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100-YEARS-AGO: THE WORST THIEF AWARD FOR 1920 GOES TO...


History With Flynn

I came across this story from November, 1920 in the pages of the Salford City Reporter and tells of the misfortunes of the doziest thief in Salford.

Thomas Callaghan, 30 was a seaman from Liverpool appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with attempting to cheat or defraud by false pretences, James Clark, which seems a clear cut. case.

Callaghan was on Trafford Road close to the dock gates, when he approached Mr Clark and asked if he was interested in buying a ring from him, for £1 and going as far to say that the ring came from a jewellers shop that he had burgled in Liverpool, and that he had a few more to sell.

He gave Clark the ring to examine, who looked at it underneath a street lamp to ascertain if it was genuine, only to be told, "be careful there could be a policeman about"

Clark said he was interested but only had ten shillings on him but if Callaghan would come home with him, he would give him the full amount, to which he agreed.

As they walked along Trafford Road, Callaghan was unceremoniously bundled into the Trafford Road, Police Station by Clarke who then revealed his identity as, Dock Police, Superintendent Clarke,,

I can just imagine the look on Callaghan's face as he realised what a clanger he had dropped.

The ring was examined  by a local jeweller and found to be a cheap brass and glass copy, a further cheap, brass signet ring was found on Callaghan when he was searched, not looking good for him, is it?

He appeared at the Magistrates Court the next day after a night spent in the cells, no doubt kicking himself, silly.

To his credit he pleaded guilty and said the rings were one's he wore himself, then added that he thought Superintendent Clark was an old shipmate and that it was meant as a joke.

This was met with laughter from the Magistrates bench, but it didn't last long.

They sentenced the hapless, trickster to three months in prison with hard labour.


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