Taunton Courier 29 Jan 1930 Somerset Assize inc Mrs Beatrice Ann SMITH of 7 Court East Reach Taunton and Mr Francis Henry DUDDRIDGE 29 Eastleigh Road

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Taunton Courier. Bristol and Exeter Journal and Western Advertiser. Wednesday 29 Jan 1930

Page 7 Column 1






The Lord Chief Justice of England, Baron HEWART of Bury, paid his first visit to the Somerset Assize at Taunton on Friday, when the historic occasion was marked by the trial of only one prisoner, the criminal business, therefore, occupying only a very short time. His Lordship, who had just attended Divine service at St. Mary's Church, was accompanied on the Bench by the High Sheriff of Somerset, Mr. Harold H. BROADMEAD.


The following were sworn on the Grand Jury:- The Hon. W. B. LINDLEY (Taunton), Sir W. O. E. MEADE-KING (Taunton), Major-General Sir E. NORTHEY, G.C.M.G., C.B. (Dunster), Colonel H. T. DANIEL (Bridgwater), Mr. A. CAPEL (Wiveliscombe), Mr. F. Hugh FOX (Wellington), Mr. H. H. SHEPHERD (Ilminster), Mr. W. C. H. ESDAILE (Taunton), Lieut.-Colonel J. W. GOODFORD (Yeovil), Mr. Wyndham N. SLADE (Taunton), Mr. L. HEPWORTH (Ilminster), Major S. Carey DICKINSON (Preston Plunknett), Colonel W. Hartley MAUD, C.M.G. (Minehead), Lieut.-Commander K. C. HELYAR, D.S.O. (Taunton), Major R. J. K. MOTT, M.C. (Bagborough), Mr. A. R. HAYWARD (Misterton), Lieut.-Colonel L. H. NOBLETT, C.B.E. (Chard), Lieut-Colonel N. G. Boileau HENDERSON, D.S.O. (Minehead), Lieut.-Colonel A. S. CAPPER, D.S.O. (Wiveliscombe), Brig.-General R. F. FOX, C.B., D.S.O. (Lydeard St. Lawrence), Mr. J. R. O. ALDWORTH (Haselbury Plunknett), and Mr. W. A. K. MATTERSON (Fivehead).


The Lord Chief Justice charging the Grand Jury, observed that he need not say what a pleasure it was to come for the first time to Taunton, and what a pleasure it was to find that the calendar was so light; indeed, if there were one case less, there would be no calendar at all. He would not condole with them upon the lightness of their labours, and certainly not take up their time by discoursing upon irrelevant topics.

After the Grand Jury had returned a “true bill” in the only case on the calendar, His Lordship said: “You have performed your duties with quite remarkable despatch. I am glad they were not arduous, and it remains for me only to discharge you, with the thanks of the county for your services.”


The accused, Beatrice Ann WINTER (43), a married woman, of 7 Court, East Reach, Taunton, admitted breaking and entering the dwelling-house of her brother-in-law, Francis Henry DUDDRIDGE, 29, Eastleigh-road, on January 6th, and stealing a metal cash-box containing £23 13s 5¾d.

Mr. W. R. HORNBY STEER (prosecuting) stated that Mr. DUDDRIDGE, who was an insurance agent, placed the money he had collected in a metal cash box and between 7.10 p.m. and 9.10 p.m. his house was unoccupied. The doors and windows were securely fastened, and on his return home the money was missing. There were no signs of a forcible entry, and when the accused was first interviewed by the police she denied having any knowledge of the theft, but afterwards admitted her guilt, and disclosed that she had buried the sum of £19 odd in a neighbour's garden, where it was subsequently recovered. When the accused was before the magistrates she said she entered the back door, bolted it, and went out the front door with the cash box. She was admitted to bail.


P.C. PULLIN stated that the accused was born at Taunton, and was 42 years of age. She attended the British Schools, Taunton, until she attained the age of 13, and after working at a shirt factory for 12 months she obtained employment at a local collar factory, where she remained 24 years, leaving in August, 1924. At both factories she gave satisfaction. She married in 1912, and her husband was a bricklayer. There were two daughters of the marriage, aged 9 and 3. The accused was a good mother, but a poor manager.

His Lordship: You say 24 years in one place? - Yes, my lord.

Did you see this house yourself? - Yes, my lord.

How did she get in? - According to her account, my lord, she jumped the back gate and found the back door open.


Mr. Hugh BOILEAU (defending) said no doubt the offence was one of great gravity but there were circumstances that led him to ask His Lordship to deal leniently with the accused. She was hard up at the time and could not pay her house rent, and the very first thing she did when she got the money mentioned in the charge was to pay her rent. He submitted that with two young children, and worried by money affairs, the theft was an act of desperation. She was not criminally inclined in any way whatever, and bore an excellent character, the fact that she held one situation for 24 years being the greatest possible testimony to her honesty. He submitted that the accused had suffered sufficient punishment in the shame of being in that dock and during the dreadful time she must have passed through before the Assize.


His Lordship, addressing the accused, said: “I see you are 43 years of age and you have never been convicted before of a criminal offence. I shall not send you to prison. (Accused: Oh, thank you, sir.) You know you have done wrong, but the act seems to have been a momentary aberration from your fixed and settled character. You will be bound over in your own recognisance in the sum of £5 to come up for judgment if called upon. (Accused: Thank you very much for your kindness.) It means if you behave yourself as you did up to this time you will hear no more of this matter.”

Accused: I am very sorry for what I have done.

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<NOTES: Francis Henry DUDDRIDGE son of Walter DUDDRIDGE and Clara Jane SCOTT, married Lily Alice WINTER

Beatrice Ann WINTER is Beatrice Ann SMITH daughter of William SMITH and Ann BROWN, married Frederick Henry WINTER>