THERE is, perhaps, no crime, though not punished capitally, at which our nature revolts more than at the idea of the dead being pursued by the thief into the peaceful grave. Such sacrilegious, unconscionable villains, however, cannot be too often held up to public detestation.
The two former were grave-diggers, which greatly increases their crime, and the third a porter in St. Thomas's Hospital. They were indicted for a conspiracy to take away dead bodies from the church-yard of St. Mary's, Islington; and in another court they were charged with taking away the dead body of a man named Jacob Hart, on the 6th of February last. It appeared, that on the 4th of February last, the deceased was found drowned in the New River, and from thence carried to the vault of St. Mary's church, Islington, for interment. The coroner's inquest having sat upon his body, he was consigned to Littleboy, the grave digger, and generally supposed to have been interred, the coffin having been put into the ground, and the funeral service performed by the minister. On the 6th of February, in the evening, however, one of the Bow-street patrol met the prisoner Penn on the Islington-road, wheeling a barrow, laden with a basket apparently full of clothes. He felt the outside of the load, and discovered the shape of a man's head; upon which he ordered the defendant to go with him immediately to Bow street, where the basket was examined, and found to contain the body of the deceased; and upon searching the grave where the deceased was supposed to have been buried, the coffin was opened and found to contain nothing but earth and rubbish.
Suspicion immediately fell upon the defendants, Littleboy and Gladman, and they were taken into custody. The jury found the defendants Guilty of taking away the body in question, but not of the conspiracy. The court sentenced Penn to pay a fine of 5l. and the other defendants to a fine of 3s. 4d. each.