Interesting to Miners – Alleged Theft of Tools at Denaby

March 1887

Mexborough and Swinton Times March 4, 1887

Interesting to Miners
Alleged Theft of Tools at Denaby

William Wharton, colliery, was charged with stealing tools, the property of the Denaby Main Colliery Company.

Mr Hickmott at prosecuted, and Mr Pawson defended.

Mr Hickmott said that this was a most important case owing to the great difficulty that colliery companies had in discovering who were the offenders and the large quantity and value of the property purloined by men from the pit.

Prisoner had not appeared in answer to a summons, that he had run away and had been apprehended at Dudley, near Birmingham, by inspector Bielby.

Prisoner had denied that he had take away any tools except which belonged to him, and said he had given them to a boy in the enquiry office, but this had proved to be false.

Frederick Hughes, said he was a storekeeper at Denaby Main colliery, and the prisoner, William Wharton, formerly worked for the company. When the defendant was working for the company witness gave him three blades, six shillings, one shaft, two shillings, and a shovel worth three shillings.. When the defendant finished he should have returned these things to the stores. Those tools had never been returned. Those tools were given out on August 20. There was no money stopped on account of those tools, and nothing was paid.

Cross-examined by Mr Pawson, the defendant had lots of tools out before. They did not sign for these tools, and the statement was left entirely to witness. The tools were missed when the other men complained of money being stopped for the tools which defendant had taken away. There was a complaint made but witness did not report it. Witness believes that the tools with which the prisoner was charged with stealing, had been paid for by his mates. There are about four or five working in the store. The tools had been stopped and paid for. The money had been returned, but witness could not tell when.

Mr Hickmott said when Mr Chambers was satisfied that the defendant had taken away the tools, he immediately gave them back the money which had been stopped.

Cross examination (resumed): If a man went to the enquiry office he could not leave his tools, and if anyone wanted to leave tools after 1:30 on Saturday no one would accept them.

Mr WH Chambers, manager, said the men in the stall had communicated with him about certain tools, and directly witness found that defendant had taken away he gave them the money back. The defendant left the service of the company without giving any notice whatever on 25 August last. The summons that was first issued was laid for 24 January, Prisoner had paid for all tools that he had received previously. The practice is to keep full value of the tools in and as security.

On Saturday, 22 January the defendant came to witness. He said he had received a summons for stealing tools. All the tools he had taken away he had paid for. Witness told him that he had no business to take away any, paid for or not; that there was a shovel, pick axe, and three blades that he had not paid for. He said he had taken them into the enquiry office. Witness told him that that was not the place to deliver tools in; that he knew perfectly well. Witness asked him to whom had he given them, and he said “The boy.” Witness asked him to fetch the person to whom given the tools, and prisoners went to fetch Rogers.

When Rogers came he denied ever having received the tools, but the prisoner vehemently adhered to the statement that he had given the tools to the boy. Rogers was in the enquiry office at the time. Witness could not say that he knew all the men – (laughter) – and did not know of a man named Smith working in the same place.

By Mr P Rhodes: When a man has tools he paid a deposit, which still stands good even though the man gets fresh ones in the place. He did not know that the deposit at first paid had been returned; he believed that there was some due to him. The tools in respect of which the deposit was kept had never been returned.

By Mr Pawson: Assuming that there was a deposit for these tools prisoner had no right to take them away, even if they were worn out.

Author Ackroyd said on 24 August, the last shift before defendant left he was working with him. Prisoner said he should go out without notice.

By Mr Pawson: Prisoner did not say that he would take the tools away.

Benjamin Smith said he worked one shift with prisoner, and also worked after him.

The witness Hughes (recalled) said in addition to the tools that the prisoner is charged with stealing, there was a Peggy (two shillings) and three wedges (one shilling each). He could not say what the company had in hand.

By Mr Pawson: His book would show the whole transaction. He could not say what tools had been changed however. The book only showed what went out, but did not show what came in.

Mr Pawson: Then how do you know that these tools with which prisoner is charged have not come in?

Inspector Beilby said he received the prisoner in custody near Birmingham on Wednesday. The prisoner said the reason why left Waleswood was because he had no money, and knew that he should have to pay. He said the blade and shaft he gave back into the enquiry office, the shovel he never had, the dresser he gave three shillings for.

For the defence, Mr Pawson said this was a most extraordinary case, and the only evidence that the Court could convict on – that of Hughes – was most unsatisfactory. The defendant was charged with stealing several articles, but he only admitted taking the pick shaft, for which the company held a deposit.

The defendant had a large family, and out of 24 shillings a week he paid 5s 4d a week for a house to the company, and he could not possibly live. Therefore, when he found he could better himself at Waleswood he went immediately. Then the prisoner’s wife father had the misfortune to be killed in a pit near Dudley and prisoner was charged with running away, went to Dudley to look after affairs and keep the house together.

Mr Hickmott said he was perfectly sure that Mr Pawson had stated what he believed to be the truth, but he could prove that the tale which defendant told was not true.

Mr Pawson also drew attention to the fact that the present information was not laid until six months after the alleged theft. The things were missing in August and the information laid in June.

William Smith said he left Denaby Main at the same time as prisoner. Prisoner took the picks out of his house, and took them to the enquiry office about 5 o’clock.

At the conclusion of the case, Mr Jubb said the bench would take into consideration that the prisoner had been in custody since Tuesday, and he would be imprisoned until the rising of the Court.