Harry Smith, of 6 St John’s Road, was summoned for having stolen a quart of milk, of the value of 4d, the property of the North Eastern Railway Company, on February 26th.
The offence was denied, and defendant was represented by Mr J Whitfield, solicitor. Several milk dealers were in court interested in the case.
Inspector Arrowsmith, of the NER Police, said that defendant was a dairyman, of the Springfield Dairies, Scarborough, and, like other dairymen, he received cans of milk daily at Scarborough station. The milk was set out on the platform, and the various dairymen went and took away their own milk.
In consequence of complaints, PC Berryman arranged with the staff to place complainant’s milk near a barrow at a spot where he could conveniently watch it, defendant’s milk being left on the platform 50 or 60 yards away. Defendant went to the barrow, looked at the address on the labels of the cans, and then proceeded to bring an empty can, which he placed beside the barrow. He then took off the lid of a can for the Forge Valley Dairy, dip in a half-gallon measure, draw it out, and place it in the empty can.
PC Berryman corroborated. There were seven cans on the barrow for three different dairies or persons. Defendant had an empty bucket in which he put the half-gallon measure. Witness rushed to him, and asked: “Why are you interfering with this milk?”
He replied: “Well, I thought it was my own. I noticed on the label there was an odd half gallon.”
The label was handed to the bench.
Witness took possession of the milk, took defendant’s name and address, and told him he would be reported.
By Mr Whitfield: Defendant helped the porter to wheel the barrow, but after taking the milk out of the can defendant did not lift the can off the barrow. Defendant had 11 cans coming in by that train. The number he got by that train was greater than all the other milk cans together which came in.
Other witnesses were called, one speaking as to the shortage of milk.
Smith, in the box, said he had one of the largest milk businesses in the town. If there was plenty of milk for the rounds he never went to the station. He took a measuring bucket, and another measure. He had two men at the station, the duty of one, Birdsall, being to bring three gallons and three quarters of milk from a can, get another quart from witness, making four gallons, and take it to defendant’s shop in North Street.
Another man, Thompson, had to go to the station to get some milk which he wanted to complete his round. Witness went to a can and took a quart of milk to give to Birdsall. Thompson then came in and witness took the can off the barrow to give him the remainder of it. The constable then went up and asked him what he was doing with the milk. Witness said: “I was a quart short.” The constable then said: “What right had you to touch it?” Witness said “it is my milk,” thinking the constable did not recognise him. On looking at the label the constable said that milk is not yours and witness then saw it was not. Witness had not looked at the label, he was so certain from the description of the can that it was one of his. There was a name, Atkinson, on the can, but witness dealt with a man named Allison, and the names were similar. Had the constable been a minute or two later he would have found that witness would have taken the whole of the milk. He, thinking it was his own, didn’t look closely.
By Alderman Whittaker: There were other cans on the barrow. Witness did not look closely at the others – he only wanted one at the time.
Inspector Arrowsmith suggested that having 11 cans to receive was necessary for him to look at the labels, but witness said he thought he could have gone blindfold, almost, to his own cans.
Inspector Arrowsmith: “Where did you find your other cans that morning?” Witness said he could not say – he was only getting a quart to make up Birdsall’s supply.
By the clerk: Witness had been through the barrier, and helped the porter to pull the barrow.
By Alderman Whittaker: There were six or seven cans on the barrow. Witness’s other 10 were elsewhere.
Alderman Whittaker: “How did you assume it was your can if you did not look at the label?” Witness replied by the make of the can. It was different to the others.
Witness further said that dealers had sometimes taken cans for theirs in mistake.
Birdsall said he could pick Smith’s cans out. It was really a guess, but he could do so.
By Alderman Whittaker: The 10 or 11 cans belonging to Smith were away from the trolley – on the platform.
By Mr RG Heys: Witness passed those on the trolley to get to the others.
Mr Whitfield said the defendant had traded 20 years, and that charge was serious to him. Defendant, he urged, merely made a mistake. He acted in full view of everybody.
The chief said there had been a previous case of milk being deficient in fat, against defendant, in April 1904. It was an ordinary case.
The magistrates imposed a fine of £2.