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Judicial CP - September 1929

Illustrated Police News, London, 26 September 1929

Youth's assault in shop. Imprisonment and birch.

That a young man's mind was affected through seeing films and reading stories relating to crime was put forward at the Old Bailey when Alfred Barnett, nineteen, described as a musician, pleaded guilty to assaulting Rachel Elgrod with intent to rob her.

Mr Samuels, prosecuting, said that on August 16 Barnett called at the jeweller's shop of Mr Elgrod in Black Lion-yard, E., and said that he wanted a ring for his fiancee. By a ruse he sent out the man who was in the shop, and when Mrs Elgrod was left alone he threw a packet of pepper at her. It missed her, and he then struck her on the head with a spanner. She screamed, and he bolted from the shop. He was chased and caught.

When he was charged he said that the trouble had arisen through his family objecting to his engagement to a Christian girl, he being a Jew. Mrs Elgrod was not seriously injured.

Detective-sergeant Rayner said that Barnett came of a very respectable family, and he had not been in trouble before. He had been a drummer in various jazz bands, being at one time in Teddy Brown's band.

Mr Fred. Levy, defending, said that Barnett was constantly going to the films. One of the films he saw was called "On Trial", and now, within a few weeks, he was on trial himself in almost similar circumstances.

"Nearly all the modern films," continued Mr Levy, "deal with crime. Within the last week I have myself seen two films in which an Old Bailey scene is depicted. No film is complete, apparently, unless the Old Bailey is in it."

The Recorder (Sir Ernest Wild K.C.): Is that why you go to see them? -- (Laughter.)

Mr Levy added that Barnett had also been reading the mystery tales of Edgar Allan Poe and other authors.

The Recorder: Is that an excuse for crime?

Mr Levy: No, my lord, but I put it forward as showing his state of mind.

The Recorder: His mind was steeped in crime? - Yes, my lord.

Mr Levy pleaded for Barnett to be bound over and placed under the care of a probation officer. Employment, he said, could be found for him at once.

Barnett, asked if he had anything to say, replied: "I am sorry for what I did. I hope you will give me a chance to make good."

The Recorder said that the offence to which Barnett had pleaded guilty was regarded so seriously that the law allowed a maximum punishment of penal servitude for life and a whipping. His offence was too serious to bind him over. It was serious in itself, and also in its prevalence. There was a regular epidemic of assaults of this kind, mainly on women. It was a brutal and cruel thing he had done.

He sentenced Barnett to three months' imprisonment in the second division, and ordered him to receive twelve strokes of the birch.

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