1916 Police Court: Ship’s cook in court for theft of £1 note

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At the Scarborough Police Court, Edward Turner (43), ship’s cook, 37, Belmont Street, Aberdeen, was charged with having been drunk in West Place on September 10th. There was a further charge of having stolen a £1 Scotch note.

He admitted the first offence, but not the second.

Detective Inspector Nawton said that the £1 note belonged to a member of the crew of the Scotch drifter Rob the Ranter, named Alexander Robertson Milne, of 202, Victoria Road, Torry, Aberdeen. On 28th August, prisoner was employed to serve on the vessel as cook. On the same day the vessel left Aberdeen and went to Hartlepool. They stayed at Hartlepool until September 8th, when they left and arrived at Scarborough on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon about three o’clock complainant went to the cabin to write a letter. When he had done this he took his purse out of his pocket. The purse contained a few postage stamps, a 10s note, and a £1 Scotch note. He put the stamps into the purse, but forgot about the 10s and the £1 note, which he left on the table in the cabin. A coincidence was that another member of the crew, Alexander Cunningham, on the Saturday, when the boat arrived at Scarborough, had the misfortune to lose a 10s Treasury note. On Sunday afternoon Cunningham went into the cabin and he saw a 10s Treasury note lying on the table and the Scotch note. He thought he was a fortunate man, as the 10s note had turned up. The prisoner was present and Cunningham remarked, “I have found my Treasury note, the one I lost yesterday, but there is a Scotch note there which doesn’t belong to me.” Prisoner: “No, I lost that £1 Scotch note, it belongs to me.” Cunningham thereupon handed the note to prisoner. Prisoner was at that time packing up his belongings, to leave the ship, and he was not seen afterwards until he was arrested. Complainant had gone to his berth after he left the notes, and gone to sleep. Cunningham went to him and after a communication remembered he had left the note on the table. Cunningham thereupon handed him the 10s note. When arrested by PC Shepherd prisoner said: I have not stolen it I had it given to me.

Complainant, Alexander Robertson Milne, 203, Victoria Road, Torry, Aberdeen; Alexander Cunningham, 185, Victoria Road, Torry, Aberdeen; and David Noble, 355, Victoria Road, Torry, Aberdeen, the latter being the skipper of the boat, and the others members of the crew, gave corroborative evidence. Milne said he thought that prisoner had not had any money, he had “given him a shilling to get a drink.”

Prisoner said he had plenty of money of his own. He had drawn £5.

The skipper of the vessel said he had paid prisoner £2 15s 1d on Saturday.

The chairman (Mr WS Rowntree), to the skipper: Was he entitled to take his discharge at Scarborough?

The skipper: Well, he has’t even yet said he has gone. He added that the man left the vessel on Sunday afternoon.

The chairman: He never told you he was going?

The skipper was understood to reply in the negative. He added that prisoner had removed practically the whole of his belongings. He had seen prisoner in the town when witness was going to the boat. Witness did not speak to him.

Prisoner elected to go into the witness box.

He said on Saturday, September 2nd, he drew £2 6s 8d from the skipper, and on the 9th September he drew £2 15s, with 9s he had from the chief and second engineers, his share of fish they got themselves. He went into an eating house on the Saturday night and a man offered the £1 to pay his bill, but he would not take it. He, witness, thereupon gave him two ten shilling notes for it. He was in the cabin on Sunday when Cunningham found the notes. Witness had previously told the chief engineer that he had lost some money, “but he did not want to shout about it,” because it upset everybody. They had a few words on Sunday, and he told “Alec” (one of the men) that he would go ashore. He went ashore about 6 o’clock. He told Cunningham that he had lost the £1 note before Cunningham found it.

Detective Inspector Nawton: If Cunningham says you did not tell him, he will be telling an untruth? – Yes, unless he does not remember it.

The magistrates felt there was a certain element of doubt in the case, and they would dismiss the charge.

Regarding the charge of drunkenness, Turner was fined 5s.