1917 crimes: Court give boy a dusting down over theft of flour

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At the Scarborough Children’s Court, before the Mayor and other magistrates, an errand boy was charged with having stolen seven pounds of flour valued at 1s 7d. Accused pleaded guilty, and the chief constable said he worked at a grocer’s shop.

Edward William Robinson, a warehouseman, in the same employ at 10.30am on January 29th was going about his work when he saw some bottle boxes. There were three boxes, two of which were empty. He went to see if there were any empty mineral water bottles in them. In the third one he found a half-stone bag of flour. The premises were closed at 1.30pm until 2.30pm for the dinner hour. When Robinson went home at 1.30pm this bag of flour was still there. When he returned at 2.30pm it was missing. Accused had access to the place where the flour was. He had access to most parts of the premises in his duties.

Detective Yeoman saw the manager come out of the back gate and then went into the yard and saw the three mineral water cases. Two were empty, but the third had a half-stone bag of flour in it, and with a pencil he put a mark on it. He watched and saw the boy open the gate leading to the warehouse, and partly close it after him. The boy moved the empty mineral water cases, and put them back again in order. He came out of the yard with the bag of flour under his coat. Detective Yeoman asked him what he had got there, and he replied “Flour”. He said “I was going to take it home to my mother. Will there be anything to do about it?” The boy had never taken any goods home. The father would not tolerate this sort of thing. His intention was to take the flour to his mother’s warehouse, and sell it to some outsider and get money to go to the pictures.

The father of the boy said this was the youngest of seven sons, the other six were, or had been serving in the Army. He had never had to complain about his conduct before.

The mother of the boy also testified to the boy’s good behaviour.

A magistrate asked where the boy spent his evenings, to which the father said there was another man - 45 - who worked with him with whom he went to the pictures.

He does not belong to any club or anything?

The father: No, but he is a regular church goer.

There were no previous convictions against the boy.

After deliberation the mayor said the boy was guilty of a very serious offence. If he continued in that manner he would find himself in prison. He would be bound over for twelve months, himself in the sum of £5 and his father in £5. “If in the course of twelve months you do anything of the sort again you will be brought up here and punished for the offence now,” said the mayor. “It all depends on yourself.”

A probation officer from the boy’s church would be found. He would also be fined 5s, to help to pay costs.