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1910: Counterfeiters caught at Whiteman's Green

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

The Mid Sussex times Tuesday, April 12, 1910

“Get out of the way!”



Before Mr W. C. Renshaw, K.C at Haywards Heath bench on Wednesday, John Smith, a general dealer, and Frederick Haskell, a costermonger, both of Lambeth, were charged, on remand, with uttering counterfeit coins, and with having 49 counterfeit five-shilling pieces on them.

Major Lang (Chief constable), was present.

PC Archer, Handcross said that about 12. 40 PM on March the 15th, he was on duty on London Road between Pease Pottage and Crawley, near Hogs Hill, when he saw the prisoner driving a dark brown cob attached to a two wheel light spring cart, painted black. As the track passed him he noticed, on the offside, the name “John Smith, 1a Dorset Rd, S Lambeth”. the trap was coming from the London direction. The prisoner Haskell sat by the side of Smith in the trap. About 12:55 PM when witness past The Grapes Beerhouse, Pease Pottage, he noticed the same cob and trap standing outside. Neither of the men was then with the trap. About 2:10 PM from information received at his station from Mr Thorn, witness

The Grapes Beerhouse c1900 (courtesy of Slaugham archives)


went to Handcross village and saw prisoners there. Witness sent information on to P.S. Huntley. In the meantime witness kept observation of the two men. The trap was stopping at the junction of the Cuckfield and Hickstead roads, just South of Handcross village. Witness saw the prisoner Smith take a paper packet from inside breast pocket of his overcoat and count some coins in the palm of his hand. He then handed some to Haskell. Haskell, after about two minutes left Smith and went back to Handcross village. Smith kept with the horse and trap for a few minutes, looking up and down the road. He then left the horse and trap and went to the village. At that point P.S. Huntley arrived. The two men came back from the village, jumped into the trap and drove in the direction of Cuckfield. From information subsequently received from the Postmaster at Handcross, witnessed then went off in the direction of Cuckfield. On reaching Whiteman’s Green Police Station he found the


by Sergeant Huntley. Later on they were conveyed to Haywards Heath in a motor car. On the way witnessed notice Smith take a packet wrapped in a newspaper from his overcoat pocket. He passed it to Haskell. After a struggle it was eventually secured by P.S. Huntley, and later it was found to contain 43 counterfeit five shilling pieces. A short way further on the prisoner Smith threw out of the motor car a number of counterfeit 5 shilling pieces. The car was stopped. Witness got out, and recovered five. They were thrown into the road. At Haywards Heath police station, when in the charge room, witness saw the prisoner Smith take a roll of paper out of his right hand trousers pocket, and try to put the same


Witness thereupon searched him and found, in the upper part of his trousers pocket, near the waist lining, a roll of seven postal orders (produced). When witness took them from him Smith says “All right, governor; that's all I've got”. Witness further searched Smith in the cells and nothing was found on him. Smith then said “I want to say something.” Witness cautioned him. Haskell was not

then present. Smith made the following statement: “I met the other man about a mile and a half along the road before I was stopped by the police. He was walking, and he asked me for a ride. I have never seen the man before, and I don't know the man.” The postal orders produced had nothing to do with any charges against the prisoners now. They were issued from South Streatham; Horley Row, Horley; Merstham; Coulsdon; Streatham Hill; Purley; and Pease Pottage; And they were all for six shillings each, and all dated March 14th except the Pease Pottage one which was dated the 15th. Witness identified the five coins produced as those he picked up.


P.S. Huntley, Staplefield, said that on Tuesday, March 15th, about 2:30 PM in consequence of information received he went to Handcross. He saw the prisoner Smith in charge of a horse and cart at the south end of the village, near the junction of the roads. Witness was in uniform. Haskell was about 80 yards away, coming from the direction of the Post Office. He joined Smith. Both got into the cart and drove away towards Cuckfield. From subsequent information received from Miss Henty witness changed into plain clothes and went in a motor car in search of the prisoners and took Miss Henty with him. They passed the prisoners at Homestead Hill. Witness went on to Whiteman’s Green, got assistance, and waited for the prisoners to come along.

Whiteman's Green where the suspects were apprehended c1910 (courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

Smith was driving when they reached Whiteman’s Green. Witness held up his hand, and shouted to him to stop. Smith shouted “Get out of the way,” and urged the horse on. Witness


and held on until the animal stopped. Witness then told the prisoners that he was a police officer, and said “You are suspected of uttering counterfeit coin at Handcross. I want you to come into the police cottage to be searched.” They came in and Miss Henty who was there at once identified Haskell as the man who bought the postal order at Handcross. Witness then searched Haskell’s pockets and only found a good half sovereign on him. On searching Smith, witness found three postal orders for six shillings each issued that day at Crawley; West Green, Crawley; and Handcross Post Offices. Miss Henty then identified the Handcross postal order as the one she had issued to Haskell about an hour previously. it was 3.30 when he stopped prisoners. Not having found any counterfeit coin on them at that time - it was an inconvenient place to strip and search them, being the constable's front room - witness decided to bring them to Haywards Heath Police Station to complete the search.


On coming out of the Whiteman’s Green Police Station Smith said “I can't help what this man's done (indicating Haskell). I only picked him up about a mile back on the road”. Haskell was near enough to hear that, but said nothing. On the way to Haywards Heath in the motor car witness saw Haskell trying to conceal something behind his back. Witness took hold of his right wrist and took a parcel out of his hand. Almost at the same time Smith threw some coins over the side of the car, and they were recovered by P. C. Archer. Witness took 43 coins from the prisoner Haskell. There were four packages, each containing ten coins, wrapped up in such a way that there was a piece of paper between each coin, and there was another piece of paper containing three coins. P.C. Archer, at Haywards Heath Police Station, searched Smith and found the seven postal orders produced. Witness afterwards searched both prisoners, and found nothing else on them. He cautioned and charged them with being concerned together in uttering a counterfeit coin at Handcross, and neither of the prisoners made any reply.


EDWARD SHIRLEY ASHDOWN, chief cashier at Messrs Barclay and Co’s Bank at Haywards Heath, said he examined the coins produced on March the 29th and they were all counterfeit. There were 48 altogether. He judged they were counterfeit by there being short in weight - he had weighed them - and by their being rougher and warmer and there milling softer than that of genuine coins. He broke one of the coins. They were not made of silver, but they were made to represent five shilling pieces.

Prisoners, who had nothing to say, were committed for trial at the Sussex assizes at Lewes.


The prisoner Smith was then charged with having been previously convicted of uttering counterfeit coin, and feloniously uttering counterfeit coin at Crawley, Pease Pottage and Handcross and having 49 counterfeit coins in its possession with intent to utter them.

Detective Sergeant BENJAMIN ALLERTON, “T” Division, Metropolitan Police, said he was present at the Central Criminal Court on March the 21st 1904 when the prisoner John Smith was convicted and sentenced for five years’ penal servitude for uttering counterfeit coin after a previous conviction for possessing counterfeit coin in the name of John Jones. Witness produced the certificate of that conviction signed by the Clerk to the Central Criminal Court. Prisoner was the same man as mentioned therein.

Smith was committed for trial on this charge of felony also.



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