At Much Hadham Petty Sessions, at a Children’s Court, William A. Marriott (13), of Much Hadham, was charged with feloniously stealing, on January 12th., from a dwelling house, a diamond ring of the value of £10, a cash box, a gold locket, an amethyst scarf pin, a gold ring with pearls, an aquamarine brooch, a silver coin, a tin of condensed milk, and a War Savings Certificate book with one receipted coupon for 15s 6d, all the property of Mrs Mabel Alice Sparks. The total value of the chattels was £14 5s 11d. Mrs Sparks said that she resided at Church Lane, Much Hadham, and was the wife of Lt. F.G. Sparks. She was acting as groom gardener for Mrs Hood. On January 13th, she had missed a diamond ring and other articles mentioned in the charge. She gave information to the police. The articles produced in court belonged to her.
Police Sergeant Lee, of Much Hadham, said that on Sunday, the 13th of January, he had received a report from Mrs Sparks regarding the loss of property forming the subject of this charge. On January 15th, he had picked up, in Church Lane, a portion of a wrapper off an Ideal condensed milk tin, and afterwards found an empty Ideal milk tin on the ice of a pond in Mr Bacon’s meadow. In consequence of enquiries made, he saw Marriott the next day who said that he had been playing on the ice on Mr Bacon’s pond. When asked if he had had a tin of condensed milk he had said “No”, but afterwards said that a tin had been given to him. The witness had cautioned him and asked who had given him the tin of condensed milk, and he had then said that he had taken it from Mrs Page’s house, meaning the one occupied by Mrs Sparks. When told that other property was missing, he said that he had taken the cash box and other things. He said that he had thrown a ring into the shed at his house, and that the witness had then gone with him to the shed and had recovered from a crack near the threshold the diamond ring that Mrs Sparks had identified.
In company with the boy’s father, the witness had gone to the meadow at The Palace and, in the place indicated by the defendant, had found a portion of the cash box (produced). After other enquiries, the witness had gone to Moor Place, Much Hadham, and had seen a little girl named Edith Le Lacheur and, in the presence of her mother, asked if she had received anything from William Marriott, With that, the girl produced the gold locket, a pearl ring, and an aquamarine brooch, with a small locket and chain, and said that they had all been given to her by the defendant.
The next day, he met Marriott who had just handed to the Constable a portion of the cash box. When showed the locket, the defendant said that he had put it in the cash box, and had then kicked the latter about the meadow. The remainder of the articles were shown to him, and he said that he had taken them when he had taken the other things. The father, on behalf of the boy, wished the case to be dealt with summarily, and the boy pleaded guilty.
The Reverend A. Tanner spoke highly of the boy’s character and said that he was astonished to hear the account of what had been done.
The Chairman of the Bench considered the case to be a serious one but, owing to the boy’s age, they had decided to deal with him leniently. The father entered into recognisance in the sum of £5 to see that his boy was of good behaviour for a year, and the boy was ordered to receive 6 strokes of the birch.