To reform, or not !

Hertfordshire Mercury, 18th November 1916


At Hertford Borough Sessions, Ernest Moreton, 16, was charged on remand with absconding from the Herts Reformatory at Bengeo.  The evidence given the previous week by the Superintendent of the Reformatory as to the frequent escapes of the lad, were read over.  A further charge was now proffered against him of stealing a pair of shoes, the property of Great Northern Railway Co.

Mr Gerald Deacon, representing the Railway Company, said that on the night of 5th November when the prisoner had absconded from the Reformatory, P Sgt Palmer and another officer had found the boy, at about 10pm, sleeping in a platelayers’ hut near the Great Northern Station at Hertford.  He was covered up with a greatcoat belonging to a porter, and also a blue serge jacket.  By his side were two boxes addressed to German prisoners of war.  The defendant was asked where he had got the boxes from, and he said that he had been given them by a coster near the station.

The officer took the lad to the station master and, in his presence, the lad admitted cutting open a mail sack whilst it was on a trolley with other items.  He admitted taking out of the bag the boxes, some apples, together with the boots in question, which he had then hidden in a plantation near the station where they were afterwards found by a PC.  PS Palmer said that the boxes found were labelled “German prisoners of war”.

The Magistrates’ Clerk said the case had been brought before the Prison Commissioners who were of the opinion that this youthful offender should receive a sentence of Borstal detention.

The prisoner admitted the offence, and the Bench committed him to Quarter Sessions for sentencing.

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