Reformatory boy's escapade

Hertfordshire Mercury, 23rd October 1915


At Herts, Quarter Sessions on Monday, William Morgan (19), described as a labourer, was indicted for burgariously breaking and entering the house of Alfred Gentle, and stealing  a table knife and other articles, valued at 2s., at Hatfield, on July 29.  He was further charged with stealing a coat and other articles belonging to James Webster, at Hatfield on July 27.  He pleaded guilty to both indictments and also to a previous conviction for felony at Chelmsford on August 4, 1911.

Mr. Tindall Atkinson, who prosecuted, said the prisoner in 1911 was ordered to be kept in a reformatory until he was 19 years of age, and he had been in the Herts. reformatory up to about a day before the first offence was committed.  He then absconded and stole a coat and some food belonging to a man named Webster, who was working near Hatfield.  He followed that up by committing the burglary on the night of July 29 at the house of Mr. Gentle, of Riverside Cottage, Mill Green.  The burglary was deliberate, involving the unfastening of a catch of a scullery window by means of a knife.  When the defendant was found he was wearing the stolen coat, and had some of the stolen property upon him.

The Rev. A. W. Duke, secretary and chaplain of the Reformatory, said the lad was very industrious, and had given no trouble except in the way of absconding.  He had been at the Reformatory four years and had absconded once on licence.  He had an additional six months for absconding.

The Deputy Chairman asked if a continuance of the control would be good for the prisoner.  The witness: ‘Certainly.’

The defendant handed in a long written statement, in which he admitted he had done wrong.  He stole the food, and in order to hide the school clothes he stole the coat.  He expressed sorrow for what he had done.

The Chairman said the prisoner had committed a very heinous offence.  It was bad enough to steal from people who were well to do, but it was worse to steal from poor people.  The prisoner had laid himself open to 14 years’ penal servitude, but they were going to send him to an institution where he could be made a useful man of.  He would go to a Borstal institution for three years.

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