The Thief-Taker General
This factual drama series draws on the archives of the Old Bailey to bring to life the most extraordinary trials from history. Tales of crime and punishment are vividly laid bare as the courtroom fills, and as witnesses, lawyers, judge and jury hear of crimes and misdemeanours across three centuries. Each film follows one trial from beginning to end, flashing back to the crime scene as the story develops. The court reporter provides a vital link between past and present, guiding the audience through the intricacies of each case.
The Thief-Taker General - 1725
The most famous and the most prolific thief-taker was Jonathan Wild, who by the early 1720s was controlling most of London's criminal underworld. Wild's trial at the Old Bailey centres on the stealing of lace from Katherine Stetham, a blind woman who kept a lace shop. Wild was charged for the theft of the lace - he had arranged to have it stolen in the first place, it transpired - and for receiving stolen goods. During the trial his illegal practices, long known but never proven, were exposed in the cruel light of the Old Bailey courtroom. He was sentenced to hang, a move so popular that tickets were issued for the event.