The frauds committed by porters, carters, and errand men, are now become so common, that it is high time to put a stop to such mean frauds. This was, therefore, a most laudable prosecution, and we trust that it will be a warning to servants, intrusted with the property of others.
At the Quarter Sessions held the 25th October 1811, for the city and liberty of Westminster, Charles Bennett was put to the bar, charged under the Swindling Act, with defrauding his employers, Messrs. Broadwood, of Great Pulteney-street, musical instrument-makers, of sixpence.
Mr. Knapp, for the prosecution, stated, that the object of this proceeding against the defendant did not arise from the paltry consideration of the sixpence, mentioned in the indictment, but it occurred from the frequent impositions practised upon the prosecutors, and he trusted this would operate for the benefit of the public, by preventing persons in whom confidence was placed by their employers from committing the like depredations upon them, and from abusing such confidence. The prisoner was employed as a servant by the prosecutors, and was chiefly occupied in conveying their goods in carts, and otherwise, to various parts of the metropolis and places adjacent. On the 5th of last December he was directed to carry a pianoforte to Miller's Wharf, for the purpose of being sent by the then next sailing vessel to Leith, being purchased by Messrs. Gow, of Edinburgh. He conveyed the article accordingly, and on his return to his master's house delivered a receipt, purporting to be a receipt for 3s. 6d. for wharfage, and signed by the clerk of the wharf, Mr. Mackaness, for that sum; he was accordingly paid 3s 6d. by Mr. Payne, the clerk of Messrs. Broadwood. Mr. Payne proved the foregoing facts, and added, that afterwards, having more accurately examined the receipts, he observed that the 6d. was written in ink very different from all the rest of the receipts; and, having communicated his suspicions, enquiries were instituted at the wharf, and it was discovered that no more than 3s had been charged or paid for the wharfage of the article.
Mr. Mackaness, the clerk at Millar's wharf, was next called: he proved that no more than three shillings had been paid by the defendant, and that the six-pence added was not his hand-writing; he also produced his waste book of that day, where the entry made was only for 3s.
The prisoner being asked what he had to say for himself, answered, "Nothing." Mr. Mainwaring summed up the evidence with suitable comments, and the jury without hesitation found the prisoner Guilty. He was asked by the Court, whether he had any family. He said a wife and two children. Mr. Mainwaring then addressed him, and in a most impressive manner enlarged on the heinousness of his offence, which, he observed, was greatly enhanced by its adding ingratitude to breach of trust and confidence; but in consideration of his having a family, instead of heavier and more disgraceful punishment, he should sentence him only to three months' imprisonment; and he was so sentenced accordingly.