The Fraud by a Commercial Traveller – Leeds Assizes

August 1880

Mexborough and Swinton Times, August 6.

The Fraud by a Commercial Traveller

At the Leeds Assizes on Friday last, Benjamin Stevens, a commercial traveller (on bail), was indicted for forging or altering an order request purporting to be an authority from John Hawksworth, for the delivery of a dozen bottles of marking ink, with intent to defraud, at Conisborough, on the 19th February.

Mr Lawrence Gase prosecuted and Mr Lockwood defended.

It appeared from the evidence that the prisoner was a traveller, who went about the country getting orders for and selling, marking ink, while the prosecutor has a small shop at Conisborough, and also works at the Brickyard.

On the day in question prisoner called at the prosecutor shop whilst he was absent, and was sent by Mrs Hawksworth to the place where the prosecutor was working. On getting there he told Mr Hawksworth,that he had a quantity of marking ink for sale, and he wanted to appoint him as agent for it, remarking that he knew a Mr Turner, the publisher of a newspaper at Mexborough, that had spoken to him about prosecutor, and that he had arranged for him to advertise the ink in his newspaper.

The prosecutor asked what was the smallest order prisoner would take, and he replied that he would take one for a dozen of the eight shillings size. This order was given, and the prisoner took out a pocketbook and entered it, the prosecutor signing his name under it. Prisoner went away, accompanied by prosecutor’s little boy, to the latter’s shop, where he had been authorised to receive the eight shillings from Mrs Hawksworth, but on the road he stopped and made a further entry, which afterwards proved to be an additional order for a dozen of marking ink at 12 shillings.

The prosecutor’s wife, on seeing these orders, paid 20 shillings and prisoner walked away. A bottle of each kind was taken to the prosecutor by his son. He thought all was not right, and went after the prisoner, whom he found running in the direction of the station.

He told him to return with him, and gave him into the custody of a police officer, to whom we said he had received both orders from the prosecutor.

His Lordship said that the indictment against the prisoner for forging an order for the delivery of goods was incorrect, and on this charge, the jury must be acquitted.

This course was followed, but a count charging the prisoner withobtaining 12 shillings by false pretences, was proceeded with.

The defence was that the transaction was a bona fida one, and that the prisoner was under the impression that he had received the orders for the two dozens of ink.

The prisoner was found guilty, and his Lordship sentenced him to 6 months imprisonment.

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