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Judicial CP - April 1948
Mona's Herald, Douglas, 27 April 1948
Two Breakaways From Police Custody: "Swag" Buried Beneath Floor of Prison
Boy Burglars' Daring Exploits
Magistrates Decide to Restore the Birch(extracts)
A daring escapade by three boy burglars who already stand convicted on seventeen charges of breaking and entering shops in Douglas was described at the Magistrates' Court on Saturday.
They were being held in the detention quarters of the Police Station, and on two nights they broke out of captivity and descended forty feet down the face of the police building to commit more burglaries. On each occasion they returned by climbing back, and the "swag" stolen was buried under the floor-boards of their prison.
They were ordered by the magistrates to receive six strokes of the birch, and this sentence was carried out after the court rose. It was the first time for several years that the birch has been ordered in the Isle of Man.
It was revealed that on Saturday week, as soon as darkness had set in, the boys broke out of the detention quarters by removing an iron bar from the window, and replaced it when they returned. Two nights later they again sallied forth after dark. Each time they engaged in acts of crime.
The boys were aged 13, 14 and 16, and were in the detention quarters awaiting admission to approved schools on the mainland, having recently been convicted in connection with 17 offences of breaking and entering.
Inspector T.A. Cringle prosecuted, and the magistrates were Messrs A.J. Teare and R.H. Cubbin.
The boys were charged with breaking and entering a shop occupied by Ernest Henry Kelly, at 13, Walpole Avenue, and stealing jewellery, including a gold wrist watch and fancy goods, valued at £19.4s.1d; 18a, Prospect Hill, occupied by Mrs H.M. Newby, and stealing goods valued at 18s.3½d; 18 Prospect Hill, occupied by Daniel Shimmin & Son, and stealing raisins; 14, Prospect Hill, occupied by Miss L. Peters, and stealing cash.
Entered Premises Through Roof.
Constable George Turnbull said that following investigation into their four offences, he interviewed the three boys in the presence of their parents. They made statements which showed that on 17th April they removed a bar from the window of their quarters, and climbed down a drain spout into Athol Street. They then broke into the shop in Walpole Avenue by climbing over the backyard wall and breaking the catch on a fanlight window.
On the 19th April, at about 9.30 p.m., they again left the detention quarters ... they broke into Messrs Shimmin's bakehouse, where they stole a few raisins and damaged a wedding cake....
Dropped Watch Into Mother's Handbag.
Some of the articles they threw away .... A number of violin strings were found outside the detention quarters. Other articles were recovered from other boys, who had been in the detention quarters at the time.
One boy put several articles, including a gold a silver watch, into his mother's shopping bag while she was visiting him, and they had been recovered from her.
Here the boy's mother interrupted to say that she had been unaware that the articles were placed in her bag.
The Clerk (Mr R. Cowell) said the detention quarters at Douglas were quite unsuitable for the purpose.
Birch The Only Way To Check Them.
In reply to Mr Cubbin, Inspector Cringle said the boys got out of the window and climbed along a ledge. They then went down a 4in. drain pipe on to the balcony at the front of the Police Station .... The total distance was about 40 feet.
The magistrates announced their decision after a short retirement. Mr Teare said that crime like this was becoming too common and every effort must be made to prevent it. Under the Larceny Act, the elder boy could be punished with 50 strokes of the birch, and the other two with 25 strokes. They were convinced that the only way to check this juvenile delinquency was to administer the birch. Each boy would receive six strokes.
The Welfare Committee of the Education Authority has recently been discussing the lengthy periods which youthful offenders sometimes have to spend in the detention quarters pending their admission to schools in England, and it is to be suggested at a meeting of the Authority tomorrow that enquiry be made as to the possibility of improvement in this connection.
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