1916 court: Army sergeant in court for theft of pound note

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At the Borough Police Court, Gladstone Bowes, a sergeant in the East Yorkshire Regiment, stationed at Rugeley Camp, Staffordshire, was charged with stealing a one pound note on the 27th August.

Prisoner pleaded guilty.

The chief constable said on Saturday the 26th August last, the prisoner went to the Holborn Restaurant at 29 Newborough Street and asked if he could have a bed. He was told he could. He had his supper and went to bed. The following day, Sunday, he paid his bill and went out, and returned again at 8.30 in the evening.

He sat down in the restaurant and a lady and gentleman at that time were having some refreshments at a table, and Hannah Newton, who was attending to them, received from them a £1 Treasury note, being payment for the refreshments. The prisoner was close by and saw Newton going towards Mr Whittaker, who was at the back of the counter, to get it changed. The prisoner took it from her hand - the chief did not say he snatched it from her - and said, “I’ll get it changed for you.” She released her hold on it and the prisoner went out of the restaurant with it. She followed him to the door, as also did Mr Whittaker, and they saw the prisoner running up Queen Street. They reported the matter to the police and he was traced as having left Scarborough for York. He was arrested the previous day at Leeds, and was now before them on the charge, which he admitted.

Asked if he had anything to say prisoner said he did it on the spur of the moment. He was off away and took the note. He would get punished for it when he got back to his regiment. He would lose his stripes and would be sent out with the draft to France as a private instead of a sergeant. His wife would also lose her separation allowance. He was very sorry for what he had done. He was prepared to meet Mr Whittaker and return him the full amount. He asked the magistrates to deal as leniently as they possibly could with him, for he would receive enough punishment as it was.

The chief said it appeared the prisoner was a married man, no family, and belonged to Kirkbymoorside, he was for several years employed as a clerk by the North Eastern Railway Company at various stations, and was at Scarborough for some time. He left the railway and found employment at different times. He subsequently joined the Army. He rose to the rank of sergeant in four months and was afterwards promoted to quartermaster sergeant, being soon afterwards reduced to sergeant again on account of his drinking habits. Continuing, the chief said he had had some drink at the time of the offence. After he left Scarborough he went to York and he (the chief) thought his behaviour there pointed to his being in a very peculiar state. When at York he stole a mail bag containing several hundred letters from off a barrow for which he was arrested and sentenced to one month’s hard labour. He had only just come out of prison. Of course, he was also regarded as an absentee from the East Yorkshire Regiment and would be dealt with for that offence.

The chairman: Are you agreeable to going back to the Army at once?

Prisoner: Yes, sir, I want to go back.

The chairman: Under these circumstances we bind you over for twelve months in the sum of £5. I have no doubt the military authorities will deal with you.

Defendant was then formally charged with being an absentee for the East Yorkshire Regiment to which he pleaded guilty.