1917 court: Repeat offender swipes a beer glass from hotel

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At the Borough Police Court before Alderman Pirie, and other magistrates, Charles Cross, labourer (43), of Dumple Street, was charged with having stolen a drinking glass, value 6d, on the 2nd February, the property of George Whittaker, Equestrian Hotel.

Prisoner admitted taking the glass, but said he had no intention to steal it, he only wanted to borrow it for a few minutes to fetch some milk.

George Whittaker, licensee of the Equestrian Hotel, said prisoner was on his premises at 7.30pm on the 2nd February. He was in the vaults, and wanted a glass of beer. Witness told him he could not have any beer, whereupon prisoner commenced using vile language. He then picked up an empty glass, and deliberately put it into his pocket and rushed out of the door. There was no one with him at the time.

Witness saw what occurred through the door leading from the smoke room into the vaults.

Prisoner said he was there in the afternoon, and he was served with beer then. He told two persons who were in the vaults on the night in question that he was going to take the glass to get some milk. He was going to return it in a few minutes.

Detective Inspector Nalton said he was on duty in St Thomas Street at 7.30pm. He heard someone using most filthy language. From what he heard from George Whittaker he went into St Thomas Street, and saw accused come out of Atlas Place. He questioned him about where he had been, and prisoner said, “I have been to Cayton earning a living.”

Detective Nalton said, “What have you in your pocket?”

Cross replied that he had only some money. Noticing his left-hand pocket bulging out the detective felt in and found the glass. Prisoner then used the most obscene language, and said, “He would not serve me with beer, so I took his glass.”

Prisoner said he did not take the glass intentionally. “What use is the glass to me? I have money to buy some if I want,” he said.

The chief constable read out a list of previous convictions against prisoner, 28 in all, beginning in 1899, and including burglary, drunkenness, assault on the police, wilful damage, etc. He (prisoner) had been sent to an inebriates’ homes for three years, but the treatment had done him no good. The chief constable, when prisoner had been placed under his supervision, had tried to keep him away from drink. “He is living at present with Caroline Kelly, and together they go about begging - it cannot be really called begging - cadging, and so earn a living. I don’t know what can be done at all, it seems hopeless. The only thing is to put him where he cannot commit offences,” said the chief.

The magistrates found the prisoner guilty of the offence, but they would not send him to prison. They would give him another chance and he would be fined 10s, and they advised him to keep off the drink.

Prisoner: Thank you sir. I will. I have not been drinking lately, until last night.