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Talgarth and district
Crime and punishment
  Three desperate prisoners  

In the winter of 1853 three prisoners were awaiting trial in Brecon jail. Their names were William Warner, John Sheen and Alexander Huel, and they had committed a burglary in Llangorse. John Sheen was a hardened criminal who had been in prison twice under a different name.

  They must have known that they faced transportation to Australia if they were found guilty, and were desperate to escape. First, Alexander Huel broke an iron bar from the bottom of the stove and tried to break into the sewer and crawl out that way. The dirt on his prison clothing from the digging was noticed and he was forced to wear an iron chain on his leg.
Next the three prisoners were put in the itch room with another prisoner. (We are not sure what this was but it could be a room where prisoners with fleas were put to stop them spreading to other prisoners).
This time they broke an iron bar off the fire grate to use as a tool, and hid it up the chimney. When they were discovered John Sheen admitted that he had done it, and he also was placed in irons.

In March 1854 the three were found guilty and were sentenced to long periods of transportation in Australia. This was a very hard life and it was rare for a convict to come back from Australia. They made a final attempt to break out of prison, and were kept in double irons until they were taken to the ship for transportation.

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