Hertfordshire Mercury, 12th January 1951
Man left shop with a coat then offered £1 : Garden City man fined
A 28-year-old machinist and former warrant officer R.A.F. air crew member , James Blanche , of 16 Edgars Court , Welwyn Garden City was fined £5 and ordered to pay 16 shillings costs at Hatfield on Monday after pleading guilty to stealing an overcoat , worth £8 , from Messrs Drury Brothers’ shop at 48 Great North Road , Hatfield on December 23rd .
Inspector T. Winser said a Constable who was called to the shop found a man detained by the manager , Mr Knott .
The manager told the policeman he was serving a customer when he noticed two men go to the overcoat stand . One took an overcoat and put in on . After looking round he left the shop .
The manager ran after him and stopped the man . The other man walked off . Blanche offered £1 for the coat and was taken back to the shop.
Asked for an explanation , Blanche told the policeman he had been drinking and did not know what he was doing. ” I only put it on and went outside the shop ” he said . When charged he said ” I did not take it ” .
‘ Had a lot of whisky ‘
Blanche told the court ” I had a lot of whisky and I plead guilty . “
Constable L. Gentle said Blanche had been drinking , but was steady on his feet and answered questions intelligently . A half bottle of rum and a small bottle of whisky were in his possession .
Inspector Winser said that in 1948 Blanche was bound over in the sum of £5 for stealing from a show case and sentenced to one month for stealing from a till . In 1949 he was dismissed under the Probation of Offenders Act for being an accessory after the fact .
Mr Brookfield , probation officer , said the war had upset Blanche’s married life . ” At the time he said he was ‘ browned off ‘ because he had saved to go to Ireland and had not got his travelling pass and went on the drink . “
‘ Showing Off ‘
Announcing the fine , the Chairman , Sir Geoffery Church , told Blanche. ” It appears to this Court you just do this sort of thing for the sake of showing off. ” He added ” I think it just so you can show you don’t give a damn for anybody . You cannot go on doing that . “
Sir Geoffery warned Blanche the Magistrates had hesitated to send him to prison. ” If you go on with this sort of thing there will be no question of a fine .” he said .