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Judicial CP - November 1932

Jersey Weekly Post, St Helier, 19 November 1932


Birch for youthful offender

Saturday, Nov. 12th, 1932 (Saturday Division).

Before Chs. Ed. Malet de Carteret, Esq., Bailiff, and Jurats de Carteret and De Gruchy.

Bernard William Symons, 16, St. Helier, was charged by H.M.'s Solicitor-General with having on several occasions between July and the end of September, 1932, whilst in the employ of Mr. Geo. Longland, newsagent, of Sunnyside, First Tower, stolen from the shop till sums of money totalling about £30; also with having during the same period stolen a cigarette lighter valued at 12/-. Also, on October the 25th, 1932, stolen from a purse in a bedroom on the same premises a 10/- note; on October the 26th, 1932, stolen £2 from the shop till; on October the 27th stolen £4 from a bedroom and also forced a home safe and stolen £7 in notes and £1 in silver; the whole to the prejudice of the said Mr. Longland.

Advocate Harrison defended the accused, who pleaded guilty.

The Public Prosecutor said the facts were simple, but unfortunately the consequences flowing therefrom were not quite as simple. The prisoner was just six weeks short of 17 and was too old to send to a reformatory, and as this was his first offence he could not be sent to Borstal. There were therefore, only two alternatives, either prison or else corporal punishment.

The lad's home life had been very unfortunate, as the Court knew, so it was of no use going into it. The headmaster of La Motte-street School reported that the lad was intelligent, and, had his home life been better, might have made a very decent fellow.

The Prosecutor then detailed the series of thefts committed to the prejudice of Mr. Longland. The latter saw the accused's father, who resides in Pier-road, and the lad admitted committing various thefts, including the sum of 8 pounds and a cigarette lighter. It was eventually discovered that a series of thefts had been committed by the lad. He succeeded in spending the money with the assistance of several friends, who were not lacking on such occasions, by visiting places of amusement in town.

The question as to what could be done with the lad had given him cause for serious thought. Borstal had to be ruled out, as well as a reformatory. He was loath to send the lad to gaol or to order corporal punishment. He (the Public Prosecutor) had consulted the Rev. Snell (Assistance Chaplain at the prison), whom he would like to publicly thank for his help in the matter, and the result was that a decent home had been found and a job with the firm of Le Quesne, contractors.

He was not an admirer of corporal punishment, but he felt that in a case like this it might leave a definite impression on the lad's mind. On April the 7th, 1931, a lad named Surguy was sentenced to eight strokes; another lad was later sentenced to eight strokes of the birch for petty larceny. Dr. Hanna had examined the lad and had reported that he was fit to receive such punishment. He therefore asked that the lad be given eight strokes with the birch and that after that he be handed over to the Rev. Snell.

Advocate Harrison said it was not unusual for Counsel to find fault with the conclusions of the Partie Publique but it was unusual for Counsel to agree with such conclusions. This, however, he did, and hoped the Court would agree; he supported the conclusions with all his power.

The Bailiff said the Court found the conclusions extremely mild, but they granted them. He then severely admonished the lad and warned him as to his future conduct. This was his last chance, for if he appeared before the Court again they would remember that he had been given a chance and had thrown it away.

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