“Cowardly Act” – Denaby Man Sentenced

March 1922

Mexborough and Swinton Times, March 11, 1922

Denaby Man Sentenced
“A Cowardly Act.”
Magistrate Surprised

Before Mr W.H.Hallett (in the chair) and Mr F.C. Woffinden, at the Rotherham West Riding Police Court on Tuesday, Patrick Wynne, miner, 51, Doncaster Road, Denaby, was charged with having obtained by false pretences, four sums of 10 shillings in money and vouchers for goods at the value of 10 shillings on 31st May and 8th June, from the Rotherham Board of Guardians, at the Alma Road, and the Dalton Relief stations.

Mr A. Pickles said the case arose out of the relief granted on loan to indigent persons by reason of the general depression of trade. If a man was without the means of sustenance he was entitled to relief according to responsibilities. A single man was entitled to a certain sum, a married man with a wife was entitled to a further amount, and a married man with a wife and children to a still further amount.

So long ago as May of last year Prisoner, so it was alleged by the prosecution, presented himself at two different relief stations in the same week, representing in each case that he was married, and he gave a wrong address, and with the upmost ingenuity that could possibly be imagined wrongfully obtained money and vouchers for goods from the Guardians. If his true circumstances had been known, the prisoner would have been entitled to 10 shillings per week if he was without any sort of income, but by representing himself to be a married man, with a wife and two children, aged four and two years, he had obtained 20 shillings.He hadgiven the false names of Thomas Gaffney and Michael Gaffney, whereas his real name was Patrick Wynne, and he was a single man.

Mr Pickles asked if the offence was proved, that prisoner should receive exemplary punishment.

Evidence was given by Reginald Watson, and Ellen Butler, temporary clerks in the employ of the Board of guardians.

Mr Hallatt asked if he had to understand that they were not required to get any evidence other than the man’s statement on the paper.

Witness said that had been the case.

Mr Pickles explained that at the period in question there was a large number of applications for relief on loan. The Guardians had to open seven relief stations, and at one of these alone as many as 1500 applications had to be dealt with in one day. Whilst every possible and practical precaution was taken, it was impossible where there was such a large number to obtain direct evidence as to the bone fides of the applicants. At the present time. The applicants were required to bring with them their employment cards.

PC Levitt said he arrested theprisoner on March 2 and read the warrant over to him and in reply he said: “I know nothing at all about it. I have never drawn any relief whatever.”

Detective Sgt Shaw said he had known prisoner for some years. In his opinion the hand writing of the prisoner and that on the documents applying for relief was the same.

Prisoner made a statement on oath, and pleaded that he had during the strike, lived at 4 Adwick Street, Denaby, and run up debt with his landlady of £19.10 shillings and that he was therefore not likely to get relief by fraud. He was a financial member of the Y.M.A. and only received from the Association during the strike was one pound, and a voucher for goods for 30 shillings and he gave this to his landlady, and reduced hisindebtedness to £17. He had not applied for and not had any relief.

Mr W.H.Hallatt, in giving the decision of the Bench, said they were unanimously of the opinion that prisoner had on two occasions, by false pretences, obtained relief in a most cowardly manner on May 31 and June 8.

This sentenced him to 3 months imprisonment on each charge consecutively, making six months imprisonment. As to the two other charges, the prisoner’s identityhad not been established, and the cases would be dismissed.

At the request of Superintendent Horton, a commitment for a minor offence was merged in the sentence of six months imprisonment.