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1912: 'Foolish' young man's theft from the Queen's Hall

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Brighton Gazette-Wednesday 20 November 1912

Young Mans foolishness

Strange story of a bicycle.


A strange story of the disappearance of a bicycle was told to the Haywards Heath magistrates on Monday, when Vincent George Cripps was summoned for stealing a bicycle, value £7, the property of Bertie Dear, at Cuckfield on the 6th of November.


The magistrates present were: Mr E Huth, (in the chair), Mr Addleshaw, Mr N G Beck, Mr AJ Bridge, Mr R Harris, Mr A G Plummer, and Mr WC Renshaw KC


Mr C H Waugh appeared for the defendant.


Bertie Dear, of Ashfield, Handcross, said he was present at a dance at the Queens Hall, Cuckfield, on the 6th of November. He left his bicycle in the cloakroom at 7:55 PM. He missed it the same evening, and next saw it in the hands of the police. He identified the machine produced, and valued it at £7

Mr C H Waugh: he had got his bicycle back. Defendant came to him and said he was sorry, and did not know why he had taken it. He told defendant the case was in the hands of the police, but as far as he was concerned he did not wish the case to proceed any further


High Street and Queens Hall (colourised) c1910

Bert Miles, Cuckfield, said he saw defendant in the lobby at the Queens hall, where the bicycles were kept. Defendant was not sober.


PC Day, Cuckfield, said he saw defendant on the 7th November and the latter told him he left the Queens Hall about 20 minutes to 12 and walked home by himself. He told defendant the bicycle was found, but the lamp was missing. Defendant told him he had found a lamp in the Paddockhall Road, just before he got to the police station. He said he had kicked against it in the road. Defendant handed him the lamp produced. On the 9th, defendant made a statement to him stating that he took the bicycle, and had told his governor all about it, after which he felt better. He took the first bicycle he saw. What made him do it he could not think. Before he got home something told him that he ought not to have taken the bicycle.


A voluntary statement

By Mr. Waugh: defendant made this statement voluntarily.


PC Gear, Haywards Heath, gave evidence of finding the bicycle lying in some shrubs in the Paddockhall Rd.


Mr C H Waugh, who urged that the case should be dealt with as a first offence, said the complainant had suffered no loss. Defendant had acted wrongfully and most foolishly, but had not been actuated by any felonious intent. He had hitherto borne an irreproachable character. He was in good circumstances, had a bicycle of his own, and had made no attempt to dispose of the bicycle. On his going to work next morning he saw the bicycle where he had left it, but was so ashamed of himself that he left it where it was. Had he not afterwards informed the police of what he had done there would probably have been nothing more heard of the case.


Defendant said he had too much to drink at the dance. He was silly. He took the bicycle but could not say why. He did not want a bicycle, as he had two at home. He fell off the machine and abandoned it at Haywards Heath. He saw the bicycle next morning, but was too ashamed of himself to do anything with it. He did not know why he took it.


Mr George Cripps, father of the defendant, Mr H E Griffin and Mr Aycott, Cuckfield, gave evidence of the good character of the defendant.


The chairman said that in consideration of the excellent character given to the defendant, the bench would bind him over to come up for judgement when called upon.

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