1918 Court: Laundress hung out to dry for string of thefts

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At the Scarborough Police Court before Mr SN Smith, in the chair, and Mr W Sayner, Ida Taylor, 20, laundress, 6 Springfield, was charged with stealing 3s 5d, the money of Sarah Jane Lightfoot, on the 16th June.

Defendant pleaded guilty.

The Chief Constable said Mrs Lighfoot carried on the business of a grocer at 23 Oxford Street.

She had duplicate keys. One she kept in general use and the other she kept in a drawer in her bedroom. During the past two months she had missed sums of money from her bedroom. The shop never seemed to be disturbed. It generally happened that the money was missed on Sunday afternoons.

About a fortnight ago she discovered that the front door key, which she believed was in the drawer, was missing.

On the 9th of June she gave information to the police, and on Saturday last PC Nalton made arrangements with Mrs Lightfoot to secrete himself on the premises in an upstairs room on the Sunday afternoon.

Mrs Lightfoot went out and PC Nalton stayed in the house alone.

He heard someone unlock the front door, and then he saw the prisoner go into Mrs Lightfoot’s bedroom, and take the money off the dressing table.

When he made himself known the prisoner said: “If you will let me go I will never do it again.”

Prisoner had nothing to say in answer to the charge.

The Chairman (to prisoner): How old are you?

Prisoner: Twenty yesterday.

In reply to the bench the Chief Constable said there was no record against the prisoner. She was a single woman with a child a year and four months old to keep.

She got no order against anyone for the maintenance of the child. Her mother was dead and her father was serving in the army in Italy.

She got half a crown a day at the laundry and out of her wages she paid 2s 6d a week to a woman to look after her child and the remainder she gave to her sister for her keep.

She was in poor circumstances.

Miss Dyer, Probation Officer, said she knew something of the case and enquiries had been made with the object of finding a home for the child.

The magistrates bound prisoner over to be of good behaviour for six months in her own recognisance of £5, and placed her under the Probation Officer.

They hoped she realised the serious position she had placed herself in and would do better in future.