AS part of our weekly Crime Files series, we are taking a look back at the archives to bring you stories from Herefordshire's history. The following story dates from 1866.

A "REPULSIVE-looking" tramp was charged with cutting the tails off horses in Herefordshire in 1866.

James Smith, a Kinnersley farmer, told the Weobley Police Court that he had three horses in his stables on the night of April 25 that year, all of which had been in possession of full tails.

But when a stable boy started work at 4.30am the next morning, he found that the tails had been cut to the stumps from two of them.

One of the horses, Mr Smith said, was being prepared for sale and the loss of the tail was a "great eyesore".

Prisoner Tom Thomas, who was described by a newspaper report of the time to have been a "repulsive-looking tramp", had been allowed to sleep in Mr Smith's buildings previously, the court heard.

He had been seen in the road near the farm before the crime was discovered, and had been spotted on April 27 by carpenter John Beavan carrying something under his coat as he headed towards Leominster.


Sergeant Christy of the county constabulary, later found the tails had been sold to Mr Jones, a Leominster marine store dealer.

The prisoner, it was reported, exclaimed "I be guilty enough" to the court.

He had told police that he had spent 23 years in the county and had not a shirt to his back or a bed to lie on, and hoped that the magistrates would give him seven years so he had a place to rest and something to eat.

But his hopes were dashed when he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in the county gaol with hard labour.