Corpun file 24968 at www.corpun.com
Mona's Herald, Douglas, 11 September 1956, p.1
Douglas robbery with violence case
Liverpool waiter is gaoled and whipped
Attacked holidaymaker late at night and took his wallet
Very serious crime, says Deemster
Click to enlarge
SENTENCE of twelve months' imprisonment and ten strokes of the
birch-rod was passed by Deemster J.A. Cain, at a Court of General
Gaol Delivery, held in Douglas, yesterday, on George Pratt, a
twenty-yr-old waiter, of Portland Place, Liverpool, after he had
pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery with violence.
Pratt had been jointly accused with another seasonal worker,
twenty-two-years-old Christopher Byrne, an assistant chef, of
Carrow Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, of attacking a Glasgow
holiday-maker, Robert Russell, in Strand Lane, late at night, and
taking from him a wallet containing £28 in notes. Byrne, who
denied the charge, was represented by Mr. R.K. Eason, and will be
tried by jury on October 16.
Mr. David Lay, prosecuting, said that he intended to call Pratt
as a witness in the case against Byrne, and because of that he
would suggest that Pratt should be sentenced immediately. His
Honour agreed to that course and said that Byrne would be
remanded in custody until the sitting of General Gaol to be held
at Douglas on October 16.
Mr. Lay said that Pratt was a seasonal worker, aged twenty and
lived in Liverpool. The circumstances which brought about the
charge were that the victim, Mr. Robert Russell came to the Isle
of Man on holiday on July 12. At 1 a.m. on July 14, he was walking
along Strand Line, which ran between Howard Street and Granville
Street. The prisoner, and another man and two girls were in the
lane. Russell was the worse for drink.
Belt round fist
Pratt had said he was going to get a few bob and had taken off
his belt and wrapped it round his fist. He had then assaulted
Russell and had taken £28 in Scottish bank notes from him. Both
men then ran away.
Later Russell was found in a dazed condition. As a consequence of
the attack Russell spent five days in hospital and then attended
for treatment as an out-patient.
Russell had multiple minor injuries to the face, including a deep
two-inch cut above the right eye, and a smaller cut over the left
eye. Both eyes were "blacked." Both cheeks were cut and bruised.
Pratt had been arrested on the afternoon of July 14. Pratt when
asked about the wallet stolen from Russell, had taken out a
wallet which he said was his own, saying: "I burnt the one
we got from the man, in the furnace." Pratt had in his
possession three Scottish £1 notes and a 10s. note.
He was taken to the Douglas Police station where he said:
"Nothing I can say will help me now. We had £14 each."
Pratt also said that he had changed a five pound note in a
photographer's shop. He had also bought a pair of shoes, a shirt,
and some tobacco. The prisoner had added: "I only hit him
once, in the stomach or face."
Detective-Sergt. J.J. Clague said the prisoner was a single man
living with four brothers and his parents in Liverpool. He had
been employed as a waiter and kitchen porter in Douglas hotels
and in London over a period of years. In October, 1954, Pratt had
failed to report for National Service. There was one previous
conviction against him at Liverpool in June, 1951, when he was
bound over on two charges of house-breaking.
Mr. Lay pointed out that under Manx law the maximum penalty for
robbery with violence was imprisonment for life and a whipping up
to fifty strokes.
Pratt asked that the fact that he had been in custody since July
14th should be taken into consideration.
In sentencing Pratt, Deemster Cain said he had pleaded guilty
to what His Honour regarded as a very serious offence, that of
robbery with violence. Pratt had not seen fit even at this stage
to express regret for his conduct or even sympathy with the
victim of the attack.
Mr. Lay intervened to say, in reply to a question from the
Deemster, that Pratt had made no public expression of regret, but
he understood that he had expressed some regret when talking
privately to the police.
His Honour stated that he would give Pratt the benefit of that
unofficial expression of regret.
"The offence you have committed is a serious one for this
reason," continued His Honour. "If people go about
behaving as you did it becomes unsafe for responsible citizens of
this country to walk on the roads or lanes of the town at night."
The prisoner's action was made more particularly mean by the
fact that the man he saw fit to assault was not able to resist,
but was a man under the influence of drink, a person who could
not put up even a reasonable defence to the assault.
The maximum penalty allowed by Manx law was imprisonment for life
and a whipping, and having considered the facts of this case he
had decided to impose both imprisonment and a whipping.
In the circumstances, and because the prisoner was under
twenty-one years, the instrument with which the whipping would be
carried out would be a birch rod and not the cat-o-nine-tails.
The penalty he would impose was one of twelve months
imprisonment, to date from the day the prisoner was taken into
custody, July 14, and that he should be given ten strokes of the
After imposing sentence, Deemster Cain said the thanks of the
public were due to the police for their prompt action and to
other persons who helped in the apprehension of the prisoner.
Follow-up: 18 October 1956 - Youth Gets 6 Strokes of Birch
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