Probation officer takes pity on shoe thief

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1914 Court

Miss West, one of the probation officers of the Scarborough Police Court, appeared in a new role at the police court today (Monday) before Mr SN Smith in the chair, and Mr WS Rowntree. It was that of prosecutrix, and she told the bench she did not desire to punish the prisoner but only to save her.

Prisoner was Georgina Fenwick, 18, married, and she was charged with having stolen a pair of shoes valued at 4s 6d belonging to Emily West, probation officer, of the Mission House, Granby Place, on March 5th.

The offence was denied.

According to Miss West she visited the prisoner on March 2nd and persuaded her to go into the Mission House. She was, however, unsettled. On the evening of the day in question she (witness) went out in the evening, and on returning found prisoner had gone. She missed the shoes a week later. The shoes had been in her bedroom.

Prisoner: No, I got the shoes out of a cupboard in the kitchen. Bertha said I could put the shoes on if I liked.

Miss West: No, they were in the bedroom. They never leave the bedroom, not even to be cleaned.

Madeline Staveley said she saw the prisoner with the shoes, and she stated that Miss West had given them to her, but she had not to tell anyone. Witness said to her “If I were you I would not wear them to clean up in.” Prisoner said, “Oh, yes, I will, because mine are down at the heels.”

Prisoner had told her she had dropped a letter out of the window a day or two before, to a young man, and she wanted to go out in the afternoon.

Prisoner: I didn’t say I had dropped a letter out, I said I spoke to him out of the window and had sent a letter by post.

The Clerk pointed out that that had nothing to do with the case.

PC Nalton said he cautioned and charged prisoner, and she replied: “They were a pair of shoes I was washing on the first day I went. One woman said there were plenty of shoes to put on if I could get them on – it was no use washing and getting my feet wet.”

Prisoner (to the magistrates): I took them out of the cupboard in the kitchen. The matron asked me to help her to wash. Mine were very thin, and Bertha said there were plenty of shoes in the cupboard, if I could get them on; so I went and got these out.

The Clerk (to Miss West): Who is Bertha?

The reply was that she was a woman who had been in the home at the time, and was now in the Workhouse Infirmary – she was ill.

She added: I have not brought this case to punish her I only wanted to save her, and get her back to the home.

The magistrates adjourned the case for a week, so that the woman Bertha might appear, the prisoner consenting to go back to the Mission House.