Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 27 August 1910
Story of a Denaby Piano.
A Hire-Purchase Sequel.
A curious sequel to a deal with a piano obtained on the hire purchase system was heard at Doncaster on Monday, when Maurice Henry Booth, machinist, of Elm View, Conisborough, brought a charge of obtaining £15 by false pretences against John Henry Bellington, collier, of Kingsley, near Wakefield.
Mr JA Baddiley was for the prosecution and Mr F Allen for the defence
The main facts of Mr Badiley’s opening statement was that the alleged false pretences lay in the defendant’s statement that the piano was his own property when he sold it to the prosecutor. He asked the magistrates the common sense question whether the circumstances the prosecutor would be likely to send to the firm for which the piano was originally obtained by defendant, asking for the instrument to be changed for a new one and to pay the difference, if he had been aware that money was still owing to the firm on the old piano.
Prosecutor said that on 10 August 1906, he went to the house of the defendant, 45, Cliff view, Denaby Main, to purchase a piano which had heard was for sale. He agreed to purchase the piano for £15, defendant, in answer to enquiries saying the piano was his own that you pay for it. He also showed a purported receipt of settlement from Mrs Archibald Ramsden. Prosecutor paid £15, and received a receipt from the defendant, “for Archibald Ramsden’s piano belonging to me.”
In the early part of this year prosecutor decided to purchase new piano, and communicated with the Doncaster manager of Messrs Archibald Ramsden Ltd, thinking that he would get a better allowance from then for the old piano than from anyone else.
In consequence of what the manager told him prosecutor had to pay on January 10 a sum of £7.10 or lose possession of the piano. He eventually got into communication with defendant who had removed to new Street, Kingsley, and he replied making a suggestion that prosecutor knew the piano was not fully paid for when he purchased it. Subsequent to that prosecutor visited defendant, who offered to pay back at five shillings to 10 shillings per week, admitting that when he saw the piano to the prosecutor as his own he owed £7.10 shillings on it. Defendant, however, sent no payments.
Cross-examined by Mr Allen, prosecutor admitted that in August 1905, he had obtained gold chains on approval from Messrs Bell of Doncaster, and that he had pawned them and that his relations had paid for them. He said, however, that he had paid them back. He strongly denied that he was told when he purchased the piano that it was being held on the hire purchase system and was not fully paid for. Prosecutor was not desperately in need of money, and had £500 at the time he bought the piano. He got it from his wife.
By Mr Baddiley: He had no idea the piano was unpaid for until he had a call relative to its exchange from Messrs Ramsden’s manager on January 29. Prosecutor himself sent for the manager.
Harold Booth, a brother, corroborated prosecutor’s statement as to the sale of the piano.
Witness did not agree with Mr Allen that there was great reason to suspect the prosecutor’s honesty at the time of the transaction. Witness himself had been tried for arson, the setting fire of his father’s timber yard, for which he got 10 months imprisonment.
Mr Allen, for the defence, described the case as an attempt to create a civil debt into a crime, the prosecutor knowingly perfectly well when the piano was sold that there was some instalment unpaid.
Witnesses were called to give evidence to this effect, and the Bench, after a long hearing, decided to dismiss the case on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to justify sending it to a jury.