Offence: Deception > fraud
Verdict: Guilty > no_subcategory
Punishment: Imprisonment > penal servitude
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MOODY, Alfred (42, manager) . Obtaining by false pretences from Ernest Edward Carter £2, £13 and £5, from Horace James Scott 8s. and 15s., from George Aulbarn £5 and £3 10s., and from Frank Highley £5, in each case with intent to defraud.
Mr. Leycester and Mr. Harold Murphy prosecuted.
ERNEST EDWIN CARTER , 440, New Cross Road, theatre manager. In January I inserted an advertisement in "The Stage," being then resident at 180, Clive Street, Cardiff, and received reply from prisoner: "Electrical Theatre, Wyvern Hall, High Road, South Tottenham, February 1, 1911. Re your advertisement. I am in want of a general assistant manager for above and lady money-taker, to commence on Monday, February 13. A 12 months' agreement will be given." Signed, "Alfred Moody, General Manager East London Cinema. Company, Limited—40 theatres now open." I replied and received letter from prisoner agreeing to engage me as assistant manager and the lady as money-taker at a joint salary of £2 5s., requiring cash security for £15, stating that the lady would have charge of takings if from £60 to £100 a week, and asking me to wire deposit of £2 as he (prisoner) had several applications; also that his company, had now 20 theatres open and a 14 years' lease of Wyvern Hall. I immediately wired £2, forwarded £13, and received a letter engaging me and the lady to commence on February 13 and undertaking that the £15 would be returned at the end of the first month; also offering to get me apartments in London. On February 6 prisoner wrote that the date of opening, was changed to February 20, but that I should be paid half salary for week commencing February 13. On February 11 prisoner wrote that there was delay with the Middlesex County Council over the license and that the hall could not be opened for three weeks, but that I could be transferred to another hall, and requesting me to come to 440, New Cross Road, where prisoner had engaged rooms for me. I went there; prisoner called and told me that he had found an engagement for me at the Greenwich Theatre, that he had paid further security and required another £5, which I gave him, he to return it at the commencement of my engagement at Wyvern Hall. I paid him the £5, believing that he had an engagement for me as manager and for the lady with me, Miss Syke, a cash-taker at Greenwich. He arranged to meet me on the Monday and introduce me to the staff.
On February 20 he wrote putting me off; I then went to Greenwich Theatre and Jearned that the prisoner had nothing to do with it. The next day prisoner called and told me that he referred to the theatr e in Stockwell Street, Greenwich. He took me there and appointed to meet me the next day and give me the keys of the theatre and the bills, so that we should open on the Wednesday evening. I never saw prisoner afterwards. I received a number of letters from himexcusing delay, etc., one dated February 24 stating that he had an engagement at the Hippodrome, Cambridge. I went to the police on February 23.
HORACE JAMES SCOTT , cinematograph operator, Tottenham. In January, 1911, I advertised in "The Stage" for an engagement and on January 30 received reply from prisoner from Wyvern Hall, where I called upon him. He offered me engagement at £2 a week, asking me for £1 commission and 3s. for expenses. I paid him 8s. and the next day brought him 15s., when he gave me contract produced engaging me for six months as operator at Wyvern Hall at £2 a week, signed "Lawrence Collins, Director." On February 10 prisoner wrote stating that he could not get a license and the hall would not be opened for 10 or 15 days. I have received neither situation nor wages and have had no return of the commission paid.
JOHN STEWART POWELL , Clerk's Office, Middlesex County Council. On February 7 prisoner applied for a cinematograph license for Wyvern Hall; he was informed that a license had been issued subject to certain requirements being carried out; that if that was done he could apply for the transfer. The license had been granted to H. C. Hamblin, but had not been issued.
FRANCIS MINCHIN , clerk, Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, Somerset House. No company has been registered under the name of the East London Cinema Company or the London Cinema Company, Limited.
GEORGE AULBURN, 22K , Peabody Buildings, Dufferin Street, City Road, butcher. On February 2 I advertised in the "Daily Chronicle," received reply from prisoner, and visited him at Wyvern Hall. He said he was general manager to the East London Cinema Company, that he had the place of money taker open at Wyvern Hall, thewages being 30s. a week; there being takings of £9 to £15 a night he required security, £5 on signing agreement and £5 on the date of opening, which would be February 13. I agreed to the terms and received letter of February 3 stating that the company would engage me. I forwarded the £5 and received formal agreement produced. I then received letter putting off the opening, but stating that my wages would be paid. I handed prisoner the second £5, out of which he paid me the first week's salary of £1 10s. He told me he had a difficulty in getting the license for Wyvern Hall, but that he could put me on at Greenwich Theatre or another hall. I have done no work at any theatre and have not received back any of the £8 10s. paid to prisoner.
FRANK HIGHLEY , cinematograph operator, 118, Clapham Road. On February 2 I advertised in the "Stage," received letter from prisoner, and saw him at Wyvern Hall. He showed me round the place; he said he was the district manager of the London Cinema Company, that Collins was the general manager, that they had forty halls, including one at Greenwich and one at Woolwich. He said I should have to purchase the films and be responsible for them, and asked what security I could give. I said £5. The next day I brought him £5 and he wrote out agreement (produced), "I, Alfred Moody, general manager to the London Cinema Company, Limited, Tavistock House, Strand," engaging me as operator to the Electrical Theatre, High Road, Tottenham, at £2 a week, to commence February 13, and acknowledging the receipt of £5 as security, to be returned in full one month after the commencement of the engagement. I afterwards received a letter stating that the license had been delayed for 10 or 15 days and asking me to meet prisoner on February 14 at the New Cross Empire, which I did; he then told me that hecould employ me at the Greenwich Theatre while waiting, and that I should receive my week's wages on the following Saturday. I received several further letters, but have had no employment or wages and have not received my £5 back.
HERBERT EDWIN GENGE , member of Genge and Genge, 1, Dr. Johnson's Buildings, Temple, solicitors to Mrs. Kearton, owner of Wyvern Hall. On February 8 I received a letter from A. Moody about taking Wyvern Hall. Towards the end of February I received a letter from Crawford; the letters have been mislaid. Neither Crawford nor Moody took the hall.
HERBERT JAMES CECIL SUMPTER , 5, Robert Street, Adelphi, member of H. J. C. Sumpter and Co., solicitors. I am one of the mortgagees of Wyvern Hall and have acted as solicitor to the mortgagees. I have had no communication from prisoner and have never heard of Collins or Crawford or the East London Cinema Company.
CHARLES BLACKMORE , 187, High Road, South Tottenham, caretaker of Wyvern Hall. At the end of January or beginning of February prisoner called to see the hall. He said that his people, Collins and Lawrence Crawford, managing directors to the East London Cinema Company, had taken Wyvern Hall and that he was their representative. I said I had had no intimation from the landlord. Prisoner said they were taking it from the mortgagees. On the following Monday he went into the hall, purchased some notepaper, ink, and pen, and wrote letters in the office or pay-box. Several persons came to see him there; he was there three or four hours. I knew him as A. Moody. He came on several days during the week and acted in the same way. He then left, telling me he was coming back; that he should be at the Palladium; that he was arranging about 200 tip-up seats to be put into the hall, and that if I wanted him I was to telephone him at the Palladium. I then received a telegram from
prisoner stating that he had gone to Brighton as a theatre was burnt down there, and that he would see me on Monday. I did not see him again.
Cross-examined. I could not say the date prisoner first came; about a fortnight before that two gentlemen came and looked at the hall. I referred them to Mr. Kearton, the owner. I knew the hall was mortgaged and that it had been advertised, "Apply to the caretaker." Prisoner told me that his company had deposited £140 with the solicitors, Smith and Mason. Mr. Kearton regularly came to the hall. I told him about the prisoner; he said he knew nothing about him and that it was not likely he should let the hall for £140 a year. I told prisoner of this, but he deceived me. He said the hall was out of the hands of the landlord, that his company was very wealthy, and they had taken the hall from the mortgagees. Prisoner interviewed a carpenter to make alterations and some one from the Electrical Supply Company; he was there nine days in all.
DANIEL BARNARD , 10, St. Mary's Road, Peckham, music-hall manager. I have been licensee of the music-hall, Stockwell Street, Greenwich, for nine years, up to February 27, 1911, when I transferred it. I havehad no communication from prisoner, Collins, Crawford, or the London or East London Cinema Company in connection with the purchase or hire of my theatre.
Sergeant ALBERT CHATT , R Division. On February 25, at 4.30 p.m., I saw prisoner in the waiting-room at Bow Railway Station. I told him I was a police officer and should arrest him on a warrant for obtaining £5 from Ernest Carter by false pretences. Prisoner said, "He is a fool to do this. I should have paid him £5 to-night. I cannot see how he could do this." At Blackheath Road Police Station I read the warrant to him. He said, "It is false." When charged he said, "It's all false." I searched him and found on him £1 2s. 4d. and a number of letters.
ALFRED MOODY (prisoner, on oath). In December last I met a Mr. Collins and a Mr. Crawford, who informed me they were forming a company called the London Cinema Company, to run theatres in London and the provinces. I was to be district manager and engage the staff and no one was to have a responsible position without security. Crawford said the first hall they would open would be Wyvern Hall, South Tottenham. I at once went there, informed the caretaker who I was and asked if his employers had told him that the hall was let to my company, meaning, of course, Crawford and Collins—the London Cinema Company. He said he thought he had see Mr. Collins and Mr. Crawford. I then saw the hall; the Caretaker said he would see the owner that evening; I told him to give the particulars to the owner and that my company had taken the hall; that I would call again in a day or two. On the next occasion I saw the hall-keeper I asked him if he had seen the owner; he told me he had and I was to get on with the business of getting ready for the opening. A
few days after I saw Crawford at the Trocadero. He told me there was some difficulty with the Middlesex County Council over the license and would I see what I could do about it. So I wrote to the Middlesex County Council and received a reply, which I gave to Crawford. I saw a gentleman from the County Council, who told me what alterations were required. I told Crawford it would be impossible to make those alterations in time to open in three weeks and that something would have to be done to get a place to start in. Crawford told me he had the offer of the Palace, at Greenwich, which could be opened at once, and I could transfer the staff there. I suggested we might get the Hippodrome, at Cambridge, communicated with the proprietor and received a wire that we could have the hall and open on February 18. The same evening I called upon the witness Carter, told him what had occurred and agreed to return his money when he commenced his engagement, he to have half salary until then. He said he would rather be at a music-hall. The next day I saw Carter again. He asked for money; I paid 8s. his rent and gave him a few shillings. I took him to Stockwell Street, Greenwich, showed him the hall, told him I was in hopes of getting that, but if not, he could go to Cambridge on Monday, February 27. I communicated with him every day by letters, wire, and telephone, and on the day of my arrest I was arranging to see him at his apartments and he was to telephone me at 4.30 at Bow Station. Instead of that I was arrested at Bow Station, so I could do nothing further. I have communicated with Crawford and all the people connected with this and have had the letters returned, and none of the witnesses have come up to speak for me. Mr. Walter Harris, of 21, Great Eastern Street, called at the hall on my instructions and measured for the seats. He promised to be here, but he has not come. There were several letters left at Wyvern Hall which I have asked for, but they have not been found.
Cross-examined. I have known Crawford a good many years; his Christian name is Charles Henry; he is professionally known as Lawrence Crawford. I have known Collins five or six years. I do not know his Christian name, he is professionally known as Lawrence Collins. I do not know where either of them are now—they have greatly deceived me. Crawford had all the money I received excepting 25 per cent, which I had as commission. I had arranged that I should have 25 per cent, on all money that I introduced or received. I suppose I had £2 out of Aulburn's £10, of which I paid him back 30s. in wages. I got no salary from Crawford; I received a commission of 25 per cent, on money deposited by way of security. The agreement signed "Lawrence Crawford" is in my writing. I was authorised to sign Crawford's name. In writing that we (the company) had a 14 years' lease of Wyvern Hall I must have thought so at the time, because Crawford had told me.
Prisoner confessed to having been convicted at Hamstead Petty Sessions on July 14, 1909, receiving 12 months' hard labour for obtaining money by fraud. Other convictions proved: Spalding,
March 31, 1908, three months' hard labour; January 3, 1908, West Hartlepool, three months' hard labour; Burnley, January 25,1905, three months' hard labour—all for obtaining money by false pretences. A large number of similar frauds were stated to have been committed by prisoner.
Sentence: Three years' penal servitude.