1917 court: Stolen purse funds a day out at Foreshore

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The losing of a purse containing a ten shilling note, a 6s postal order, and four penny stamps on October 24th, by Mrs Grace Johnson, 64, William Street, led to complications which resulted in several children being charged at the Children’s Court, on Tuesday, with having stolen the purse.

One child, a girl of ten, who had been sent on an errand, had lost a purse. Seeing another child pick up the purse in question she thought it was the once she had lost, and secured it. Some boys then asked her for it, stating it had been lost by someone in the town and, knowing by this time, it was not the purse she had lost, she gave it to them.

The magistrates, under the circumstances, dismissed the case against the girl.

Four boys were then charged with having stolen the purse, but they denied this.

The girl, who had been first charged gave evidence. After giving the purse, she said that one of the boys shouted: “I’ve found it.” (Laughter) The boys then went up the town. Witness thought the boy she gave it to was taking it to the owner.

PC Woardley had received the purse with 12s 10d in it from one of the boys. Detective Inspector Nawton had interviewed the four boys, and learnt that they had been playing in Hoxton Road, when the child who first found the purse told them about it, and that another girl had got it from her.

They learnt how the second girl was dressed, and they followed her, and meeting the second girl asked her for it.

One boy had urged that the purse should be taken to his mother, but another suggested that they should spend it.

They went to the Foreshore, and other places, including the communal kitchen in Nelson Street - one of the boys had gone home before this.

Three boys went to see the pictures at night and then visited a fried fish shop.

Witness detailed how the boys got the note and postal order changed. One of the boys had made the statement, in the presence of others, the latter all agreeing to it.

The father of one of the four boys said he thought the lads had not intended to do wrong, but the temptation being put in their way they fell.

One boy told the magistrates that his first thought was that they should take the course to the police station.

The chief constable said he thought the boys were right in finding the girl who had secured it from the girl who first found it.

The point where they went wrong was in converting the contents to their own use.

Mr AC Myers, attendance officer, said the boys were regular attendees at school and had good characters.

The magistrates ordered three of the boys to pay 2s towards the costs and 1s 2d towards refunding the money taken out of the purse; and the fourth boy, who had the least to do with it was ordered to refund 1s. The boys were also bound over under the First Offenders’ Act.

Regarding the allegation that four penny stamps had been purchased for threepence, a young man who bought the stamps attended, and said he had no explanation to give.

The boys said to him “Give us 3d for them,” and he did so. He did not think they might have got them dishonestly.

The chief said that had the matter being one of value he would have charged the young man with receiving.

The young man said he would be very careful in future.