Boy, 15, stole items from his employer

1913 Police Court

At the Borough Police Court today, before Mr SN Smith, in the chair, and other magistrates, a story of a lad’s thefts from his employer was told.

The boy who stole them said he had spent the money on pictures.

The Chairman: Pictures again! I think we did well to put that restriction upon the age of the children attending these places.

The Clerk: Yes, but the age you put was 12: this boy is 15.

The Chairman: Yes. He added that he saw that some other towns were making the age 14.

The boy was Walter Shannon (15), errand boy, 36, Sandringham Street, and he was charged on remand with stealing from the shop, 29 St Thomas Street, two vanity bags, two belts, three pairs of gloves, one pair of braces, one pair of straps, one cash bag, one card case, three tins of metal polish, wash leather, one pocket wallet, five watch guards, eleven purses, four pocket books, and five cigarette cases, of the value of 40s, the property of Francis Swann, between January 1st and February 15th, 1913.

Prisoner pleaded guilty, and Detective Inspector Nawton said that on December 30th the boy entered the employ of Mr Swann. Since that time Mr Swann had been frequently missing articles from his shop. On Saturday last information was given to the police, and Detective Sergt. Yeoman went to a place where he recovered the articles mentioned in the charge.

Francis Swann, 29, St Thomas Street, identified the articles as his property, and said he valued them at 40s.

Sergt. Yeoman said he went in consequence of information received, to Mr Swann’s shop on Saturday morning, when he saw prisoner. He told him he wanted him to accompany him to the police office. Prisoner immediately took off his apron and ran down into the cellar, where witness followed him attempting to hide one of the articles. He then went to a garage in Durham Place, and saw a person named Drabble, who unlocked a drawer and shewed him articles produced.

The father of the lad was then asked if he had anything to say. He stated that he was a religious man - “a believer in Jesus Christ” - and it had come as a great surprise to him on Saturday, when he got to know of the matter. He had no trouble with the lad before, and could not understand his conduct. Witness’s wife had been ill for about a year, and he had lost her in November. The lad, after leaving work, was allowed to stay until nine o’clock.

Asked what he had done with the money the lad said: “Pictures,” and the conversation recorded above then ensued.

The magistrates, after retiring, intimated that they felt very much for the lad’s father as well as for the lad, and they thought the latter should have been careful not to have brought that trouble upon him. They were going to give him a chance to redeem his character. His father would be bound for him to be of good behaviour for 12 months, and he would be under the supervision of Mr T Barrett, the Probation Officer.

The father said here that he would rather not be bound. He had tried to bring his family up respectfully and had said that if any of them got into trouble they must take the consequences.

The Chairman: Well, we have none of us done always as well as we ought.

The father: I would lay my life down for him as far as that goes, but I think in a matter like this.

Miss West (Probation Officer) here interrupted with the remark: You said you believed in Jesus Christ?

Shannon: I do.

Miss West: Then do as He would do.

Shannon: Well, I will be bound.

The Chairman: That’s right. I think you will never regret it.

Turning to the lad the Chairman exhorted him to go straight in the future.