From the Folkestone Observer 19 July, 1862. Transcribed by Jan Pedersen.
SOLDIERS ROBBING A VOLUNTEER
Wednesday July 16th:- Before W.F. Browell, A.M. Leith and W.
George Stewart and Edmon Brian, privates of the 96th Regiment now at
Shorncliffe were charged with violently assaulting George Parker, and
feloniously stealing certain articles from his person.
George Parker, moulder, and living in Shellons Terrace, Folkestone,
private in the band of the 5th Cinque Ports Volunteer Rifles, had been
to Dover on Tuesday last to drill, and having left his rifle and bayonet
at the armoury, walked about, and fell in with the prisoners near the
tramroad arch. He was himself in uniform. It was about half past 11 that
he was at the railway arch. The prisoners accosted him, saying “Hello,
comrade, how are you getting on? Are you going to have anything to
drink?”. Witness said “I don't mind”. They then went into the "Tramway
Tavern." About 1 o'clock they all left the tavern together. They then
went along to Radnor Street, where they met P.C. Reynolds, who called
witness by name, and said the best thing he could do was to go home.
Witness said he would do so, and started for home. He was then not
drunk, though he had had a good drop of liquor. Brian came after him,
and asked witness to wait a bit until he had found his chum, and he
would go with him. He wanted witness to show him the nearest way to
camp. After a while they all started up the town, and when they got to
witness's lodgings he was going in, but they persuaded him, and he said
he would go with them to Coolinge Farm. When they had got about halfway
between Mr. Kingsnorth`s Farm and Coolinge Farm, in the cart road
through the fields, he said to Brian “I shall go back now” and wished
him goodnight. Brian said persuadingly “No, you shall not go back yet”,
and at the same time put his hand on his (witness's) tunic and commenced
pulling him down. Witness said “What are you up to? Leave go”, but he
did not leave go, and said “Oh, all right”. Witness tussled with him,
trying to get away, but was thrown down two or three times. At last
Stewart got hold of his legs, and then both prisoners laid him on the
ground, among the wheat, and Brian sat on his chest. Stewart then pulled
witness's boots off, and both knelt on him, and rifled his trousers
pockets, and took a knife and 2s. 7d. They then turned him over on his
stomach, and took from his tunic pocket a handkerchief and a kid glove.
They kept turning him about seeking for something else. They also opened
his pouch. Then they got up and left him, taking with them the things
they had taken from him. They also picked up his uniform cap, and
carried it away. After they had left he shouted “Murder!”, on which an
artilleryman came up. Witness looked about with the artilleryman for his
boots and other things, and then on the advice of the artilleryman he
went on with him to the camp, to the guardroom of the 96th Regiment.
While he was waiting at the guardroom for the sergeant-major the two
prisoners came in. He told the sergeant of the guard that the two men
newly arrived were the men who had robbed him. The sergeant then
searched them. During the struggle with the prisoners among the wheat
his wrist received a severe cut, and his face was also injured while on
the ground. Witness identified a volunteer cap and handkerchief
produced, which was all that had been found.
Robert Gurney, sergeant, 96th Foot, was on duty as sergeant of the
barrack guard on the night of Monday last, when the two prisoners were
on pass. They came into the guardroom about 3 o'clock on the morning of
Tuesday, and left their passes with the corporal. About 4 o'clock the
prosecutor came into the guardroom and stated that two men of the 96th
had robbed him. Suspecting the prisoners, he sent a corporal and file of
men to the barrack room for them. As soon as prosecutor saw them he
recognised them as the two men who had robbed him. The prisoners were
then searched in witness's presence, and on the person of Brian was
found the pocket handkerchief produced, which prosecutor immediately
identified. Brian also claimed it as his own property. Nothing else was
found upon them. Parker was certainly sober when he came, but he had had
a glass of ale. Witness did not see the prisoners when they came into
barracks. At half past four o'clock, when he sent for the prisoners,
they were muddled with drink, and Stewart's trousers were very dirty –
dirty to the thighs with mud as if he had been tussling with someone.
His tunic was also dirty. Their passes only extended to 12 o'clock.
Witness could swear that the prisoners did not leave their passes at the
guard before two o'clock, when he himself lay down to sleep.
Sergeant Smith K.C.C. went on Tuesday afternoon to the wheat field
where the struggle had taken place, and saw marks of the scuffle, and
one or two spots of blood. Returning to Folkestone police station he
told Stewart where he had been, and asked him if he should tell him
where he would find the boots and cap. Stewart said he didn't know where
witness would find them, but he might find them about three or four
yards from where the scuffle took place. He found the boots and cap
about four yards from the spot in the wheat.
P.C. Reynolds said he was passing the "Tramway" beerhouse, in Radnor
Street, about half past 12 on Tuesday morning, and looked into the
passage, where he saw the two prisoners, the prosecutor, and another man
drinking at the bar. He saw them in company again at 5 minutes to one in
Queen Square. They then went away towards High Street. Witness said he
was certain of the identity as he had conversation with them. Stewart
was not drunk, but Brian was, but he was not so drunk but he knew what
he was about.
Stewart said that he had that night been in several public houses in
the town, drinking, with several civilians, and the prosecutor might
have been one, though he did not remember him. But as to injuring or
robbing him, he knew nothing about it, and he did not go to Shorncliffe
by any wheat field, but direct home by the carriage road. As to his
telling the policeman he might find the boots and cap there, or four
yards from where the scuffle took place, he said that because it was
usual when soldiers got into any scuffle and lost their things, to send
to the spot where the scuffle was, and to find the things close by.
Brian made a similar defence.
The prisoners were committed to the assizes for trial.