Sovereigns theft lands fireman prison term

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1914 court

Today at the Borough Police Court before the Mayor (Mr CC Graham) and other magistrates, James Coyle (45), fireman, 5, Globe Street, was charged with having stolen from the person of Sarah Elizabeth Stockdale, the sum of £2 on October 7th.

Coyle pleaded not guilty.

The Chief Constable said Stockdale and her husband appeared to have come into possession of more money than they knew how to spend wisely. They went into a certain public house where they had a considerable quantity of beer, and there invited a number of acquaintances to their house. Amongst these friends was the prisoner and a woman named Renwick with whom he lived. They remained drinking until a late hour when all left except the woman, Renwick, and prisoner all more or less in a state of intoxication.

Prisoner and Renwick were given permission to spend the night in the house, and Stockdale and her husband went to bed, the other two sleeping in the same room.

Mrs Stockdale would state that she was quite certain she had two sovereigns and some silver in her skirt pocket. She was awakened from her sleep by her husband using strong language, and she saw prisoner bending over the bed on which she and her husband were lying. Prisoner and Renwick left the house and she missed £2.

Inspector Thompson went, subsequently, to the Globe Lodging House and searched prisoner, and asked him to account for the money upon him. Two sovereigns were found in his pockets as well as 2s which he said he had. He said “they are not mine,” and did not know how they got into his pocket.

From the evidence of Mrs Stockdale it transpired that her husband had treated several people in the public house, and it would be generally known that he had the money. They had taken four gallons of beer and a dozen bottles of stout into the house. The party would consist of about 10 before some of them left.

Defendant’s version was that he was surprised to find the two sovereigns in his pocket. He was cross-examined by the Chief Constable at length, but his reply was: “No, I had no notion that the money was in my pocket.” He had had tons of time to do away with it had he known he had it, he added.

The Mayor said prisoner was found guilty.

There was a number of previous convictions and prisoner was sent to prison for two months’ hard labour. “The whole circumstances reflect very little credit upon any parties concerned in the case,” the Mayor added on behalf of the Bench.