Belfast Newsletter - 28 November, 1896



Extensive raid in Belfast.

Numerous arrests.

The prisoners in the Police Court.

Yesterday the authorities created a Flutter in the betting dovecotes of Belfast when they successfully raided two of the establishments patronised by the devotees of the ofttimes described national sport. The occasion was particularly opportune, as one of the last big races of the legitimate season -- the Lancashire Handicap-was being decided, and the constabulary had their arrangements so perfected that the raid was not so unproductive as the last time they paid the betting-houses a visit. Indeed, so cautious were the authorities that not until almost all the 'inimy' was in possession was even the least suspicion aroused to their intentions, and then they were so prompt to act that those concerned were unable to take advantage of any warnings they might have received. Two houses were visited -- that of Samuel Coleman, 9 Wilson's Court, off High Street, and that of George Kelly, 11 Garfield Street -- and both were raided simultaneously at three o'clock, this hour, no doubt being selected as that at which the properties would be most busily engaged in their illegal operative.

In one case the surmise of the constabulary proved correct, as when Head-Constable Sreenan, Sergeants Moore and Bogue, and a number of men surprised 9, Wilson 's Court, they found a roaring trade in progress. The scene their appearance produced can easily be imagined. Many were the attempts to escape, but none were able to elude the vigilance of the police, and all found on the premises were soon placed on cars, and conveyed to the Police Office. The procession of vehicles could not fail to attract public attention, and the result of the coup rapidly spread through the city, and the Police Office within the next few minutes was besieged by a crowd of casually and otherwise interested spectators. A large number of books was seized, and an examination of the returns disclosed the fact that it was not altogether an unfortunate circumstance for the 'bookey' that the raid had been so successful. Quite a batch of the slips were decorated with 'Easter Gift win, and 1,2,3' and the placed horses in the handicap did not go unbefriended. While Head-Constable Sreenan was engaged in the district, Head-Constable Good, assisted by Sergeants Wallace and Montgomery and a number of constables, were upon the same mission in Garfield Street. Whether the scouts here had been more vigilant than their confreres in High Street, we are not able to say, but apparently they were, as only four arrests were made at Kelly's resort. From a financial standpoint the raid was, however, more remunerative, as in addition to the usual documents associated with the business of the 'gentlemen of the pencil' 238 15s 8d became the spoil of the force. Kelly himself was not in the establishment at the time, but his clerks paid for their attentiveness to business, as the constabulary found them at work when they arrived to forcibly remind them of the illegality of their calling. In this case the individuals were also removed to the Police Office. All, making up a couple of score less two, were detained pending their appearance before a magistrate.

Mr F.G. Hodder having been apprised, through Head-Constable Carnahan, who had been communicated with from the Police Office, of the success of the raid, attended at the Custody Court shortly after six o'clock when the captured were brought before him.

The first case dealt with was that relating to the raid on Coleman's. The following were put forward:- Samuel Coleman, principal, and David Calvert and Campbell Tweed, his clerks. Robert H. M'Ilvenny, Donegall Street, clerk; F.Burnside, Woodvale Road, clerk; Arthur Davey, Burnaby Street, no occupation; William M'Ardle, Fortingdale Street, labourer; john Thompson, Elizabeth Street, clerk; Oswald Massey, photographer; George Thompson, Crawford Street, dealer; Charles Sullivan, Lawnbrook Avenue, flaxdresser; Wm. Best, Walbeck Street; James Auld, Pilot Street; Robert M'Neilly, Prospect Street, clerk; Wm. Gorman, Cupar Street, newsboy; Thomas Ruddy, Carrick Hill, labourer; Samuel Gifford, Burns Street, no occupation; F. Hughes, London Street, clerk; Owen Mullan, Hannahstown,; Matthew Saunderson, Monteau Street, joiner; Henry Swain, Albertbridge Road, hairdresser; George Sharp, Lisburn, dealer; Jas. Chapman, Hill Street, labourer; Samuel Palmer, Arthur Square, dealer, tailor; T. Magee, Farnham Street, tailor; Arthur Hagan, Crocus Street, tailor; R. Flynn, Athol Street; John Hogg, Steen's Row, labourer; John Dunn, Whitla Street, clerk; Charles Burns, Dunville Street, no occupation; Thomas Haslett, Durham Street, butcher; John Kenyon, Calvin Street; Joseph Hill, Trillick Street, newsboy; J. Smith, Beersbridge Road, labourer.

Assistant-Commissioner Seddall and District Inspector Morrell represented the authorities, and Mr Joseph Donnelly appeared for Coleman and Mr A. M'Erlean for Calvert and Tweed.

District-inspector Morrell, addressing his worship, said that in the charge against the principal and two clerks -- the principal for keeping a betting-house and the two clerks for practically aiding and assisting him -- he asked for a remand in these cases until tomorrow morning. In the charge against the men on the premises there is no penalty against them and he asked his worship to discharge them.

Mr Hodder -- That is the usual course. Let Coleman, Calvert and Tweed stay behind. All the rest are discharged. The accused left the dock.

The charge against Coleman was-'That one Samuel Coleman, being the occupant of an office situated at No.9 Wilson Court, in the city of Belfast, did on the 27th November 1896, keep and use the same for the purpose of betting with persons resorting thereto; and that the defendant did assist in conducting the business of the said office so kept and used for the purpose aforesaid contrary to the statute. Calvert and Tweed are charged with being on the premises for the purpose of assisting in betting transactions.

Head-Constable Sreenan gave evidence to the effect that he executed the warrant authorising him to enter the premises of Wilson 's Court. He arrested Samuel Coleman, Calvert and Tweed. The two last-named were in the inner office. He found there were a large numbers of documents,which, he believed, related to betting, and as there had been no time to investigate them he asked for a remand. He found 94 7s 0 d there.

Mr Morrell here asked for a remand till to-morrow morning, and bail was applied for. Coleman was therefore, allowed out on his own security of 200, another security of 200 and bail was fixed for the other prisoners at 20, and two sureties of 10 each.

The raid on Kelly's was then dealt with, and James M'Grevy, Divis Street and James M'Evoy, Bridge End, his clerks, with James O'Donnell, Cardwell Street Place, clerk and James Shiels, Brassey Street, clerk, found on the premises.

The last two were discharged and M'Grevy and M'Avoy were charged with being on the premises for the purposes of assisting in betting transactions.

Head-Constable Good proved he executed the warrant authorising him to enter 6 and 11, Garfield Street. He arrested the prisoners in an office. He found a number of cards and letters relating to betting, and also 238 15s 8d. M'Grevy was in the office, and the other man was upstairs, but said he was employed in the place. The prisoners were remanded.

Mr Morrell said they proposed to retain the money found. The man who owns the house was not found on the premises, and they proposed to proceed against him by summons. The prisoners were according remanded till this morning on bail.


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