1915 Police Court
At the Borough Police Court today, before Mr AJ Tugwell in the chair, Frank Whitehead, 53, labourer, 4 Chapman’s Yard, Globe Street, was charged on remand with stealing six fowls valued at 18s, the property of Eleanor Wardman, on January 22nd.
Prisoner pleaded not guilty.
The Chief Constable, in outlining the facts of the case, said Mrs Wardman employed a man named Hodgson to look after these fowls.
He had the feeding and looking after of the fowls to carry out, and said he knew the fowls better than the real owner. He fed the fowls about 3.30pm on January 22nd, and finally left them secure about four o’clock. The next morning about nine o’clock he found a fowl lying dead, whilst near by he found a pair of tongs and a box of safety matches. Five of the fowls were missing. In the meantime, about nine o’clock on the evening of the 22nd, PC Hepples was on duty at the end of Market Street. He saw prisoner carrying a bag. He asked him what he had in the bag and he said rabbits. He examined the bag and found it contained two fowls. The birds were quite warm and had only just been killed. He was taken into custody. Four of the fowls had been traced but one had not yet been found.
John Hodgson, of 10, Hoxton Road, identified the fowls as those belonging to Mrs Wardman. The tongs (produced) were found outside the hut.
Miss Dora Wilkinson, of 52, Newborough, said prisoner came to her house on January 22nd and asked her to buy a hen, he said he was killing the fowls so that the Germans would not get them.
Mr HC Wells, tobacconist, of Sandside, said he bought a fowl off the prisoner for 2s. The accused said it would be the last time he (witness) would see him. He said his old lady had gone away since the bombardment, and he was going to follow her. He was not going to be shot. He was killing all his fowls off. It had nearly broke his heart to do so.
Sydney Lourley, 4, Chapman’s Yard, Globe Street, said prisoner lodged with him. The tongs were his property.
The prisoner then gave evidence. He said he met a man in a public house. He asked him to go for a walk with him. As he had plenty of time on his hands he went. He asked if he would sell some fowls for him, and he consented.
The Chief Constable: Is that the most ingenious tale you can think of?
Prisoner: It’s the truth.
The prisoner was committed to gaol for a month with hard labour.
The Chairman said PC Hepples had acted in a very discreet manner. Had he not been so wide awake the man might have escaped. If you continue as you have done, it will be a credit to the force at large.
The Chief Constable said these were very difficult cases and thanked Mr Tugwell for his kind words.