John Henry Found, Flixton, was summoned at Scarborough Police Court today, for having aided and abetted a certain person unknown coming from land where such person had been unlawfully in pursuit of game on September 12th.
Defendant, who was represented by Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, pleaded not guilty.
Mr Tasker Hart, solicitor for the prosecution, said that if he proved that the man was in possession of the game, the onus of proof as to where he got them was on defendant. Defendant was a cow keeper, and had 10 acres of grass land. On that ground there were no rabbits.
On Saturday week PC Harris, of the East Riding Constabulary (stationed at Hunmanby), saw the defendant driving a cart.
Such was important in the case. He was driving the cart across Flixton Cars, which was a road, although not a high road, to Scarborough.
Harris followed him, and meanwhile sent a message to PC Wellburn of the Scarborough Police. The man was followed by PC Harris, and he was seen by Harris and Wellburn to go up Londesborough Road, across Falsgrave Road, into Victoria Road. PCs Wellburn and Harris noticed there were sacks in the cart – partially covered up. Wellburn told the man he was suspected of being in unlawful possession of game, and that he would be searched.
He was asked what he had in the cart. Defendant replied that he had 42 couples of rabbits. Wellburn asked where he had got them, and what account he gave of being in possession of them. Defendant replied, they are mine; I shall tell you nothing else. PC Harris then told him that he had no rabbits on his land, and defendant said: “I have got some. They are mine. I shall not tell you where I got them at present.”
The officers then took charge under the Poaching Prevention Act, and on the way to the Police Station PC Wellburn said to the defendant that if he told him where he had got the rabbits he would investigate the matter and help him all he could.
Defendant replied that he would not say anything. In the cart were found 83 rabbits and two hares. The rabbits were all gutted, and from all appearances they had been killed quite recently.
Not one had been shot, but all had their necks broken.
PC Harris said that he followed defendant from Flixton because he suspected him. The rabbits looked fresh, as if they had been netted, and then their necks broken.
Replying to Mr Whitfield PC Harris said that he had had a report of some chickens being stolen from Flixton, but he was not looking out very much in regard to that. He merely followed defendant because he suspected him of having poached game in his possession.
Defendant had said that he was going to leave 20 couples at a place named, and the other he would try to sell round the town.
By Mr Hart: Defendant had never yet said where he got the rabbits.
PC Wellburn gave corroborative evidence. Defendant had given no information at all. The rabbits and hares had been netted and killed, some being quite warm.
By Mr Whitfield: PC Harris had seen the “claws” of the hares sticking through a sack, and he said: “Are those chickens?” That was all that was said about chickens. (PC Harris had said that he did not mention any stolen chickens to defendant).
Mr Whitfield, for the defence, urged that it must be proved that the game was unlawfully obtained, or that he was an accessory. It was necessary for the prosecution to give some affirmative evidence that had been asked where he got the rabbits and hares, and he replied that he had not got them from his own land, but he would not tell them where he got them. There was nothing to compel him to do so. If a constable asked a man where he got an umbrella, and he refused to tell him, they might as well charge him with stealing it, because he would not tell the constable where he got it (laughter).
Mr Hart submitted that had defendant obtained the goods from a person who had got them unlawfully it did make him an accessory.
The magistrates, after retiring, intimated that on the evidence they were bound to hold the game was unlawfully obtained, and that defendant was an accessory to it.
He would be fined £1 including costs, and the game would be forfeited.