Garden Plot – Intruder Caught

July 1905

Mexborough and Swinton Times July 22, 1905

A Garden Plot

Urick Wood, miner, Denaby, was charged with destroying plants and vegetables, the property of Christopher Thomas Everitt, at Denaby on July 9

Mr W Baddiley, who prosecuted, said the complainant and other workingmen at Denaby had banded themselves into an association for the protection of their gardens, with the object in view of detecting and punishing thieves, from whom, in the past they had all more or less suffered.

On Sunday morning the 9th inst, at our past two, a man named Baldwin and another, who are members of the association, were watching in the gardens near the Catholic chapel at Denaby, when they saw the defendant go into Everitt’s garden and walk across the beds containing plants, in the direction of a fowl house which Everitt had built there. They rushed out upon him, and demanded his business there, and there was no doubt if they had waited a few minutes before disclosing their presence this man would have been there upon a charge of larceny instead of a charge of wilful damage.

The complainant had a dog chained up in his garden for the purpose of protecting his pals, and there was not the slightest doubt the dog had been drugged, because when the defendant approached it made no sound, and it was ailing for several days afterwards. There could be no meaner offence than robbery from or damage to a workingman’s garden. Whatever the owner of the garden got out of it did not in any way repay him for his time and trouble. His Garden was his hobby, and it was a very laudable hobby for a man to follow. He thought the bench would have little doubt what the defendant’s intention was he going into Everitt’s garden and he would ask their Worships to severely punish him in order to put a stop to the practice.

Frank Baldwin stated that he and the complainant belonged to a Garden Owners Association, to which they paid 6d a week. They were in the habit of forming parties to watching the gardens during the night, and he and another man were watching on Sunday morning July 9. They saw the defendant coming up the road and go into Everitt’s garden. He walked across the garden and made for the fowl house; he did not go by the past, but walked across the garden beds. Everitt had a dog day; it was a good watchdog, but he gave no warning that morning. They went to the fowl house, and founded defendant on his knees by the fowl pen door. They asked him what he was doing there, and he replied he was not doing any harm. Witness said: “You know you’ve no right here,” and he replied, “I know I’ve no business here but you can only have been for trespass.” Then he offered to fight either of them, and struck witness on the chest.

Everitt also gave evidence, stating that when he went to feed the dog on Sunday morning he refused his food. His eyes were glassy, and he had no life in him. He was in that condition for three or four days, but he had got over it now. He was in the ordinary way a good watchdog, and would not let anybody go near him without giving warning. Only the previous evening he went for witnesses brother and tore his jacket. (Laughter) He assessed the damage done at half a crown( 2/6 or 12.5p)

The defendant elected to give evidence on his own behalf. He said he had lost his train at Barnsley and walked home. When he got to his lodgings, that the door was shut, and he did not want to knock the people up, so we thought he would go into the garden to sleep. He was just going to lie down when it was driving Baldwin and the other man jumped out and in. As for stealing, he never did anything of the sort; he never touched a “blooming plant.” (Laughter)

Mr Baddiley: You are not charged with stealing anything?

No; but it’s the next thing to it.

Why didn’t you go to your lodgings?

It was a fine night and I thought I would sleep out.

What were you doing on your hands and knees by the fowl house door?

I never saw a door; I was going to sit down where it was dry. (Laughter)

The Chairman said there was little doubt what the defendant was going to do, and he was fortunate in not being there on the charge of larceny. He would be fined 2/6, the amount of the damage, and 15/6 costs or 14 days.