1917 court: Girl commits spate of thefts at place of work

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Before the mayor (Mr CC Graham), and other magistrates at the Scarborough Police Court, Alice Amelia Haynes, a domestic servant, was charged with having stolen a lady’s handbag, silk blouse, an underbodice, and a piece of embroidery, of the total value of £2, the property of Mrs Charlotte Walker, of Westwood.

Defendant, a respectable-looking young woman, who wore glasses, and who appeared to feel her position keenly, pleaded guilty.

The chief constable said that in consequence of a communication made to Detective Sergeant Yeoman on August 28th at Westwood. He told defendant that several articles were missing from the house, and he had reason to believe that she knew something about them. She began to cry and said, “I don’t know anything about them.” He then told her he would have to search her bedroom, and that if nothing was found it might be to her interest that that should be known. She gave permission for him to go to the room, which he did, in company of Mrs Walker, the occupier of the house, and the employer of the defendant; and in a chest of drawers in accused’s bedroom he found the articles the subject of the charge, which Mrs Walker identified as her property, Sergeant Yeoman asked defendant how she came by them, and she said, “I am very sorry; I don’t know what made me take them.” He then arrested her and charged her. A nurse, Ada Collins, in the employ of Mrs Walker, could tell the magistrates that defendant entered Mrs Walker’s employment on the 28th of May last, as housemaid, and that the articles of wearing apparel referred to in the charge were in a trunk at the top of the house, and the handbag was in the nursery. Defendant had had no authority to take them.

Asked if she had anything to say, defendant replied to the magistrates: I don’t know why I took them.

It appeared that defendant’s father was striving in the Army at Malta, and her mother resided in London. He (the chief) understood that the mother had not the best of characters - she was intemperate - and there seemed to have been no parental control over the defendant, who had had no proper home apart from the fact that her aunt who lives in Scarborough (Falsgrave Road) had practically brought her up, however, was an invalid. Early in January the aunt found that the girl was staying out late at nights; and she had also taken things belonging to the aunt. A communication was made at that time to Miss Crosthwaite, who was then the Probation Officer at Scarborough, and Miss Crosthwaite took an interest in the girl and got her to go to an institution at Liverpool. The girl came out of the institution in September 1916, remained for a short time with her aunt, and then obtained a situation. In May she went to Mrs Walker’s, at Westwood. If the magistrates bound the defendant over he (the chief) suggested that they should make it a condition that she should be in charge of Miss Hubbard, the Probation Officer, and should go to a home. It was necessary to place her under some control.

Detective Sergeant Yeoman said defendant had been in the employ of Mrs Walker, 45, Esplanade Road, and remained there until Whitsuntide, when she took a holiday, spending it with Miss Crosthwaite. Whilst there she was engaged by her present employer, Mrs Walker, of Westwood.

After the magistrates had retired the mayor said they hoped she realised the seriousness of the offence. Apparently she did feel the painful position she had got herself into. She had told the magistrates she did not know why she took them, but she should have thought before doing so of the consequences in the loss of character to herself, and the wrong she was doing in committing such an offence. The Bench had not only to consider her, but to protect the public who might employ persons and trust them. “Are you willing to go to a home for two years?” Defendant: Yes.