Here are the shocking, dare I say hare-raising, details of the case:
|Church of St. Andrew, Illington, Norfolk|
Before Major Keppel (chairman), Mr. ANC Hemsworth, Mr. B. Morris, and Lord Bury
Ernest James Bush, Hockham, was charged by Police-sergt. Potter with taking 12 pheasants, 2 hares, and 4 rabbits at Illington on December 28th. Police-sergeant Potter said he was at Illington, where there was a shooting party. He met the defendants driving a horse and cart. He asked [Ernest] Bush what he had got in the cart, and he replied, "Nothing." Witness said he must look, and upon searching the cart he found 18 head of game (produced). There were several nets in the cart, and the game was covered with nets.
Charles Christmas Bush and Ernest Edward Henley were charged with aiding and abetting. Defendants pleaded guilty. Ernest Bush was ordered to pay penalty and costs L3/4/6, in default 21 days hard labour;the other two defendants were fined L1/10, in default 14 days' hard labour.
Now, crime writers have landed in greater spots of trouble and notoriety than this. One popular modern crime writer infamously was involved in a shocking real life murder. Agatha Christie "disappeared" for over a week, transfixing the nation with the mystery of the missing mystery writer.
|1894 likeness of |
Arnold Allan Cecil Keppel,
8th Earl of Ablemarle, Viscount Bury
Scourge of poachers? (1858-1942)
The desired statements having been obtained, Croft-Cooke and his secretary, Joseph, thereupon were charged with committing assault and acts of "gross indecency" upon the two sailors.
The sailors soon recanted their claims, but the presiding judge ruled their new retractions inadmissible. Croft-Cooke was sentenced to a prison term of nine months and Joseph to a term of three months. (The Army also tried to have Croft-Cooke's war medals taken away for good, or bad, measure.) Upon his release in 1954, Croft-Cooke left England with Joseph and did not return for two decades. Ironically, almost all of Croft-Cooke's very English Carolus Deene mystery novel series, which ran from 1955 to 1974, was written in foreign locales.
One of Croft-Cooke's two sailor "accusers" was a Harold Altoft, said to have been 20 years old at the time. There was a Harold Altoft, born on September 24, 1932 and died in 2006, at the age of 73, who would have been 20 at the time of the Croft-Cooke affair. This Harold Altoft came from Kingston, Yorkshire, where his parents were John Harold Altoft of Kingston, Yorkshire, an iron keg and drum maker, and Ida Reed, daughter of Walter Reed, a coal heaver. He married in the Spring of 1954, about the time, I recollect, that Croft-Cooke was completing his prison sentence. Was is it the same "Harry"? At this time I have no idea. If he was it would have been wonderful to get his side of the story before his death a dozen years ago.