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1920: The birch and close supervision for young thief

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 07 September 1920


Frank Towner, Cuckfield, was charged with stealing a packet of chocolate, value 1s., the property of Kate Stoner, at Cuckfield, on August 24th.

— Kate Stoner said she lived at the Talbot Tap. At 8:20 a.m. on August 24th she was upstairs when she heard the shop bell ring. She called to her boy to go into the shop, and she went down directly afterwards and missed a packet of chocolate off the shelf. The packet was marked and was the one produced. She went to the shop door, and in consequence of what her boy told her she waited a few minutes and saw Towner come up the street. She shouted to him. but he took no notice A man then shouted for her, and the boy came back, and witness asked him if he had taken a packet of chocolate out of the shop. He hesitated a few minutes and then took some chocolates out of his bag and some out of his pocket. Witness sent for P.C. Webb, who after wards showed her the cover. The value of the chocolate was 1s.

—P.C. Webb, Cuckfield, said at 8:45 a.m. on August 24th he went to the Talbot yard and saw Towner in his mother’s presence. The chocolates were lying on a window sill in the yard. Witness said to defendant “Are these chocolates stolen from the shop?” and he answered “Yes.” He said he had thrown the cover away down the road. Mrs. Stoner later identified the cover.—Defendant pleaded guilty.—He was further charged with stealing a purse containing a £1 Treasury note, half-a-crown, a shilling, some coppers and stamps together value 28s., the property of Margaret Ridley, at Cuckfield, on September 3rd,

—Margaret Ridley, Braines Mead, said she received the newspaper from Towner at 8.25 a.m. on the day in question, as she was talking to neighbour. She left her purse lying on the window sill in the kitchen. Witness did not see defendant enter her house, she was standing inside her neighbour's door, but he had to go by her house to get to the road. A few minutes afterwards witness went back indoors. She went to get a stamp for a letter, and found her purse was gone. Her little boy said he saw Towner take something off the sill. Witness went to the schools, and defendant was brought out. Witness asked him if he had taken it, and be answered “No.” The schoolmaster then made him turn out his pockets, and the purse was inside his jacket pocket. All the money was there except half a-crown. She valued the purse and contents at 28s.

Braynes Mead Cuckfield c1920 (photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum - colourised)

—P.C. Webb said from information received at 6:30 p.m. on September 4th he saw defendant in his mother’s presence and told him Mrs. Ridley said he stole the purse. He replied Yes.” Witness asked him what he had done with the half-a-crown, and he replied he had bought a ball with it but had lost it that morning.

—Defendant pleaded guilty .—Superintendent Anscombe said he understood defendant was a very bad boy.—The Magistrates ordered him to receive six strokes with the birch, and requested his mother to get the Vicar of Cuckfield to keep an eye on him.



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