1916 court: Time’s up for sailor who stole watches

editorial image

At the Scarborough Police Court, Bertram Read, sailor, of Denmark Road, Beccles, was charged with having stolen two silver watches, valued at £3, the property of John Williams, Cross Street, between September 23rd and September 28th. He elected to be dealt with summarily, and pleaded guilty.

He had, according to the statement of the chief constable, gone to Williams’ house at 15, Cross Street. Williams is a labourer in the employ of the Corporation. He said he had been recommended there for lodgings, and he was allowed to stay, he bargaining to board himself. He went to the house on September 2nd and remained until the 27th. He was believed to be employed as a fireman in the town and he occupied a bed in the attic.

The two silver watches, the subject of the charge, were in a locker in Mr Williams’ bedroom on another floor below the attic. At 1pm on September 23rd the watches were safe, but at 6.30pm on September 28th they were missing. Information was given to the police, enquiries were made, and it was found that Thomas Gledhill, pawnbroker’s manager, employed by Mr James Smith, 41, Eastborough, received the two watches in pledge between four and five o’clock on September 26th from a woman named Mary Horsley. She had asked to have 10s advanced on them, and the pawnbroker lent her 7s as the watches were out of order. This woman, Horsley, had said she was, at about 4pm on September 26th, in the Elephant and Castle Hotel, getting a glass of beer. When in the front bar she saw this man, and he apparently knew her, for he said: “Do you want to earn a shilling, Mary?” She said she did, and he said, “take these watches and pledge them for me, and ask the pawnbroker to lend me 10s on them.” She went with the result stated, and returning she gave him the 7s and he gave her a shilling for pledging them. Prisoner, said the chief, was arrested by the York police - a description of him having been circulated - on October 5th. When conveyed to Scarborough and charged with the offence he replied: Yes.

Prisoner said he was sorry - he would make compensation to Mr Williams. He was upset through having been mined when serving on a ship - he was suffering from his nerves.

Replying to questions he said he belonged to Beccles, in Suffolk.

The chief said, so far, he only knew of one case against the man. His place of birth was given as Beccles, he was described as a motor mechanic, and he was sentenced to a month’s hard labour at Barnsley in 1908, for stealing eleven bicycle spanners. He was then convicted in the name of Betram Cross.

Prisoner said Read was his proper name. He admitted the conviction at Barnsley.

The chief: He was in employment at the time he committed this theft. Why he should have robbed this man of his watches I don’t know.

The magistrates sent him to gaol for six weeks, with hard labour.