Theft of Cash in Stansted Mountfitchett

Essex Standard - Friday February 21 1862

Friday, February 21, 1862


Catherine Luck, a married woman aged 40, was indicted for stealing £160, the property of William Luck, at Stansted Mountfitchet; and James Luck, her husband, and William Brett, 25, blacksmith, were indicted for receiving the same.

Mr. WALFORD appeared for the prosecution; Mr. WOOLLETT defended Brett.

Mr. WALFORD, in opening the case, said this money was the accumulation of nearly a whole life of saving, the prosecutor, who lived with his father, a man of over 80 years old and nearly blind keeping it in the house. The female prisoner, a relative, had been heard to say she wished she could get to old Will's hoards, and she would make them fly; and there could be little doubt as to her guilt, for she would be proved to have been very poor just before the robbery, and immediately after it she was flush for money. In fact, after she was taken into custody she confessed the robbery. The case as to Brett stood on rather different grounds; but he thought he should show distinctly that he was in possession of the money; and the question would be whether he received it knowing it to be stolen.

William Luck examined. I live at Stansted Mountfitchet. My father is 81, and blind. On the 9th November I had 160 sovereigns in a wooden box enclosed in another, and bother were locked. On the 9th December I found the box ha been opened and the little box was gone. The lid of the little box I afterwards found near the brickfield. On the 14th November I had seen the female prisoner at our house with the two old people. I left here there, and my sister had gone to get the allowance my father and mother have from the parish. -Cross-examined. I had had some of the money since I was 14 years old; I took care of all I could; I know now that I might have done better than keeping it in a box.

Eliza Jordan spoke to having heard the female prisoner say, "I wish I could get an old Will's hoard, and I would make it fly." Cross-examined. I would make money fly myself if I could get to it. (Laughter.)

Henry Prior. On the 14th of November I saw William William Luck at work in Mr. Maitland's park, and I also saw the female prisoner, who enquired where the prosecutor was, and I said she should go and see the old people.

Police-constable Puxley. I searched the female prisoner's house con the 11th of November, and found a quantity of new clothing, linen, and various other new articles, and 14s; I took her on the 8th of December, and she said, "I must go then; I have been expecting you, -I dreamt last night you were after me." She took on and said, "I have got into it, and I must abide by it."

William Whitehead, shopman to Messrs. Green and Marsh, at Stansted Mountfitchet, said prior to the 9th December the prisoner bought many things at the shop, and tendered gold in every instance; she bought three large-size purses within four days. Cross-examined. She never laid out more than £1 at a time. All the goods he served her with did not exceed £3.

Elizabeth Mumford, a dealer in flour, said the female in November owed her £1..9, and she came to witness to pass her word for her to have some bread from a man named Phillips; she refused to do so. On the 23rd November the prisoner came and paid her debt, giving her two sovereigns, and she gave her 11s.

William L. Pavitt, a dealer in flour, said in November the Lucks owed him 25s., and in December they paid him with a sovereign and a half. The female had some shop goods, and paid with a half-sovereign.

William Saunders, shopkeeper, proved that in December the female paid for a hand of pork with a sovereign.

David Scott, a travelling draper, of Bishop's Stortford, said in December he called on the prisoner of 13s 6d, and she paid the whole. He said he would give her 6d. for luck, for he did not expect to get any.

Prisoner. You shouldn't have had that if I had known it. (Laughter.)

B. Saunders said he was at a beer-hop when this robbery was talked of, and Mrs. Luck said she would suffer to go to ---, and be lifted up by the hair of her head before she would split.

Female prisoner. Aye, I'll pay your old scores off old fellow, when I come out. (Laughter.)

Mrs. Puxley, wife of the policeman, said while at her house she heard the female say, "I'm not the only one -- there's two or three in it besides myself."

Henry Flood, Superintendent at Newport. On the 13th Dec. the prisoner was in my custody. She said "I had the money and it was put into the thatch in my husband's cottage; my husband burnt the box, and said I picked the lock out of the coals." On her way to Stanstead she said "I took the money because Will employed my boy, and only gave him 16d. or 18d. a week, when he was earning men's wages. I wish I had told you this before, for you might have got hold of other parties, for my husband is such a natural fool that I am certain he will give the money to the fellow Brett." She repeated this several times on her way.

Francis Luck, son of the prisoner., said --Brett and I went to Stortford, and as we were going he told to wait while he went and fetched some money, for he had it in his closet, and no -------- should have it. When he came back he showed me ten sovereigns and asked me to have two, but I would not. We went to Mr. Bowker and aid him three guineas to defend my mother before the Magistrates. The witness described how they afterwards bought beef steaks, clothes and gin, and Brett went back quite drunk. After that Brett and his father were much together, and on one occasion they drank a pint of brandy.

William Puxley recalled. When the female was ordered to be committed Brett came into court, and offered  to lay down £20 as bail for her. After that Brett absconded, and was not taken till January, when he was found at a night-house at one o'clock in the morning. While I had him in custody he told me that the night after Mrs. Luck was taken Luck asked him if he would do a little job for him. They went home, slept together, and drank a bottle of brandy that night. Next morning they went to a beer shop, and when they came out Luck gave him the £20, observing "I'm ----- if I haven't got 104 more."

Police-consable Benson. On the 16th of January I was taking Luck before the magistrates, when he said --"I intend to split about this whole affair." I cautioned him, but he said "My wife stole my brother's money a fortnight or more before I knew about it; when she told me what she had done I told her the money should not be in my house. She then too the money to Mrs. Saunders, and gave her a sovereign to take care of it. A day or two after that she brought the money back again, and I told her it should not be there, and she took it back, and then gave Mrs. Saunders £4. After my wife was in custody Mrs. Saunders sent for me, and told me she would have nothing more to do with the money, for the police were about to search her house; she gave me the money, and Brett snatched it from my hand, and said he would give me a pound or two as I wanted it." After that he said Mrs. Saunders put the money against the gate-post, and he picked it up.

The statements made by the prisoners before the magistrates were put in and read. The were similar to those above given. James Luck added that his wife told him she broke open the box with a chisel.

The female in defence now said she never stole the money; she only had it from the husband a little at a time.

Mr. WOOLLETT addressed the Court for Brett, whose conduct he said, could not perhaps be morally justified -he did not justify it; but the question was whether it cam within the legal crime of receiving money knowing it to be stolen.

The CHAIRMAN having summed up, the jury found all the prisoners Guilty.

Mrs. Luck had been before convicted of a misdemeanour and Brett of housebreaking.

The two Lucks were sentenced each to six and Brett to twelve months' hard labour.