1917 court: Woman blames theft of curtains on a delusion

At the Scarborough Police Court, a married woman named Mary Elizabeth Crowe, was charged with having stolen an ornament and two window curtains of the value of 2s 6d, the property of Mr Walter Harland on March 6th.

Defendant, when asked to plead, said she suffered from a delusion. At times she suffered so much with her heart, and could not get to sleep at night that she hardly knew what she was doing.

According to the chief constable, Mr Colclough, cashier with Mr Harland, saw the defendant in the Grand Hall at 1.36 on Tuesday, sitting on a chair. Next to her was a clothes basket with a lot of things in - ornaments and other things. Mr Colclough saw her put her cape over the basket, and apparently she got her hand in the basket. When she was leaving the saleroom he called defendant into the office and asked her to give up what she had got.

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Defendant: Something came over me, it was a delusion, I felt as if I did not know what I was doing.

The chief constable said the woman gave the things to Colclough. Then the latter asked her to wait, and he communicated with the police. Defendant walked out and down Huntriss Row, where Sergeant Yeoman saw her, and told her she would be charged with stealing the goods, to which defendant replied: Yes, I did take them.

Defendant, addressing the magistrates, said that for the past three months she had suffered greatly with her head. She had fits of dizziness - she did not get an hour’s sleep a week.

She suffered awfully. She had said to her husband: Do watch me. “I seem to get low,” said defendant, “I cannot understand it.” She added that she had asked the doctors to give her something to make her sleep, but they daren’t.

The chief constable said nothing was known of defendant.

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The husband was called, and he said that defendant had suffered from ill health since her baby was born fourteen years ago. A local doctor had told him to watch her, but there was nothing dangerous in regard to her.

She had suffered a good deal from ill health. There was no need for her to take the things - her late father, they attended his funeral recently, held one of the finest positions in Surrey for 40 years.

Defendant had previously been an attendant in an asylum.

The magistrates dismissed the case under the Probation of Offenders Act, Mrs Crowe to pay the costs, 10s.

The mayor urged the husband to exercise as much supervision as he could over her on account of her health, so as to prevent any repetition of incidents of a painful nature.