The Wells Journal 29 May 1925 Somerset Assize at Wells includes Leonard OTTEN and Brothers Theft of Food Stuffs Sidney James BINDING and Robert John BINDING of Watchet

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The Wells Journal. Somerset & West of England Advertiser Friday 29 May 1925

Page 5 Column 3 & 4


SOMERSET ASSIZE AT WELLS.

FAIRLY LIGHT CALANDAR.

CURIOUS CASE FROM WEST SOMERSET.

The Summer Assize for the County of Somerset opened at Wells, on Wednesday, before Mr. Justice SHEARMAN, who was accompanied in the Bench by Major Maurice Fearing CELY-TREVILIAN, High Sheriff, and his Chaplain, the Rev. Francis M. ETHERINGTON, Provost of King's College, Taunton, and Vicar of Stowey with Bishop Sutton, and Lt Col. Gilbert Sandford POOLE, D.S.O., Under Sheriff.

THE GRAND JURY.

The following were sworn on the Grand Jury:- Col. Sir. Frank Beachim BEAUCHAMP, C.B.E. (Foreman); Commander R. J. B. HIPPISLEY, O.B.E., T.D.; Lt.-Col. R. M. CLERK, O.B.E.; Lt.-Col. C. E. WHITTING, V.D.; Major R. R. TANNER; Lt.-Col. H. G. SPENCER, R. A. HOBHOUSE, Wm. LUNNON, M. H. STEAD, Major V. T. HILL, Thos. WATSON, H. R. PUGH, C. E. BURNELL, Captain W. S. BATTEN-POOLL, Dr. R. W. STATHAM, Edward TYLEY, Lt.-Col. G. S. POLLARD, Captain A. C. SOMERVILLE, R. BOARD, W. H. DENNING, T. S. HILL, Major E. M. BAILY and Captain P. M. WHALE.

JUDGE'S CONGRATULATIONS.

The Judge said all the cases were simple, and he again congratulated the County upon being free from serious crime.

SINGULAR WELLINGTON CASE.

NEIGHBOUR ACCUSED OF HOUSEBREAKING.

Bertha PERRY (36), of Wellington, pleaded not guilty to a charge of having, on April 20th, at Wellington broke and entered the dwelling house of Leonard OTTON, with intent to commit a felony.

Mr. Charles BRAY prosecuted, and Mr. F. A. WILSHIRE represented the prisoner.

Mr. BRAY, in briefly outlining the facts to the Julry, <sic> explained that Mr. OTTON's business premises were separated from the house occupied by the prisoner by a passage into which opened side doors on either side. On occasions when Mr. and Mrs. OTTON had gone out, they had, on their return, missed things. On April 20th, they took the precaution of leaving a policeman behind. Mrs. and Mr. OTTEN went out, and about an hour afterwards the constable heard the lock of Mr. OTTON's side door turned. The constable confronted the prisoner in the scullery, and the prisoner on seeing him remarked, “Oh!” Asked what she was doing there she replied, “Nothing.” On being told that she had no right there, she said she was looking for the cat, which, as a matter of fact, was at that time outside on the mat. She said she had got into the premises by using a front door key given her by Mr. OTTON, when she had some friends stopping with her some time ago to let them in. This key, however, would not fit the front of back door of her house. Before the Justices the prisoner pleaded guilty, but apparently now wanted to withdraw it.

Mr. OTTON gave evidence, and asked in cross examination as to the character of the accused, declared that she had not a good reputation, adding that sometime ago a constable had to call at her place regarding a lost bracelet. Prisoner called upon him the Sunday evening in question, and said if he went on with the case she would say that he had been in her bedroom when she was in her night clothes.

P.C. WATTS in cross examination said the prisoner bore a good character in the district.

Prisoner gave evidence on her own behalf, and explained the incident regarding the bracelet. It was lent her by her sister, and she did not know at the time that the bracelet was not her sister's property. She immediately gave it up to the police on learning the true facts. Mr. OTTON had on previous occasions left his shop open, and once she sent her little girls to tell him of the fact. The reason she went into the scullery of OTTON's house, was to look for her cat which had on previous occasions strayed into the prosecutor's house. She had not seen her cat for two days, and hence her search for it. The reason she pleaded guilty at the Police Court was because she thought she was only charged with opening the door. She had no felonious intent.

Cross Examined: She did not threaten Mr. OTTON. All she said that there was no more harm in her opening Mr. OTTON's door than him coming into her bedroom. She maintained that Mr. OTTON had come into her bedroom.

The Jury after being absent for a prolonged period, found the prisoner not guilty, and she was discharged

CHARD LAD'S FALL.

BANK MANAGER'S KINDLY INTEREST.

Wm. CASE (19), boxmaker, was indicted for having broken and entered a factory, at Chard and stolen certain sums of money, on April 7th.

He pleaded guilty.

Mr. F. A. WILSHIRE prosecuted, and said the prisoner had been in the employ of the prosecutor since a boy.

P.C. DUCK gave particulars of prisoner, who was born at Abertillery. At school his character was good. His family were respectable. The only previous occasion he had been before the Court was when he was fined for playing banker with cards.

Wm. Henry SCOBELL, a bank manager, of Chard, said he had been running a Church Lads' Guild, at Chard, and prisoner became a probationary member. He was quite confident of what he had seen of the lad since he believed that prisoner would not again fall. He was now in work with a great personal friend of his (Mr. SCOBELL's) and would be very likely to stop there.

The Judge thanked Mr. SCOBELL for his attendance, and expressed the hope that he would keep an eye on the lad. He thereupon bound the lad over for 12 months.

SEQUEL TO DISASTROUS FIRE.

CHAFFEUR'S THEFT OF MONEY AND JEWELLERY.

Jack PASSMORE (31), motor driver, was indicted for having between May 5th and 9th last, at Huish Champflower, being the servant to Charles Sedgewick SAUNDERS, stole £53 in money, a cash box, gold chain, pearl pendant, ring case, containing three diamond and one fancy rings, brooch, diamond scarf pin, two purses, gold bracelet, two gold rings, gold brooch, 10s. note, and 5s. in money, the property of his master. He was further charged with having between 17th October 1924, and May 8th, 1925, at Huish Champflower, stealing as bailee, 15s. 8d., the moneys of Edith Morley SAUNDERS

Prisoner pleaded guilty to the first indictment, but said £4 15s. of the money mentioned in the charge was his own. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of conversion.

Mr. J. D. CASSWELL, who prosecuted, said the prosecution would not accept the prisoner's plea, and would not proceed on the second court. On May 7th, last, a serious fire occurred at the house of Mr. SAUNDERS, at Huish Champflower. In consequence of the fire Mrs. SAUNDERS removed a cash-box, containing the jewellery, and £40 of her own money and £13, belonging to a maid in her employ. The cash box was placed for safety in a coal hole outside the house, which unfortunately was burned down. After the fire was extinguished, the cash box was missing. On the following day the prisoner, who had been employed by Mr. SAUNDERS as a chaffeur and a handyman, was questioned by the Police regarding the missing cash-box. He said he knew nothing about it, but later the police found the box in a quarry behind the house. The cash box had been forced open, and the notes and articles were found upon the prisoner.

P.S. WITTER, of Wiveliscombe, said the prisoner was born at Buckets Hole, near East Anstey, in 1894. He attended school at Bucket's Hole and at Fitzhead in Somerset. He left school at the age of 13 and started work on a farm for Mr. E. BAKER, of Hill Farm, Fitzhead. He remained there two and half years, working afterwards as a gardener and motor driver in the district, and also at Frome and Swindon. For the past twelve months prisoner had been in the employ of Mr. SAUNDERS, at the Old School House, at Huish Champflower, and all the people for whom the prisoner had worked gave him a good character with the exception of Mr. Tom SHATTOCK, cider merchant, of Milverton, who discharged prisoner as a lorry driver because of driving recklessly whilst under the influence of drink. Prisoner had been drinking heavily for some years. Prisoner joined in September 1914, the Army, and served 4 years and 133 days overseas. He was discharged with the rank of Lance-Corporal, and his general character whilst serving, was given as very good. He had a wife and three small children. Prisoner's parents were very respectable, and there were no previous convictions recorded against PASSMORE.

The Judge said it was the prisoner's first offence and in such a case he always gave a short sentence. It was quite impossible to pass the offence over, and prisoner would have to go to prison for three months. That would probably enable him to pull up. He expected the present offence was due to drink, that defendant was tempted and robbed his master.

BROTHERS' THEFT OF FOOD STUFFS.

GRATITUDE TO JUDGE FOR LENIENCY.

Sidney James BINDING (26), and Robert John BINDING (34), labourers of Watchet, were indicted for having between May 7th and 12th, at Watchet, broken and entered a store and stole three bags of potatoes, the property of Simon NICHOLAS; also on May 9th breaking and entering the shop of Richard John BROWNING and stealing meat, to the value of £3 6s. 5d., the property of Richard John BROWNING; and further with having on May 8th, at Williton stolen six ducks, the property of Alice BRICE.

They pleaded guilty.

Mr. E. H. C. WETHERED prosecuted.

The Judge said the whole of the articles stolen appeared to have been edibles.

Mr. WETHERED: Yes; Apparently they were going to have a good feast.

The Judge said it reminded him of revelry and a Gargantuian feast.

Mr. WETHERED said nothing was known previously against either of the prisoners. Both had excellent Army records, but had been out of work for a long time.

P.S. DENNING said in regard to Sidney, both prisoners being natives of Watchet he started work on leaving the Church Schools, at Watchet Paper Mills. He afterwards worked for various persons at Watchet and Blue Anchor. He joined the Army in May 1916, joining the 10th Hussars, and was afterwards transferred to the Glasgow Yeomanry in 1917. He was discharged as medically unfit on September 9th 1918 with a good character. His disability was discribed <sic> as mental instability aggravated by war service. He had a wife and three small children.

Mr. WETHERED said he understood this prisoner had been in receipt of out-of-work pay on and off for several years.

P.S. DENNING, in answer to the Judge, said the prisoners had been drinking on this particular night but were not drunk. The Sergt. added that Robert BINDING, after doing farm work, went to Australia, where in August 1914 he enlisted in the Australian Forces. He was discharged in England in 1919. His Army records had gone back to Australia. Since then he had had temporary jobs at Watchet, but had been out of work a great deal. The prisoners' parents were respectable people.

The Judge intimated to the prisoners he intended giving them another chance, as no doubt the men had too much to drink on the night in question. Prisoners would be bound over to be of good behaviour for 12 months. If they were not, they would be brought up again.

The elder prisoner: We will play the game like men. Thank you very much.

As prisoners were leaving the dock, they again said, “Thank you very much, indeed.”

SOLDIER'S FOUR COURT MARTIALS
HOPED HE WOULD TURN OVER NEW LEAF.

Richard CAREW (25), who appeared in soldier's uniform, was indicted for breaking and entering, between July 5th and 6th, 1923, at Taunton, the shop of Delilah HALLETT, and there stealing 10s. 8d. in money, cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, gold and nickel match boxes, petrol lighters, etc., value £28 8s. 6d.

Accused pleaded guilty.

Mr. ARMSTRONG, who prosecuted, said prisoner gave himself up to the police in Bristol while an absentee from the Army, and confessed that he had broken into the lock-up shop of Mrs. HALLETT. There were several previous convictions against him.

P.C. HANNAM, stationed at Taunton, informed the Court that accused was a fitter by trade, his correct name being Harold John DAVIS. During the war he served in the Welsh Guards, but was Court Martialled on four occasions for desertion, absence, from duty, etc., for which he received 1,080 days detention. When he deserted from the Army in 1919 he commenced a career of crime, including house and shop breaking. He had been sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment at Worcester, and on coming out of prison at the beginning of 1925, he rejoined the Army, serving with the Royal Engineers for a short time, when he again deserted and surrendered to the police.

Prisoner, addressing his Lordship, said he gave himself up in order to avoid military detention, his previous career having come to the knowledge of the authorities. He would have “gone straight” but for that.

His Lordship said it was a curious case. He was very averse to taking up an old crime for which a man had had a long sentence. When accused was sent to prison in 1923 he had no doubt that if known the present offence whuld <sic> have been taken into consideration. He (the Judge) thought CAREW would be better out of the Army and in sentencing him to a month's imprisonment, hoped he would come out and turn over a new leaf.


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