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Theft by a bailiff

Loughborough Herald - 18th November 1897
Petty Sessions

Edward Clarke, baliff, Loughborough, was charged with stealing two taps and a quantity of other articles, including buttons, pencils, cotton, laces, packets of spices, pea flour, and precipitate powders, while engaged as a baliff at Quorn, on November 9th. Mr Deane appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Loughborough Society for the Prosecution of Felons, and Mr J J Sharpe (Coalville) defended.

Mr Deane stated that the defendant was employed by Mr Wm Armstrong, who on Nov 5th levied a distress on a beer-off shop and premises occupied by Mrs Catherine Dyball, at Quorn. Defendant was placed in possession of the chattels and effects in the shop and house. He remained in possession until Wednesday, November 10th, when witness heard that some goods were missing. Witness told Clarke he had been told that the police had stopped his (Clarke's) son with a basket containing a quantity of things from the shop. Defendant hesitated in replying, and witness then told him his son had incriminated him. Defendant eventually admitted that he had given his son a few things to take home, and said something about he had been told he could do so. Witness told him he had been with him long enough to know he had no right to give anything away. Defendant had been employed by witness as broker's man off and on for several years. Cross-examined: The distress was for the Midland Brewery Company, and witness made an inventory of the stock, but did not include a few of the smaller things. The company behaved generously in the matter, and had given witness instructions to allow Mrs Dyball to take her furniture and some fowls away but nothing was said about these small articles. No authority was given to remove any of the trade stock or fixtures.

PC Reed, stationed at Loughborough, stated that on November 9th, about 10.45 at night, he met George Clarke, son of the defendant, on the Leicester Road. He was carrying a basket, and witness stopped him, and asked what he had got in it. He made a statement, but witness searched the basket, and found in it the two brass taps and the articles mentioned in the charge. Not being satisfied with the explanation given, witness brought him and the things to the police-station. He was not detained, but the things were, and they were afterwards produced to Mrs Dyball by whom they were identified as part of the property which had been distrained upon. Mrs Dyball stated that on the Wednesday morning she missed a tap, and afterwards identified the property in possession of the police. Cross-examined: Part of the furniture was distrained upon, but the Brewery Company afterwards allowed her to remove it.

George Clarke, Sparrow Hill, son of the defendant, said the things in the basket he was carrying when stopped by the police had been given to him by his father, and he was intending to take them to his father's house on Ashby Road, and leave them there. His father did not tell him he was to do this. His father took the things from the floor of Mrs Dybal's shop, put them in the basket, and gave them to witness, without sayng anything. Cross-examined: He went to Quorn to take his father a coat, and when he got there he found the basket was in the pocket. He did not go for the purpose of fetching these things. Mr Sharp did not dispute the taking of the articles, but said he should be able to prove that the defendant appropriated them under a misapprehension, and that to a certain extent defendant was justified in what he did by having Mr Dyball's consent. There could be no felonious intent to steal if it was proved that the things were taken by mistake. Mr Dyball was under the impression that he was permitted to have the stock back again, and that consisted of a few trifling and trumpery articles. The manager of the Brewery Co himself wrote to defendant giving him permission to let Dyball have the fowls, and also to sell the old stock or "let the things go for an old song". They were of little or no value, and were lying about on the floor and defendant thought he was doing nothing wrong in taking them. Defendant had been doing baliff's work for 30 years, and for 11 years had been with his present employers, enjoying their full confidence. Under the circumstances he had stated, Mr Sharp asked the Bench to give defendant the benefit of the doubt, and dismiss the charge now brought against him. The Chairman said the offence had been clearly brought home, and it was a serious one. Defendant had abused the trust and confidence placed in him, and it had been a question with the Bench whether they ought not to commit him to prison. They were dealing leniently with him by imposing a fine of 5 or 28 days in default.

 Submitted on: 2009-07-14
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 214
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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