A somewhat remarkable case came before the Hitchin Bench on Tuesday, when a prepossessing young girl, named Gwendoline Hughff, aged 23, of Codicote, was charged with stealing a gold bracelet and silver watch, valued together at £2 10s., the property of Mr and Mrs Angell, confectioners, of Walsworth Road, Hitchin, on October 2, and further, with stealing a gold ring, value 10 shillings, the property of Emily Hawes at Codicote, about November 8.
Mrs Angell said she missed the gold bracelet on October 25 and informed the Police. On December 22, when looking in the window of Mr R. A. Kingstone, jeweller, Walsworth Road, she saw her bracelet exposed for sale, marked 30 shillings, though she valued it at 2 guineas. She had never to her knowledge seen the prisoner before.
Leonard Angell, husband of the last witness, stated that on December 21 the Police asked him to go to Mr Kingstone’s shop, where, from a box containing a number of other watches, he picked out his own (which was produced) which he had lost about October 22. He had an accident with it, and he only valued it in consequence at 10 shillings. Prisoner was a stranger to him.
Richard Arthur Kingstone, carrying on business as a jeweller in Walsworth Road, said he remembered receiving the bracelet by post, but he could not say on what date. He also received the watch by post. There was a note with the bracelet signed ‘Miss Hughff’, asking him to send as much as the articles were worth to her, care of Mrs Collingwood, Codicote. He could not produce the note as he believed he destroyed it at the time. He sent a postal order for, he believed, 9 shillings the same night. He paid 1s. 6d. for the watch . He could not say whether anything else came with the bracelet.
Prisoner: ‘I sent a ring and a salt cellar with the bracelet’.
The Chairman: ‘Better not go into that now’.
Supt Reed deposed that on December 23 he saw the prisoner at Codicote and told her that he had come to see her about a bracelet which was sent to Mr Kingstone by someone of the name of Hughff. Prisoner, on being shown the bracelet, said she had seen it before and that she had taken it from a shop in Hitchin, where she had tea, and that she sent it to Mr Kingstone with a note. ‘I did not fix any price, merely asking him to send me what it was worth. He sent me 9 shillings or 10 shillings. I sent other things with it’. Being told that a watch was stolen at the same time, prisoner replied: ‘I took it and sent it to Mr Kingstone, he gave me 1s. 6d. for it’.
This closed the first case and, on being charged, the prisoner pleaded guilty.
With regard to the second charge, Miss Emily Hawes, of Codicote, gave evidence. Prisoner, she said, had been in service with her at Mrs Collingwood’s and was still there when she (witness) left. On November 8 she missed a gold ring, which had been safe on October 25. Prisoner slept in the same room. The ring produced was hers, and she valued it at 10 shillings.
R. A. Kingstone spoke to receiving the ring by post, and to sending 1s. 6d. to the address given on the note. He did not know the prisoner and could not remember whether he received other articles with the ring. He received a lot of stuff by post.
Supt Reed said he interviewed the prisoner on December 24 with regard to the loss of a salt cellar, and spoon, a ring and a £1 note from the residence of Mrs Collingwood. Prisoner said: ‘I took the salt cellar and spoon, also the ring, I did not take the £1 note. I sent the salt cellar, spoon and ring to Mr Kingstone with a note. I took the ring from a chest of drawers in my bedroom. I sent it to Mr Kingstone with the salt cellar and spoon , and he sent me 9 shillings for the lot. I sent it the first week I was here in November.
The Bench having decided to convict, Supt Reed asked permission to mention another case which the prisoner asked the Bench to take into consideration when passing sentence. It was with reference to the theft of six silver knives and forks, a salt cellar and spoon. The latter had been received from Mr Kingstone, who said he could not recollect to whom he sold the knives and forks.
The Bench agreed to take the case into consideration.
After retiring to consider the sentence, the Chairman said the Bench were of opinion that the case was too serious for them to deal with, and prisoner must take her trial at Hertfordshire Assizes.
Calling Mr Kingstone before him, the Chairman said: ‘The Bench are unanimously of the opinion that you deserve very severe censure for the way you have carried on your business, which amounted to encouraging these cases of felony. The Bench think you may consider yourself fortunate that you are not standing before them on a charge of receiving stolen goods. The bench warn you against carrying on your business in the way in which you have done’.
Mr Kingstone: ‘I gave the value of the goods to me. I should like an expert’s opinion on that’.
The Chairman: ‘Don’t talk sir, stand down’.