1918 Court: A nurse’s ‘persistent and systematic thefts’

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At the Borough Police Court before the mayor (Alderman Graham), Mr J Sinfield, Mary Ruth Mincainton, a middle-aged nurse, was charged on remand with stealing a one pound jar of honey, value 2s 6d, the property of Messrs Wallis and Blakeley, on the 21st November.

She was further charged with stealing a linen sheet, camisoles, towels, nightdress, gloves, handkerchief, etc, value £3 9s, the property of Margaret S Bredon. A third charge against her as for stealing nine books, value £2 9s 6d, the property of Arthur Holloway and others.

She pleaded guilty to all three charges.

The Chief Constable said about 8.30am on the 21st of November Mr Raper, manager at Messrs Wallis and Blakeley’s shop in Falsgrave Road, placed three pound of honey on the counter at the shop. About 11.30am he saw the prisoner in the shop near where the honey was placed. Prisoner was making some enquiries from an assistant with regard to certain things, but she did not make a purchase.

After she had left the shop a jar of honey was missing, and subsequently it was found in her possession by Detective Nalton. When caught she said she would go back and pay for it. Some enquiries were made and it was found she had been employed by Miss Bredon at 19 Weaponness Valley. She was employed to attend to Miss Bredon’s sister, who was an invalid, and had been so employed since the 1st of June, 1917.

When engaged she produced excellent testimonials. During the time she had been employed by Miss Bredon she had been in the habit of going out in the morning for recreation and exercise.

There had been things missed, including jewellery, during that time, but prisoner had never been suspected. She had always been apparently of a most religious turn of mind. When this matter was reported a search was made in boxes etc, and the articles, the subject of the other charges were found. In reply to the charges she said, “I have done it all.”

Asked if she had anything to say, defendant said she did not know why she took them.

The Chief Constable said he found on enquiry that defendant was at a nursing home at Malvern for a short time in 1917 and that she went there from Vauxhall. She had declined to give any information about her antecedents and life’s history. Apart from these three charges other definite charges were admitted.

There was a collection of jewellery - worth between £5 and £6 - belonging to Mrs Margaret Mears, who was staying at Miss Bredon’s for a short time. It had not been identified, but prisoner admitted stealing it. She also admitted ribbons from Messrs Marshall’s Ltd, Mr George Dale Smith and Mr Proctor, stationery from Mr Lightfoot’s and Mr Marshall, and a small article from Messrs Boyes and Co. Whether it was a disease or a crime, he did not know. Her finger prints had been sent to Scotland Yard, but they had not been recognised.

The Mayor (to defendant): Are you a properly qualified woman?

Defendant: Half qualified.

Have you any certificates? - No.

Have you ever been in a hospital nursing? - No.

After the magistrates had retired the Mayor said the magistrates took a very serious view of these persistent and systematic thefts.

Defendant would be sentenced to two months’ imprisonment with hard labour on each of the three charges, the sentences to run consecutively, making a total of six months in all.