Nostalgia: 1917 Police Court: Thieves caught with crop of cauliflowers

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At the Borough Police Court, before Mr J Dippie (in the chair), Alderman Pirie and Messrs RG Heys and AW Sinclair, Chas Cross, labourer, 11, Dumple Street, and Caroline Kelly, hawker, 11, Dumple Street, were charged with having stolen 40 cauliflowers, of the value of 6s 8d on May 30th, the property of Thomas Nixon Roberts.

Cross pleaded guilty, and Kelly not guilty.

The chief constable said Mr Esau Watson, general dealer, Seamer Road, saw the two prisoners, Kelly carrying a basket containing two sacks, going along Seamer Road towards the Mere, at 9.40am. He heard Cross say something, and Kelly tipped them out of the basket. At 10.20pm they both returned. Cross carrying the two bags full of something. Mr Watson followed them, boarding a tramcar, which they had boarded, and in doing so stumbled against the bags, which it was evident contained vegetables. He followed them to 11, Dumple Street and then reported the matter to the police.

Mr Thomas Hurd, 46, Seamer Road, a gardener employed by Mr TN Roberts and counted 40 cauliflowers stalks which we knew perfectly well he had not cut, and had since compared some of the cauliflowers produced with the stalks. PC Shepherd had watched 11, Dumple Street early on May 31st, and had seen Cross carry a small basket containing nine cauliflowers, which he subsequently handed to a boy in Garibaldi Street, the boy asking, “How much?”. Cross said to the constable that he got them from Ebberston from a man named Wray or Rayton.

Corroborative evidence was given by the above named witnesses, Thomas Hurd describing the professional method of cutting cauliflower-broccoli.

Cross stated he had said he got them from Lebberston, and Seamer Road was Lebberston way. A man had said he could take them as they were seeded. “They are only rabbit meat,” he added.

Kelly maintained that she thought Cross had permission to get them.

Reference having been made to the records of prisoners, the chief constable said he was receiving a number of complaints of garden robberies – which he represented was a most wicked and despicable offence at the present time – and he hoped any persons brought before them for such offences would be severely dealt with. He added that the action of Esau Watson came as a pleasant surprise, for he had formed the impression that in Scarborough he could never look for much help from the public. If the public were to take one quarter the trouble this man took to protect themselves there would not be many undetected offences in the town.

The chairman described the offence as a very disgraceful one. There were an immense number of allotment holders who worked very hard at their allotments. Prisoners would each have to go to prison for four months’ hard labour.

Kelly: It will be a nice rest in war time. I hope the Germans will give you Germans before I come back again. She left the court stamping and shouting, “A good rest lads.”