Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 30 November 2022), August 1886, trial of JAMES JOSEPH GUNNER (42) (t18860803-811).

JAMES JOSEPH GUNNER, Theft > stealing from master, Miscellaneous > unknown, 3rd August 1886.

811. JAMES JOSEPH GUNNER (42) , Stealing 53l., the moneys of Her Majesty the Queen, he being employed in the public service.

MESSRS. POLAND and CHARLES MATHEWS Prosecuted; MR. BESLEY Defended.

HARRY KING EVANS . I am an accountant in the office of the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police—from March, 1882, down to June, 1886, the prisoner was chief clerk at the Hammersmith and Wandsworth Police Courts—it was his duty in that capacity to receive the fines that were imposed at those courts—the dealing with those fines was governed by some regulations by the Home Office and I have here a copy—the prisoner would pay in a banking account the moneys he had received in the course of each month—for the Wandsworth police-court a banking account had been opened at the London and South Western Bank; that

would be kept in the name of the chief clerk for the time being, in accordance with the provisions of 29 and 30 Vic. c. 39, sec. 18—for the Hammersmith police-court an account was opened at the London and County Banking Company, in the same way and under the name restrictions—according to Rule 7 of the regulations it was the prisoner's duty in the first seven days of each month to make up his account and draw a cheque in favour of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, and pay it in to the account of the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police at the Bank of England—he would also make out a return showing the amount he had received and paid at the end of each month—that would be made up in the first week of each month, and would have reference to the month immediately preceding—in the return of the Wands worth police-court for April I find the net receipts as carried out in the prisoner's handwriting and signed by him amount to 77l. 11s.—on 7th May I find this cheque for 77l. 11s. drawn by the prisoner in favour of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England—that was returned marked, "N. S." in the first instance; in consequence of that the prisoner was communicated with by the officials, requesting an explanation, and on 15th May he replied stating that the letter should receive his immediate attention—on 20th May he was written to again requesting that the fines be paid without further delay, in answer to which he wrote on 22nd May stating that he was devoting a large amount of time to the matter, and would use every effort not to defer it—on 26th May there is a memorandum showing that the cheque was presented a second time——on 27th the prisoner wrote that if the cheque was presented next week he was in hopes it would be met—on 4th June I went to Wands worth, having received instructions to do so, in the meantime the cheque not having been met—I saw the prisoner and said I was desired by the Receiver of Police to see him with reference to this cheque which had not been met, and to ask him whether he could explain it—he said that he had been trying to discover how it was, and he showed mo a mass of figures that he had been going into, extracted from the books, and he could not understand it—I asked him to show me the books; he did so, and I then tested them as far as I was able—this is the cash book that he showed me; I examined it, both for April and May—the deficiency for April was 77l. 11s., for May the net receipts was 42l. 10s. 6d., making a total of 117l. 10s. 6d.—I went on to examine what amounts he had received in June down to between the 1st and 4th—I found he had received about 16l. 10s. for the first four days of June—I asked to see the pass book; he showed it me, I examined it—he said he had about 16l. in his safe, I suggested that he had better pay that into the bank and then have the pass book made up—he did that, it was sent by a messenger, made up and brought to me, and I examined it—the 16l. appeared to have been in hand, or something equivalent to it—it was only a preliminary examination on 4th June—on 7th June I had the pass book and all the books sent to me, and it was then that I ascertained what the actual deficiency was, but on 4th June I roughly ascertained it to be about 50l.—I said to the prisoner that there appeared to be a deficiency of about 50l.—he said he believed it was about that; that he could not understand quite how it was, he was investigating it—I then suggested whether it would be better to pay the amount in to his account, and if on investigation it was found to be an error in the books it might be repaid to him—he said

he thought it had better be ascertained first—that was substantially all the conversation on 4th June—on the 7th I made an investigation into the books, and then discovered that the exact deficiency was 52l. 17s. 4d.—the difference between the amount shown in the cash book and pass book was paid in to the bank—on 7th June I went to Hammersmith and saw the prisoner with reference to the fines account there—I told him I had come to examine into the Hammersmith account—he produced the books and gave me every assistance he could—the result of my examination was that he was deficient 57l. 16s. 9d.—he had made returns for April and May; the fines for April had been already paid by that time—the May account shows the net receipts to have been 108l. 7s. 1d., which tallied with the cash book, but on audit subsequently he had paid 1s. too much—only 63l. 8s. had been paid over to the receiver—the deficiency between those two items was 44l. 18s.—he had some small amounts in hand amounting to about 19l. 11s. 3d., which he paid into the bank; that was between the 1st and 7th June—after paying that amount into the bank there was 6l. 16s. 6d. standing there to his credit—14l. 13s. 3d. was what he had to account for, the deficiency was 57l. 16s. 9d.—I mentioned to the prisoner the amount of the deficiency; he said he thought it was about that, but he was still pursuing his investigation, that he had been very much pressed with work and had not been able to discover how it had arisen—with reference to the stamps account I think he was supplied with 70l. worth of stamps for both Courts, not in money—as he used those stamps for the purposes of the Courts it was his duty from time to time to replace them by others, or to have money in hand for that amount; I think that was his duty—the prisoner succeeded Mr. Leigh, who was chief clerk up to 1882—there was an interregnum in which Mr. Newton acted as chief clerk; the prisoner succeeded Mr. Newton—this (produced) is a book supplied for the public service; it is marked "Stamps" outside, and on the first page are the words, "Stamps account, amount allowed for working the two Courts 70l." and immediately under that are initials which I believe to be the prisoner's—under the date of March, 1882, I find worked out in detail how the 70l. worth of stamps came into his possession—on the next page I find in the prisoner's handwriting a grand total of 70l. in hand on 2nd March—this book was produced to me in the course of the investigation on 7th June—here is an entry in it of 1st February of money and stamps to the value of 11l. 10s. given out to the officials of the Court, for which they would be responsible to the prisoner, leaving a balance in the hands of the chief clerk of 58l. 10s.—on 7th June I asked the prisoner to produce to me such stamps as he had in hand, and he produced 90 of 1s. each and eight half-crown stamps—I made the deficiency 53l.—I said to the prisoner, "It appears to me you are short in your stamps 53l."—he said he believed it was so, he could not account for it, and he also said he was investigating the matter—that was substantially all he said.

Cross-examined. I may have seen the prisoner before the 4th of June, but I should not have recognised him—I had no communication with him till I went on 4th June—police court accounts are examined under my direction, I have a supervising knowledge of them—there was a Treasury letter of June 6, 1882, at the police-court authorising something that had been approved of by Mr. Lushington in the Secretary of State's office. (This related to the chief clerk paying money into a banking account)—

these books are authorised to be kept under the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879—there are several books to be kept in accordance with the minutes—since the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, there is considerably more work to be done in the way of bookkeeping than before—I know by the forms that different claims arise in respect of the fines or costs—I cannot answer about details, they are gone into by other members of my department—to my knowledge there is no cheque drawn on the banking account for any private purpose—I was not directed to audit the official account—I have a general audit, but I examined the pass book in this case, and I may say generally I should think there was no such cheque drawn—the salaries are paid by our department, and I know by his came that the prisoner has been more than twenty years in the public service—I found the cash account was correctly entered, the prisoner was most correct—within seven days after the termination of each month the chief clerk should submit to the receiver on this form C a return of all fines received, and all persons committed to prison—this is a return showing the fines sent to the receiver, and shows that he received during the month 3l. 4s., and had to make payments in respect of it of 8l. 19s., and so he deducted 15s. at the bottom of the account, and that deficit, 15s., means the difference due to him—the receiver can audit from C by looking at it and comparing it with the magistrate's notes of his decisions with the fines imposed and the costs—fines paid after persons have gone to prison are received by the governor of the prison, and are paid only by him to the receiver—the Metropolitan Board shares can be paid out of current fines—some of them are claimable from the chief clerk, they are not often large sums, sometimes 60l. or 70l.—the chief clerk's account is always a running one, at the end of every month he has to pay over—the minute that bankers may pay over without a cheque at the end of every month has never been acted on, it is never done in that way—the prisoner's banking account since his suspension has been continued as the account of the police-court, the acting chief clerk operates on it—no new account has been opened since his suspension—I think the Hammersmith account was opened in December, 1882, when the prisoner was chief clerk; there was no official banking account prior to that, and the same with regard to the Wands worth account—I should think all moneys were left in possession of the clerk who drew on the account for stamp money, there would be nothing irregular in that—the money went into the banking accounts—the credit for stamps is limited to 70l., and if the stamps were burnt, lost, or misused, the chief clerk would have to make them good—in this case every shilling of the 70l. deficiency has been paid into the Receiver's account and made good—the Receiver his nothing to do with, the audit of the stamps; I was sent down by direction of the Home Office to inquire into it, and I asked the prisoner whether he would show them to me, and he did so at once—they would be under the chief clerk of accounts in the Inland Revenue department, Somerset House—it does not fall within our duty—if the chief clerk resigned he would have to account to his successor, who would not take the burden of the 70l. debt unless he had the value—the mixture of money of the stamp account has been going on since 1872, as far as the bank is concerned—the stamps vary in amount from 1s. upwards—one of these books refers to the Hammersmith account, and the other to the Wandsworth account—the books were in this condition when given to me, they contain vouchers of the persons who

have received the stamps—he told me that he had been unable to discover that any deficiency had arisen—he gave me every facility in examining any books and papers and answered any questions I put to him—I noticed some corrections had been made in the pass-books—I noticed to some extent the amount of returns of the fines and receipts of every month, comparing it with the balance at the bankers at the end of every month, without taking into account the feeding of the account with moneys paid in in the first seven days, but it is not altogether a fair test—I believe if I struck the balance at the banker's at the end of each month the deficiency would be sometimes more and sometimes less, because he might in the last day or days have heavy fines imposed which he might not have time to pay in, or the cheques might not be cleared by the end of the month, and therefore it would not be a fair test—the prisoner would not pay the working expenses of the Court, he would pay costs of complainants and so forth—he was allowed 80l. or 85l. to cover the whole of his travelling and other expenses, and that was paid once a month to him by the Receiver of police, and he would not have to pay anything for that himself—I know the business at the Courts has increased very much, from the trouble it has given our auditors—under date of December 12th, 1883, it was discovered that another person's cheque had been charged against the prisoner and his balance diminished by an error of the bankers—I did not investigate all those entries—he showed me pages and pages of figures which he had prepared for the purpose of trying to discover the cause of the deficiency—I don't know that he said he had been working at it for months—he said he had been taking books home, and that he was very much pressed owing to the absence of the second clerk, who was away—I believe the second clerk had gone there recently—undoubtedly there was very great pressure on the prisoner, and there would be immense pressure on the prisoner if a new hand not acquainted with the machinery of account keeping, was put in as his assistant—on 4th June I knew the deficiency was about 50l. with regard to one Court—I went into it independently of him, he admitted it was about that he was investigating the matter—the police-court proceedings commenced on 20th July—I did not give him any figures of what ought, to have been paid to the Receiver till I went to the Court and stated them on oa'h, and he did not know then to a penny what it was—by rule 19 as to fees if a person takes out a summons for assault and the man is fined 2s. and pays it, he would have a right to take 2s. from the chief clerk without anything going into the banking account—I made no inquiry as to whether the prisoner had been living extravagantly, I was only requested to investigate the accounts—I believe he had a family of children ill with scarlet lever, and was not allowed to come into a public office for some time.

Re-examined. For all moneys received for fines he would enter in the cash-book of the Court the name and amount of the fine—the payments he makes are connected with the legal business, not expenses of the office—at the end of the month he always makes the summary in red ink; thus in April there are the receipts in different columns, and then the gross receipts, and then the payments—77l. 11s. is the net receipts, and he would draw a cheque for that and report it—seven days are allowed so that the money up to the end of the month shall be paid into the bank before he makes up his account, and to give him true to make it up—

a receivable order has to accompany the cheque, it is an explanation of it—the cash and pass book are counterfoil books—they are under the chief clerk, and he can manage it his own way—all we look at at the end of the month is to see that correct amounts have been entered—I think his salary was about 400l. or 410l. at the time of his suspension.

H. P. NEWTON. I am now chief clerk at the Greenwich and Woolwich Police-courts—both courts are taken on the same day—formerly I was second clerk at the Hammersmith and Wandsworth Police-courts, and during the illness of the late chief clerk, Mr. Leigh, I did the duty of chief clerk—he died on 10th February, 1882—the prisoner was appointed on 8th February, 1882, and entered on his duties on 1st March, and it then became my duty to account to him for the 20l. the imprest—this book in the prisoner's writing shows the mode in which I accounted to him for the 20l.—there is "Hammersmith, handed me by Mr. Newton," and then so many stamps and cash, and then "Wandsworth, handed me by Mr. Newton," and stamps and cash, the two together making 70l. altogether—at that time some of the stamps were in the hands of some of the officers of the Court, and are all accounted for—for two or three months in the autumn of 1882 the prisoner was away, in consequence of the illness of his family—I then took over the duties of chief clerk—he accounted to me for the 70l., and when he returned to his duties I passed over the 70l., and he started with that sum again—those entries are in the prisoner's writing, "Total imprest, 70l.; in hands of three officers, 11l. 10s.; balance in hands of chief clerk, 58l. 10s."—it would be in the discretion of the chief clerk to keep money and stamps in the safe or to pay it into the banking account as he thought most convenient—the practice is as stamps are sold to the public and money comes in, he buys more stamps when he wants them with that money, and so keeps up the working of the two.

Cross-examined. There is always a debt of 70l. to the Receiver for stamps—there is no time for demanding back the payment of that 70l. until his death or removal—I have had 15 years' experience of police-courts—I was 11 years at Hammersmith as second clerk before Mr. Leigh was ill—the business there was always heavy—when Wandsworth was taken, in the morning the business was so pressing that they seldom got their summonses reached—it is three miles and three-quarters from Hammersmith to Wandsworth, and the prisoner would have to walk to Addison Road, then go to Clapham Junction, and change there for Wandsworth—since Hammersmith was made the morning court I have not got away from there till 5 o'clock on some days, and the Magistrate is sometimes kept at Wandsworth till 7 o'clock at night, and it was not unusual to be there till 6 o'clock—I consider there is immense pressure on the clerk to work the two Courts—I suggested it would be well if the junior were to go to Wandsworth and the chief clerk limited himself to Hammersmith—the young gentleman who came as second clerk had no experience of police-courts—the prisoner told me he would have no leisure if he did not take depositions—it takes a trained man to take depositions to enable the Magistrate to get rid of the business—making up the returns and the books would take about half an hour a day at each Court—the clerk would do those for each day on the following day—we have frequently had 46 charges and remands at Hammersmith and about half that number at Wandsworth I should think—summonses run

up to 43 and 58 occasionally, without those of the School Board—I have an official banking account—I mingle the stamps money with the money of the fines, and so forth—I pay in once or twice a week—sometimes the claims of fines to the Metropolitan Board amount to 70l. or 80l.—in some cases a person is entitled to a half, and sometimes the Board is entitled to the whole—we enter them all in one book, and that shows what amount we pay away to the local boards and so forth—at the time Gunner was absent through his family having scarlet fever, there was no official account at the banker's, but the books were the same, and we retained moneys in our own hands till the end of the month, when we paid them over within seven days of the following month—I have sometimes left Mr. Gunner attending to the Court later than I have—I used to be very late sometimes.

Re-examined. I have two Courts to work, and find no difficulty in keeping the accounts—Mr. Gunner was a methodical man, and a very good accountant.

By MR. BESLEY. The work at Hammersmith and Wandsworth was much heavier than the work at Greenwich and Woolwich.

ARTHUR TILLY . I have been assistant clerk at Hammersmith Police-court since March, 1882—these initials "J. J. G." to the stamp account are the prisoner's—he used at times to leave stamps in my hands to sell if he were absent—in February this year I had 8l. worth of stamps—they were renewed from time to time—as I received money I handed it to the prisoner for fresh stamps, and so I kept account with him—requisitions were used to get stamps from Somerset House—there are two such requisitions signed by the prisoner, dated 31st May and 4th June—the 31st May is for 20l. 10s., and that for 4th June is 22l. 10s., making 43l. together—these two cheques in the prisoner's writing correspond with those two sums mentioned in the requisition, and are made payable to the Receiver-General, Somerset House Stamp Office—that amount of stamps would probably be bought, because that would be the amount of money forthcoming at the time—in April, I think it was, the prisoner said to me that he had lost some stamps to the amount of 4l. or 4l. 10s., and that he must have done so bringing them from Hammersmith to Wandsworth—he never referred to it afterwards that I am aware of.

Cross-examined. The requisition is in the prisoner's writing—previous to 1st February I only had 4l. 10s. worth of stamps, and after that date the prisoner increased it to 8l., because the chief usher up to that time had had 10l., and he had then handed it back to the prisoner—from that time I would have more money and less stamps, or less stamps and more money—they were used every day in large numbers—I go to both courts as a rule, and the prisoner did so too, as a rule, I think.

FREDERICK TILLY . I am chief usher at the court—as the assistant clerk is named Tilly also I am called Allen—I see in this stamp-book, "Allen, 2l., F. Tilly"—the prisoner gave them to me in the beginning of February, 1886, to be used in case of necessity—that amount has been in my hands up to the present time—as I used the stamps I took the money to the prisoner and received stamps, keeping up the 2l. worth—I remember, about twelve months ago, the prisoner telling me he had lost some stamps, and two or three days afterwards he said he had some good news to tell me, that he had found them—with that exception I never heard of any stamps being lost.

Cross-examined. Sometimes in the evening, when the light was bad, and if the business was late, a 2s. stamp would be put on in mistake for a 1s. one, and so now we have no 2s. stamps, but put on two 1s. ones—that mistake occurred very seldom—there was no book kept showing what stamps we had—I believe 10s. or 10s. 6d. stamps are required for deserted tenements—the business of the two courts have occupied till late in the evening.

Re-examined. If I made the mistake of putting on a 2s. stamp instead of a 1s. I should be the loser.

ALFRED TERRY . I am messenger to these two police-courts—I recognise my signature here as receiving 1l. 10s. in stamps in February this year—I kept them in my hands, renewing them from time to time—I went to Somerset House, taking the requisition written by the prisoner, to obtain the stamps—I went there on 31st May and 4th June this year with these requisitions and received the amount of stamps given in the requisitions—I handed the stamps to the prisoner.

Cross-examined. I daresay there would be 200 documents requiring stamps between 31st May and 4th June—there would be on an average over 20 summonses at Hammersmith and 10 at Wands worth requiring stamps—the use of stamps was considerable—I received these cheques and got stamps for them.

AUGUSTUS BRIEN HALLE . I have been second clerk at Hammersmith and Wandsworth Police-Courts since August, 1883—I am the gentleman who has been called the "raw hand"—for the last six weeks I have been doing the duty of the chief clerk alone—when I was there in 1883 the prisoner was chief clerk—he kept the bank books in the safe—I assisted him a great deal with the accounts—the cash book was the only book in reference to the banking account—he almost always made up the summaries himself—I heard of no stamps being lost—I had no stamps myself, I had nothing to do with them.

Cross-examined. Prior to 1883 I had had no experience of police-court work—I had seen plenty of depositions at the Home Office—the prisoner generally attended on the magistrate at both Courts, not always—the court frequently sat till between 6 and 7, and exceptionally after 7—Wandsworth would sometimes not begin till 4 o'clock—I was absent for some time in May this year as my father was dying.

ALFRED TERRY (Re-examined by MR. BESLEY). I have gone through the books to see the business done between 17th May and 9th June, and it is a fair sample of the business done at the police-courts as regards the summonses for which stamps are needed. (MR. BESLEY read a list of the number of summonses at Hammersmith on different days, also read a list of those at Wandsworth.) Each summons represents a 2s. stamp—stamps are used for persons who are bailed, and for persons bound over to appear a 2s. 6d. stamp is used, while for a person bound over to keep the peace a 2s. stamp is necessary—pawnbrokers' affidavits are 1s. stamps—all those are in addition to the summonses.

The Prisoner received a good character. NOT GUILTY .

There was another indictment against the prisoner, which was postponed to next Session.