Growing up in a life of crime - hard labour awaits

Hertfordshire Mercury, 13th April 1918

Transcript

At Hertford Quarter Sessions, Alfred Humberstone (21), a soldier, belonging to Hoddesdon, was charged with breaking into the International Stores at Hoddesdon in January and stealing 13 and a half lbs of cheese, 13 lbs of margarine, and 6lbs of corned beef, also with breaking into the house of Charles William Halfhide at Hoddesdon and stealing 2 electric torches and a purse containing 4 shilling, and further with stealing a hand-barrow and other articles, the property of Edward Tingey at Hoddesdon.  He pleaded guilty to all the indictments and asked to be given another chance, stating that he wished to go to France to fight for his country.

Superintendent Handley said that the prisoner was born in Hoddesdon.  His father was dead, and he had been living with his mother.  He had always been of a lazy disposition, associating with boys much younger than himself, and leading them to commit various petty thefts.  A year ago, he had been sentenced to 3 months’ hard labour for breaking into a bungalow in Roydon and stealing various things together with a hand-truck to convey the stolen property away.  After leaving prison, he was taken into the army and posted to a training reserve battalion at St Albans.  Whilst there, he broke into a tennis club house and stole a quantity of gin and was sentenced to 3 months’ hard labour on 18th October last.

On his release from Pentonville on 3rd January this year, he escaped from an escort whilst being conveyed to Victoria Station, and was next heard of at his home at Hoddesdon when he committed the offences with which he was now charged.

An officer from the prisoner’s Regiment said that during the time that he had been in the army he had spent more than half of the time in prison.  His character in the army was bad, and his commanding officer did not want to have him back again.  The prisoner was absent without leave when he committed these offences.

The Chairman said that the Court would have liked to take a lenient view of the case as men were so urgently needed for the Army, but the prisoner’s record was such that they felt bound to punish him, and that he must go to hard labour for 6 months.  He hoped it would be a lesson to him and that when he came out he would try and lead a straight life.

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