The deviousness of a domestic servant

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1913 Court

A painful case was brought before the Scarborough Magistrates today, his Worship the Mayor (Mr AM Daniel) presiding, Alderman Rowntree, Cllr Hopwood, Mr AJ Tugwell, and Mr G Rowntree, when a young domestic servant, named May Nutbrown (17), of no fixed abode, was charged with obtaining by false pretences food and drink to the value of 4s from Ida Coutts, the property of Louie Coutts, with intent to defraud, between October 1st and October 5th. She was further charged with having obtained by false pretences certain food and drink to the value of 2s from Eliza Standing, with intent to defraud, between September 28th and October 2nd.

Prisoner pleaded guilty.

The Chief Constable in outlining the charge said that the prisoner came to the house of Mrs Standing, a widow, residing at 37 Hoxton Road, between 10 and 11 o’clock on the night of September 28th and asked if she could allow her a bed for the night. Mrs Standing had some doubt, but prisoner said she was a clerk at Rowntree’s Factory, York, and had come with a party on a day excursion. One of the party, however, had got the return half of the ticket. Believing this to be true, Mrs Standing allowed prisoner to stop for the night. On the following day defendant told Mrs Standing that she had a sister at York who was an invalid, and she (prisoner) had decided to stay at Scarborough and bring her sister over to stay with her.

Mrs Standing therefore prepared a room for the sister, and she enquired about the luggage, but was told it was at the station, and that it was not “worthwhile” fetching it down until her sister arrived, and then they would come down in the cab altogether.

Mrs Standing spoke to prisoner several times about her sister and the luggage and that it was strange it had not arrived. On Thursday, October 2nd (prisoner arrived at the house on the Saturday before), Mrs Standing spoke to prisoner whilst at breakfast about the payment for the lodgings. Prisoner left the house after that and did not return, and Mrs Standing had not seen her (prisoner) since until that morning in the Police Station.

Continuing, the Chief Constable said he had evidence to prove, by Detective Sergt. Yeoman, that he (the detective) had known this woman fairly intimately for about three months, prisoner having been in Scarborough for about 10 weeks at the least.

She was a domestic servant and had been discharged from more than one situation in Scarborough. The detective had become acquainted with her in respect to the places which she left, and had known her from time to time since she was in Scarborough. Therefore it was entirely false that she was a clerk in employment at Rowntree’s Factory at York, and the detective could also prove that the other statements were false.

Proceeding, the Chief Constable said that on the morning prisoner left Mrs Standing’s she went to Mrs Coutt’s house, 60 Castle Road, and speaking to Miss Coutts, asked if they had apartments for her (prisoner) and her invalid sister, who would arrive at Scarborough on the following day. Miss Coutt’s prepared a bedroom for them, and agreed to board at 4s a day. On the following day prisoner, having remained the night, no luggage or prisoner’s “sister” arrived. Accused was later found employed as a domestic servant. She made no reply to the charge.

Mrs Standing, Miss Coutts, and Detective Sergeant gave evidence.

The Chief Constable said this was a very sad case indeed. Prisoner was a young girl of 17, and she had not been convicted before for any offence; but he was sorry to say that she was drifting to a life of crime through sentimentality, partly, of previous employers by their mistaken kindness.

They had been in communication with prisoner’s parents, who resided at York, and they would have nothing to do with her whatever – a very sad state of things indeed. In his (the Chief Constable’s) opinion she should be taken in hand and dealt with in an effective way. To simply bind her over would be to turn her adrift again. She had been committing petty thefts whilst in various employments at Scarborough, and she had strongly developed criminal instincts.

The magistrates retired, and on their return the Chairman said that the court regarded the case very seriously.

Prisoner expressed her willingness to go to a home for 12 months.