Extract from The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London's Central Criminal Court, 1674 to 1913

THOMAS SACKETT, Violent Theft > robbery, 13th September 1827.
Reference Number: t18270913-21
Offence: Violent Theft > robbery
Verdict: Guilty > with recommendation
Punishment: Death

First London Jury - Before Mr. Recorder.

1609. THOMAS SACKETT was indicted for feloniously assaulting James Sharpe, the elder, on the 22d of August, at St. Bartholomew by the Exchange, putting him in fear, and taking from his person, and against his will, 1 pocket-book, value 6d.; 1 bill of exchange for payment of and value 53l. 7s. 5d.; 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 150l.; 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 80l.; 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 65l. 2s. 6d.; 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 200l.; 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 25l.; 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 35l. 13s. 6d., and 1 other bill of exchange for payment of and value 25l.; 1 promissory note for payment of and value 300l., and 1 other promissory note for payment of and value 100l., the property of the said James Sharpe, against the statute.

MR. JAMES SHARPE, SEN. I live at No. 6, City-terrace, City-road. I have been a clerk in Messrs. Hankey's banking-house for fifteen years, and am still with them. On the 22d of August I left their banking-house in Fenchurch-street, at four o'clock in the afternoon, and then had a pocket-book in my inside coat pocket, containing bills of exchange for 53l. 7s. 5d., 150l., 80l., 65l. 2s. 6d., 200l., 25l. 35l. 13s. 6d., 25l., also a 300l. and a 100l. promissory note—they were all in my pocket-book, and my coat was buttoned up from the time I put the book into my pocket, till I came to the end of Copthall-buildings, where I saw five or six men standing, as if in conference with each other, they were close to the posts at the end of Copthall-buildings, by the passage which leads into Bell-alley—I did not observe the features of any of them; as I was going between the posts, a hustling began among them, and they stopped me; I could not go forward nor backward, as I was surrounded by them (I knew nothing of the party at all)—I was hustled for some time by these men, and at last they got so violent, that I really became apprehensive for the consequences of it—I was quite frightened; when they had hustled me for a small space of time, with violence, then they all dispersed in a moment; they all ran off. I immediately looked down, and found my coat had been opened—I felt for my pocket-book, and that was gone, with the contents. I have not since seen it, or any of the property in it; I have no recollection of the features of any of the persons. I gave an alarm, and said I was robbed of my pocket-book; I saw the prisoner in custody within ten minutes—Brady, I think, had him—only one person was secured.

Cross-examined by MR. BRODRICK. Q. Have you a son or relation named James? A. I have a son, James, about twenty-five years of age; this happened about a quarter-past four o'clock in the afternoon; the place is a considerable thoroughfare. I could not tell at what time of the transaction the pocket-book was taken. I suppose it was when the violent hustling began—it all happened in less than two minutes.

MR. THOMAS EDWARDS. I am a member of the Stock Exchange. I was passing from Copthall-court into Bell-alley, about a quarter-past four o'clock on this afternoon; there are some posts there—I saw Mr. Sharpe, and observed a very unnecessary confusion in passing; there were several men there, and the prisoner among them—it was not till the party separated that I could see Mr. Sharpe, he being a short man, and so surrounded by them; I could not at that instant distinguish him—about five or six persons were surrounding him, besides others who were passing at the time, and had nothing to do with it. I heard a person observe, "The conduct of those men is more like pick-pockets than anything else." I was waiting to get by at the time, and hearing that observation, I took more notice; Mr. Sharpe appeared very much agitated; the persons separated rather in haste; there was only one I could fix my attention on, and that was the prisoner. I can speak to him with the greatest confidence, he was not so far from me as I am from your Lordship; I asked Mr. Sharpe if he had lost any thing—he felt his pockets, and said "I have lost my pocket-book." I asked him if any thing of consequence was in it; he said between 200l. and 300l. I instantly left him, and ran back through the posts, and caught the prisoner by the arm; he was walking at a rapid pace, and two others of the gang were also walking rapidly. I said to the prisoner, "I observed you there under very suspicious circumstances, the old gentleman has lost his pocket-book, and you must not go till you give some account of yourself," he hesitated at the moment and appeared to doubt that I should suspect him. I said, I certainly would not lose sight of him, and resistance was in vain; he then professed great readiness to accompany me. Mr. Clarke immediately came up, and said "I am sure that is one of the men;" the prisoner was very near, and I suppose must have heard it—I think he was nearer to the prisoner than I am to your Lordship. Mr. Clarke did not speak very loud—I begged of Mr. Clarke to run after the two other men, but none were secured; the prisoner walked down with me to the end of the court—I walked by his side, and while I was speaking to Mr. Clarke he had walked on rapidly some paces, I followed him again and overtook him, and soon after met Brady, the officer, and gave him in charge—he took him into a shop. I am quite confident he is one of the persons who surrounded Mr. Sharpe—when he was in the shop, he accounted for his being seen stooping down, by saying some of the party had lost a few shillings. I had not seen him stooping down—he said he had stooped down because himself, or one of the party, had dropped a few shillings; I will not say his exact words, but it was to that effect—that himself or some of the party had dropped a few shillings; whether it was himself, or one of the party, I will not undertake to say—I had seen no stooping down myself, not so as to swear to it—he was taken to the Mansion-house, and refused to give any account of it. I have not the slightest doubt of his being one of the persons.

Cross-examined. Q. How far from where you saw Mr. Sharpe did you come up with the prisoner, when he was walking? A. I should think about fifty yards, it might be seventy; I had asked Mr. Sharpe if he had lost anything.

Q. Was your attention at that time drawn off to Mr. Sharpe? A. Certainly—I did not see any person do anything—I think I saw a person stooping, but will not swear it.

Q. You followed some persons who were walking quickly? A. Yes; their backs were towards me.

Q. Before you saw Mr. Sharpe, you had your eye on the party? A. Yes; the instant the observation was made about their conduct I spoke to Mr. Sharpe—I saw the prisoner before I spoke to Mr. Sharpe, it was long enough to distinguish him, it might be a quarter of a minute at the least—eight or nine persons might be collected, waiting to get through the posts like myself.

Q. Do you happen to know how easy it is to mistake a man's face? A. Yes; but it is not easy to mistake a yellow handkerchief, and boots, much larger than are usually worn, without tops to them, and a tall man like him—he had a yellow handkerchief, and boots of a peculiar character, which attracted my attention, as well as his features, and his back more particularly. I saw his back and face also; not both at the same instant, but during the time—the crowd was very close together; the prisoner was an outside one.

Q. When a crowd is collected, can you see who has boots on? A. Yes; he being outside the crowd, but one of them; I noticed his being a very tall, powerful man; I was going to remonstrate with them at first, for pushing in that way against an old gentleman—and when I heard about pick-pockets, I noticed them more—I took hold of him, but when he consented to go quietly I let go of him; he walked on before me eight or ten yards, and I came up to him; he walked away at a very rapid pace—he did not run—the others ran away when they got to the corner; they were all strangers to me—whether they were acquainted together I do not know.

Q. You did not see them do anything? A. I saw them very active in surrounding the gentleman; I saw him among the crowd, very active in opposing resistance to any one who attempted to come through the posts, as I thought, but when they separated and the cry of Pickpockets! was given, then I found what they had been about—a considerable quantity of silver was found on him; I believe nearly 3l. but none of the property—Mr. Sharpe was agitated, and said he had lost 200l. or 300l.; but directly he got to the Mansion-house, he said 1200l.

WILLIAM CLARKE. I am a clerk in the London Life Assurance-office. I was passing in Copthall-buildings at the time in question, and noticed a number of persons standing round by the iron posts: I was informed Mr. Sharpe had been robbed of his pocket-book—I did not see him at first, but when I heard he had lost his pocket-book, I saw him—I saw three persons going in the direction which the prisoner went, and several persons going towards Bell-alley: I distinguished the prisoner's person quite plain—When I first saw him he was at a less distance than I am from your Lordship. I joined Mr. Edwards in the pursuit, and overtook the prisoner. I then went to see after two others, but did not succeed. I walked with Mr. Sharpe to the Mansion-house—the office was closed. I attended the examination next morning, and had no doubt of the prisoner's person then, nor have I now. I have no doubt of his being one of the men I saw at the posts at the time Mr. Sharpe was robbed.

Cross-examined. Q. Do I understand that your attention was first directed by hearing it said Mr. Sharpe was robbed? A. My attention was first directed by seeing a number of persons together. I directly put my watch into my pocket for safety; that was before I heard Mr. Sharpe had lost his pocket-book. I suppose seven or eight persons were collected—I was not in the crowd.

Q. There was a crowd? A. There were seven or eight persons round the posts. The passage is not more than four feet wide, I should think: they completly blocked up the passage—I could not see beyond them.

Q. When they dispersed did not ten or twelve go away together? A. No—I saw no persons walking but myself and Mr. Edwards: he (Mr. Edwards) was close to the crowd; I was further from them.

JOHN BRADY. I am a constable of Broad-street Ward. I was going down Broad-street, and saw a crowd of people coming up: I asked a person what was the matter—they sent me down to Copthall-court, but I met Mr. Edwards in Broad-street: he said, "This man has hustled a gentleman, and he has been robbed:" he charged the prisoner with it. I secured him, and took him into a grocer's shop, and searched him, but found none of the property.

Prisoner's Defence. I have only to observe that I was passing accidentally through the court at the time: several other persons seemed obstructing the passage; I passed, as several others did, and did not notice any thing that was going on—I passed through the crowd, through three or four persons—I got through, and was going along another street, out of the passage, when a gentleman accosted me, and asked if I had not come through that court—I said Yes: he said a gentleman had lost his pocket-book there—I said I knew nothing about it; he said it was very suspicious; I said, "If you think it was me, you are at liberty to search me, or I will go any where with you." That is all I know of the transaction.

MR. EDWARDS. I am not certain that the prisoner said he himself was stooping down.

Two witnesses gave the prisoner a good character, but stated they had known nothing of him for the last three or four months.


Recommended to Mercy by the Prosecutor, not having sustained any personal injury.