On the third Thursday of May 1847 Joseph Hull was at 11 o’clock at night making his way to Garstang on the turnpike road and was close to the New Lane Bridge in Claughton when he saw two men coming towards him.
One of them threw him upon the ground and while laying on his back he took coppers from his waistcoat pocket, his watch from its fob and his purse from his breeches. His attacker then spoke to him aggressively with Hull begging the pair not to hurt him, telling them there were enough sovereigns in the purse to satisfy them. Having pocketed the loot the pair left the distraught victim and set off towards Preston.
The incident was reported to the Lancashire County Constabulary, established in 1839, and their investigations led to the appearance of Robert Charnley, aged 28, and Joseph Parkinson, aged 23, before the county magistrates at Preston Town Hall accused of stealing a silver watch and over £8 in cash.
Mr. Hull being sworn, related details of the incident and identified Parkinson as his attacker with Charnley standing by throughout. The place where Hull was robbed was about a mile from the Brockholes Arms in Claughton and John Helm, son of the landlord, told the court the two men had been in the inn that night leaving shortly before 11 o’clock.
Police investigations had led to the apprehension of Parkinson on the following Saturday morning at Pottery Hill off Friargate in Preston. According to a deposition by John Swarbrick, brother in law to Parkinson, the accused had told him that the watch was hidden near to the Tulketh railway viaduct.
P.C. William Spencer told the court he had apprehended Charnley in Preston and he had admitted being with Parkinson on the night of the robbery, but claimed he knew nothing of any crime.
Although later he was to lay the blame on Parkinson, stating he had never touched the victim.
When quizzed about the whereabouts of the watch he agreed to go with the constable to the Tulketh Viaduct and he pointed out where it was concealed.
Supt. Carswell then testified as to his dealings with Parkinson who claimed that Charnley had got hold of the man, and after a scuffle took the money, giving him some sovereigns and loose change.
Agnes Moss then told the court that she had been with Parkinson at the Barley Mow public house the following day, and that he had given her £3 to get some clothes out of pawn and to buy a new bonnet.
Parkinson telling her that now they had some money they could go off together.
Both the prisoners declined to say anything and they were committed for trial at the Preston Sessions the following week.
After hearing the evidence the jury delivered a guilty verdict for both prisoners.
The chairman Mr. T.B. Addison praised the county police for their investigation work and taking a dim view of robbery on the highway informed both men they would be transported, Charnley being sent away for seven years and Parkinson for 15 years.
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