South Yorkshire Times, August 3, 1957.
Conisbrough Youth Wants Discipline, Says Father.
A 17-year-old Conisbrough labourer was described by his father at Doncaster West Riding Court on Saturday as being “deceitful and a liar”. And the father told the magistrates “I’ve tried my hardest with him. – There’s only one thing fully and that is to stick him away for some discipline.”
Before the court was Walter Pratt of Lesley Avenue, Conisbrough, on two charges of stealing two hens. Valued at 10s each the property of Harry Bache and James Baldry. He was sent to Leeds prison for three weeks for a report on the suitability of Borstal training.
A 15-year-old boy was also charged with Pratt. He admitted both offences, and was given an absolute discharge on payment of 15s costs.
Inspector G. Stringer, told the magistrates that Pratt asked for 14 other offences to be taken into consideration. One of which was the theft of a bicycle, all the best with stealing things.
Inspector Stringer said: “the first hen, the property of Harry Bache, was stolen from his allotment at Denaby, and the other hen was stolen from the Sheffield Road allotment of James Baldry, where the intruders had climbed through a hole in the fence.”
Inquiries were made by the police and the two boys were seen by PC Wilfred Sellick. Pratt at first denied all knowledge of the offences and told PC Sellick that he had bought the hens from Doncaster market one Sunday morning. When it was pointed out to him by PC Sellick that he couldn’t have bought their hands on a Sunday morning from Doncaster market, Pratt admitted stealing them and said he had sold them two a woman in Denaby. The 15-year-old boy told police when questions “yes you are right, we got to Conisbrough. Pratt sold them and he gave me 6s. “
One hen cooked.
Inspector Stringer said that one of the hens been recovered. The other have been cooked and eaten.
In a statement to the police. Pratt said he had stolen lots of hens and sold them at the market “I finished about 30 altogether”
In court the 15 year old boy said that his grandmother had warned him to stay away from Pratt as he was always getting into trouble. “I saw Pratt take a hen and wring its neck. He took two altogether. He took them to a house and sold them for 8s each. He gave me 6s of the money. I didn’t actually steel the hen. I didn’t know what he was going to do when we first went out” said the boy.
He added: “I thought it was too late to back out after I had seen him wring the first hens there. I knew I was as much as he was then. My grandmother had warned me not to go with him.”
In giving the boy an absolute discharge on payments of 15s costs the chairman, Mr C. E. Wright, told him: you ought to take the advice of the elders in future. If they tell you a thing is wrong then take their advice for they know better than you.”
He added he added: “I would like you to be a man, and go round to the two men from whom the hens were stolen and apologise to them and pay them 3s each – to account for the 6s, you receive from Pratt.” The boy said he would do that.
A probation officer’s report on Pratt said that he had had seven labourers jobs since he had left school. He was described as a thief and a liar, and he could barely read or write.
Thrice on Probation.
it was stated by Inspector Stringer that had been before the court on three previous occasions, and each time he have been placed on two years probation. “He has had three chances on probation, this case is a breach of the last probation order,” the clerk to the court informed the magistrates.
Pratts father told the court: “I don’t know anything about the 14 very offences he says he has committed. You can see his bad side – but he has a good side. He can do it if he wants. He is my own son, but he is deceitful and a liar.. I tried my hardest with him. There’s only one thing for it and that is just stick him away for some discipline.”
The chairman told Pratt: “You are a bad lot. It is a pity we can’t administer the birch. Your father seems to be a straight and honest man – but you’re not straight and you’re not honest, you are a burden to him – it is a pity he has to be saddled with you.”