Harness-theft man tells of his hardship

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1914 Police Court

A sad story, as a 
result of the war, was related before the Borough Magistrates, Mr J Dippie presiding, at the 
Scarborough Police Court today.

Albert Shaw (33), groom, 13 Mill Street, Victoria Road, was charged on remand with 
having stolen a set of harness, value £2 15s, belonging to Edgar Helston Robinson, 
between 5th and 6th August.

Defendant pleaded guilty. The Chief Constable said that prisoner was employed at Messrs Robinson’s as a cab driver from 4th of June last month to the 6th August, and because of a number of horses being sold, his services were not required.

On the 7th of August the harness in question was missed from the stable, and the matter was reported to the police. It appeared that the harness was taken to Messrs Gibson’s, pawnbrokers, 
Castle Road, at 4pm, on the 7th August, by William Leaf and a man named Boyes.

John Coultas, manager of Messrs Robinson’s Mews, Vine Street, said that prisoner had been employed at the Mews for five or six years. He was a steady man.

William Leaf, 13, Barwick Street, said that prisoner said to him, “I have a set of harness to dispose of at my house, will you go and cash it for me?” He told him he was in a very low way at home with his wife and children, he went with Boyes (who held the horse) to the pawnshop, placing the harness in his (witness’s) cab, and he received 17s 6d for it.

They then went to the Commercial Hotel and had about two drinks each.

The accused, a respectable-looking man, said in his defence that through illness and being out of work, and with the war coming on he had taken to drink and this was the cause. He intended getting 
the harness out and returning it.

He had invalid children and an invalid wife who had entered the York Maternity Home, and he (prisoner) had had three weeks illness.

He had several witnesses who would stand by him as to his character. He had three children aged 4, 3, and 2 years.

The Chairman said that in consideration that prisoner had a good character, and had not been in disgrace before, and having a wife and family dependent upon him, the magistrates would deal with it under the First Offenders’ Act and prisoner would be bound over in the sum of £5 and a surety of £5 to be of 
good behaviour for 12 

If he abstained from drink, the Chairman added, it would be in his favour.

The Chief Constable added that the actions of Leaf and Boyes in this case were very suspicious. The Chairman said the magistrates quite agreed.