old criminal. He also repeated the

allegation as to prosecutor having attempted to take indecent liberties with him.

ESTHER NEIL , 17, Idonia Street, Deptford, prisoner's mother, stated that her husband is a slaughterman in Deptford Market. Prisoner lived at home and worked at the market as a slaughterman, earning anything between 30s. a week and £4.

Verdict, Guilty of robbery. Prisoner pleaded guilty to the previous conviction.

Sentence, 15 months' hard labour.


(Friday, April 23.)