A birching offence

Hertfordshire Mercury, 27th May 1916

Transcript

At Ware Petty Sessions, William Mizen, 13, Harry Spufford, 13, Alfred Perry, 11, and Arthur Parker, all of Waltham Abbey, were charged with damaging insulators on telegraph poles at Stanstead Abbotts, on Sunday, the 26th of March.  They all pleaded guilty.

PC Read said that on the Sunday in question, he had seen the boys throwing stones and breaking the insulators, in Roydon Road, Stanstead Abbots.  He had taken their names and addresses, three of which had proved to be false.  Mr G. M. Baldry of the GPO said that the lines in question were very important lines between London and the north and, if insulators were broken or damaged, efficiency of the telegraphic source would be seriously impaired.

The Clerk asked the police to bring the birch rods into Court and, when they appeared, he said  “You see those weapons.  They are what you would get upon your naked bodies by a strong policeman if the Bench ordered you to be birched, and once you had tasted them you would not forget them”.

The Chairman of the Bench said that it was a serious offence, and that the boys could be sent to prison, or could be fined £5 each.

Harry Spufford was the only one who had told the truth and he was thus fined the sum of 15 shillings.  The other three boys, who had all lied to the Police, were each fined 1 guinea.

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