Stealing Wood at Wickham St. Pauls

Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Wednesday 01 March 1893

Wednesday 1st March, 1893

Isaac Barnes (31), labourer, of Wickham St. Pauls was charged with feloniously stealing several pieces of wood of the value of eightpence, the property of John Hardy, on the 27st February, 1893, in the parish of Wickham St. Pauls.

George Butcher, said: I live at Wickham St. Pauls, and am a farm labourer, working for Mr. John Hardy, the prosecutor in this case. I cut down a fence just before Christmas and left it there until the 25th of this month. Part of it was loose and part tied up. When I went to the place on Saturday last I could see some one had been taking some of the round wood, and I informed my master. Defendant was fencing in the same field for Mr. Nott, another farmer.

Prosecutor deposed: I am a farmer and live at Wickham St. Pauls. I went to see P.c. Halstead on Saturday last after what Butcher told me and informed him of my loss. In consequence of what I further heard I accompanied P.c. Halstead to the field yesterday (Monday) afternoon. We concealed ourselves for the purposes of watching to see if anyone came. The Defendant came, wound two withs, and tied some of the wood up, carried them through the fields into the road. We followed him and P.c. Halstead took possession of the wood. I put the value of it at eightpence. My man reckons we have lost 50 or 60 pieces.

The wood was produced in court an the clerk remarked that it was a large load for a man to carry.

Prosecutor added that the defendant had worked for him occasionally at machining &c.

P.c. Frederick Halstead, stationed at Wickham St. Pauls, said: Yesterday (Monday) afternoon I was on duty in a field in company with the prosecutor, watching some wood. The defendant came along and picked up five large pieces and tied them together, put them on his shoulder and marched off towards the village. I overtook him telling him I saw him take the wood from Mr. Hardy's field, and that I should apprehend him on a charge of stealing it. he said he hoped I should not and he would not do it again. If Mr. Hardy would forgive him he would work it out and make it right with him. The witness said the defendant was a drunken fellow. He spent every penny in drink and starved his wife and family.

Prisoner asked to have the case dealt with summarily and pleaded guilty.

The Clerk: Is his family wanting?

P.c. Halstead: Yes, sir; if it were not for other people, they would be starving.

Supt. Elsey said he had been told the wife kept the children as well as she could under the circumstances.

The Clerk re-called Halstead and asked him if there was any probability of the prisoner having stolen the wood in order to provide for his family.

P.c. Halstead: No, Sir; he takes it, sells it, and then spends the money at the public-house.

The Chairman said that he understood this was his first appearance before the Bench but he was afraid that he bore a very bad character and therefore they were not inclined to deal so favourably with him as they might otherwise do. This being the first time he had been there...

(Defendant: And I hope it will be the last.)

...the Bench would not inflict the full term of imprisonment - three months - and he would be sentenced to one month, with hard labour.

Defendant: Will you allow me to pay?

The Clerk: If you have any money you can give it to your wife and family.