All for a 5 pence bar of soap


Hertfordshire Mercury, 23rd February 1951

Twelve-year-old Shirley Neave hung from her hands from a bedroom window-sill at her home , dropped 14 feet to the ground , and ran to Welwyn Police Station in her nightdress after hearing someone on the stairs , she told Welwyn Magistrates on Friday .

Her nine-year-old sister Jane jumped right  out of the window .Their parents had gone to the pictures a short time earlier and they were alone in the house .

Shirley alleged this in evidence when James Henry Harrison , 20-year-old metal worker , of Hall Street , Halifax , was committed for trial at Hertfordshire Quarter Sessions , charged with breaking and entering North Lodge , Welwyn , on February 12 with intent to commit a felony , and breaking and entering Homers Wood Cottage , Digswell Hill , and stealing a 1 shilling tablet of soap .


Mr T. Anderson Davis ,prosecuting , told the Magistrates : ” Shirley, you may think , was a courageous little girl when you hear what happened.” Harrison’s arrest was ” rather dramatic ” – a policeman apprehended him as he was climbing out of a window at North Lodge .

Shirley said she and her sister went to bed at about 6.30 p.m. Her parent left for the pictures just before seven . ” Just after they had left I heard someone downstairs . The person came upstairs, opened the door and looked into my room.I just saw the top of his head . The person left the door and started to go downstairs.” she said.

” I called out , ‘ Who’s that ? ‘ A man’s voice answered  ‘ It’s father ‘ but it was not my father’s voice. I said Goodnight ,father. “

Shirley roused her sister , put on her slippers, and climbed out of the window. ” I hung by my hands and dropped to the ground . My sister jumped right out. ” They told a policeman at the Station that someone was in their house .

Constable H. Bunyan said the two children were in their nightdresses when they came to the Police Station . He went to North Lodge and found Harrison climbing out of the scullery window . Charged with the offence, Harrison was alleged to have said , ‘ Yes, it’s true. ‘ Charged with the Homers Wood Cottage offence he said. ” I am sorry I did it .”

In an alleged statement , Harrison admitted both offences and said he escaped from an institution at Leeds on December 24 . He was remanded in custody .

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