A Finchingfield Burglary Solved

Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 21 November 1930Friday 21 November 1930



At Braintree on Wednesday, before W. J. Courtauld, Esq., and other Justices, Frederick Jarvis, 20, painter, Homer Street, Lisson Grove, Marylebone; Jason Donavon, 23, clerk, Kilburn Lane, West Kilburn; Leonard Tomas Wilson, 30, Kilburn Lane, West Kilburn; and Joseph Ettridge, 23, motor driver, Lisson Street, Lisson Grove, Marylebone, were charged that on Nov. 10 at Finchingfield, being concerned together, in the night, they did feloniously and burglariously break and enter Easton Cottage, Finchingfield, and steal therein property to the value of £350, of Guiseppa Sgavicchia.

Supt. Whiting stated that on the night of Nov. 10 a motor car was stolen in London, and the same night a burglary occurred at Finchingfield. Early next morning the three prisoners, except Ettridge, were arrested at Braintree by P.c. Swallow, a they were found in possession of articles which were afterwards discovered to be parts of the proceeds of the burglary of the previous night. On the night of Nov. 10, a car was driven rapidly through Chelmsford and Romford; police tried to stop it, but failed, and the car was eventually found abandoned on the other side of Romford, and it contained another portion of the property stolen from the house at Finchingfield.

Guiseppa Sgavicchia, Easton Cottage, Finchingfield, said he was a farmer, and had lived at the address since Sept. 25. he left home at 9 a.m. on Nov. 10 to go by motor car to London and Wales, accompanied by his wife. He left Ricketts, his manservant, in charge of Easton Cottage. On Nov. 13 the police called upon him at 31 Baker Street, W. [London], where he had a business as antique dealer and decorator. He returned to Finchingfield, and missed from his premises these articles, value £350, including a wireless set, silver cup, cigarette case, camera, knives, forks, spoons, trays, etc.

Mrs. Sgavicchia state that four weeks ago she placed her jewel box on the floor under a chest of drawers in her bedroom. It contained a watch and bracelet, diamond brooch, a topaz cross, necklace, etc., and a silver, gold and enamel cigarette case, which bore a crown, and belonged to a Prince of Hohenzollern. The jewel case and contents were also missing.

Supt. Whiting said the jewellery had not yet been found, but it was included in the £350 total value.

Harry James Ricketts, employed by Mr. Sgavicchia at Easton Cottage, deposed that he went into that service on Oct. 23 last, and when Mr. and Mrs. Sgavicchia went away, as stated, he was left in charge of the house. On the night in question he secured the doors and windows, and retired to bed at 9.45. There were two dogs on the premises -one in his bedroom, and the other with the run of the house. At 11.40 witness was awakened by the barking of the dog downstairs. He shouted to the dog to lie down, and it became quiet. Witness lay awake a quarter of an hour, and, hearing nothing more, he went to sleep again. Rising at 7.30 a.m., he found the kitchen window open, and appearing to have beeb forced, and the front door was also open. In the dining room, he also found a window open, and a quantity of silver missing. Two tablecloths lay on the floor. Half a canteen of cutlery was also missing. In the drawing room he found a wireless set missing. Witness went and informed P.c. Wright.

John Owen French, clerk, Finchingfield, stated that on Nov. 10 he arrived home at 11.20 p.m. on a motor cycle. A man asked where he could get petrol, and pointed to a motor car standing outside Sullens' store. Witness directed the man to Wiffen's garage, and the man tried to knock up Wiffen, who spoke from a bedroom window. Finding he had no petrol, witness offered to run the man to Bardfield on the motor cycle, and they went there. They called at two places, but they got no reply, so they returned to Finchingfield, where P.c. Wright came, and obtained petrol for the man from Sullens' store. On Nov. 12 witness attended at Crawford Place Police Station, London, where he identified from a number of men the man who had the car and petrol - it was Ettridge, who now stood in the dock.

P.c. Wright stated that at 11.30 p.m. on Nov. 10 he saw a car standing outside Wiffen's, and three men walking in front of Hill House, towards Great Bardfield. Witness went to the car, and as he was about to examine it, the driver, who was carrying a small brown attaché case, said he had run out of petrol, and told how he had tried to get some. Witness said, "Are you willing and able to pay for this petrol?" and the man replied, "Yes." Witness asked, "What is your name?" and he replied, "Stevens." To verify this, witness examined the man's driving licence, which he produced. The licence was in the name of "Stevens." Witness said, "Are the three men with you whom I have seen leave the village?" and the man replied, "No, I am quite alone; I am a traveller for a firm of builders in London." Witness went with the driver to Sullens' garage, and, petrol having been obtained, witness asked the driver, "Which way are you going back to London?" He replied, "Through Great Bardfield." Witness said, "If you don't mind, I will ride with you, so that I can overhaul the three men I saw leave the village at 11.30." The man readily invited witness to ride in the car; they went towards Bardfield. Witness asked the driver of the car to stop 500 yards beyond where he had passed the men. Witness got out of the car, and walked back towards Finchingfield, and the driver drove the car towards Bardfield. Witness met the three men walking towards him, and said to them, "What are you fellows doing about here?" One of them said, "Has the driver of that car stopped? We whistled and shouted after him, hoping to get a ride." Another of the men said, "We are out for the day, having obtained a ride from London to Braintree on an International Stores lorry. We would rather walk on a night like this (referring to the moonlight) than put up for the night. We will get a ride from someone when we get on the main road." The men did not seem to be carrying anything, so witness allowed them to proceed. At 8.10 a.m. on Nov. 11 Ricketts, from Easton Cottage, reported a burglary. Witness went, and examined the premises, and found that an entry had been effected by inserting a knife and releasing the catch of a window on the ground floor. On Nov. 12 witness attended Crawford Place Police Station, and picked out Ettridge as the person he had seen driving the car in Finchingfield on the night of Nov. 10, and he identified the other prisoners as those he spoke to on the moonlit night at Finchingfield.

P.c. Swallow, Braintree, stated that at 4.15 a.m. on Nov. 11 he was on duty in London Road, Braintree, and in consequence of information he obtained a ride on a motor van, and proceeded to Cemetery Hill, on the way to Chelmsford. He there saw the prisoners Jarvis, Donavon, and Wilson, walking towards London. Witness got out of the van, and said to the prisoners, "What is your business out so early?" They replied, "We want to get to London, we left there in a motor car which has returned, leaving us stranded." Telling prisoners he was not satisfied, witness conveyed them in the motor van to Braintree Police Station. On Jarvis he found the meat skewer produced; on Donavon the camera produced, which Donavon said was his. The cigarette case produced was also on Donavon, who said, "That belonged to my poor old dad, now dead." A road map was found on Wilson, who said he took it from the car. At the police offie Donavon said to witness, "Had I known what I do now, you would not have got me here; I would have kicked you to pieces; the Gutteridge murder would have been nothing compared with it."

Supt. Whiting asked for a remand till next Wednesday, which was granted.