Fowl play – lad stole hens and cockerel

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1914 Police Court

At the Borough 
Police Court today, before Mr J Dippie (in the chair) and Alderman Pirie, Thomas Watson (16), was charged with having stolen three fowls, valued at 8s 6d, the property of Thomas Hirst, on October 7th. Prisoner pleaded guilty.

Thomas Hirst, 43, Harcourt Avenue, said he kept fowls at an allotment garden on Seamer Road. On Wednesday he left the birds alright at 7am, but at 5pm he missed two young hens and a cockerel, and informed the police.

At 7.30 he visited Mr Ryland’s shop in company with PC Marriott and found the two hens, killed and dressed, identifying them by the heads and also the cockerel’s head.

Albert Charles Ryland spoke as to prisoner bringing a couple of boiling fowls and a cockerel to his shop, which he, witness, bought at the market price – 3s for each couple of fowls and 1s 6d for the cockerel.

At 7.30 on the evening of the 8th Thomas Hirst came to the shop with PC Marriott.

PC Marriott, in his evidence, said he had asked prisoner if he had sold any birds to Mr Ryland. He replied that a man named Phillips sent him with them and that he had given the money to Phillips. After having seen Phillips witness again saw prisoner, who then explained that he had seen a man near the Mere who told him to get the fowls and sell them. He had taken them to Mr Ryland, and had taken money he had received to the man who told him to get the fowls.

Subsequently, when cautioned, prisoner said, “I have told you a lie before. I went and got the birds on my own, sold them, and spent the money.”

Prisoner said his father had not much, but was willing to pay what they were worth.

Prisoner’s father said he had had no trouble with his son before. It was not his doing, and he knew nothing about it. Prisoner went round the countryside with his 
father hawking apples, etc. He thought it was someone older than prisoner who was really doing it.

The Chief Constable said it was most extraordinary that the father knew nothing. He (the Chief) suggested that it was his duty to know something about his son. If their worships adopted a certain course he asked that the lad should not be under the control of his father. He added that the fowl-stealing business was very extensive in the locality. During the last fortnight no less that 26 fowls has been stolen, two from a man named Frank, on September 28th, three from a Mr Dawson, one from a man called Naylor, one which he had said he had found straying in a garden. Altogether he had sold 12 fowls at the shop of Mr Ryland.

The Chairman said Watson would be remanded for a week. He quite agreed with the Chief that he ought not to go home again. They did not 
believe the father’s evidence.

Addressing prisoner, he said he would have to be very careful about his behaviour in the meantime.

After the hearing the question of witness’s expenses arose and the Chairman suggested that Mr Ryland had not taken proper care in purchasing fowls from prisoner.

Mr Ryland said that prisoner simply told him that his father was an allotment holder and kept pigs and poultry. He had done all he could to bring that evidence forward.

The Chief Constable said he knew it was the practice. The prisoner’s father had kept poultry for years. Mr Ryland had been very good in assisting them.

Mr Ryland added that he had had 30 or 40 applications from the police as to 
stolen birds. He had not, to his knowledge, bought a stolen fowl before. When he brought evidence forward he was blamed. Had he said he knew nothing about it there could not have been anything to do. He had fowls brought by little girls of 12 whose fathers were allotment holders.

The Chairman said they wished to withdraw any suggestion of carelessness on Mr Ryland’s part, in view of his explanation, which they had not understood before. His 
expenses would be allowed.