A SERIOUS charge was exercising Malvern police court 100 years ago, when Frank Charles Bannister, alias 'Scratch' Attwood, was charged with stealing "ten tame fowls, value 25 shillings" which belonged to Mary Wisdom, the mistress of Newlands School.

The court heard that the birds' owner found the wire netting around her fowl run torn down and several birds missing.

No less that three policemen turned up to investigate the theft and discovered, in the adjoining field, footprints in the hoar frost, some feathers and some blood. They followed the footprints in the direction of accused's house, where "damning evidence was found".

Bannister was defended by Worcester solicitor Arrowsmith Maund, but it was to no avail. After hearing the evidence, the magistrates considered their verdict: "They were of the opinion that it was very serious and were unanimous in finding the accused guilty.

"The sentence was that he would be confined in Worcester Gaol for two months with hard labour. When the prisoner was removed to the cells, several of his relatives in court broke out into tears."