Concern that a boy can so easily commit fraud

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1915 court

At the Scarborough Children’s Court today, Bertram Wilson (14), Rotherham, fitter’s apprentice, was charged that whilst being the bailee of a suit of clothes, valued at 23s, the property of John Jackson, 9 and 10, Queen Street, he fraudulently converted the same to his own use and thereby stole it on June 12th, 1915. He was further charged with having obtained by false pretences from John Jackson, a suit valued at 27s 6d on the same day, he was also charged with having obtained by false pretences from Hugh Furness, 82, Tennyson Avenue, a suit of clothes of the value of 24s, the property of the Grand Clothing Hall, on June 11th.

The boy pleaded guilty, and the facts, as outlined by the Chief Constable, were that the youth was found in Scarborough on Saturday and was taken to the police office for enquiries. When searched, a number of tickets were found in his possession. These tickets came off clothing – from Mr Jackson and the Grand Clothing Hall. Enquiries were made and it was found that he was staying at Cottingham’s Cafe. He said he was 16 last September which was wrong. It was found that on June 12th he went to John Jackson’s clothing shop and obtained two suits. He asked whether they made smart motor suits, he wanted one making with braid on it. He produced an advertisement from Cottingham’s Cafe, such as anyone might take at the door, and he said he was employed there. That statement was not correct. He had also said he was driving a touring car for a gentleman from Sheffield who was courting a lady in Scarborough. He wished for two suits on approval, and he obtained two. He then went somewhere and put one of the suits on, and the other suit he went and sold to Mary Ellen Gillingham between four and five o’clock the same day. He told her that the suit was his own, that the trousers were too short, and he had the suit in his drawer a long time. She asked him where he lived, and he gave an address in Bland’s Cliff which was not correct. He had stayed there a day or two but was not there then. He said he was driving a Wolsey car and that was the reason he was here. She asked him his age, and he said 18. She said: “I should not have taken you for more than 15.” He asked 6s for the suit, and she gave him 5s. The other suit he was found wearing, and it was taken possession of by the police. There was a difference in the two cases whether he intended permanently to deprive Mr Jackson of one of the suits – hence the difference in the charges. In one case he went straight away and disposed of the suit. As to the charge of obtaining the suit from the Grand Clothing Hall the boy went there about four o’clock on the 11th.

He handed in a letter stating: Will you kindly send me one or two suits on approval? The letter, proceeding, asked that they might be to fit the boy, long trousers, tweeds preferable. It went on to say that the writer would have gone herself but she was ill. It was asked that the bill might be sent with the goods. The letter was signed by “CE Wilson”, and an address in Bland’s Cliff was given. The boy said that the letter was from his mother. The boy said he came from Rotherham, and Mr Furness, manager, also came from Rotherham. Mr Furness had conversations with the lad and he believed he knew the boy’s parents. Believing the note came from the boy’s mother, he let him take away four suits on approval. As a matter of fact the mother was not in Scarborough.

The boy took them away, and returned an hour later with three suits, keeping one which he said his mother would call and pay for. He went, about noon on the Saturday, and pledged it at Messrs I’Anson’s, 47, Castle Road. He asked 10s for it. Mr Millhouse, assistant, asked what it cost. The boy also said, in reply to other questions, that it was his own property, he was residing in Bland’s Cliff, and believing the statement, Mr Millhouse lent him 6s on it.

Concluding, the Chief Constable said it had seemed quite easy for the boy to obtain the clothing and the ease with which he had disposed of them was worse. It was unfortunate that a boy of that age could so easily commit frauds.

The magistrates retired, and returning, the chairman, Mr Sinfield, said it was very sad to see a youth like him in that position. He was bringing disgrace not only upon himself but his parents. He hoped that would be a warning to him, and that in future he would do better. The magistrates had taken a lenient view. They would adjourn the case for three months, and he would be put under the Probation Officer at Rotherham. If the boy’s character remained satisfactory at the end of the three months, then, of course, the magistrates would take a lenient view.