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Daniel Good (1792 - 1842) is hunted by Nicholas Pearce
Daniel Good was famous for showing up the faults of the communication systems of the 19th century police after he had committed a murder in Putney Park on 3rd April 1842, escaped from a police officer, and travelled around different parts of London and Kent, thereby evading arrest until the following month. The Detective Branch was set up in August of that year to improve efficiency in catching suspects like Good.
On 11th April 1842, PC William Gardner was called to investigate the theft of a pair of trousers from a pawnbroker's shop in Wandsworth High Street. The suspect, Daniel Good worked as a coachman in Putney Park, and PC Gardner went to the house, interviewed him, and started a thorough search of the stables where Good worked. In the last stable, PC Gardner took a closer look with his lantern at what he thought was a plucked goose, but before he could act on the fact that the object was a dead body, Good took his chance to flee from the stable, and, even worse, locked PC Gardner, Good's own son, and two shop boys in the stable.
Over the next few days, nine divisions of the Metropolitan Police became involved in the chase for Daniel Good. Good always seemed to be a day or so ahead of the pursuing police, and this was reported in great detail by a critical Press.
Inspector Nicholas Pearce, assisted by Sergeant Stephen
Thornton, both of whom were later to be among the original select band of six
officers appointed for detective duties, took up the case and followed Good's
trail from Spitalfields to Deptford, and then to Bromley where they could find
no other clues. Two weeks later, Good was traced to Tonbridge where he was
working as a bricklayer's labourer. One of his work mates, Thomas Rose, was a
former police officer who recognised him and told the local police.
Daniel Good was tried, found guilty of murder and publicly hanged at Newgate on 23rd May 1842, unaware that he had unwittingly contributed to the Metropolitan Police improving their crime fighting performance by introducing specialist detectives.
Nicholas Pearce had transferred to the New Police from the Bow Street patrol, and eventually ended up as the Superintendent of F Division. Worn out by ill health he was granted a pension of £166 pa that he drew for three years until he died in Cornwall on 15 December 1858. Immediately before the Daniel Good case, Pearce had solved the Eskdaleside murder of Mrs Jane Robinson in one of the first cases in which an officer from Scotland Yard was sent to investigate a serious crime in the provinces. A miller, William Hill had been charged with the murder and acquitted, but Pearce traced a Thomas Redhead who had almost certainly committed the offence, but had died of smallpox shortly before Pearce traced him.
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