ROBBERY AT THE WORKINGTON
At the Cumberland Quarter Sessions on Tuesday, Ralph LITTLE, 62. stoker, (imperfectly instructed), and Felix MOONEY, 18, rivetter (reads), were charged with feloniously breaking into the gasworks office of the Workington Local Board, on the 16th day of January last, and taking there from the sum of £2 15s 4 1/2d., the property of the said Board. Mr. DICKINSON prosecuted; the prisoners were undefended.
Mr. DICKINSON stated that the prisoner MOONEY had been in Workington for some time seeking work, and lodged at the same house as the prisoner LITTLE. He was in the habit of taking LITTLE his dinner over to the gasworks where he was employed as a stoker. On Tuesday the 17th of January, it was pay day, and the prisoner LITTLE went for his pay, and had the opportunity of seeing where the money was kept in the cash box in the drawer. On that day LITTLE also wanted some "sub" as he was in need to send some money to his family. This was about five o'clock. During the same evening Mr. JOHNSTON, the cashier, locked up the cash box, which he kept in a drawer in the office, and locked the door of the office.
About seven o'clock the prisoner LITTLE came back to the premises, and was subsequently joined by MOONEY, both men were in the retort house, and afterwards left. About ten o'clock Mr. JOHNSTON, who had been at a Board meeting returned to the works and found the door of the office open. He called several of the men who were about, and they all came to the conclusion that the office had been broken into.
Information was then given to the police, and the prisoners were apprehended. The box contained £3 5s 4 1/4d. when Mr. JOHNSTON left, but on entering the office the drawer was open, and the cash box had been wrenched open and contained only one half sovereign.
James JOHNSTON, gas works manager, the first witness called, gave evidence to the effect that LITTLE, who was employed on the place had frequent opportunities of seeing where the money was kept. On that day he was anxious for more money as he was in the need of it to send to his family. Witness would not give him any. After he went to the Board meeting the prisoner LITTLE went to his house under the influence of drink, and made inquiries of his daughter as to where he (witness) was, and at what time he would return. The first led to his suspecting that the prisoner LITTLE had broken into the office.
W. BENNET, a stoker, gave evidence to the prisoner having been in the retort house during the evening; where they had opportunity of taking the key of the office which was kept in the retort house.
Henry GRAHAM, another stoker, said he went on duty for the night shift at 5 o'clock on the 17th January last. He corroborated the previous witness as to the prisoner being in the retort house. He also saw LITTLE sitting down near where the key was, and afterwards he saw MOONEY standing at the office door.
The prisoner LITTLE asked the witness a number of questions, and said he was sorry he had ever gone to work for him - a man who was not right in his head.
James COLLINS, a stoker, the person with whom the prisoner lodged, said that on the night in question LITTLE, was under the influence of drink, andd on witness telling him he ought not to spend his money so foolishly, the prisoner LITTLE showed him a lot of money. MOONEY said LITTLE had only given him half a crown.
In reply to the prisoner LITTLE, witness said he was not drunk on the night he spoke to him. A noisy scene occurred between witness and LITTLE as to which of the two were most intoxicated on that particular night, at which there were frequent bursts of laughter in the court.
Inspector DODD deposed that he was called to the Workington Gas Works on the night of the 17th January. He found the door to the office was partly open. Inside was a drawer with a cash box fixed to it. This was burst open and he found a soldering iron near the place which had the appearance of having been used for the purpose. About eleven o'clock he apprehended the prisoner LITTLE in his lodgings. He was very drunk. Found in his possession one twopence in copper. He was so drunk that witness could not charge him. About 2 o'clock the following morning he apprehended MOONEY. He was not so drunk as LITTLE. He had two shillings in his possession. On the following morning he charged them both together with having broken into the office. LITTLE said he had not been near the gasworks on the previous night.
The jury returned a verdict of Guilty against both of the prisoners, but recommended MOONEY to mercy. They were sentenced - LITTLE to six months' imprisonment with hard labour, and MOONEY to three months' imprisonment with hard labour.