HE was so desperate to evade justice he threw himself off a train.

Frederick George Self, 25, had been committed for trial at the Hampshire Quarter Sessions in Winchester on two charges of horse rustling. With bail refused, it meant more than 150 years ago he could only leave the magistrates court in Lyndhurst by horse cab to reach the railway station and board a London bound service.

But the journey time gave him ample opportunity to construct a plan which he put into effect as the train slowed on its approach to the cathedral city.

As it passed under an arch near Romsey Road, the tailor suddenly leapt to his feet, opened the door and jumped out, faling to the ground as he did so. Quickly regaining his feet, he ran off down the track past the high cutting of the army barracks and over an embankment leading into fields, easily outpacing his escort.

However, he did not get much further.

Aware of the hue and cry, a nearby workman tackled Self, pinning him to the ground until the police accompanied by several civilians arrived. Self offered no resistance and was swiftly taken to the prison.

Hours earlier that day, August 7, 1861, the tailor, who lived on Hayling Island, had been accused of stealing an £8 gelding which owner, dairyman James Burton, had turned out in a moat in Portsea and a £10 mare belonging to labourer Stephen Andrews that he had left in a New Forest field.

Magistrates were told the day after the horse had disappeared from the moat, gardener James Mills had been approached by Self to look after it in his employer's yard while he went to Hayling Island. He retained it for four hours before Self returned and took it away, saying he was going to Hambledon to purchase a trap and harness.

However, he took the gelding to a pig market in Southampton where it was sold on. However, the police had begun investigating the theft and following inquiries traced it to the purchaser. Though the animal had lost part of its tail and the branding on its left shoulder had been altered by scissors from a P into a B, Mills was still able to recognise it.

In the other case, magistrates learnt Andrews had left the mare in a drove near his Cadmore home but during the middle of the night, a local labourer unable to sleep had seen a black horse being ridden past his house. A few minutes later, he passed going in the opposite direction, riding a brown horse and leading a black one. It transpired Self then took them via Ampfield and Winchester to Alresford where they were traced.

On both occasions, when interviewed, he claimed he had legitimately bought the horses from strangers.

Self eventually appeared before the Earl of Carnavon, chairman of the Michaelmas Sessions, on October 19. The indictment was severed and the prosecution first proceeded with the Portsmouth theft.

In his defence, he tolds jurors that on his way to move furniture from his sister's home on Hayling Island, his horse had suffered an accident and he sold it in part-exchange with the gelding.

Though he never denied the pony belonged to the dairyman, Self reasoned: "If I had stolen it, would have I left it at a house so close to his? Whatsmore, there is nothing to connect me with the marks upon it."

The judge said the case rested on one issue: "Do you believe, members of the jury, the pony came into his hands lawfully."

They did not and once the verdict had been returned, Self immediately pleaded guilty to the second charge. He was jailed for eight months on the first count and for four months to run consecutively on the second.