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"I want to speak with you about your ferrets!"... smart P.C. catches mammal thief in America Lane

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 22 January 1895



Before Major-General Collingwood, C.M.G.


Edward Botting (20), labourer, Haywards Heath, was brought up in custody charged with stealing a ferret, value 5s. at The Paddocks, Haywards Heath, the property of Thomas Vine, on January 5th .—Remanded from Friday till Saturday, when (Major- General Leigh Pemberton, C. B., being also on the Bench with Major-General Collingwood).

Prosecutor said he was a cowman at The Paddocks. He had two ferrets, which he kept in a cart-shed near his house. The hutch was locked up. On Saturday afternoon, January 5th, the two ferrets were safe. He missed one ferret on the Sunday morning following.

The hutch had been broken open. The missing ferret was a bitch.

On last Thursday he saw the missing ferret at prisoner's lodgings. He went there with P.C. Lewry. The ferret was in a hutch at the bottom of the garden, identified it by a mark on its nose. [The ferret was produced, and shown to the Magistrates]. Prisoner had seen the ferrets soon after Christmas. He valued the ferrets at 5s .

P.C. Lewry, Haywards Heath, said that from information received he went to prisoner's lodgings in New England Road on January 17th, at 6. 30 in the evening. He saw the landlord, and asked for permission to go to the back of the garden, when prisoner came home. He saw prisoner, and said “I want to speak to you about your ferrets. Come down the garden with me. I want to see them." Prisoner replied “Certainly”. Prisoner got a light, and they went to the bottom of the garden. Prosecutor, on seeing the ferret, said “I claim this; this is mine.”

Witness said to prisoner “You hear what Vine says," and took him in charge. Prisoner told witness, on the way to the station, that he bought the ferret a fortnight or week ago, for two shillings, in front of the “Dolphin.” He purchased it from some man. whom he did not know, about eleven o'clock on January 5th. A man named Marchant was with him, and saw the transaction.

Witness further stated that on January 5th he was on duty from between ten minutes to eleven till ten minutes past twelve along the road from the “Star” to the “Dolphin,” and only saw a coachman. In answer to prisoner witness said he did not see him.—George Taylor, labourer, Haywards Heath, said that prisoner told him he and Marchant stole the ferret, and threw the hutch away against the pond. Witness told the policeman.

Prisoner said he bought the ferret for two shillings off a man in front of the “Dolphin." He told the previous witness he bought the ferret, but that it was at such a funny time he thought it must have been stolen. He did not tell him he stole it.—The Magistrates fined prisoner 5s., and 16s. 4d costs, or in default fourteen days.

The prisoner being unable to pay the money had to go to prison.


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