At Herts Winter Assizes, William Frederick Dew, a County Court bailiff from Barnet, pleaded guilty to embezzling £29 12s 9d received by him on account of Dr Boyes, the Registrar of the County Court. The prisoner was dressed in khaki, having joined the army since having committed the offence.
Mr Murphy, for the prosecution, said that the prisoner’s duties involved collecting debts owed to the Court, and that his remuneration was a percentage of that money collected and, in addition, 25 shillings per week.
In the previous year, 620 debt sums had been collected by the prisoner. The transactions mentioned in the charge were spread over a period of 3 months but there had been other cases, and Dr Boyes had had to repay to the Court the sum of £104 for those other cases. Mr Murphy advised that the Registrar was legally responsible for paying over the money, and that he had had to pay it from his own pocket.
Mr Murphy explained to the Court that warrants had been given to the prisoner to be executed but that some had been brought back, endorsed by the prisoner, advising that goods in the house were the wife’s property and could not therefore be collected.
On September 7th, the prisoner had been convicted of drunkenness. The prisoner was then instructed to return all documents, warrants, and other related papers in his possession so that they might be properly dealt with. On the following day, a Court official had been to the prisoner’s house and had received, from the prisoner’s wife, a large bundle of papers upon one of which had been written “These are paid”.
After the prisoner had received a letter from the Court regarding the issue he had disappeared, and it was not until the end of November that he had joined the army; in fact, shortly before his arrest.
Mr Bushe, for the defendant, said that he could not justify what the prisoner had done, but said that, very often, underlings had had to be paid to act for the prisoner and, having sometimes to wait a long time for his fees, occasionally found himself without money. The Judge asked what amount of money in fees the prisoner had not received. Mr Bushe advised that this was £17, but the Judge ruled that this could not excuse the fact that writs had been endorsed by him as if he had not received the money.
Mr Bushe said that the defendant had even given receipts to people from whom he had collected debts saying “Yes, I have received the money”. He was bound to be found out. The Judge asked “Where was the money, in September, when he acknowledged that he had received it?” Mr Bushe explained that the prisoner had used the money but would repay it to Dr Boyes later on.
The prisoner’s RSM said that the prisoner was a good soldier, was sober, and would shortly be leaving for the Front. The prisoner was anxious to have another chance, and was keen to serve his country.
The Judge said that the prisoner had committed a very serious offence which itself consisted of a number of separate offences over a period of months. The Judge said that the defendant may have been a good soldier but that he must go to prison for 6 months with hard labour.