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    History With Flynn

    Last month I wrote a story about two young Salford lads, Arthur Smith and Cecil Wilkinson who lived at the Height area of Salford, who were charged with causing over £1,000 worth of damage to homes, shops and businesses including the strangulation of a cat whilst burgling a factory.

    They were sent to the Assize Courts for sentencing and at the time I had no access to give you what sentence they would receive and what the judge would have to say about their shameful behaviour.

    I have found the relevant story from November 1920 and to be quite honest the sentence they received wasn't what I was expecting considering the charges laid against them.

    To their credit they pleaded Guilty to the three charges of breaking and entering a private school in Acresfield Road, arson at the Olympia Cinema and damaging motor cars at Messr Carter's motor works, in Trafford Road.

    Mr Gilbert Jordan, prosecuting told the court that the boys had broken into properties and at the private school, smashed eggs, threw flour about then tried to light a fire with some scrap paper.

    On October 24th they broke into The Olympia Cinema and set fire to it causing damage estimated at  £326 and on the same evening they broke into the motor works causing damage estimated at £150 also strangling the works cat.

    Mr J. B. Sandbach defended the boys and said the boys were "respectfully connected", they had excellent school records and their character at work was good and both of the boy's employees wrote them a character reference.

    Mr Justice Ashton who was in charge of the proceedings, said, 

    " What they really want you know, is a good thrashing, nobody wants to make a gaol bird of boys like these"

    Mr Sandbach then went on to offer a possible explanation for the boys behaviour, he said that when they were arrested they were found to have in their possession, what were described as "Penny Bloods", cheap. lurid. comics of the times, he then suggested that the boys were trying to emulate the criminals that were depicted in these comics.

    He then added that he, had, the rector of the parish with him, Rev H. Boddington who would tell of the boy's home conditions, to which Justice Ashton suggested that perhaps he could administer the punishment?

    Cecil Wilkinson took to the stand and told the court that the only explanation he could offer for his son's behaviour was the reading of the Penny Bloods as he had never given any trouble at home.

    Justice Ashton then said, 

    "What he wants is the best thrashing a boy ever had, and you are the man to give it to him, will you see that it is done?"

    Mr Wilkinson agreed to this.

    Arthur Smith's Father told the court he had no answer for his son's behaviour, and was told by Justice Ashton.

    "Oh it is perfectly simple, these boys have been reading this disgusting and pernicious literature and from what I have been told your son is the leader"

    He then retired into his chambers for a consultation with the Governor of the prison, Mr H. FitzClarence.

    The boys were brought back up for sentencing and Justice Ashton said they deserved the biggest thrashing, consistent with humanity.

    He then sentenced the boys to be bound over and warned about coming up before him, again and then impressed upon the fathers the need for severity in their thrashings which he left in their hands, and they were free to leave the court.

    I can't but wonder if the same sentence would have been handed out if say, the two lads came from an impoverished background and were unemployed, I doubt it very much.

    Hopefully the two miscreants went on to live happy, honest and worthwhile lives and reflected upon their close call with imprisonment.

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