Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 22 April 2021), February 1913, trial of SMITH, William (36, painter) (t19130204-32).

WILLIAM SMITH, Deception > fraud, 4th February 1913.

SMITH, William (36, painter) , obtaining by false pretences from Claude Johnstone two orders for the payment of £1 each and £2 in money, from Reginald Merryshaw two orders for the payment of £1 each and £2 in money, from Wilfred Robert Reeve an order for the payment of 11s. and 11s. in money, and from Sydney Woodroffe an order for the payment of 13s. and 13s. in money in each case with intent to defraud.

Mr. F. Watt and Mr. G. Tully-Christie prosecuted; Mr. Schultess Young defended.

ALEXANDER NOTMAN , clerk in the employ of the "Feathered World." In April last we received by post an advertisement for insertion in the paper advertising a bicycle for sale for £2, letters to be sent to "Hunt, c/o. Lewis, 12b, Grand Parade, Muswell Hill."

CLAUDE JOHNSTON , 15, St. Thomas Road, Birmingham. I saw an advertisement in the "Feathered World" offering a bicycle for sale, and I wrote to the address given. I received the reply (produced), and I sent £2 in postal orders on April 10 last. I received a postcard on April 11 saying the bicycle was to be sent, but I did not receive it. I wrote letters to the same address, but they were returned through the Dead Letter Office.

JANE LEWIS , confectioner, 2, Grand Parade, Muswell Hill. In April last a man came to my place and arranged for letters to be sent to me in the name of Hunt. About two dozen letters came in the course of about 10 days. I identify prisoner as the man who came to me.

Detective-inspector ALBERT SCHOLES . I saw prisoner on December 2 at Wood Green Petty Sessional Court. I told him he would be put up for identification as a man having received letters containing postal orders in the name of Hunt, at Muswell Hill, and also in the name of Wise, at 41, Elthorne Road. Miss Lewis identified him. At the police station he said, "I shall want you to make some inquiries for me. The persons who picked me out this morning were correct. I admit having called at their places for letters, but I did it for another man, named Wilson, who used to live at Galsworthy Road, Tottenham, but I do not know the number. He is known by the name of Frank Fox. He is rather a shady character and always on the bust, and goes in for playing billiards with the swells. I used to meet him at the "Bull" public-house, Tottenham. I hope you will be able to find him, for my sake. I asked him why he used so many different names. He said he used different names because he dabbles in all kinds of things. He was often outside the shops when I called for the letters, and no doubt some of the people will remember seeing him with me." He wrote me down several addresses, and I made inquiries. The exhibits (produced) are, in my opinion, in prisoner's handwriting.

Cross-examined. Prisoner made the statement quite of his own accord. So far as I know he has been a man of respectable character hitherto.

WILLIAM HARRIS HAMMOND , sorter in the Post Office, produced the postal orders which had been sent to "H. Hunt."

REGINALD MERRYSHAW , butcher, Sutterton, near Lincoln. On April 5 I saw a bicycle advertised for sale in the "Feathered World," and I wrote a letter to the address given. I received a reply and then I sent £2 in postal orders. I received a postcard saying the bicycle was being sent, but the machine did not arrive.

REGINALD ALFRED CRUTCH , cashier to the "Poultry World," produced a copy of that paper containing an advertisement as to ducklings being for sale at 6s. 6d. per dozen and ducks' eggs at 3s. a dozen, and letters to be sent to "Wise, 41, Elthorne Road, Holloway."

MAUD HARDING , manageress to a stationer at 41, Elthorne Road, Holloway. Prisoner came to the shop about the third week in February and arranged that I should take in letters in the name of Wise. He told me that he was advertising in a paper. He called every day for the letters and received between 24 and 30 in the course of one week. Some letters came after he stopped calling, and I returned them to the Post Office.

WILFRED REEVE , coal merchant, Birmingham. On February 25 I saw an advertisement in the "Poultry World," and, in consequence, I wrote to William Wise, 14, Elthorne Road, Holloway. I received a reply, and then I sent on a postal order for 11s. for 50 Aylesbury ducks' eggs. I never received the eggs.

SYDNEY WOODROFFE , of Billericay. On February 26 I saw an advertisement in the "Poultry World," and I wrote to a man named Wise, at 41, Elthorne Road, Holloway. I received a reply and, in consequence, I sent a postal order for 13s. for two dozen ducklings. I did not receive them.

Detective-sergeant JOHN TUPPER , N Division. On December 19 I saw prisoner receive some letters at a newspaper shop in High Road, Tottenham. I stopped him, told him I was a police officer, and asked his name. He said his name was Smith. Then I said, "I believe you to be a man named Wise, wanted on a warrant for fraud." I asked, "Where do you live?" He replied, "I don't think that has anything to do with you." I took him to St. Ann's Road Police Station and asked him if he had any incubators or poultry. He said, "No; I can get them." He then produced eight letters from his pocket and, at my suggestion, opened them. Six of those letters contained postal orders. When charged he gave the name of William Smith, of no fixed abode. On the 27th he was identified as West, Smith, and Hunt.

Cross-examined. Prisoner asked me to find a man named Wilson, but I have been unable to do so.


WILLIAM SMITH (prisoner, on oath). I am a painter and fish buyer. I first saw Wilson in November, 1911, at Club Row, Bethnal Green, where I went to purchase a few fowls. I have kept fowls all my life; it is a hobby of mine. Wilson asked me if I was a judge of birds, and I

told him I considered myself to be a bit of a judge. He asked me if I would meet him on the Monday, and I met him by appointment at the "Bull" Inn, Tottenham. He told me then he was a poultry dealer and farm agent and was in want of a man who knew something about poultry to go with him with a view to purchasing fowls to supply his contracts, as he had to supply the Jews mostly with poultry for killing purposes. It was arranged that I should receive my travelling expenses and a commission on my purchases. My purchases were to be at the rate of 6d. a 1b., and I was to buy birds by weight for killing purposes. If I could purchase at anything under that figure I was to receive commission on it. He paid me every week for the first five weeks and I was averaging from 30s. to 35s. a week. He asked me to let the next week's money run on a bit because he had not got some of his accounts in. He proposed that I should go into partnership with him if I could manage to rake up £50 and could manage to let the money run on and do a little painting in between. I let my money run on for a little. In February, 1912, he told me he was about to purchase a motor-bicycle, and asked me if I could lend him some money. I had been doing a little work and was not without money, and I lent him £3. He said the motor-bicycle would be a great saving of expense in getting about to markets and sales. He suggested that I should go in for one, but I told him I was not in the position to do so. I told him I should like some of the money I had lent him, and he told me he proposed to sell his own bicycle, and he had others to sell. We put advertisements into the papers. He wrote the one about the ducklings and I copied it on to one of their forms. Both advertisements are in my writing. The reason he gave for using different names was that he did not want to mix up a small retail trade with his wholesale trade. I went to the shops for letters sometimes, and he gave me to understand that sometimes he went. When we went together I always went into the shop, and when I came out I handed him the letters. I thought his business was being carried out in a genuine way. I had no ducklings, but Wilson gave me to understand that he had. I last saw Wilson in November, 1912, in Leadenhall Market. The letters that were found on me were mine and addressed to me. I had only two of the Buff Orpingtons that I was advertising because I had sold six on the Wednesday. I was keeping them where I was employed at Edmonton. I asked Wilson for some money, as he owed me about £30, and he promised to let me have some in a few days. I have not seen him from that day to this.

Cross-examined. Wilson did not let me know where he had the fowls sent to, because then I should have been as much in the know as he was, and I could have fallen into his business. We used to make an appointment over night as to where I should meet him next day, but our usual meeting place was at the "Bull," at ten o'clock. He should be well known there, but perhaps they did not know him by name. I do not think I have any of his handwriting. When I was arrested and the letters were opened I was surprised to find I had so many postal orders, and, of course, I acknowledged that I could not supply that

number. I think my mistress will be here to prove that. I have had incubators. I did have three, but since my arrest I think two have been sold. I keep a few poultry, but not to carry on business with.

JOHN TUPPER (recalled). I did find an incubator at prisoner's address, but it was a very old one and had a leg off. The two others referred to were not there. There were fowls, but no Buff Orpingtons.

ALBERT SCHOLES (re-called). Prisoner told me he had worked for a man as a painter, and he did work there from August 8 to June 20, and had a good character.

Verdict, Guilty.

Sentence: Eighteen months' hard labour.