1917 Police Court: Boys’ bad conduct led to their current predicament

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At the Scarborough Children’s Court, the case against the two boys who had absconded from Fulwood Cottage Homes at Sheffield, and coming to Scarborough, slept in Wilson’s Wood and other places, was gone into. Unfortunate circumstances were related in regards to each lad, and bad conduct had led to their present position.

The boys were described respectively as a gardener and as an errand boy. They were charged with having stolen four pounds of sugar, two pounds of butter, and other groceries of the value of 18s 8d, the property of John Snowball and Sons, Trafalgar Street West, on September 28th. And there was a further charge of having stolen a bicycle lamp, valued at 2s, the property of Thomas Youngman, Beacon View, Raincliffe Avenue, between September 22nd and October 2nd.

The boys pleaded guilty to both charges.

Detailing the facts with regard to the theft of groceries the chief constable said that about a month ago Maris went to the shop of Messrs Snowball in answer to an advertisement for an errand boy and offered himself for the position. He asked 7s a week wages and said he resided at Friarage Yard. He was engaged. He also said he came from Sheffield. It was noticed that each time he went with groceries he was joined by another boy, Kirkham, and on being asked who Kirkham was he said: His brother. On September 28th Maris was sent out with a sack barrow containing these groceries to be delivered at West Park Terrace, and other places. He left the shop about three o’clock in the afternoon and Kirkham was seen outside the shop, and he went with the small boy. Maris failed to return. The sack barrow was taken to the shop later in the evening, and there being no success in finding Maris the matter was reported to the police. Detective Sergeant Yeoman made enquiries, and at 10.45pm on the night of October 1st he went to Wilson’s Wood and searched the bushes. He found both prisoners asleep under a large bush, they being covered over with sack bags. Near where they were lying Sergeant Yeoman found the box and groceries. He asked to whom they belonged and they replied: They are ours.” Maris when charged with the offence, said: “The master shouted at me one day and the next day Kirkham and I took the groceries to the wood,” he added they had eaten some. Fires had been lighted, added the chief constable, evidently to cook the food, and some tins were lying about. In the second case, that of stealing the cycle lamp, Mr Youngman on Sunday, September 23rd, had left two cycle lamps on a shelf in the back entrance to his house, and the lamp in question was one of them. He had not missed it until police asked him about it. Sergeant Yeoman had found the lamp in the possession of the prisoners when he found the groceries. Charged with having stolen it Maris said that Kirkham stole it from the house, but he (Maris) was with him, and he knew where Kirkham had got it. Kirkham said: “Yes, I found it. He (Maris) knew where I got it from. I told him. We took it to the place where we slept.”

The chief, in reply to the magistrates, said he had made enquiries at Sheffield. Kirkham was an orphan and a native of Scarborough. He had been at the Boys’ Working Home, Sheffield, but on account of his conduct had been turned out. He was then admitted to the Fulwood Homes, which are under the Sheffield Guardians, and his conduct there had been bad. The boys had broken into the Foster Mother’s room some weeks ago and stolen 27s. If they returned they would be prosecuted for the offence.

Maris was the son of a soldier serving in France, and his mother, who was of drunken habits, had been sent to prison in November, 1916, for six months at hard labour. Maris, said the chief, was a cousin of Kirkham. Both boys, the authorities at Sheffield had stated – Mr A Deacon was the superintendent of the Fulwood Cottage Homes – needed a strong hand. Kirkham, it was said, would not be again admitted to the homes and there was a committee meeting of the Guardians that afternoon to decide whether Maris should be admitted or not.

The boys had said they came to Scarborough five or six weeks ago, and admitted pilfering and sleeping out ever since.

The magistrates, after retiring, decided to send Kirkham to a reformatory, and ordered his remand, in custody, until Monday so that arrangements might be made. Regarding Maris they remanded him to the Workhouse pending knowledge of the decision of the Guardians at Sheffield as to re-admitting him to the home.