JOHN MILLWARD BANKS
Joseph Donlan (Finishing Department Manager)
At the Birmingham Police Court last month, before Mr. A. Hill (Deputy Stipendiary), Joseph Donlan, 20, 99, Little King Street, Hockley, was charged with stealing a large quantity of jewellery, the property of his employer Mr. John Millward Banks, manufacturing jeweller of Northampton Street, Birmingham. Dr. Showell Rogers, (Johnson and Co.), prosecuted, and Mr. Benbow Hebbert was for the defence. Dr. Rogers, in opening the case, stated that the prisoner entered prosecutor's employ in May last, and it was quite evident that since the commencement of his stay there he had been in the habit of stealing jewellery, and afterwards pawning the same with pawnbrokers in the vicinity. Latterly, however, he seemed to have extended his operations, and at the present time they could trace transactions with no less than 30 pawnbrokers. It should be said that after being at the place a little time he was given the important position of manager of the finishing department, and thousands of valuable articles passed through his hands. On September 5 he left his work without permission, and it had been found that on the same day he pawned a bracelet with Mr. Samuels, of West Bromwich. The latter was not quite satisfied with the prisoner's conduct, and insisted upon going with him to the address he gave, and which had since been proved to be false. While walking together prisoner admitted that the bracelet belonged to his girl. The pawnbroker pretended to believe him, and took him back to his shop, where he turned the key upon him. No less than 76 pawn-tickets 'had been found in his possession, and goods had been pledged to the extent of Â£22, while their real value was something like Â£80 or Â£100. Some difficulty would be experienced in making the charges, as no two pawnings had been made in one and the same day, and none of the goods purloined were over Â£2 in value. He thought perhaps it would be better if two cases were taken separately. Philip Lewin Samuels, 277, High Street, West Bromwich, was the first witness, and stated that he carried on business as a pawnbroker. On September 5, prisoner came to pledge a bracelet (produced) at his shop. He said it was his own, and asked for 15s. to be advanced upon it. Not being satisfied with his statement he called in police-sergeant Reynolds who took him into custody. Henry Shorthouse, attached to the West Bromwich police, deposed to receiving the prisoner at the station. He communicated with police-sergeant Baker, of Birmingham, and through him he was handed over to the authorities of this town. In the second case prisoner was charged with stealing a silver brooch. Richard Riley, assistant at Mr. W. H. Wood's, establishment, in High Street, stated that on August 5 he pawned a brooch with them and received 4s. upon it. He gave his name as Walter Green, 25, New John Street. Sergeant Baker stated that from information received he went to the house of prisoner's father. In a room occupied by the prisoner he found the 76 pawn tickets mentioned above, including the one given with the brooch. In answer to a question put from the Bench, witness stated that papers relative to betting transactions had been found upon him. Mr. Hill : As I thought. I firmly believe that nine-tenths of the offences brought before me are traceable to this evil. A sentence of three months' imprisonment in each case was imposed. At the conclusion of the trial Dr. Rogers raised the question as to whether an order might be made entitling the prosecutor to claim the goods produced in court. Mr. Barradale: But the goods have only been produced in two specific cases. Dr. Rogers : Well, in the cases in which Mr. Wood are interested, I think we can claim them. The pawnbroker did not act with discretion in the matter, for all the goods were unfinished, and moreover, five separate lots were pledged by the prisoner in different names. Mr. Wood's assistant : Yes, but they were not all received by the same men. Mr. Banks subsequently admitted that, although the goods were technically unfinished, yet to the eye of anyone but an expert they would seem to be finished. The magistrate was of the opinion that the parties had better act in the manner usual under the circumstances, viz., each share half the loss. Mr. Hill then publicly thanked Mr. Samuels for his conduct in the matter, and was of the opinion, too, that no stigma was attached to the second pawnbroker mentioned.
Source: The Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith - 1st October 1889