These two persons, along with Susannah Phipps, and Samuel Westbrook, were indicted for breaking and entering the dwelling house of John Covington, and stealing therein 18 gowns, a quantity of petticoats, a piece of muslin, a time-piece, some silver table-spoons, and a variety of other property to the value of one hundred and twenty pound in the whole.
It appeared that the prosecutor, who was a licensed hawker, left town along with his wife, in the way of his business, on the 1st of April last, having previously secured his room-door by means of an ordinary lock and two padlocks. The only lodgers in the house were a person of the name of Corcoran, who lived in the first pair, and the prisoner, Susannah Phipps, who, though unknown to the prosecutor, suffered the other female prisoner, Elizabeth Phipps, her daughter, and James Westbrook, to reside along with her. On the morning of the day on, which the prosecutor left town, Corcoran heard a noise made by Elizabeth Phipps, below stairs, occasioned by the scouring of a tub, while, at the same moment, he heard a different sort of noise upstairs, as if it were of breaking open something in the prosecutor's room. He afterwards saw the prisoner, James Westbrook, carry out a bundle, and Elizabeth Phipps carry out a time-piece in her lap. These two prisoners afterwards took out more bundles, and continued doing so from about seven or eight o'clock in the morning, till about one. The mother, Susannah Phipps, was not present during the time, not having slept at home the preceding night. About eleven o'clock, Corcoran saw Susannah Phipps, the mother, and the other prisoner, Samuel Westbrook, the brother of James, standing together, at the corner of Play-house-yard, when Elizabeth Phipps came up with a bundle, which she handed to Samuel Westbrook, who went away with it. This was all the part he saw either Samuel Westbrook or Susannah Phipps take in the business, Susannah Phipps not having come home till night. Corcoran heard the daughter say, if her mother made any noise about it, she would do for her and for others.
Some of the articles were afterwards traced to a pawnbroker's, with whom they had been pledged, in the name of Elizabeth Smith, and the duplicates were found in the possession of the prisoners, James Westbrook and Elizabeth Phipps, who were apprehended in lodgings, where they lived under the assumed name of Smith.
Sir Vicary Gibbs, who tried the case, recommended to the jury to throw out of their consideration the case of Susannah Phipps, against whom no direct proof had been brought; of the guilt of Elizabeth Phipps and James Westbrook there seemed to be no doubt; and the only remaining point for their consideration was, what part Samuel Westbrook had taken in the transaction? Whether, from the circumstance of his waiting in the immediate neighbourhood to receive the bundle, they saw sufficient to convince them that he was also cognizant of the breaking and entering; in which case he must be held to have been aiding and encouraging, and as such, to be as guilty as the rest.
The jury, after some deliberation, found James Westbrook, and Elizabeth Phipps guilty—Death, and Samuel Westbrook—Not Guilty.