ERNEST ARTON HOWES.
4th February 1913
Reference Numbert19130204-67
VerdictGuilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > hard labour

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HOWES, Ernest Arton (43, clerk) , stealing on July 18, 1912, three valuable securities, to wit, orders for the payment of the several sums of £1 15s. 4d., £1 3s. 7d., and £1 3s. 7d., the property of Harrisons and Crosfield, Limited, his masters, and feloniously receiving the same;obtaining by false pretences from Harrisons and Crosfield, Limited, and Oliver Luck Boyes, three valuable securities, with intent to defraud.

Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Roome prosecuted.

Prisoner was tried on the first indictment.

OLIVER LUCK BOYES , employed by Harrisons and Crosfield, Limited, 1 to 4, Great Tower Street. There are employed by this firm about 200 persons. I was in the transfer department. The firm acts as secretary for several companies, amongst others being the Rubber Plantations Investment Trust, Limited, and the London and Asiatic Rubber and Produce Company, Limited. Prisoner was employed in the transfer department for about three years. We keep the share registers dealing with the transfer of shares. I am familiar with prisoner's handwriting. In addition to prisoner there was a clerk named Howell employed in similar duties. We have in the Asiatic Company a shareholder named D. E. Clark, of Hong Kong. There was a dividend payable to him last October; in that company the dividends are generally paid twice a year. The voyage to Hong Kong occupies about three weeks. Howell and the prisoner had the duty of preparing, issuing and despatching the dividend warrants in that company last October. In the posting of dividend warrants it is necessary to initial the postage book. On October 12 there is an entry to the effect that Howell and the prisoner were witnesses of the posting of the whole of the warrants of the Asiatic on that date, and their names are there in full. The dividend warrant (produced) is for £7 1s. 3d., and payable to D. E. Clark. I cannot say in whose handwriting the body of the warrant is. The warrant is crossed. About 9.5 a.m. on January 9 a letter came to the office from D. E. Clark. I should not like to say the prisoner saw it, but he knew of its existence at 11 o'clock the same morning, because it was passed out into the general office and prisoner would be in the next desk to Howell. I know the matter was discussed. In consequence of the receipt of that letter I made certain inquiries. When dividend warrants are returned through the bank they are compared with the original list, marked off as being paid, and

filed away in numerical order in the filing department. I looked for and found the original warrant (produced), and it appeared to have been paid through Farrow's Bank on October 25. It was quite impossible for it to have gone to Hong Kong and back in that time. Other inquiries were made, and on the following day I was shown certain correspondence at Farrow's Bank. I was shown three letters (produced) purporting to have been written by G. E. Williams. I believe them to be in the prisoner's handwriting. They are written in a "somewhat backward" handwriting, and are headed "14, Brixton Road." I was also shown two other letters (produced), one purporting to be signed "Steel," 1-3, Draper Street, and the other "F. Howers," 1, Cullum Street. I believe them to be in prisoner's handwriting. I went to 14, Brixton Road, which I found to be a newsagent's shop kept by Renvoize. I had a photograph with me. I came back to the office and reported to the directors. Prisoner was seen in the presence of the directors, the secretary of the company, and myself, and asked to give an explanation. He said he knew nothing about it. The Chairman said the matter would be put in the hands of the police, and prisoner was suspended for the time being. Afterwards I went with Detective Wagstaff to 4, Kennington Road, a newsagent's and hairdresser's shop. There I saw some letters addressed to G. E. Williams from Farrow's Bank. Then we went to 18b, Rye Lane, and saw prisoner. I told him I should have to give him into custody with regard to the misappropriation of a dividend warrant for £7 1s. 3d. in the name of D. E. Clark. He denied that he had anything to do with it at all. Then we (including prisoner) went to 14, Brixton Road, and Wagstaff asked Renvoize whether he recognised prisoner in any way, and he said he was the man who had called for letters in the name of G. E. Williams. Just before we left the shop I said to Renvoize: "You know this may be the most serious charge in the world, and I want to be sure there is no shadow of doubt in your mind about it." Renvoize said he was absolutely certain. He turned to prisoner and said, "You know, quite recently, less than five months ago, you grew a moustache, and you have recently shaved it off." Prisoner said, "It is quite right; I did. But you have certainly made a mistake." At Farrow's Bank I found that the account was opened on July 20 last. G. E. Williams, of Ceylon, has some shares in the Trust Company, and I found that his address had been altered in the share register to 14, Brixton Road; that was in prisoner's handwriting. A dividend warrant had been posted to Mr. Williams in July, 1911, and had been returned marked "left Ceylon." The result was that in July of last year we had three dividend warrants in the office payable to him, £1 15s. 4d., £1 3s. 7d., and £1 3s. 7d. We sent them to 14, Brixton Road, and they have been paid through Farrow's Bank. When a clerk goes to lunch he signs a slip, and the slips (produced) have been signed "Howes." In this book (produced) there are entries relating to Thomas Edward Williams, Mrs. Maud Williams, and John Richard Williams. It is in prisoner's handwriting. The handwriting of the body of the reference letter to bank signed "F.

Howers" is exactly similar; and the signature agrees very well with the writing on the luncheon slips. I have here a paying-in slip to Farrow's Bank for £2, dated July 20; it is in prisoner's handwriting. I produce the diary of work kept wholly by prisoner. The handwriting at the dates July 15, 16, and 17 is similar to that on the paying-in slip and the luncheon slips. I also find two other styles of writing on the same page. The Steel letter from 13, Draper Street is in a disguised handwriting which leans backwards a little, but I am of the opinion that it is that of prisoner.

Cross-examined by prisoner. You strenuously asserted your innocence all through and agreed at once to go to 14, Brixton Road, to be confronted by Renvoize. When he identified you I feel pretty sure he mentioned the name "G. E. Williams" first. I did not say, "Why, he even remembers you having a moustache on and having it off again." It is quite possible that you said you grew it when you went for your holidays on August 9. The warrant payable to D. E. Clark is endorsed in the usual place and, I suggest, in your handwriting; it is disguised and has the appearance of having been written in pencil first. It would be quite well known to you that, as soon as sufficient time had elapsed for the warrant to get to Hong Kong and for a letter to come back, discovery would be inevitable. I understand that the addresses on the envelopes in which the dividend warrants had been despatched had been in the habit of being checked, and about the time of the Asiatic dividend I gave instructions that the practice should be discontinued as the stencils had been checked and it would be a waste of time. They were dealt with by responsible men who had boys under them, and it is a fact that you have complained of the inefficiency of the juniors. It is a fact that one of the juniors you complained of is still in the office. It is true that the staff has been considerably reduced, but not that they have been working at high pressure. The overtime last year came of £13, as against about £150 in other years, but the work has been better organised because we have better accommodation.

HERBERT GEORGE RENVOIZE , 14, Brixton Road. About the middle of last year the prisoner arranged with me to take in letters for him in the name of G. E. Williams, and he called for letters over a period of about six months. A few weeks after he first called he grew a moustache, which he afterwards shaved off. Before I identified him at my shop on January 10 I had been shown a photographic group, and I picked out the prisoner as the man who called for letters.

LOUISA RENVOIZE , wife of the last witness, said she recognised the prisoner as "G. E. Williams."

WALTER HENRY JONES , deputy manager at Farrow's Bank, 1, Cheapside, E.C. On or about July 19, 1912, we received this letter from 14, Brixton Road: "I beg to enclose three dividend warrants from the Rubber Plantations Investment Trust, and, as the same are crossed, I would thank you to clear the same for me and remit the proceeds, less your charges, by postal order. The two old warrants have been verified for payment. Yours faithfully, G. E. Williams." Next day

we replied that as the warrants were crossed "a/c payee only" we had opened an account in his name and asked him to fill up an application form and send a specimen of his signature. These were duly returned to us filled up, together with a letter in which he asked for a cheque-book, and gave as references William Steel and Francis Howers. We wrote to those references and I produce the replies we received. An account was opened and credited with the three dividend warrants amounting to £4 2s. 6d. On October 24 a dividend warrant for £7 1s. 3d., signed "D. E. Clark," was paid into the account. There were other payments into the account and I produce the paying-in slips. Between 11 and 12 o'clock on January 9 we received a communication, dated January 8, 1913, changing the address to 4, Kennington Road.

To prisoner. I am inclined to think that the letter signed "F. Howers" is written by the same person who wrote the application form, but I am very doubtful about the other reference letter. The fact that a man wrote to us and asked us to cash a warrant crossed "a/c payee only" would indicate that he did not know what he was about.

(Wednesday, February 12.)

SIDNEY HOWELL , of Harrisons and Crosfield. In October last I was engaged in preparing the dividend warrants for the Asiatic Company, and they were posted on October 14. It was a dividend that we prepared in a hurry. With some juniors I took charge of part of the work and with other juniors prisoner took charge of another part of the work of checking the warrants and putting them up for post. When the warrants had been enclosed in the envelopes and the envelopes had been stuck down and stamped they were counted into hundreds. That took till about 11 o'clock at night, and, as the post offices are closed at eight o'clock, we were compelled to post in pillar boxes. In order to avoid over filling one pillar box we divided the envelopes into more or less two equal portions; prisoner, with one or two juniors, took one lot to a pillar box in Beer Lane and I took the other to a pillar box in Rood Lane. I cannot say who posted the D. E. Clark warrant. I have had nothing to do with the Trust dividend for some time, but I see by the postage book that the entire entry is in prisoner's writing. I was not aware that the G. E. Williams' warrants were retained in the office. I have seen prisoner write a more or less upright, backhanded, writing, which he told me he did in order to rest his hand.

To prisoner. In regard to the enclosing of the warrants in the envelopes, it would not necessarily mean that the person who enclosed the warrant had anything to do with sticking down the envelope and sorting it afterwards. There was nothing to indicate where the D. E. Clark warrant was excepting that it would be amongst the "Eastern" ones. If it was abstracted before it reached the pillar box there would be nothing to show which particular person abstracted it. It would be risky to abstract it in the counting. I can suggest no reason why

that dividend warrant should be selected, except the fact that it was an Eastern warrant and no information in regard to it could come for at least six weeks. There were other Eastern warrants and some for larger sums.

Detective-sergeant FREDERICK WAGSTAFF , City Police. On January 10 I went to 18b, Rye Lane, along with Mr. Boyes and Detective Collins. Mr. Boyes said to prisoner, "These gentlemen are police officers. I have made inquiries and ascertained that certain dividend warrants, which it was your duty to post to certain shareholders, have been paid into an account at Farrow's Bank, Cheapside, which you have opened in the name of Williams. Your photograph has also been identified by the proprietor of a newsagent's shop at 14, Brixton Road, as that of a man who has been calling there for some months past and receiving letters in the name of Williams." Prisoner replied, "I have never been to 14, Brixton Road; I have no account at Farrow's Bank; there is some mistake." I took him into custody. We all went to 14, Brixton Road, to see Renvoize. I asked Renvoize, "Do you know this man?" He replied, "Yes, this is the man whom I knew as Williams, who has been receiving letters here for some months past." Mr. Boyes asked, "Are you quite sure of this man being Williams?" "Oh, yes,"" he said, "I am quite sure; I know him quite well. Some four or five months ago he grew a moustache and he shaved it off again about a couple or three months ago." There was some further conversation, in the course of which prisoner agreed that he wore a moustache about that time; he said he grew it because he was having his teeth attended to.

To prisoner. You gave every facility for a search and nothing was found relating to this charge.

(Defence.)

EDWIN HOW , principal clerk in the ledger section of Harrisons and Crosfield. Towards the end of 1912 one of the two ladies in charge of the filing department, Miss Turner, was away ill. During the time she was away the staff were given an extra day's holiday, and it would have been possible then for any clerk to go there on that day and remove any evidence there might be against him without anyone being the wiser.

RODNEY HOWES , prisoner's son. (To prisoner.) You grew your moustache during your holidays, which began about August 9, and it was not shaved off until December.

ERNEST ARTON HOWES (prisoner, not on oath) denied the charge, saying that the documents produced had been deliberately copied from his writing for the purpose of casting suspicion upon him.

Verdict, Guilty. The second indictment was not proceeded with.

Prisoner confessed to having been convicted at Bournemouth Petty Sessions, on February 5, 1906, of felony, in the name of William Marshall; two other convictions were proved.

Sentence: Twelve months' hard labour.

BEFORE JUDGE RENTOUL.

(Thursday, February 13.)


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