Home Site Map Back

Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1828, Sunday, April 10, 1831


These Sessions commenced on Thursday, before the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor, Recorder, Sheriffs, and other authorities of the City, who ordinarily attend upon such occasions. Lord Chief Justice Tenterden and Mr. Baron Garrow are the presiding Judges.

Burglary at Messrs. Machin, Debenham, and Co,s.

Richard Flannagan, aged 19, labourer, and Joseph Spraggs, aged 19, brushmaker, were capitally indicted for stealing in the dwelling-house of Richard Bromfett Storr, and others, ninety watches, a quantity of jewellery, and other articles, value 300l. his property.

Mr. Storr, a partner in the firm of Machin and Debenham, examined—Said he went to bed on the 12th of January last about 12 o'clock, but had previously seen all the doors and windows fastened in the usual way; on his going to bed all the property was safe; the prisoner Flannagan was in the service of the firm; witness was awakened about six o'clock in the morning by a great noise, and on going down stairs found that all the property in question had been taken away; four desks in the office had been forced open, and about 6l. in silver and copper taken; the prisoner Flannagan was in his shirt, and as be slept in the ware-room, witness asked him how it was possible that he could have slept while such noise as that which the breaking of the desks must have caused was making? The prisoner made no answer; a quantity of plate was taken from a cupboard,

John Conroy, a police-officer, said, he was passing Messrs. Machin and Debenham's on the morning of Sunday, the 13th January, about six o'clock,. when he observed the street door ajar. Witness rang the bell, and the prisoner Flannagan came out in his shirt, exclaiming, " Oh, my God ! the house has been robbed." Witness proceeded into the auction room, or ware-room, and found the property contained in it in a state of disorder. An old pair of boots lay by the prisoner Flannagan's bed.

Richard Gardner, a Bow street officer, who took the prisoner Flannagan into custody, said that his heart was ready to break, and that he wished to speak to witness in another room; they retired, and he then told witness that he had let two men, named Spraggs and Kearsley, into the house a little before twelve o'clock; a man, named White, remained outside to prevent an alarm; Spraggs and Kearsley broke open the desks, and possessed themselves of a quantity of wearing apparel; they put on great coats, and filled their pockets with watches, jewellery, and articles of plate; the prisoner Spraggs then sat on his bed, and put on a pair of Wellington boots, leaving his own old ones behind him; Spraggs and Kearsley then joined White in the street; he (Flannagan) was to have half the produce of the robbery, but, although the things were sold for 62l., all that he got was sixpence.

Mr. Thomas, the Superintendent of the F. Division of Police, saw the prisoner Flannagan on the morning after his apprehension; he appeared very wretched, and said his heart was breaking; witness asked him if he had made any confession? he replied that he had, and then repeated what he had said, and witness reduced it to writing. The witness here put in the confession, which was to the effect before stated, and which was read in evidence.

George Avis, is a police officer, and on the 26th of Feb. apprehended Spraggs on the charge of this robbery; he had on his person a silver watch, chain, and seals, and wore a ring, which witness produced; he, while in the coach that conveyed them to the police-office, admitted that the boots found in the prosecutor's ware-room belonged to him; witness subsequently went to a house in Great Brownlow street, St. Mary le Bone, where a female handed him sixteen sovereigns, saying that Spraggs had left eighteen with her, but that she had spent two; after he had been examined, he sent for witness, and stated that he wished to make some communication to the Magistrate in private; he was accordingly taken into the private room before Mr. Roe, and confessed that that he had been concerned in the robbery, and that it had been planned by White two months previously; the man White was not in custody; neither was Kearsley.

The prisoner Flannagan put in a written defence, in which he declared that the confession had been infamously obtained from him, and denying that he had taken any part of the robbery, but was compelled to silence by the threats of White.

Spraggs simply denied his having been guilty of the offence.

Several witnesses gave both the prisoners good characters.

Lord Tenterden summed up the evidence.

The Jury found both prisoners guilty, but recommended Flannagan to mercy, on the ground of his having been placed in a situation of such temptation.