ERNEST SMITH, ALBERT STEWART.
8th February 1910
Reference Numbert19100208-35
VerdictsGuilty > unknown; Guilty > unknown
SentencesImprisonment > penal servitude; Imprisonment > penal servitude; Imprisonment > preventive detention; Imprisonment > hard labour

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SMITH, Ernest (44, agent), and STEWART, Albert (46, traveller) , both obtaining by false pretences from George Samuel Woolrich ₤ 2 and ₤ 2, from Emma Sexton ₤ 2 11s. 1d., and from Rebecca Layton 10s. and ₤ 1, in each case with intent to defraud; Smith obtaining by false pretences from Thomas Greer Cole 18s., with intent to defraud.

GEORGES. WOOLRICH, grocer, 136, Liverpool Road. I have known prisoner Smith some time in insurance business. I knew Stewart before November 22. On that day they came to my shop. I knew Stewart as Reeves. Reeves said, "What about this cheque? " Smith said, "Perhaps Mr. Woolrich will change it for you." I knew Reeves as Smith's agent and clerk. Smith was my fire, glass, and burglary insurance agent. The cheque was ₤ 4 17s. 6d. It was crossed; that is why I took it. He said he could not get it changed that day, and would I advance him ₤ 2. I did so. Smith went away, leaving Reeves with me. After some little time Reeves said, "If anything should occur don't let Mr. Smith know, as he suffers from fits, and it would seriously upset him." Then I gave him the money, and he went away leaving the cheque with me. On the following day he wanted another ₤ 1, which I gave him in silver. He came again the same evening, and wanted me to settle up the whole amount. I gave him another ₤ 1. I had not enough money to pay the balance. On the 23rd I sent the cheque to the rate collector's office to pay my rates. He would not accept it. On the 24th I paid it into my son's bank, and it was returned, "No account." The matter was then in the Hands of the police. I went up to Smith's place and saw him. He was very much surprised, and appeared to know absolutely nothing at all about it; he had known Reeves 15 years, and never knew anything against him. He wanted me to let him have the cheque back, and I did so on the conditions that he gave me a receipt and a copy of the cheque. The cheque is signed J. G. Bacon. I believed it was a good cheque.

Cross-examined by Smith. The insurance business you did for me has always been carried through. The day you called with Reeves was not about the cheque business but to tell me a claim for burglary insurance had passed through. You wanted the claim form altered, left it with me and went out of the shop. Mr. Reeves stayed. He tendered the cheque in your presence. I did not pay him the money in your presence. You had the cheque back to give to your solicitor. You said Reeves had no solicitor, and you would do your best to get the money back. You did not say the solicitor wanted some costs to go on with the case.

Cross-examined by Stewart. I gave you ₤ 2 one day and ₤ 2 the next. You were not sober the second day. I had no suspicion that you drank before that.

EMMA SEXTON, cashier, Mayfield Laundry, 93, Gillespie Road, Holloway. I did not prisoners before November 24. That day Stewart came to our laundry and said he had come to settle Smith's account, ₤ 1 7s. 5d. He gave me this cheque, signed J. H. Simmons, for ₤ 3 18s. 6d. I deducted the ₤ 1 7s. 5d. and gave him the balance. I paid the cheque into the bank the next morning, and it was returned marked "No account." I have not seen either prisoner since.

To Smith. I have made no application for the money. I have not issued a summons for it. I do not know what the manager has done.

(Friday, February 11.)

THOMAS GREER COLE, builder, 125, Offered Road, Barnsbury. I know Smith as an insurance agent. He came to me on November 23 to pay some money off an account. He gave me this cheque, signed J. G. Bacon, for ₤ 1 18s. I gave him 18s. and put ₤ 1 to his credit. I paid it into the National Provincial Bank, Islington, and it came back marked, "No account." I saw Smith on the following Saturday and asked for the money back. He said he would get the money from the person who gave him the cheque. He did not do so.

To Smith. I applied to you several times for payment of a small account you owed. You gave me the cheque in the office. I thought it was a cheque of one of your customers, as it was made out to you. You did not see my father after November 27; he was laid up for a week, and in the meantime the matter was placed in the hands of the police.

REBECCA LAYTON, the "Dun Cow, " Old Kent Road. I knew prisoners as Lee and Reeves. Smith was Lee. I knew them as customers. Smith came on January 13. He asked me whether I would put this cheque through for him; he did not want any money. One of my chaps was going out then, and I gave him the cheque to take to the bank. Smith came in the same evening and asked for 10s. off the cheque. He came later with Reeves and another man, and asked for a sovereign. He said, "I am short, and I have to give Reeves some money." I gave him the ₤ 1. I saw no more of him.

He did not come for the balance. The cheque came back marked "No account." I sent round to him and wrote, but never got any reply. On the 21st I went to his house. He was not in. He came in an hour or an hour and a half later. I said, "How is it you have not been in for the balance? " He said he knew there bad been some trouble with that cheque and others, and if he came and gave me the 30s. would I let him have the cheque back. He said it was to do with Reeves, and nothing to do with him. While I was talking to him two plain-clothes men came and spoke to Smith and took him away.

To Smith. You had the 10s. and the ₤ 1 the same day you gave me the cheque.

JAMES MARSHALL, cashier, National Bank of India, 17, Bishopsgate Street. These four cheques come from the same book, which was issued on September 17, 1903, to a customer of ours in Scotland. We communicated with him when these cheques began to. come in. There are two cheques signed J. H. Simmons and two J. G. Bacon. They are not customers of ours.

To Smith. There has been one other cheque out of the same book presented for payment. It was signed J. G. Bacon.

Sergeant ALFRED SCHOLES, G Division. I saw both prisoners at Clerkenwell Police Court on January 26, and told them they would be charged with being concerned in obtaining money from Miss Sexton, Mr. Cole, and Mrs. Layton by means of worthless cheques. Smith made no reply. Stewart said, referring to the case of the Mayfield Laundry, "Yes, I got the money for some one else." When the charge was read over to him he said, "Yes, it was paid as an account for Smith."

Sergeant JOHN TANNER, N Division. On January 21 I went with another officer to the "Flying Horse" public-house, Walworth Road. I saw Smith there, called him out, told him we were police officers, and held a warrant for his arrest for being concerned with a man named Reeves in obtaining ₤ 4 by means of a worthless cheque from Mr. Woolrich in November last. He said, "I know Reeves very well. I did not have any of the ₤ 4. I was with him when he asked Mr. Woolrich to change the cheque, and did not know anything was wrong with it until Mr. Woolrich came to me. I asked him to Jet me have the cheque to send to my solicitor, which I did." I took him to the police station, where the warrant was read. He said, "I am not guilty; I never had any of the money." I saw Stewart, whom I knew as Reeves, on the 26th at King's Cross Road Police Station; I read the warrant to him. He said, "The man must be mad."

(Defence.)

ERNEST SMITH (prisoner, not on oath). Mr. Woolrich distinctly says I was 'not there when the money was paid. The cheque is, signed J. G. Bacon, and it is said the writing somewhat resembles mine. I

do not know if your Lordship will allow me to have an expert's opinion on that. (Judge Rentoul: You are allowed to have an expert if you give notice to have him here. Experts' evidence about handwriting is worth what it is worth, which is not very much.) With reference to the Mayfield Laundry, this was at a time I had a laundry myself. I used to sublet my work to the Mayfield Laundry, and they allowed me a discount. At that time I was laid up with fits about six weeks, and could not have been there. This cheque came into my business. Reeves was my manager; he paid my accounts and did my insurance business. I wrote to the Mayfield Laundry as you heard the witness say. I said, "Don't you know they have taken out a summons against me? " She knew nothing about it. The cheque was paid to them in the ordinary way of business. As to Cole's cheque, I owed him money for work done to the shop and premises I occupied, and he had written to me several times, and I took him round the cheque. It was paid to me in the way of insurance business. Layton's cheque was given to me to put through the bank, and when I went to Mrs. Layton I had no intention of asking her for any money. I asked her to put the cheque through her account. She sent the cheque out while I was there. That was Thursday morning before lunch. In the evening I went in and had 10s.; I thought it was Friday. I met several people, and we had drinks and smokes, and then I said to Mrs. Layton, "Would you oblige me with 10s., I have not enough money to stand drinks? " Mrs. Layton went to her till and gave me 10s. I had 30s. altogether. I did not know the cheque was worthless. I could have got the ₤ 4 10s. as easy as 10s.

ALBERT STEWART (prisoner, not on oath). You will understand the awkward position I am in, that of employer and employee. This cheque of Mr. Woolrich's was paid to me. I went to him and asked him if he would change it. I should have gone to the insurance company represented by Mr. Smith, and asked them to change it. In insurance work there is a lot of cheques paid. From the time it came back marked "no account" it was given to Mr. Smith. He put it in His solicitor's hands. Time went on. The Mayfield Laundry was doing his washing, and it came a question of paying his account. The cheque was given to me to pay the account as a matter of business. I obtained the money and paid it out, and put it in Mr. Smith's hands as my employer. As far as the third cheque with this publican, I know nothing at all about it. I was not in the house when the sovereign was given to Smith with which he was supposed to pay me. I have never disputed my signature on the first cheque.

Verdict, Guilty.

Albert Stewart was then indicted for that he is an habitual criminal, and found guilty.

Sentences, Palmer, Three years, penal servitude; Stewart, two terms of Three years' penal servitude (to run concurrently), and Five years' preventive detention; Smith, 18 months' hard labour.

BEFORE MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE.

(Friday, February 11.)


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