Young mum stole to look after her baby

144919'1915 paper copy 'Picture by Neil Silk'05/12/14
144919'1915 paper copy 'Picture by Neil Silk'05/12/14

1915 Police Court

Today at the Scarborough Police Court, before the Mayor, Mr CC Graham, in the chair, and other magistrates, Marion West, 30, waitress, 35a Back Oxford Street, was charged on remand with having stolen a quantity of goods valued at £9 2s, the property of Ruth Dawson, 9 Durham Street, between April 28th and May 29th.

Prisoner said: “I am very sorry, I have pawned your clothes.

The goods in the charge included a tin trunk, a dress basket and straps, a hand bag, a set of carvers, five brushes, a bicycle lamp, a silver brooch, and other articles such as wearing apparel when the magistrates entered.

West, who broke down and cried bitterly, pleaded guilty.

The circumstances were very sad and showed that the prisoner had become entangled with a soldier, and she said she, being out of work, had taken the goods to keep her baby.

The Chief Constable in outlining the case said the accused and complainant lodged at the same house in Sussex Street, from January to February. They had not known each other previously. They then went to 18, Brook Street. 
Accused had a baby so she was allowed to have a room to herself whilst the complainant shared a room with the landlady. A box of complainant’s, owing to want of space, was put into the prisoner’s room. They stayed there together until May 5th, when complainant had to go into the hospital to undergo an operation, the box being left. Accused had no authority to touch or open it. Complainant was detained in the hospital from May 5th until May 27th. On May 8th, however, the prisoner caused the box and contents to be removed from the house - she gave up the lodgings - and they were taken to Mrs Young’s, 53, North Street. Up to that point she might have been taking care of it, but later, on a number of occasions she was dealing with the property, representing, in some cases, it was her own, and in two or three cases that it belonged to complainant, but that complainant was asking her to have it pledged to raise money – a statement which was untrue. It appeared that she had really been dealing with the articles before the complainant went into the hospital, certain articles having been pledged as early as April 29th.

There were four pledges at Gibson’s, two at I’Anson’s, and six at Messrs Smith and Company. One lot of goods offered to Messrs I’Anson was refused – they looked with suspicion on the matter and reported it to the police, enquiries being made. It was owing to the proper action of Messrs I’Anson that it was discovered that these goods were being dealt with. The matter went on until the complainant came out of Hospital. Accused had been to see her but had not said anything about the change of lodgings. When complainant came out of the Hospital accused met her, and took her to her (prisoner’s) sister’s, who was at that time residing at St Thomas’s Walk. Complainant, who was in a weak state, acquiesced. Prisoner told her she had arranged for her to stay the night there. On May 28th the sister made a communication to complainant, and the latter asked prisoner where her boots were. Prisoner said, “I am very sorry. I have pawned some of your clothes, but I will get them out before night. It is through soldiers I have done it.”

She did redeem some of the articles, and wrote that she would get more later on. She was sorry she could not get down, but Percy the child was not well. She concluded by saying that a Mrs Walker had had plenty to say and asked complainant not to tell anybody, so that she might not be summoned.

After receiving this parcel of goods, said the Chief, the complainant did not see any more of accused until after she was arrested. Prisoner had not disposed of all the property in the box, but she had been charged with stealing the box and contents. He was glad to say the police had recovered nearly all the property.

Complainant gave evidence bearing out the statement of the Chief Constable.

The prisoner, it was said, had not been before the Court before. She had worked in Scarborough and Leeds. She said, the Chief Constable stated, that she was married but had not seen her husband for ten years. She got acquainted with a soldier, and she had the child. She was hard up, and got into a serious state.

Prisoner: I will never do it again.

She belonged to Scarborough, but had been away a good deal.

Prisoner said she took the goods to keep the baby. The latter was delicate, and people would not keep it. She took the goods to get things for the child.

The magistrates retired, and on returning the Mayor said the Bench found prisoner guilty. She had behaved in a mean way in the enforced absence of the complainant on account of illness, and thefts committed had been systematic and continuous. She would be committed to prison for a month with hard labour. The magistrates wished to record their appreciation of the action of Messrs I’Anson in communicating with the police.

Prisoner: What about my baby?

The Chief: You will be able to take it with you.