Habitual stealing by a boy of 10 does not induce sympathy

Hertfordshire Mercury, 16th March 1918


Thomas Clark (10), son of Hannah Clark, widow, of Chapel Yard, Ware, was charged with stealing eight golf balls, value 4 shillings, from the golf house on the East Herts Golf Links, near Hertford, on Saturday, March 2nd.  Arthur Charles Monk, Steward at the golf links, stated that on the day in question he had missed the balls from a desk in the workshop attached to the golf house.  After making enquiries and obtaining certain information from a boy named Aldridge, he saw the defendant who gave him one ball, stating that he had found two in a pit on the links; this was one and the other he had cut up to get the elastic out of it.

Police Sergeant Herring said that the boy had confessed to him that he stole all the 8 balls, gave a boy named Aldridge 3, and a boy named Akers 3.  Akers, he said, was with him when he took them.  The boy pleaded guilty and said that Akers told him his brother had had many a ball from the same place and that was why he took them.  The boy was then also charged with stealing money from the till in the shop of Mr F Baker, greengrocer, Amwell End, Ware, on the following Saturday.  Mr Baker, who had previously missed money from the till on several occasions, marked five coins on the morning of the 9th of March in the presence of a Constable, and put them back in the till.  He and the policeman then went into the kitchen and kept watch.  In a few minutes, the defendant was caught in the act of robbing the till.

Police Constable Hyatt corroborated, and stated that the boy crept over the counter, pulled open the till, and took out two coins, which the witness found in his hand on going into the shop; one was a 2 shilling piece and the other a shilling.  He caught the boy just as he was about to leave the shop.  The defendant admitted taking half a crown previously.  The defendant pleaded guilty to this offence also and said that two half-crowns were taken by another boy two days previously.

It was stated that the defendant was placed on probation for 3 years at the previous Sessions 4 days before the first of these thefts for stealing a football, and he was now sentenced to receive 4 strokes with the birch rod and afterwards to be sent to a reformatory.

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