Soldier defrauded manor owner of £1

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1915 court

At the North Riding Police Court, before Mr F Baker, and other magistrates, Edward Davies (29), soldier, of no fixed abode, was charged with obtaining by false pretences the sum of £1 from Claude S Norton, 
Irton Manor, Seamer, on June 16th.

Inspector Boynton conducted the case, and said it appeared that at about 5.30pm on June 16th accused went to Mrs Stapleton, the wife of the vicar of Seamer, and told her that he had lost his purse containing £15, and asked her for assistance. Mrs Stapleton thought this was rather “fishy”, but thought the best plan would be for her to give him money sufficient to pay his railway fare to Scarborough. She did so. Shortly after, accused went to Mr Norton’s house and told him that he had lost £15, his Army pass from France to Staffordshire, and his railway ticket from Seamer to Scarborough. Mr Norton there-upon gave him £1. Subsequently, as a result of information which came to the police, accused was arrested and placed in custody, his statements having been found to be absolutely false. Mary Jane Stapleton, wife of the Rev FG Stapleton, vicar of Seamer, said after 5pm on the day in question accused came to the Church Rooms and told her he had lost his purse containing £15, and that he had absolutely nothing. He said he had been in Scarborough three days, and had come over to Seamer that day. She understood him to say he came from the front, but she was suspicious as to the genuineness of his statement. She did not mention the name of Mr Norton to him.

Claude S Norton said about 6pm on the day in question the prisoner came to his house, saying he had lost his purse with £15 and asking to be helped. Witness asked him where he lost his purse, and he replied between Scarborough and Seamer. Witness asked him if he had reported his loss to the police. He replied in the affirmative. Witness said to him, “Why don’t you go and see the Colonel in charge at Scarborough?”. He said that he had no time; that he wanted to catch a train at 6.40. Witness asked who sent him. He replied, “I went to the vicarage to see Mr Stapleton, but he was away, and Mrs Stapleton said you were the likeliest person to help me.” On being asked what he was doing there at all he replied, “I was having a walk from Scarborough to Seamer and lost my purse on the way.” He further said he had to go to Norfolk to see his parents before returning to the front. He said that if he had not been so anxious to get back to the front he would have tramped the distance rather than solicit witness’s aid. He said he had been out since August 6th where he had been fighting in the trenches. He gave him his address as “E Morton, 22070, 20th Hussars, Colchester.” Witness afterwards gave him a sovereign, his fare being about 14s. Witness gave him his address on the picture postcard (produced).

Prisoner said he only asked Mr Norton to lend him the money and he would send it back to him. He had no wish to defraud anyone.

PC Dobbie, Seamer, said consequent upon information he received he accosted the accused on Seamer Railway Station about 6.15pm. The latter suggested their going along the road to Scarborough to look for the £15 which he had said he had lost. They did so, but they were unable to find it. He gave his name as Sergeant E Morton, 20th Hussars, and in addition said he came home from France with three sergeants. Subsequently, he admitted that his name was Edward Davies, that he was a deserter from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Colchester, and an absentee from the East Riding Cavalry at York. He 
afterwards admitted obtaining £1 from Mr Norton, Seamer. On being searched, an army disc and a railway ticket dated June 16th from Seamer to York were found in his possession, also the clasps of the East Riding Yeomanry and the 20th Hussars.

Inspector Boynton corroborated PC Dobbie. He said that a 10s note, some silver, and copper were also found on him.

Prisoner pleaded, after some hesitation, not guilty. Without taking the oath, he said it was not his intention to defraud anyone. What he received from Mr Norton he would like to return to him. It was very kind of him to lend the money.

The bench deliberated in private.

On returning, Inspector Boynton said there were three previous convictions against the prisoner, the last being in 1912, when he was sentenced to three months’ hard labour at Nuneaton. From enquiries he had made he had ascertained that his military character both in the East Riding Yeomanry and the 20th Hussars had been anything but satisfactory, he being continually an absentee. He enlisted in December, 1914, and deserted on January 6th, 1915.

The Chairman said the bench considered the case against him proved. He would be sentenced to two calendar months with hard labour.