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At the Birmingham Police Court; F. Reeves, beerhouse-keeper, Thos. Hands and Thomas Clark, laborers, were charged with unlawfully sending by the Midland Railway a certain package containing gunpowder without distinctly marking the nature thereof on the outside of the packet or otherwise giving notice in writing to the bookkeeper or other servant of the company of their intention of sending the same. The prisoners pleaded guilty. Mr Young prosecuted andij Mr Dawson defended. In opening the case for the prosecution

Mr Young said that on the night of the 22nd of August the defendants Hands and Clark went to the Outwards Parcels Office of the Midland Railway at New street station. They had in their possession a basket, which was covered over and secured with strings, and they seemed anxious that the parcel should be conveyed by the mail train, which was due at the time. They were told that it was too late for that traii, and that it would be necessary to wait until six o’clock the following morning. Noticing the strange conduct of the men, and seeing that it was a hamper sometimes used for carrying live animals, the clerk said, “ Does' It contain anything alive?” and one of the men said, “No ; it contains boots.” A piece of paper was then asked for, and the address of “Mr Green, York Station, to be left until called for,” was affixed, and the men said the carriage would be paid at the other end. In consequence of what had taken place, the clerk called some of the porters at the station, and in their presence opened the basket, and found it contained five ilb packets of gunpowder, three bundles of caps, and 500 blank cartridges and wadding. He kept it back until the next morning, when it was properly examined by Detective Cooper, and subsequently conveyed to York by one of the detectives of the Midland Railway travelling by the same train. On arrival at York it was taken to the parcel office, and next morning some person, who gavje the name of Green, came for it, Hd was asked who had forwarded the parcel to him, and he said it was Frederick Reeves, of Dartmouth street, Birmingham. He was allowed to take the hamper from York station, and was followed by a detective, who watched him take it to an address in 1 York. When he arrived there the detective accosted him, and he answered that he did not know what it contained, but the detective opened it, and after showing him its contents took possession of it Cooper afterwards went to Reeves, who said that he had seen the report of the matter in the papers the same day the affair had become known, and it was thought that it had some connection with Fenian matters, but subsequent inquiries proved this to be incorrect, and that the things were only | going to be used by some persons having a shooting gallery. Reeves admitted that they had been sent by him, and the other men were merely employed to take them to the station. The Act of Parliament under which these proceedings were taken was the I Railway Clauses Act, and the penalty ■for sending goods of this description | without marking the nature of them 'outside or without sending word to the bookkeeper or other servant of the : company was not exceeding L2o. William Hunt, the parcels clerk at the outwards office of the Midland Railway, stated that on the 22nd ult. he received the hamper from the defendants’ hands, and Clark said they wanted it sent by ; the mail train, and both of them seemed ; anxious about it. He asked them if it, was not livestock, and one of them’ said, “No; it contains boots.” He told them he should send it the following morning, but both of them appeared very anxious thatHt should go the same night. Clark stated that he only accompanied Handsto thestation,anddid. not know what the parcel contained.—" Mr Timmins said the defendants had been guilty of a very serious act, and it was a most dangerous thing to send explosive materials by rail without the full knowledge of the company. Reeves would have to pay a fine of Lio and costs, or two months’ imprisonment; Hands would be fined 20s and costs, or in default one month’s imprisonment j and Clark, who did not seem to have much connection with the affair, was discharged.

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Bibliographic details

THE LATE FENIAN SCARE AT BIRMINGHAM., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 500, 24 November 1881

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THE LATE FENIAN SCARE AT BIRMINGHAM. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 500, 24 November 1881