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A Reservist's wife in court 7 months 4 weeks ago #86067

  • BereniceUK
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Not the first account I've come across of a wife of a Reservist, who was out in South Africa, spending money that she received from the local War Relief Fund on drink. This one was luckier than others in that she wasn't sent to prison on this occasion, and it's an example of a situation that some soldiers on active service had to worry about while they were away, and then had to return home to.
A Stalybridge Reservist's Wife Charged with Felony.
....At the Stalybridge Borough Police Court, on Wednesday, before the Mayor (Alderman Simpson), Alderman Norman, Councillors Carter and Shaw, Dr. McCarthy, and Mr. James Bottomley, a young and rather neatly-dressed woman, named Ellen Bullough, residing in Howard's Court, off Mount-street, was charged in custody with stealing 30s. in money (a sovereign and half-a-sovereign), from the person of Joseph Statham, an aged man, who was described as a brickmaker, residing at 32, Oxford-road, Dukinfield.
....Colonel Sidebottom and Dr. J. Roberts-Dudley, prominent members of the local Reservists' Fund Committee, were present in court, as was also Inspector Reddy (R.S.P.C.C.).
....The prisoner pleaded not guilty.
....Joseph Statham, in giving his evidence, described how he struck up a chance acquaintance with prisoner at Oldham, and they came home together on the electric car to Ashton, and from there to Stalybridge. They had some drink together, and finally he went to sleep at the prisoner's house. He took off his coat and laid it on a box near the bed upon which he slept, which was downstairs in the living place. He went to sleep, and was awakened by prisoner, who said it was time for him to get up and go home. He got out of the bed and put on his coat, which contained his purse, and went into the street. He felt for his purse and found it, but on making an examination of its contents under a lighted lamp in the street, he found that a sovereign and a half sovereign, which should have been in, were gone, and the purse contained only a two-shilling piece and a shilling. He went and informed Police-constable Heath (whom he found on duty in Market-street about a quarter to one o'clock a.m. on Wednesday morning) of the alleged robbery, and they went together to the house of the prisoner. He repeated in the presence of Constable Heath the charge, and the officer made an examination of the house, and found between the mattresses on the bed the sovereign and half sovereign.—Constable Heath confirmed the evidence of the witness. The prosecutor came to him in Market-street at 12 45 on Wednesday morning, and said he had been robbed. He went with him to prisoner's house, where afterwards he admitted that he had lain on the bed for a short time, and had been asleep. He (Constable Heath) found the two gold coins concealed between the mattresses. When he charged her with the theft prisoner replied, "I know nothing at all about it." On the way to the police office prisoner said to prosecutor, "Do not be hard against me. I do not know what you have to make this noise about now you have got your money."—Dr. McCarthy (who now occupied the chair) asked witness what condition the prosecutor was in.—Constable Heath: He had had some drink, but he was not so bad.—Dr. McCarthy: Nothing serious, you mean?—Witness: No, sir.—The Magistrates' Clerk formally charged prisoner, who pleaded not guilty, she having elected to be dealt with summarily instead of being sent to the Quarter Sessions.—In making a statement prisoner described her visit to Oldham along with another young woman from Stalybridge, and related her adventure. She got some drink in Oldham, and when she made the acquaintance of the prosecutor he paid for more drink for her. He asked her to allow him to stay at her house that night, as it was too late and too dark for him to find his way home. She allowed him to do so. He left the house, but returned with a constable, and charged her with stealing the money. She never touched his purse nor his coat, and she did not steal anything. If the Bench would only put their heads together and deal leniently with her she would promise to return and never touch the drink again. She would sign the pledge. Prisoner implored the Bench to deal leniently, and not put her to the disgrace of sending her to prison with her husband at the war.—Dr. McCarthy: How long have you lived in Stalybridge?—Prisoner: My husband has worked on the new railway at New Mills, and after that he came to Stalybridge and worked for the Corporation.—Acting Chief Constable Bamforth: They came from New Mills about eighteen months ago.—Colonel Sidebottom said after her husband went to the war, in the first instance he went to her house and saw the condition she was living in. I thought it was a bad case. There was no food. He was pleased of the opportunity to speak in that public court because this was a clear case, and certain reports had got to the ears of the committee. The prisoner had been receiving more money than what she was when her husband was at home. He had been ten weeks away and she had been in a better position, but instead of looking after her home and her child she had been out on drinking sprees.— Dr. McCarthy, after the Bench had held a consultation with the magistrates' clerk and Colonel Sidebottom, addressing the prisoner, said the Bench considered the case a serious one, so serious that it had taken them a great time to decide on the foolish action of the prisoner. He strongly condemned the conduct of the prisoner. They did not, however, wish to put her into prison, because that was the first time, so far as they knew. She had been kept in custody, and taking advantage of the First Offenders' Act they had decided to bind her over in her own recognisances to be of good behaviour for six months. If she appeared again the present charge would tell heavily against her, and she would be severely punished.— The prisoner thanked the Bench, and having been formally bound left the court with her child.
The Mossley and Saddleworth Reporter, Saturday 3rd February 1900
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