The Sussex Advertiser, Tuesday, 24th May 1842:
JOHN LEVETT, 22, servant, pleaded guilty to stealing, at the Parish of St John, Lewes, on the 5th ult., one bottle of port wine and one bottle of ginger beer, the property of Mr Wm. Rose, landlord of the Star Inn - One month's hard labour.
The Sussex Advertiser, 24th June 1845, page 2:
EXTRAORDINARY ROBBERY of £25. – On Saturday last, a young man named John Levett, who has been for some time employee as a guard on the London and Brighton coach, which passes through Uckfield, was brought before H. BLACKMAN, Esq., and G. MOLINEUX, ESQ., at the office of F. H. Gell, Esq., charged with stealing £24 19s, the property of Mr Henry Cloake, the landlord of the Maidenhead Inn, Uckfield.
The prosecutor stated, about a quarter past four on the afternoon of he 17th instant, I packed up a small parcel, in which £24 19s, consisting on one £5 Bank of England note, two £5 notes of the Lewes Bank, nine sovereigns, one half-sovereign, and nine shillings in silver. Having tied it securely with string, I delivered it, directly to Messrs. Molineux, Whitfeld, Dicker, and Molineux, to John Levett the prisoner, who was then going to Lewes by the London coach. I said to him, I wanted him to take it for me, and he said he would. I told him that it was money, and that he must go with it to the Lewes Bank immediately on arrival, as it was to advise a payment in London, and I was fearful the bank would be closed if it were not delivered immediately. In consequence of information I received yesterday from London, and also from Lewes, I set off for the latter town, and met the prisoner between Lewes and Uckfield, at a place called Clay Hill. On asking him if he had delivered the parcel, he said, “I gave it to a little boy at Mr Molineux’s house, as the bank was shut.” He told me also, that it was nearly seven o’clock when the coach got into Lewes. The prisoner went back with me to Lewes, and I went to Molineux’s bank, but found that the parcel had not been left there. I then went to Mr. Molineux’s house with the prisoner, and on his seeing the boy, he said, that is the boy; and asked him, “Did I not give you a parcel last Tuesday night, about seven o’clock?” The boy, as I understood, said “Yes, and I gave it to master.” I then went over to the bank, and returned with Mr Molineux to the house, and he asked the boy if had taken the parcel then. The boy said “No, I did not.” I said, “How came you to say then, you had given it to your master?” The boy replied “I said, if I received it I gave it to my master, as I do all other parcels.”
Mr Blackman—That is not evidence.
Mr Hobden—It is rather explanatory, sir.
The prosecutor continued—I afterwards gave the prisoner in custody to Superintendent Bolton, at the White Hart, and yesterday I asked him, where he had got new clothes he had on? He said, “Mr Kidder bought the coat for me at Maxfield and Smith’s.” Having made enquiries as to this, I repeated the question in the presence of Mr. Bolton, and he then said. He got it at Brown and Crosskey’s. On asking where he got the money, he said, he had picked up a purse between the Cock at Ringmer and the Old Ship last Thursday week, and that there were four sovereigns in it, and he threw the purse away.
Mr Blackman--The prisoner said, when the boy opened the door, “that is the boy I gave the parcel to,”—is that so?—Certainly.
And at the same time the prisoner asked the question, “Did I not give you a parcel some where about seven o’clock on Tuesday evening?”—Yes, sir.
Now you say, you understood the boy to say “Yes, I gave it to my master?”—Decidedly, sir.
Mr Blackman: You see the boy puts it quite in a different way.
On being asked if he had any questions to put to the prosecutor, the prisoner commenced a statement as to finding the purse, &c. but was stopped by
Mr Blackman, who said—That is not a question,—that is your defence.
Mr Cloake—It is only corroborating my evidence.
Robert Medhurst, a lad of 14 or 15, was next sworn—I am in the service of George Molineux, Esq., and always answer the front door; I am certain John Levett did not at any time since, leave any parcel with me for my master, or any other person. I don’t know that I ever saw him before yesterday, when he called with Mr Cloake at 11 o’clock. He said, “What did you do with the parcel I gave you?” I said, “You never left any parcel; if you did, I should have taken it to my master.”
The prisoner—When we first went, he said, “Yes,” when I asked him, and he said, “I gave it to my master,—wasn’t it a little white paper parcel?”
Mr Blackman (to Mr. Cloake)—Did the witness ask you if it was a little white paper parcel?—No, sir.
You are quite sure of that?—I never heard him, sir.
Superintendent Bolton deposed to taking the prisoner into custody yesterday
afternoon, and corroborated the prosecutor’s statement with regard to the prisoner’s
account of his new clothes.
Mr George Whitfield: I remember the closing of the Bank on Tuesday evening, the 17th. I shut the Bank up by closing the outer gates and doors, at twenty minutes to seven on that evening. The time of closing on ordinary days is five o’clock, but on Tuesdays it is open longer on account of business, and it is not generally shut till between six and seven.
William English deposed that he attended to the coach business transacted at his father’s. He remembered that on the 17th the London coach arrived precisely at six o’clock: because, as the clock struck, he had just told a person it would not, perhaps, be in for half-an-hour, when it actually drove up to the door. The prisoner was on the coach, to which he was guard.
Sarah Haycock, servant to Mr Rose, stated that she kept the tap at the Star. On the 17th, Levett came in between six and seven, and in paying her 1s. he had owed her some weeks, took out a little parcel, which he said he was going to take to the Bank, and he went away directly.
Mr Blackman—Could you give us the time more particularly?
— No. I think it was not more than half-past six, but it might be a few minutes.
Elizabeth Kirby, who keeps the tap at the Crown, deposed that a little after eleven on the 17th inst., she let the prisoner in, as he promised to pay her 1s. 6d., which he had owed her nearly two years. He gave her a sovereign, and she gave him the change. He had paid ready money since he owed her the 1s. 6d., as she had refused to trust him.
William Moore, beershop-keeper, stated that about a quarter before nine on the 18th, John Levett came in, had some beer and ginger-beer, and paid for hat and 1s.11d. he owed him with 2s.6d. He then said he wanted some change, and he took from his waistcoat pocket a small parcel, wrapped up apparently in writing paper, from which he took half-a-sovereign, and in moving it, it rattled as though there were more. He took witness afterwards to the Lamb, and they partook of some spirits there. He then went away with the London coach, of which he had been guard for four months. On Friday witness came again, and had some beef-steaks cooked, and some beer and ginger-beer and treated others. He then had a gold ring with a red stone, which, he said, he found going over the Bridge, and Tanner told him was worth 15s.. He had on a new coat and handkerchief; and some one saying he was coming out, he said—“His master was ashamed to see him on the coach, and he had given some money to buy them.”
Samuel Oakingham, assistant-draper at Messrs Brown and Crosskey’s, deposed that the prisoner bought a blouse, waistcoat, and cloth cap there, about six p.m. on the 18th. He paid 13s. for them, giving a sovereign and getting the change. Witness, when the prisoner took the sovereign out, heard the rattle of other money, apparently gold, in his pocket.
Mr Blackman—I should like to see the knife and ring, if they are here.
Superintendent Bolton—The knife is, sir, but Inspector Phillips has gone to Brighton with the ring.
Mr English deposed that he sold the knife produced by Superintendent Bolton on Thursday to the prisoner, for which he gave him three shillings.
J.Barwell, the assistant to a tobacconist in the town, whose name was not
mentioned, deposed that on the afternoon of some day lately, the prisoner
wanted a penn’orth
of tobacco, but as he refused to trust him, went away without. He thought it
was about the middle of last week.
The prisoner then, in defence, admitted receiving the parcel from Mr Cloake, but alleged that, when he got in, the bank gates were shut. He finished unloading the coach, and then went to Mrs Haycock’s for beer. He told her about the parcel, and said he was going with it to Mr Molineux’s house—
Mrs Haycock—You didn’t say so to me.
The prisoner, in continuation, alleged hat he gave the parcel to the little boy at the door (Medhurst). On Friday morning, as he was going up by the coach, just along Clay Hill, Mr Cloake came up in a four-wheel chaise, and stopped the coach, and asked if Levett was there? Prisoner jumped down immediately, and Mr Cloake got out of his chaise. Prisoner went up to him directly. He asked what he (Levett) had done with the parcel given to him on Tuesday? Prisoner replied, he had taken it to Mr Molineux’s private door. Mr Cloake said he must go back with him, and see about it. After giving his master half-a-crown he got from a gentleman, and also a box, he came away directly. Mr Cloake went and asked Mr Molineux if he knew anything about it? Whilst Mr Molineux was looking the books over, Mr Cloake told him that he (prisoner) had delivered the parcel at his private house, and Mr Molineux said, they had better go there and see then.
“ When we got there,” continued the prisoner, “we knocked at the door, and the boy came. I asked him, “What have you done with that little parcel I left here on Tuesday night?” He said, ‘he had given it to his master.’” Mr Cloake asked him , if he was sure of that? The boy said he always gave all parcels to his master. He then asked us into the hall, and his mistress called the boy into the parlour. Mrs Molineux ten came out after a few minutes, and Mr Cloake stated the case to Mrs Molineux. Mrs Molineux said Mr Molineux would be in in a short time, and she would ask him about it. We then went to the Bank again, and when we got out of the door, Mr Cloake said that he knew it was all stuff:—he could see how it was. He thought they had laid the parcel by and forgot it. They had pretty nigh raised his monkey, and he should have blown up in about two minutes. He could see that they had got the parcel in the parlour by their way.”
This closed the prisoner’s account of the proceedings, and Mr Blackman then said that he must be committed for trial at the coming quarter session.
The Sussex Advertiser, Tuesday, 8th July 1845:
John Levett, coach guard, 25, pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing, at Uckfield, on the 17th inst., 24l. 19s., the property of Henry Cloake. Mr Creasy was for the prosecution, but being engaged in the other court, the witnesses were examined by Mr. Hurst. The facts of the case appeared in full in the Advertiser of the 17th inst. On this occasion, the prisoner with one exception, entirely declined cross-examining the witness, the only question he put, being to Mr. Clarke, the prosecutor who, in return stated that he did not ask him (the prisoner) anything about the clothes he was found to have purchased, before he was taken into custody. The following additional evidence was produced:-
W.H. Bellingham deposed – I am a watchmaker, at Lewes; I came from London to Lewes, outside, by Simcox’s coach, on Thursday the 19th of June. I noticed the prisoner on the coach first this side of Uckfield, and saw him take money out of his pocket, apparently to count it. It was in sovereigns, and I would judge there were well nigh twenty sovereigns by the “length” of them. I remarked them, as I thought there was a very great contrast between the appearance of the man, and the money in his possession, and I was surprised at it.
Inspector Phillips asked the prisoner on Saturday, the 28th, what he had done
with the ring he used to wear? He said it was in his coat pocket, which it
actually was, and alleged that he had picked it up on the other side of the
bridge, when a lad of the name of Gower was with him.
The Chairman: have you got the ring? – Yes, I showed it Miss Tanner, and she said, it was bought in the shop a day or two previous.
Esther Susannah Turner: I remember the 29th June,-
The Chairman : She merely said that it was brought by somebody on that day?
Mr Hurst: That is all, my lord.
The Chairman: Oh, we’ll not take it then. It is not inconsistent with the prisoner’s account, for the person might have dropped it and he found it afterwards.
The prisoner said, he had nothing to say in his defence.
The Chairman, in summing up, said it was for the jury to say whether the prisoner had obtained the money from the parcel with which he was entrusted. It was certainly proved that he had been entrusted with the money. He then went to Lewes, and though ordered to go to the bank immediately – though it was proved by the clearest evidence that the coach arrived at six o’clock, and that the bank did not close till nearly three quarters of an hour afterwards – yet it certainly appeared that he did not take it. Now the Bank was not above forty yards from where the coach stops, so there was an abundance of time for him to go there. But it was alleged by the prisoner that he went with the money to the private house of Mr Molineux. It is for the jury to say whether he did or not. There were some apparent discrepancies given by the boy Medhurst, and it is for them to say whether there was any good reason for disbelieving what he said when, correcting himself, or, at least, correcting the impression the prosecutor had received from his statement, he said “If I did receive it (the parcel) I should have done the same with it as I do with all the other parcels – given it to my master”. Then the jury had the fact that the prisoner, who previously had no money, or, at least, was in debt in two or three places, at the tap of the Crown, at the tap of the Star, and at a beer-shop; - that this man, who could not previous to this gain credit at the grocer’s he was in the habit of going to for a penn’orth of tobacco, had certainly become possessed, relatively to his condition, of a great deal of wealth. This was proved by the showing on one occasion of nearly twenty sovereigns, by his purchasing new clothes, and by his wearing a gold ring. It was for them to say whether he had satisfactorily accounted for his sudden wealth which seemed to have flowed in upon him. One account he had given was, that the clothes were given to him by Mr Kidder; then he had said that his master had provided them; but if that had been so, what could have been easier than to have called him? On the whole, if they believed he may have so fortunate as to find this money, or if they had reasonable doubts as to any other account he gave, for his statement was full of contradictions, they would give him the benefit of the doubt; but he was afraid the only conclusion they could arrive at was, that the money entrusted to his care was that of which he had possessed himself; it was, however, entirely their province to say if that was so or not.
The jury, after some deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty.
The prisoner then pleaded guilty to a previous conviction, which took place on the 5th April 1843, when he was found guilty of stealing a quart of wine &c, from Mr William Rose, and sentenced to one months’ hard labour.
The Chairman said the prisoner had been convicted on the clearest possible evidence, and as he had previously been found guilty of felony, the usual rule must be applied in this case, he must leave the country. The sentence was that he be transported beyond the seas for ten years.
Prisoner: Thank you, sir.
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