1918 court: Woman obtains goods under false pretences

Clara Parnaby (otherwise Norah Morgan) was charged on remand at the Scarborough Police Court with having given false information to a lodging house keeper, at 5 Carlton Terrace, on January 19th, with a similar offence at Southlands, West Street, on January 7th, and with having obtained by false pretences between the 7th and 16th January from Messrs W Rowntree and Sons, a brown coat dress, and a pair of brown shoes valued altogether at £19 11s 7d.

At the Southlands, prisoner gave the name and address as Alice Winifred Smock, of Tooting, London. This was false. She then went to the Carlton Terrace address, and there gave the name Mrs Morgan. This was false. When Detective Inspector Nawton, who knew her, saw accused, he said: “Your name is Clara Parnaby - you know me as well as I know you.” She replied: “You’re mistaken.”

The facts of the case of false pretences were on January 7th she telephoned from the Ramshill Hotel to Messrs Rowntree’s stating that she was Mrs Smock, staying at the Southlands, and asking that goods might be sent up for her inspection: A dressing case for her daughter going to school, and other goods. A Mrs Smock had traded with Messrs Rowntree some years ago, and in the belief that accused was Mrs Smock, the goods were sent. Two days later she was heard at the Ramshill Hotel, using a telephone, and telling Messrs Rowntree that she wished for some more goods, but was ill at Southlands, and could not get down. Mrs Lawler, the landlady had not know that she was using the telephone, and hearing the accused allege that she was ill at Southlands, whilst as a fact she was at the Ramshill Hotel, communicated the fact to Messrs Rowntree. When seen by the detective the accused denied that she had ever stayed at Southlands.

The magistrates decided to deal with the case summarily, and prisoner pleaded guilty, as she had done in the other cases. Asked if she had anything to say prisoner replied: No. The magistrates decided to convict, and the chief said a warrant was out against her for wrongfully obtaining goods, valued at £19 1s 5d, from Messrs Leek and Thorp. The chief constable of York asked that the matter might be taken into consideration with the Scarborough cases. The prisoner had agreed to this.

Accused said that nearly all the things had been returned. She had done her best with that in view.

The chief said that he was not preferring any case in regard to obtaining medical attention and medical supplies. She had incurred debts under conditions of something like fraud.

As to her past record the chief read out a long list of cases against the accused.

In 1900 she received three months’ imprisonment at Manchester for false pretences and stealing, in 1902 at Preston Quarter Sessions nine months for stealing at Northallerton, in 1903 twelve months for fraud at York and six months for false pretences (consecutively with the Northallerton sentence), Leeds in 1908 nine months for false pretences, in 1909 at Scarborough Quarter Sessions seven months for false pretences, in 1913 three months at Barnsley for stealing a nightdress, and in 1913 at York Assizes for stealing jewellery, and false pretences at Beverley three years’ penal servitude.

The latter sentence, said the chief, expired on March 8th last year. She received no commutation of her sentence - she could have secured nine months - and the reason given was: Illness. She was discharged from the convict prison to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum on March 8th, 1917, she was then transferred on June 5th to Beverley Asylum, and on July 31st she was granted a month’s leave on trial.

The magistrates, after retiring, imposed a fine of £5, or a month’s imprisonment in each of the charges of giving false information - that was £10, or two months.

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