Denaby Main Institute – Secretary Acquitted of Embezzlement

September 1926

Mexborough and Swinton Times September 3, 1926

Denaby Main Institute
Former Secretary Acquitted of Embezzlement.
Story of a Muddle.
Magistrates Rebuke and Advice.

Charged with embezzling various sums amounting in all to £813 0s. 10 d, the property of the Denaby Main Institute, James Feeney, miner, of Denaby Main, appeared at Doncaster on Tuesday. Mr. C. Marshall prosecuted on behalf of the Institute, and Mr. J. W. Bennett defended.

Mr. Marshall stated that Feeney became secretary, treasurer, and librarian at the Denaby Main Institute in January, 1921. He continued in the positions until March of this year. The committee then began to get suspicious, and Mr. Marshall (ex-vice-president) asked defendant when he was going to call the annual general meeting. Feeney said that he had some accounts outstanding. He was later asked why committee meeting was not called, and said that he would not call one.

Feeney then went away, and Mr. Marshall called a committee meeting on April 4 at which a Mr. Constantine was elected secretary, and Mr. Astbury temporary treasurer. These officials began to get the accounts together, and found that they were in a complete muddle. From July, 1925, Feeney had failed to record income and from August 1, to record the expenditure. However, he had to sign the steward book weekly, and from this and the receipts, a general statement of accounts was drawn up for 1925. This showed that total income was £4,637 9s 9d., and the expenditure £3087.11s 3d. Mr. Astbury found that all bills have been paid. They had a balance in the bank of £736.17 S8 the., and a deficiency of £813 0s 10d., which sum Feeney was charged with embezzling.

William Marshall, miner, of 104, Doncaster Road, Denaby Main, gave evidence of his interview with Feeney, and of his Calling the meeting.

William Astbury, colliery timekeeper, of 16, Clifton Hill, Conisborough, said that on April 4 he was appointed temporary treasurer, and he had compiled the general statement of accounts from the steward’s book, and the receipts. In answer to Mr. Fenoughty, he agreed that some little receipts might have been missing.

George Constantine, miner, of 16, Warmsworth Street, Denaby Main, said that he had been appointed secretary, and had helped Mr. Astbury to draw up the statement of accounts.

Mr J. W. Fenoughty said that they had a case before them where an Institute had over £4000 income per year. It had many officials and rules which it never kept. He was astonished that a man unqualified was pushed into such a position as secretary, treasurer and librarian. After the new officials had rummaged among the lumbar in the secretary’s cupboard, set it down as a balance sheet, Feeney was overcharged by £150. Feeney went away in March because a doctor ordered him to do so, and had during that month, paid out £419 in cash. If a man in a mining district had embezzled £810, some persons must have noticed that he had more money then he should have had. Feeney, in the witness box, said he was appointed secretary, treasurer, librarian, concert chairman, sports secretary, doorkeeper, and general utility man. He was paid £60 per year from the club, and £15 from the library committee. He had never embezzled any money. When he went away to Ireland anyone could have got his address from his sister. When he asked why he did not get help to manage the books he answered that Mr Astbury had offered help in a rude and vulgar manner, and when he was asked to call a meeting it was done vulgarly.

The chairman of the Bench (Mr Cooke Yarborough) said that from the balance sheet, he saw that compared with those the previous years, it was very favourable, and showed that the Institute had done better than ever before. The account should have been audited by a competent auditor.

Answering a question, Feeney said that the books got out of hand, because he was not in a fit condition to keep them.

Mr Cooke Yarborough said that there they had a working man’s club providing rules it did not keep, officials who did not bother, or did not care to control them, and in the opinion of the bench the officials were to blame for the money lost. The unfortunate man had a great task, and the officials did not take the slightest care. It was astonishing that working miners should be called upon to audit the books. They had charged this man because the was a mixup, and they had lost £800.

The case was dismissed, and if the officials would take a little advice from the magistrates they would see that in future a chartered accountant audited their books every six months. They could afford to pay one.