A gun-toting burglar in the Hornsey Road


The Hornsey Road, c.1900

At about 3 o’clock in the morning of the 31 October 1898 two men clambered over the back wall of a property in Hornsey Road and attempted to break in through a window. The property was a pawnbrokers belonging to Mr Lawrence situated at number 368 (near Tollington Park and what is now the Arsenal stadium). The pair had a ladder but their actions woke Mr Lawrence’s housekeeper who raised the alarm.

The would-be burglars (James Long and William Marlow) turned tail and ran. Two police officers were close by having hurried to the scene and both gave chase, blowing their whistles. This summoned more officers to the pursuit but Marlow managed to slip away through the park.

Long was not so lucky. As he sprinted into Palmerston Road he ran ‘full tilt against Constable Baxter, who seized him, and asked him where he was going’. The former ticket-of-leave man was not beaten yet however. Reaching behind his back he pulled a revolver and thrust it against the policeman’s stomach.

PC Baxter might have been forgiven for letting go of his captive but instead he ‘knocked his arm up, and after a struggle’ wrestled the firearm from him. The newly arrested Long was then marched to the station.

Marlow was soon picked up at 479 Hornsey Road by detectives acting on information and the pair were presented at the North London Police Court. The court heard that two women that lived at the Hornsey Road address and who cohabited with the men, gave evidence that the pair had gone out at eight that night and Marlow turned on his mate in the dock, accusing him of ‘putting him away’.He told the police inspector ‘if it wasn’t for the fact that I was living in the same house as Long, you wouldn’t have suspected me!’

Inspector Mountfield said that both men had been identified by the officers who were involved in the chase. A local milkman appeared to confirm that he had found two dark lanterns and a pair of ‘burglar’s jemmies’ abandoned in a garden in Victor Road. Inspector Mountfield added the forensic information that the jemmies had traces of yellow paint that matched that on Mr Lawrence’s window frames.

Long denied he had taken place in the burglary and also tried to deny threatening PC Baxter with a revolver. No one was fooled by the pair’s bluster and both men were sent to trail at Old Bailey. On the 21st November that year both men appeared at the Central Criminal Court where they were convicted of burglary. Both confessed to a number of other offences and Long was additionally charged with ‘shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm’. He was sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude, Marlow was sent away for five.

[from The Standard, Monday, November 14, 1898]

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