If you cannot see the Site Map/Menu Bar on the left; then your search engine may have directed you to this page only. To go to the Home Page, click http://www.mycetes.co.uk


banner01

ROYAL CORNWALL GAZETTE - FRIDAY MARCH 25 1853

image88


TRIALS OF PRISONERS - STEALING TIN.

WILLIAM CURTIS, 45, was indicted for stealing, on the 13th of December, about four cwt. of tin, the property of Messrs. Williams, Harvey, and Company, at the Mellanear Smelting Works, St. Erth. In another count the prisoner was charged with receiving the tin, knowing it to have been stolen.

Mr. Collier prosecuted and Mr. Cole defended the prisoner. Mr. Peter Harris, managing agent at the Mellanear Smelting Works, said he remembered missing tin on Monday morning, the l3th of December. He had seen it in the smelting house on the previous Saturday evening. Ten ingots were missed, weighing altogether about 3 1/2 cwt. or 4 cwt. Four of the ingots were each about 56 lbs. weight, and six about 28 lbs. weight. The smelting-house premises were secured on the Saturday evening, the doors and windows all fastened; on the Monday morning the doors were right, but one of the windows was open. On Thursday following, Witness gave information to policeman Armitage of the West Cornwall Railway. Henry Armitage, police superintendent, said he watched the house of the prisoner at Ventonleague, about a mile and a half from the smelting-house. Witness went to prisoner's house between ll and 12 o'clock on the night of the 3rd of January.

He found prisoner standing in the porch of his house, with a key in his hand. He took the key from him, on which prisoner made a noise; other constables then came up, and witness left the prisoner in their custody, and went into the house. He there found an ingot of tin near the door, and two round pieces under the table, near to which was a crook or kettle at the end of the table. There was tin thinly coated around the inside of the crock, and the two round pieces were hot when he touched them. The ingot, near the door, was in a wet and dirty state. He took prisoner to a Temperance Hotel in the neighbourhood, where prisoner began talking about the tin.

Witness told him it was his duty to caution him that whatever he said would be used as evidence against him. Prisoner then said, he did not care for the round pieces if we had not found the long one; he expected that would give him fifteen years to Australia. He said if there were no receivers there would be no thieves, and if I wanted the remainder I must go to Richards of Helston for it; he said there were three or four who ought to be taken as well as himself; he said they ought to be transported as well as me, and that he and Richards, of Helston , he hoped would go in one vessel. On the next morning witness went again to prisoner's: house, having locked the door on the night before, and kept the key in his possession .

He then found a “ baker," which was greased and put away in a hole in the wall. (The baker and crock, the ingot, and the two round pieces of tin found in prisoners' house, were here produced). Witness showed that the two round pieces fitted the baker, as if they had been cast in it. He received two pieces of tin from William Petherick, one of which also fitted the baker. Prisoner said the ingot of tin had not been in his house more than two minutes when the constables came there.

William Petherick, plumber of Truro, said that on the 22nd of December, prisoner offered him tin for sale, and he paid him 8d. a lb. for 5 lbs. and some ounces. After that witness had a communication with Mr. Armitage, and when prisoner brought him more tin for sale, on the 28th of December, he wrote to Armitage, and gave up the tin to him on the day after. (The two pieces sold to witness by prisoner were produced). Mr. Harris being recalled stated that the round pieces of tin produced,found in prisoner's house, and that sold to Petherick, was of the same quality as that which was stolen from the smelting house ; he had tested it by assaying and breaking. This was the only pure tin in that form which they had at that time in the smelting-house. He identified the large ingot, found in the prisoner's house, by the impression at each end and the private mark. It corresponded in size and weight with the larger ingots they had lost, and he had no doubt it was one of them.

They had shipped ingots of the same description , and with the mark B, to Liverpool for Birmingham in the previous November; but the ingot produced could not be one of them, because in carting and shipping the ingots get bruised, which was not the case with the one produced. Mr Cole briefly addressed the jury for the prisoner, contending that the identity of the tin had not been sufficiently made out as that lost from the smelting- house.

The learned Judge having summed up, the jury almost immediately found the prisoner Guilty.

A conviction of the prisoner in October 1849 was proved, when he was imprisoned for six months; and a conviction at Penzance in October 1848, when he was imprisoned for two months.

The Judge, in passing sentence, said it is clear that you have gone on for a considerable time in a course of crime from one felony to another, and in those transactions you have come to have others to assist you, and to co-operate with you in carrying on your depredations with considerable skill and industry. You have fixed for yourself a term of fifteen years' transportation. I shall pass on you in same degree less than that; but as to your notion that you would be transported to Australia, I think it ought to he known, both by you and others, than a long term of transportation will probably not lead to removal to Australia, but that the sentence will be carried out in another place, where it will probably be a very severe penalty. A severe penalty is due to you, and I order you to be Transported beyond the Seas for Fourteen Years.