BOROUGH MAGISTRATES' OFFICE.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 22.
Present: The Mayor (ROBERT FERGUSON, Esq.), WILLIAM STORDY, Esq., and, GUSTAVUS GALE, Esq.
CHARGE OF EMBEZZLEMENT.
SAMUEL I. WATSON, clerk, was charged by MR. S. PERCY, commercial superintendent of the British Telegraph Company at Manchester, with having embezzled several sums of money belonging to his employers. He had been remanded from the 15th inst. for further examination.
MR. JOSEPH BENDLE now appeared for the prosecution; MR. MCALPIN watched the proceedings on behalf of the prisoner.
About half-an-hour was wasted in attempting to decide whether the Magistrates could commit, the alleged embezzlement having taken place in Scotland.
THE MAYOR - The point should have been settled before.
MR. BENDLE - It ought; but it did not occur till after we came into Court.
The depositions were then taken.
WILLIAM POWELL deposed: I reside in Manchester, and am engineer to the British Telegraph Company. I have held the appointment since the 1st March, 1855. I know the prisoner WATSON. He held an appointment as inspector under the same company. It was his duty to look after the lines and keep them in order. He had no settled place, but has lately been travelling between Dumfries and Stranraer. I think he has been employed there about 12 months.
MR. MCALPIN - You don't know that.
WITNESS - Well; I can speak to his being there since the 1st of March last.
MR. PERCY - He has been there between 15 and 16 months.
WITNESS - From the 7th of April last he has been entirely under my direction. It was his duty to pay the clerks and workmen employed by the company on that portion of the line. It was likewise his duty to send me a pay-sheet at stated times - the clerks' sheet once a fortnight and the workmen's sheet once a week. The sheets should show what he paid. They ought to contain an account of the payments to clerks and workmen by the company for a certain period.
They ought also to be signed by the persons paid. The sheets produced are some of those which I received from the prisoner. They are for the periods from the 7th of July to the 21st of July (this year), from the 21st July to the 4th of August, from the 4th of August to the 18th of August, and from the 18th August to the 1st of September.
I know WATSON's handwriting. These sheets are written by him. The name of the clerk, signature and figures are all in his handwriting. It was his duty to send me an account of his receipts and payments once a month. I have received these accounts from him, but not regularly. I have received an account for each month since the 7th of April. I produce these accounts. They are in the handwriting of the prisoner. Upon these accounts there is now a considerable balance due to the company from WATSON -- about £54, I believe.
THE CLERK - We have nothing to do with that.
MR. BENDLE - No; it is not material.
WITNESS - In the pay sheets now produced, and also in the accounts, the prisoner takes credit for having paid THOMAS MCNEIL certain sums during the period from the 7th July to the 1st of September, the regular amount of his weekly wages - 10s per week. MCNEIL was a clerk to the company at Stranraer. These sheet purport to be signed by MCNEIL. The names of the persons receiving the wages are put to the pay sheet. On the 24th of September, I received the letter now produce, from WATSON.
MR. BENDLE - Perhaps I may state now that there are several different charges against this man. It would be needless to go into them all, as one will be sufficient to have him committed upon. I will therefore take the case of THOMAS MCNEIL.
THE MAYOR - Very well.
MR. BENDLE - If you are not satisfied with this case, it will be necessary for me to recall MR. POWELL and examine him on other matters which may arise.
THE CLERK - What about this letter ?
MR. BENDLE - I merely put it in as evidence. I ask the witness no questions upon it.
The letter was handed to the Mayor. It was in substance a confession by the prisoner.
JOHN RUTHERFORD DUFF sworn: I reside in Regent's Circus, Piccadilly, London. I am the accountant of the British Telegraph Company, and have been so since the commencement of the works, about five years since. I don't know the prisoner WATSON personally. I have corresponded with a person of that name. He was an inspector of the company. In the course of business I have remitted him various sums of money. I did so between April and September in this year. I sent the money from London to Stranraer, to pay the wages of the workmen in the employ of the company. I received acknowledgments from him for various sums. The acknowledgments were in his handwriting. I can hardly speak to the state of his accounts with the company as present.
JOHN AIKEN MCNEIL, a youth, was next sworn. He said: I am a clerk in the employ of the British Telegraph Company at Stranraer. I receive 10s per week, and I have been in their employ about 15 months. It was the duty of the prisoner WATSON to pay me my wages.
MR. MCALPIN - What does he know about his duty ?
MR. BENDLE - He thinks so.
WITNESS - WATSON paid me once a fortnight. I received my wages up to the first or second week of July, and since the 1st of September I have been paid by MR. POWELL, of Manchester. I have not received the sums put down in the pay-sheets now produced. That is not my signature.
MR. BENDLE - That, I think, concludes the evidence as far as regards MCNEIL's case. If the Bench are not satisfied, I am prepared to go into the others.
MR. STORDY - There appears to be quite sufficient evidence to convict, but we think the prisoner should have been sent to Scotland, as the offence was committed there. None of the charges refer to this side of the Border.
MR. BENDLE - No, sir. But if you are satisfied with the evidence, we may afterwards decide what course we intend to pursue.
MR. STORDY - Certainly the Telegraph passes through here. Was he sent to Carlisle by the company ?
MR. BENDLE - When it was found that his accounts were in a bad state, he was ordered here by his superior officers.
THE CLERK - Then he has not been employed by the company since he left Scotland ?
MR. POWELL - No, sir
THE CLERK - Has he furnished any accounts since he was ordered here ?
MR. POWELL - If he did so, they were in reference to what passed between Dumfries and Stranraer.
THE CLERK - Where was he discharged ?
MR. POWELL - He was not discharged. Carlisle is his proper station; but he was sent into Scotland to superintend this new work.
MR. STORDY - Then he was merely sent there to do this work ?
MR. POWELL - Just so. He would have returned to Carlisle shortly afterwards.
MR. STORDY - He had lived in Carlisle before ?
MR. POWELL - Oh yes; he had lived in Carlisle 12 months in the employ of the Telegraph Company.
MR. STORDY - That alters the case considerably.
MR. PERCY - His proper station was Carlisle.
***The Magistrates having consulted***
MR. STORDY, in the absence of the MAYOR, said the Bench had no difficulty whatever in committing in this case; at the same time, they thought that as the offence had been committed in Scotland, and not in Carlisle, the prisoner ought to have been taken there; however, they would remand him till Wednesday, when they had no doubt the best plan would be adopted.
Subsequently it was arranged that an officer should convey the prisoner to Stranraer upon a fresh warrant. He ought to have been taken there at first.