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Mysterious Note with Watch and Chain

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Mysterious Note with Watch and Chain

Post by Karen on Tue 12 Jun 2012 - 11:48


The usual fortnightly sitting of this Court took place on Tuesday, Mr. Northcroft R.M. presiding. Judgment was given in several small debt cases, after which the Court was occupied most of the day in hearing a case of alleged stealing a silver chain, valued 12s. 6d., from the shop of Mr. Albert Berger, watchmaker. The accused, Frank Hotchin, a bright intelligent looking lad, between 15 and 16 years of age, appeared in answer to the charge, and was represented by Sir W. Wasteneys, who, before proceeding with the case, drew the attention of the R.M. to a defect in the information, but they had no desire to take advantage of this, as they wanted to meet the case fully on its merits. All witnesses were ordered out of Court, and Sergeant Emerson briefly stated the case as follows: - Accused went to Berger's shop on October 26th, and asked him for a bar for his chain. Berger stated he recognised the chain as part of the goods stolen from his shop in May last. They subsequently went to see Mrs. Hotchin the boy's mother who stated that she had had the chain in her possession about two years. Mr. Berger being quite satisfied that it was the chain he had in his shop the information was laid. Mr. Berger on being sworn, described the occasion of accused's visit to his shop, when he wanted a bar for a silver chain - a common bar. He took the watch from the pocket of accused and held the chain in his hand, remarking it was a silver chain; the boy did not object and remarked it was not stamped. He then asked where the boy had bought the chain, to which the boy replied, he had got it from some chap for a debt, could not tell the name of the person but it happened over two years ago. He (Mr. Berger), did not ask any more questions then, as from his thirty years' experience as a jeweller he thought he had seen enough. He then went for the sergeant who accompanied him to the house of the boy's father. When he saw the boy again he had a steel chain on. Accused then in reply to the sergeant, stated he had given the chain back to his mother and fetched it from her. They then saw Mrs. Hotchin, who stated she had taken the chain in question along with a watch and greenstone for a debt about two years ago, but she did not know the name of the person who gave it to her. The sergeant then asked for and obtained possession of the chain, Mrs. Hotchin stating she had no objection to give it up to the police, but she was very angry with him (Berger), saying he should have gone to her instead of to the sergeant. Witness minutely described the chain, which he said had been in his possession for upwards of four years. There was no particular mark he could identify the chain by, but having the chain so long under his eyes he was sure it was part of the stolen goods. (Chain produced and identified by witness.) There was a small parcel of jewellery left after the robbery at Hotchin's place. Constable Wild had showed it to him. (Contents described and produced along with a scrap of paper, signed "Jack the Ripper.") In reply to Sir W. Wasteneys, witness said he bought the chain about four years ago from Mr. King, of Dunningham and King, Auckland. Witness swore absolutely it was the same chain, but it might have lost one length.
Louis Pietri, flax-cutter, gave evidence that he purchased a silver chain about 15 months ago from Mr. Berger, but not being satisfied with it returned it to Berger three days afterwards, and bought a steel chain instead, Berger paying him the difference. He did not think he would know the chain again. His objection to it was that it did not hang evenly. Chain produced, but witness could not swear it was the same, as he only had it in his possession two or three days. John Shiel and Nicholas Kenny were also examined, but could not identify it as the chain Pietri had bought. Sir W. Wasteneys then addressed the Court, and took exception to a remark made by the R.M. that he had wasted any time of the Court unduly and unjustly. That rested with the accused, who had brought a most serious charge, unsupported by any evidence, against a boy of impeachable character, a son of one of the most respectable and well-to-do townsmen in Te Aroha. The prosecution was (said the Counsel) of a most infamous character, and he could bring half of the residents of Te Aroha to refute the charge. - The accused, in examination, stated he had received the chain as a present from his mother about two years ago, along with a watch and greenstone. Believed his mother took them for a debt about that time from a man who had stopped in the house and was hard up and wanted to get to Rotorna. Have worn the chain often, and did not attempt to hide it when he went to Bergers' for a bar for it, bought a steel chain at Balckes', intending to remove the bar from it, but did not have time to do so then, having to meet the train.
Moses Hotchin, father of the lad, gave evidence that he bought the chain in question along with a watch and greenstone, from a man from the Thames, and who had stopped at his boarding-house for a night about two years ago. He did not care to buy them, as all his boys had watches and chains, but the man pressed him and he gave him 1 pound, on the understanding if the money was not repaid in two or three months he was to retain them as his absolute property. Berger (added the witness) never had the chain in question in his possession in his life.
Mrs. Hotchin gave corroborative evidence, and at this stage (although there was a troop of other witnesses for the defence who were not called) the charge was dismissed.

Source: Waikato Times, Volume XXXIII, Issue 2706, 14 November 1889, Page 2

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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