1917 Police court: Thief has her sight set on pocket binoculars

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At the Borough Police Court before Mr AJ Tugwell (in the chair) Mr J Sinfield and Alderman Rowntree, Mary Ann Brogden, married, 11, West Place, was charged on remand with having stolen a pair of pocket binoculars, value 10s on 2nd May. There was now also a further charge of having stolen a pair of opera glasses valued at 35s.

Miss Ingham, Broxholme, the Crescent, said that on Wednesday morning, at about eleven o’clock, she was in the butler’s pantry at Broxholme by the owners of which her parents were employed, when she heard a gramophone going in the morning room. She went to the latter room and saw a person (prisoner) standing by the gramophone. Witness asked her “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” Prisoner offered no explanation, but said she had a right to be there. Presently she said, “I know your mother.” Witness left the room and called her mother who asked prisoner who she was but she would give no explanation. An uncle went for the police, prisoner meanwhile trying to get away, which they prevented. They went into the hall and prisoner took a pair of binoculars (produced) from a handbag and laid them on the hall table. Witness said, “There, she is taking Harry’s glasses out of her bag. How shall we know what else she might have?”

Prisoner said she was Mrs Brogden. Her husband was an inspector of police, and she was an inspector of police herself. She added, “All’s fair in war.” They asked her if she had been upstairs, and she said, “No”. She repeated she had a right to be there, and asked how witness knew whether the place belonged to her or not?

PC Wardby spoke as to finding prisoner detained in the front hall, and she said in answer to his question: “I have a perfect right here. I want this house for soldiers.” She declined to say where she got her authority.

Prisoner protested that she had no intention of stealing the glasses. She put them in her bag and took them out again.

The chairman: Why did you put them in your bag?

Prisoner: Well, I had no intention of stealing them; none whatever.

The clerk: Would you like to tell the magistrates why you went to the house at all.

Prisoner: I can’t tell you.

In the second case evidence was given by John Harwood, fisherman, 150, Longwestgate, who identified a pair of opera glasses (produced) as his property. He missed them after a visit paid by prisoner, who was his niece, some time ago. On that occasion she had shut herself in the kitchen. He went to see what she was doing, and she said: “I am only looking at the photos.” The glasses had been hanging in a case produced.

Detective Sergeant Yeoman spoke as to having received a report of the robbery some time ago and produced a pawn ticket taken from prisoner showing she had received 5s for the glasses. She had told him they belonged to “Uncle John Cockshott Cunningham Wright. Before that they belonged to Isaac Wright, once mayor of Bradford, and I have them from Uncle John Harwood.”

She had asked witness to visit a solicitor and on his return said, “He would tell you I left the glasses with him. I took them from John Harwood because he has not been very kind to me.”

The chief constable said when arrested on Wednesday prisoner had a bottle of whisky in her bag. She had an allowance and was practically of independent means. She might have £20 a month if she kept herself sober and behaved herself, but they kept reducing it on account of her drinking habits.

Drink was the trouble. All the money except what people could extract from her by way of payments for lodgings etc went on drink. She was not apparently under the influence of drink on Wednesday morning, but it was difficult to know when she was and when she was not. Prisoner said she simply borrowed the glasses for a little while. He (Mr Harwood) seemed to think she meant to steal them.

Prisoner was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment with hard labour on each charge, twelve weeks in all.