In February last, the premises of Mr. Simpson, Johannesburg, Transvaal, were broken into and Â£3,000 worth of jewellery stolen. In ' connection' with the robbery two men were arrested, and two were believed to have made their escape over British territory. After the arrival of the steamship 'Umballa' in the London Dock from Port Natal, a young man named Walter Scott, who gave his age as. 21, and his occupation as ah engineer, on being searched) was found to be in possession of 23 silver watches, which were sewn up in Iris shirt sleeve. He stated they were given him by the second steward to bring out of the dock for a second-class passenger ; this led to the arrest of the second steward. The watches were afterwards identified as being part of the Johannesburg robbery. It does not appear that Scott was taken into custody immediately, but by Detective Gumner, at the Albion Hotel, Blackfriars, where he was found in bed. Under his pillow were found some nuggets of gold and watches, one of the latter being marked " Simpson, Johannesburg." Prisoner then attempted to bribe the detective, but he very laudably replied, "We don't do business like that here." Prisoner and his luggage were, then conveyed to Leman-street Police-station. In his box were found a large number of articles of jewellery amounting to about Â£2,000. The prisoners were then remanded, and brought up again together with a stowaway on April 8th. Mr. St. John Wontner prosecuted. He said he had communicated with the Colonial Office, and was waiting for a reply. He wanted to hear if the Government would send Scott back in order that he might be tried with the others, now in custody, at Johannesburg. It might not be in the power of the Government to send him back, but there had already been several similar cases in point. If the authorities could not do that, then it would be his duty to take other steps to prevent a gross failure of justice. He had asked the Chief Commissioner of Police if he would be willing to keep the property; but, in any event, the wife, who held her husband's power of attorney, would be able to sue the police or the prisoner Scott, and the Court of Chancery would readily grant an injunction to prevent the jewellery from being parted with until the case had been settled. His client would then ultimately regain restitution of the property by action of law. If Scott could not be sent back, then the case would have to be dealt with as one of unlawful possession under the Police Act. Mr. Dickinson said the difficulty in this case was that Scott was taken into custody in a house, and it had been held that the Police Act did not apply to such a case. On a re-hearing, the magistrate ordered the prisoners to be discharged from custody.
Source: The Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith - 1st May 1891
The Proceeds of the Johannesburg Robbery.–The Chief Commissioner of Police has been summoned under the Summary Jurisdiction Act for detaining a large quantity of jewellery, the proceeds of the burglary at Johannesburg. – Mr. St. John Wontner, who appeared in support of the summons, said a short time since three men were charged with being in the possession of a large quantity of property, which was proved to have been the proceeds of a burglary at Johannesburg. Inasmuch as that Court had no jurisdiction in the matter, his worship had to discharge the men, and the property remained in the hands of the Commissioner of Police. –Mrs. Sarah Simpson, of St. Andrew's-road, Southsea, the wife of the owner of the jewellery, said she acted for her husband under a power of attorney.–Mr. Dickinson said that was sufficient, and he made an order for the delivering up of the property to Mrs. Simpson. We cannot help feeling that there is something radically wrong in the law, or the way it is administered, when a magistrate is able to dispose of goods found in possession of a defendant and yet have no jurisdiction over him. It was said at the former hearing of the case that he ought to have been arrested in the street. Could he not have been re-arrested
in the street and charged with unlawful possession ?
Source: The Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith - 1st June 1891