Very soon after the accident a young man, Henry White, was caught trying to steal a gold watch from one of the onlookers, Thomas Brown who was a solicitor from Woodstock.
One eyewitness testified to the fact that the theft was immediately after the accident and that the police arrived just in time: “One surgeon from the neighbourhood was most active, and used the splinters to set broken limbs, and tore up one lady’s petticoat for bandages, and in the midst of his labour one fellow stole a watch and chain. They detected him, and he would have been lynched had not the police arrived in time, for broken telegraph wires were tied round his body and they were just going to drag him through the canal.”
Mr Brown had heard a snick and felt for his watch chain and found it hanging. He siezed Henry White, who was standing close to him, and accused him of stealing his watch. William Charlwood, a glover from Woodstock, had felt something touch his pocket and on looking down he saw the watch drop from Henry White’s hand. He picked it up and handed it to Mr Brown. Henry was wearing a rug thrown loosely over his left shoulder, and it was thought that this was a deliberate ploy to hide anything that he had taken.
PC John Wright, who was stationed at Wootton, was attending the scene of the accident; Henry was given into his custody. He then took Henry to Hampton Gay where he handed him over to Thomas Bartlett who was deposed to take Henry into custody and charge him. On searching Henry’s pockets he found: a knife, two and a half pence in money, a box of fusees [matches], three studs, and a third-class ticket from Leamington to Oxford.
Henry appeared before Colonel the Honourable R C H Spencer and C E Thornhill, Esq who were the magistrates sitting in session at the Town Hall. They committed him to the next Quarter Sessions to be held at Oxford [Epiphany 1875].
At his hearing a letter from Henry was produced, dated 29th December.
When Henry came before the Quarter Session he submitted a written defence.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty. The court then heard from William Cooper, a detective officer from Birmingham, who stated that he knew the prisoner well. Henry had been several times convicted and was a regular travelling thief, and well known in Birmingham. The court sentenced Henry to two years hard labour in the County Gaol; this was seen as a more severe sentence than five years penal servitude.