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-- THE ARCHIVE --


NEW ZEALAND
Judicial CP - November 1900



Corpun file 23512

Wanganui Herald, 13 November 1900, p.3

A Warning to Juvenile Offenders.


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A lad, 15 years of age, was charged at the Police Court this afternoon, before Mr. C. C. Kettle, S.M., with stealing on the 7th November a silver lever watch, a gold chain, a dog's tooth, a silver sovereign case, a watch key, two Contingent medals, a pocket knife, a purse, and one coat and vest, together the value of 10, the property of Lynn McKelvie.

Mr. Treadwell appeared for the accused, who pleaded not guilty. Sergeant Dwyer conducted the prosecution, and called McKelvie, one of the boarders at the Collegiate School, who stated that just previous to playing cricket he took his coat and vest off, and laid them on the ground. In his pockets were the articles mentioned. The watch and chain could not possibly come out of the waistcoat unless it was removed, as the chain was fastened to a buttonhole. Witness, after playing cricket, went in to tea, forgetting about his coat. When he afterwards went to look for it, it was missing.

Constable Ward stated that the theft of the articles was reported to him the day after the things were stolen. He saw accused, who at first denied that he knew anything about the things, but subsequently showed him the coat and vest under a tree, where he said he had placed them. The watch was missing, and accused, in reply to witness, said he would show him where it was; he had hidden it in his father's stable.

The accused stated that when returning from his father's paddock he crossed through the College Ground, where he saw a coat near the edge of the long grass. He looked round, but, seeing no one about, he put it under a tree for safety. He never touched the pockets of the clothes, and did not notice there was a chain. A short distance away he picked up a watch, and thinking it did not belong to the clothes, he took it home and put it in the stable, in the hope that a reward would be offered for it. He did not tell his father and mother about it, because they would have made him take it to the police. Mr. Treadwell submitted that there was a doubt about the matter, and if the boy's evidence was true there was no theft.

The Magistrate said he was always anxious to give a person who was charged with an offence the benefit of a doubt, but in the present case he had no doubt whatever that the accused knew he was acting dishonestly when he took the watch and hid it. It was always a difficulty to know what to do with juvenile offenders, and in the past the Court had been very lenient. He, however, thought that the time had come that some more drastic measures should be taken to deter young people from committing crime. He admitted that the lad had been subjected to a great deal of temptation. The sentence of the Court was that the boy should receive six strokes of the birch rod.

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