South Yorkshire Times March 11, 1950
Heavy Sentence on Conisbrough Rail Thieves
When two Conisbrough labourers admitted at Leeds Assizes on Friday stealing 54,000 cigarettes and 15 pairs of overalls from a wagon of a Sheffield – Hull train while it was held up by signals for half an hour at Mexborough, Mr Commissioner Gentle, K.C., said: “These offences of stealing from the railway are rife when thieves are discovered the courts meet out punishment with a heavy hand.”
The commission sent John Thomas Brannon (45), Daylands Avenue, to prison for three years and ordered him to report his address at regular intervals on his release, and the other man, John Smith (52), Sandall Road to prison for nine months.
Mr R.M. Clough, prosecuting, said Brannan asked for another case of stealing goods from a wagon in transit to be taken into account.
Mr Clough said the total value of the property was £415.
The cigarettes were packed in a train at Sheffield in January 17 for distribution to tobacconists in the Hull area. The overalls were also destined for Hull.
The truck was sealed in a Sheffield siding and seemed to be in order early on January 18. In the small hours of the same morning the train was held up for half an hour by signals at Mexborough.
When it arrived at Hull some three hours later it was found one of the seals on the truck containing the cigarettes and overalls had been broken. Property worth over £400 was missing.
Considerably less than 24 hours after the earliest possible time the theft could have been committed, said Mr Clough, 80% of the cigarettes and all the overalls were recovered by the police.
Brannan was seen in Conisbrough on the night of January 18 by PC.P.Shaw, Kerry two suitcases. He told Brannan he was making enquiries about thefts from the train and Brannan replied, “It’s a fair cop.”
The suitcases held 10,000 cigarettes. A further 18,820 cigarettes were recovered from his home.
A police sergeant went to Smith’s house, where he found over 24,000 cigarettes.
PC Shaw of Conisbrough, said that Brannan had 10 previous convictions and Smith three.