FREDERICK BASSIL, GEORGE VEAL COLLIVER.
20th October 1879
Reference Numbert18791020-907
VerdictGuilty > unknown; Guilty > with recommendation
SentenceImprisonment

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907. FREDERICK BASSIL (42) and GEORGE VEAL COLLIVER Unlawfully converting to their own use a bill of exchange with which they were entrusted. Other Counts for inducing James Chambers by false pretences to accept a bill of sale. Other Counts for conspiracy.

MESSRS. BESLEY and TICKELL Prosecuted; MR. KISCH appeared for Bassil, and MR. RIBTON for Colliver.

JAMES CHAMBERS . I am a merchant, of 132 Fenchurch Street—in July, 1878, I carried on business in Great Tower Street, and had known Bassil a year or so—I called on him in that month relative to procuring a loan of 1,000l. to complete a purchase—I saw him at my office on 5th July, and it was arranged that I should accept two bills, one for 500l. and one for 550l.—they were both dated July 5th, payable in three months, and I accepted them—one was in blank and the other was filled in—this is the one for 550l.; at the time I accepted it the drawer's name was blank, because Bassil said he would get some one to draw it; he said he would get them discounted and give me the money, or else return the bills—he wrote this agreement after I handed him the bills. (Read: "5th July, 1878. Dear Sir,—I acknowledge that you have this day handed me two bills of exchange, one for 500l. and the other for 550l., both of this date, and payable three months after date, the said bills being accepted by yourself. I undertake to hand you the produce of said bills, say 997l. 10s., on Tuesday next, the 9th inst., or return the same to you. Frederick Bassil. Witness, George Blake.") He signed that in my private room—my previous transactions with him had been satisfactory—he said nothing when I asked him for that, but gave it at once and I put my name to it because I thought it would make it legal, and my clerk signed it also——on 9th July, 1878, I received this letter from Bassil, it is in his writing. (Read: "9th July, 1878. Dear Sir,—I shall not be able to see you till 2 to-morrow. Yours truly, F. Bassil.") I don't think I saw him after till 11th July, when I received this letter in his writing. (Read: "11th July, 1878. Dear Sir,—By the enclosed telegam you will see that the 500l. is not yet discounted; my friend has been waiting to settle a matter on previous discounts. Mr. Johnson is at Leamington, and I don't expect to do anything with him till to-morrow or Saturday morning.") (The telegram was from Saunders, of Sloane Square, to Frederick Bassil: "July 10th, 1878. Send me Chambers's bill and I will see what can be done to-morrow.") I met Bassil on 17th July, I went to the Bank expecting to get the full discount, but when I got there Saunders said he could only give me 401l. odd and a life policy—I accepted that for the 500/. bill—he paid me nothing with reference to the 550l. bill—he said that it was with Mr. Johnson, and he expected to have the money on Thursday—I did not believe that—I then received this letter. (Read: "19th July, 1878. Dear Sir,—My telegram

of yesterday is true. I feel confident in the course of Monday you will have the cash. F. Bassil.") I never received the 550l.—on 23rd July I think, Bassil brought Colliver to my office and said, "This is the gentleman who is the drawer of the bill"—I said "I don't want the money now, and I must have my bill back; I have made other arrangements"—Colliver said he could not give it to me as he had given it to a gentleman to discount—I said "I don't care about that, I must have the bill back at once"—he said he thought he could get it back if I would pay the interest, which would be 25l. or 35l., as he should have to pay for the discount—I said "I don't care anything about that, I must have the bill or the money at once"—he said "If you will give me till Friday I will give you the money"—I left it in that way, and they left—Colliver said that he was building some houses for Alderman Hadley's brother—they never returned me the 550l. bill or any money for it until a few weeks ago, when I received a certain sum by his Lordship's permission after the indictment was found—it cost me 60l. or 70l., and I had to pay the 550l. and all the expenses—I had never heard of Colliver before the 23rd—this letter is in my writing. (Read: "26th July, 1878. G. B. Colliver. Sir,—Your telegram to hand. I beg to inform you that I don't know you in the matter, and as I hold Mr. Bassil's guarantee to give the cash or return the bill, I shall now be compelled to take unpleasant proceedings for the recovery of the bill.")

Cross-examined by MR. KISCH. I have had transactions with Baasil before—I first knew him two or three years ago, and have perhaps had two transactions with him since—they were not about getting bills discounted—I was building a factory at Charlton, in Kent, my builder took my acceptances, and his acceptances got into Bassil's hands—I lost 4,000l. or 5,000l. with the clique down there—I did not know Bassil, but the builder introduced my bills to him, and when I found I was being robbed I was obliged to stop all the bills—we stopped one of the bills, and I asked Bassil to get me 300l. or 400l.—he gave me his bill for 200l., and a cheque for the balance—when my bills became due they were met, and when Bassil's bills became due they were not met, and I had to pay the money; that is two or three years ago—I called on Bassil about those bills, and he came to my office; I was alone—my clerk Blake brought the bills in, and he stayed there while the bills were made out; he made them out to himself—they are in his writing—he never mentioned Colliver's name—I never heard of him till he came—the drawer's name was left blank, because there was no one to draw the hill, and I handed it to Bassil to get a drawer's name put in—I asked him to give me an acknowledgment of the bills—he did so, and it is all in his writing—I asked for that for the purpose of securing me against Bassil—I do not call it a guarantee; it is an acknowledgment—this document has been in my solicitor's hands—Bassil has been there occasionally, but I do not know whether it has been in his hands—I am prepared to swear that Bassil was in the building when I signed it, but not that he saw me put my name to it—I cannot say whether he saw it or not—I only put my name to the document because I thought it would make it more legal, make it plainer—it is all in Bassil's writing; it takes more than one to make an agreement, and therefore I signed it—I swear that Blake was present, and saw me write my name to it—I received what I was satisfied with for the first bill—Colliver gave me this paper on 23rd July as security, a sort of charge for 250l. on some houses which he was building at Wandsworth

for Mr. Hadley—since this prosecution was instituted I have accepted that very 2501.—I would not take it till the Court gave me permission.

(This was an order on Mr. Hadley authorising him to pay Mr. Chambers when the second instalment was due, 250l., being the first instalment upon a pair of houses which he was building. Signed, G. V. COLLIVER.) I took that for what it was worth, but not in part payment—Mr. Brown Mr. Hadley's surveyor, has been to see me, and I have called on him dozens of times—I have other business with him—I saw him two or three times in connection with this matter, but he came to see me about it first—Mr. Nicholas Bennett is the prisoner's solicitor, I think—I have written an endorsement on this order, to empower my solicitor to get the money—I have never instituted a similar proceeding to this—I never knew about this till Mr. Wontner took me to Guildhall—I have not seen Mr. Hadley, nor have I instructed my solicitor to make any inquiries of him—I gave Colliver till the 26th to bring the money, and yet on the 26th I wrote to Bassil saying that I did not know Colliver in the matter—I meant legally—I thought I had had enough of him; that was why I wrote that letter—Blake was in my service six or seven months—he left through a little un-pleasantness, and is now in the Army—he came to my office, and we talked the matter over, which I dare say refreshed his memory—Colliver was charged first—he was not before the Lord Mayor when Bassil was there—when I found that Bassil had given the bill to Colliver I thought it was time for me to retire, as he would be liable under that, document—when I give a man a document I think he is bound by it—I first thought Bassil had committed a crime about the commencement of August, 1878—I had instructed Mr. Blagden on the 28th to take whatever proceedings he thought necessary, but he is not a criminal lawyer—six months had elapsed, and we are now in October—I have not taken bankruptcy proceedings against Bryant; somebody else has; not at my suggestion, but I told them to take proceedings—it was some one who discounted the bill for me.

Cross-examined by MR. RIBTON. Bassil had previously got bills discounted for me, but I knew nothing of Colliver before this—I had bought an estate, and wanted another 1,000l., and called on Bassil for that purpose, and he came to see me afterwards—both the bills were discounted, the 500l. one by Mr. Saunders and the 550l. one by Mr. Johnson—Colliver only had to do with the bill for 550l.—I gave Bassil the two bills on 5th July, and did not care a bit who he got them discounted with—the bill Sanders discounted was not in blank; Bassil put his own name as drawer, and took both bills at the same time—I suppose he thought his name was not good enough for 1,050l.—I received 400l. on 17th July in payment of the bill for 500l.—there was no agreement for charges but their general charges—he mentioned Saunders and Johnson about July 5—there was a delay about the 550l. bill, and I kept pressing him; he said that he was endeavouring to get it discounted—he brought Colliver on 23rd July; that was the first time I saw him—I did not learn that he had tried any person before he tried Colliver—he did originally name Johnson, but on 23rd July he said nothing about him; he said that he expected to get the money by Friday, and promised to bring it to me or the bill—he brought the order on Alderman Hadley on the first occasion—I had asked Bassil repeatedly for the money—he brought the order ready written—I have received the whole of the 250l., but not in part payment of the bill; I took it and was glad to get it—

it is an order to pay me the money, but the foundations of the houses were not in—that 250l. went into the solicitor's pocket—that is all the money I have received—I have heard of Mr. Ashman; he was a solicitor I believe; I do not know whether he is now—I do not know of Basil having received any money from Colliver; for aught I know Colliver may have paid Bassil the remainder of the bill—Newbon, Harvey, and Co. are Mr. Hadley's solicitors—I signed this receipt; it is dated 28th May, 1879—the order on Mr. Hadley was in 1878—I have seen Colliver once or twice in the streets since these proceedings, and again when he was arrested at Staines and locked up—(I have not taken up the 5501. bill yet because the gentleman has got his set urity)—I have never been offered the money before the date of this receipt in 1879, nor do I know that my solicitors have, but I believe the money has been in Messrs. Newbon and Harvey's hands for some time—I would not take it while proceedings were going on, but it was not offered me—I believe Mr. Hadley paid Colliver, who lodged the 2501. with Messrs. Harrison.

Re-examined. Till 22nd July I had never seen Colliver, and did not know him—I got this letter from him on 29th July (This was from Colliver to the witness, stating that if the bill was withdrawn he should not save the discount, and offering to let him have 100l. that week, 100l. the next, and the balance the week after)—he did not bring me 100l.; I would not see him—I knew soon afterwards that he received 525l. from Johnson—the bill fell due on 8th October, and I knew six weeks or two months afterwards that Johnson had handed over the 525l. to Colliver—I received this letter from Colliver on 31st July (This stated, "I met Bassil this morning, and went with him to your office, but your clerk could not say when you would return, so it was useless to wait")—I did not answer that—I then got this letter of 14th September from Colliver (This stated that the certificate for 250l. had not been sent owing to Mr. Brown being away, and Mr. Golding being busy, but that it would no doubt be handed to Mr. Chambers on his applying for it, and he would then see Mr. Chambers about the balance)—I did not answer that, I gave it to my solicitor—we commenced proceedings against Bassil about August last year, but there were he proceedings at the Mansion House till February—I had not had my portion of the money—Colliver had not informed me that he had got 550l. from Mr. Johnson—I did not apply for a postponement of the trial when the indictment was found; I was always anxious to try; I have been knocking about here for seven months—I took the 250l. with the sanction of the Court some time afterwards—my total loss over the 550l. bill was 350l. and 108l. of expenses without these proceedings.

GEORGE ARTHUR BLAKE (a soldier). In July, 1878, I was clerk to Mr. Chambers—I wrote out two bills—Bassil signed one as the drawer, and the other was left blank—I did not see Mr. Chambers accept them, but he signed them, and I witnessed his signature and Bassil's two minutes afterwards.

Cross-examined by MR. KISCH. Mr. Chambers wrote his name in the clerk's office—I swear that—I do not remember saying at the Mansion House, "I cannot say I saw Mr. chambers put his name to the document"—he brought it out into the clerk's office and wrote it at the time, before I witnessed both signatures—I had not forgotten all about the matter—I had a conversation with Mr. Chambers about it when I came to London—

I left Mr. Chambers of my own accord; there was no unpleasantness that I know of.

Re-examined. I wrote the body of this 550/. bill on 5th July, and entered the two bills in the bill-book—this is my writing—the whole matter lasted a quarter of an hour—I am sure Bassil was there.

EDWARD LATTER (City Detective). I served the summons on Bassil on 4th February, 1879, at Willesden Railway Junction—he said "I am innocent; I know nothing at all about it"—after a true bill was returned by the Grand Jury I took Colliver on a warrant at Staines Railway Station on 24th April, and took him before an Alderman at the Mansion House next day—I found on him among other papers this letter from Mr. Chambers to him, of July 26, and these two loose pieces of paper and this letter from Mr. Johnson, of April 22, 1879; also this draft of a letter to Mr. Chambers; I don't know whose writing it is—I was here on 2nd May, 1879, when the trial was postponed, and Colliver was admitted to bail—I attended here again on 30th June, and no trial took place—the first day of the August Session Colliver did not surrender, and I took him in custody on 28th August at Staines Railway Station—Bassil did not appear, and I was not able to find him, but he surrendered last Session—I found this letter on Colliver. (This was dated August 2, and signed B., telling Colliver that he had better be at the Court at the Session commencing on Tuesday, August 5).

Cross-examined by MR. KISCH. I knew Bassil very well—I looked for him, and should have seen him had he been here on Tuesday—I don't know that he had an intimation that the case was not to be taken till Thursday—I did not know that his place of business was 3, Warwick Court—I served him at Willesden Railway Junction one morning at 9.30.

Cross-examined by MR. RIBTON. I took Colliver at Staines, but I believe he lived at Paddington; I do not know that he lived with his mother at Staines.

Re-examined. I found these four cheques on Colliver and this piece of paper. (This was a debtor and creditor account of Colliver against Bassil for cheques and cash, showing a total, debtor 191l. 6s. 2d., creditor 25l. The cheques were dated 13th July, 13th July, 18th July, and 22nd July, 1878, the first for 4l. in favour of the Central Bank of London, the second for 20l. to Mr. O'Hara, the third to H. Ashwin for 122l. 2s. 2d., and the fourth to Mr. Wilkinson for 21l. 1s., all signed G. V. Colliver.)

WILLIAM JOHNSON . I am now living at Torquay, and am out of business—I saw Colliver first, I think, at my solicitor's office, 14, Clement's Inn, in reference to a bill for 1,050l.—no one else was in the office—he asked me whether I would discount it—I said "Yes"—I understood him to say that he expected to do a large quantity of work for the acceptor, and this bill was in part payment of the work to be done—that was three or four days before ray first cheque was drawn—I went to Mr. Chambers's bank, and asked whether the 550l. bill bore his genuine signature—they said "Yes," and that he paid every bill the moment it was due—I had to go to the Bank of England to receive a dividend, and told Colliver to excuse me a few minutes, and on my return I saw Bassil with Colliver—they separated directly they saw me, and I said "Now, Colliver, I will not have anything to do with this bill if Bassil has anything to do with it"—he said "No, Mr. Johnson, he has nothing at all to do with the bill"—this (produced) is, I think, my first cheque—I gave it on the date it bears—

I am not certain where, but I think at my private house, 15, Kentish Town Road—I afterwards let Colliver have these two cheques, making up 525l.—they are endorsed by him—I did not send them—I gave them to him at my house—he spoke very highly of the acceptor.

Cross-examined by MR. KISCH. I his is the first time I have said anything about seeing Bassil.

Cross-examined by MR. RIBTON. I have known Colliver about four years, and have had many transactions with him—I considered him a respectable man at one time—he is a builder; he lives at Kew—I don't know that his mother lives at Staines—I don't know that he has a place of business in London—I addressed letters to him at Hampstead, where he was building—I would not have discounted a bill drawn by Bassil—it was not brought to me in blank—Colliver had signed it as the drawer—I objected to that till he got another endorser to make it doubly sure—he offered to get his brother, and I was satisfied—I think he owed me then a half year's interest on 2,500l., which I had lent him on mortgage, 62l. 10s.—that was nearly due—this was early in July—my cheques were drawn on July 11 and 17, therefore it was a day or two before the 11th that I saw him—I deducted 25l. for my interest, and gave him 525l.—my 62l. 10s. was paid soon after by Colliver, but I don't think it was by cheque—I think I had asked him for it—it was over-due when I discounted the bill, but I don't think anything was said about it then—that was the first half year's interest, and I think it was due in April—it is just possible that I told him he ought to pay it out of this money—he paid it, I think, a fortnight after—I don't know why I did not give him a cheque for the whole sum at once—it is possible I was instituting inquiries as to the responsibility of the acceptor—he was very pressing, and before I found out the result of my inquiries I gave him the cheque of the 11th for 150l., relying on his statement to me—when I was examined before the Magistrate, Colliver was not there, nor any one to represent him—I knew Mr. Ashwin—I do not think he is Mr. Bassil's solicitor—I do not know Mr. Wilkinson—I know Mr. Blagden—he is, I think, Mr. Chambers's solicitor, but I am not certain—Bassil was never engaged in building transactions with me, but I supplied him with timber—very likely there were many transactions between us in September, and there was some property which he wished me to look at, to purchase or find a purchaser for, or to advance him money on mortgage.

Re-examined. I say in one of my letters "I dare say you know best, but I am under the impression that keeping out of the way won't mend matters," he protested his innocence, and said that he had no fear to stand his trial—I also say "Seeing how you have served me," I had lent him money to pay wages, and he promised to return it the next week, and he never did so.

By MR. RIBTON. He did not come to the trial—he was not to be found—that letter is dated April—he was not keeping out of the way till after the bill was found—I understood him that Bassil was indebted to him.

By the JURY. I knew Bassil when I saw him with Colliver, as I had had some transactions in business which he guaranteed.

MR. RIBTON (before the prisoners were given charge) had asked the Court to quash the Counts for conspiracy and false pretences, in so far as Colliver was concerned, as Colliver had never been before a Magistrate; his name having been put into the indictment pursuant to an order of this Court dated April 1. He contended that the Court had only power to deal with the, facts disclosed in the depositions, and to allow the prosecution to alter the indictment to suit those facts, but not to travel out of them by making an order against a new defendant who had not been before the Magistrate.

MR. BESLEY stated that the Counts for false pretences, not being for obtaining money, but for obtaining the signature to a bill, did not come within the Vexatious Indictments Act, and that the Court had power under 30 and 31 Vic. c. 35 to make the order with reference to the Counts for conspiracy.

The COURT declined to quash the Counts, leaving it to Mr. Ribton to mm by Writ of Error.

After the evidence Mr. Kisch submitted that there was no case to go to the Jury on the First and Second Counts, which were framed under the 24 and 25 Vic., c. 96, sec. 75, and which applied to persons who, being entrusted with money with a direction in writing to apply, pay, or deliver such money or the proceeds thereof to any person, shall in violation of good faith, &c., convert the same to his own use. The whole of the document in question, except the signature of James Chambers, was in Bassil's writing, and was in fact nothing more than a guarantee or acknowledgment that he had received the two bills to do something with, but it was no direction in writing from the prosecutor to Bassil, and that it was necessary that the direction contemplated by the Statute should emanate from the person entrusting, and not from the person entrusted. Secondly, the prosecutor put the document in a drawer, and kept it some time till he handed it to his solicitor, and there was no evidence that it was ever in Bassil's hands at all, and on that ground also, as Basal was never entrusted with it, there was no evidence to go to the Jury.

MR. RIBTON also contended that there was no direction in writing, nothing but an acknowledgment by Bassil that he had received the bill, and promised to do something in reference to it.

MR. BESLEY contended that as soon as Mr. Chambers put his name to the document in question that was equivalent to saying "I concur" and it there-upon became a direction to Bassil to do as he undertook to do. The principle in Beg. v. Christian, Law Reports 2, Crown Cases Reserved, was clear that it is not necessary to have a formal document, but it was sufficient if, as in this case, the direction could be gathered from the document.

MR. KISCH further submitted as to the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Counts, that no legal false pretence was set out in the indictment, and that the pretence alleged was only a promise to do something in future (See Reg. v. Lee, Lea, and Cave 309, and 9 Cox 304).

MR. RIBTON further submitted that there was nothing to show that Colliver knew anything about the written document, as everything appearing in the diary related to Bassil, and also that there was no evidence on the conspiracy Counts; to which MR. BESLEY replied that Colliver, as an aider and abetter, must be indicted, tried, and treated exactly as a principal, and that it was not necessary that he should have seen the direction in writing at all. The question was whether he did not partake of the proceeds in violation of good faith, and aid and abet in Bassil's misconduct, and that it was for the Jury to say whether, as they did not want the bills for the purpose stated, their pretending that they wanted them for a specific purpose was a false statement. And, lastly, that if there was any offence shown on the conspiracy Counts it was a matter of indifference upon which Count the prisoners were found guilty.

The COURT having consulted MR. JUSTICE HAWKINS, considered that the direction in writing was sufficient under the Statute, but that the Counts for false pretences were insufficient, and therefore the case must go to the Jury on the first two Counts, and on the Counts for conspiracy, and declined to reserve the points.

The prisoners received good characters.

GUILTY .

The prosecutor recommended BASSIL to mercy. — Four Months' Imprisonment each.


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