Lenient jail sentence for grocery embezzler

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1914 Court

At the Borough Police Court today, before the Mayor, Mr CC Graham, Alderman Rowntree, Alderman Ascough, and Mr AJ Tugwell, a respectable looking man, named Wilson Henry Martin (47), grocer’s traveller, 16, Barwick Street, was charged on remand with embezzling the three sums of £4 12s, 12s 9d, and 8s 4d received by him for his master William Vasey, between the 26th February and 21st March.

Accused pleaded guilty to the charge.

Mr J Whitfield, who appeared on behalf of the prosecution, said that prosecutor carried on an extensive business in Scarborough as a grocer. Defendant was engaged some months ago as traveller, taking orders into the country, and receiving the accounts. On each day when he set out on his journey he was supplied with a list of customers on whom he was to call and it was defendant’s duty to receipt their accounts. Referring to the charge in regard to the payment made by Mr Ashton, Mr Whitfield said that on the 10th of January defendant 
returned the day-sheet without the payment of £4 15s 2d being counted for.

As a matter of fact, defendant had that day received £4 15s 2d less some three shillings returns, owing to Mr Ashton, namely the sum stated in the charge of £4 12s 2d. He gave the receipt, but did not account for that money and defendant was dismissed from his situation about a fortnight ago. When a traveller appointed in defendant’s place called on Mr Ashton he found defendant had already received the amount named, and had not accounted for it. As the defendant had pleaded guilty, he (Mr Whitfield) would have to refer to other matters. The other sums in the charge were of a similar nature, the sum of 8s 4d received from Mr Bull, and also the sum of 12s 9½d from Mr Stockill. In addition there were other accounts of very similar circumstances, and the total amount of the dedications, so far as his client had been able to ascertain was £21 15s 8d, which covered about 12 accounts. Even now the whole of the customers prisoner visited had not been called upon, and it was not possible to say whether there were other defalcations or not. Mr Whitfield asked that the decision and the Bench to be deferred. The defendant was willing to make restitution so far as was in his power to do though personally he (Mr Whitfield) was not sanguine. Defendant had been promised assistance from a relative. Mr Whitfield asked that the accused be remanded in his own recognisances.

After consultation the chairman intimated that they wished the case to be proceeded with that morning.

Mrs Ashton, Foxholes, who appeared in the absence of her husband, gave evidence.

Mr Hildred, manager of the South Cliff branch, said that in accordance with duty the account should have been paid into the offices on the same night.

Witness saw the defendant the week after he had been dismissed, and he said he was going to come to pay the account to him (witness). Defendant said he had had the misfortune to burn some letters and in one letter was a £5 note which he had accidentally thrown into the fire.

Mr Vasey, the prosecutor, in the witness box, said that defendant’s wages were 32s 6d per week and expenses; he did not receive commission.

A letter was read from the police at Kendal showing that defendant had an excellent character. He had been a number of years in one employ. Then he commenced business for himself but was not successful.

The chairman, to prisoner: What led you to act in this way?

Defendant said this was the first time he had been in trouble on this account. He explained he had taken good orders, and the deficiency was largely due to that. He had done this always with the hope that he would get matters right gradually. He had done it to keep up orders.

The Chairman: Do you tell us you filled in receipts of bad accounts, not paid to you, by money received from good 

Defendant: That is so.

Can you give any instances?

Defendant: Well, it was done in small accounts.

Defendant asked their Worships to deal leniently with him. He was most anxious to make restitution to Mr Vasey. He had a wife and six children dependent upon him, the youngest being three years and the eldest 16.

The magistrates retired, and on their return the Chairman said that in view of the circumstances of the case the magistrates had decided to deal as leniently as possible with defendant. The magistrates had decided to commit defendant to gaol for fourteen days in the second division, and they hoped that this would be a warning.

Mr Whitfield asked the magistrates if this was a case where the advocate’s fee should be allowed?

The Bench decided not to allow the fee.