Smugglers & Criminals

A number of stories of ‘severe’ misconduct and ever more severe judicial retribution caught my eye in the pages of the Reporter from 16 May 1942, in the middle of the War.

Perhaps one’s censure ought to have been mitigated by the fact that many fathers of the miscreants were serving in the forces at that time. 

Certainly my overall impression was that today’s magistrates (and townspeople) would be happy to exchange ‘crimes’ of then with those of today. Judge for yourself!

Two boys, one from New Street, the other of Linenhall Square (and the late father of a dear friend and contributor to Journal!) were charged with stealing 8/- from O’Hare’s Shop on Canal Quay. One boy in evidence testified as to how it happened and the second corroborated. Coming home from school for lunch the first entered the shop ‘to get change for a 3d bit’. Coming out he said there was nobody in it and he was ‘to stand there’. When the first boy came out he gave 9d to the second. The latter described how they went to Warrenpoint, bought ice-cream and chips and went to the picture-palace. Later they were found in the Gardens by the police, hiding under a park bench. They were taken to the barracks and held there overnight and sent to Newry the following morning by bus.

I thought the latter draconian punishment for two unaccompanied minors – and their worried parents – more than sufficient to meet the crime, but no! The shop-owner testified at the hearing but his evidence was all circumstantial – and indeed suspect, as he claimed to know exactly how much was taken, though the boy did not take all the money from his till!

The magistrate allowed the boys’ soldier fathers a period of three months (during which time, he adjourned the hearing) to put up 5/- between them, raising the suspicion that he too doubted the shopkeeper’s testimony of 8/- missing.

An unnamed boy from Nicholson’s Court (Francis Street, then King Street) was sent to St Patrick’s Industrial School Belfast ‘until he reach 14 years of age’, school-leaving age) for non-attendance at school. His foster-mother testified that his father was working in the Orkney Islands and she could not control him.

Five boys from Linenhall Square were summoned for disorderly conduct in Erskine Street for knocking on doors. Their case was adjourned for three months during which time Sergeant Small would keep an eye on them and report on their conduct.

The petty war-time smuggler was likewise severely reprimanded!

Mary Crilly of Aghyallogue was fined

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