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History With Flynn

Readers of a certain age may recall the "thrill" of perusing the page, known as, "Before The Bench".

This salacious news page gave full details of any felon who had the misfortune to appear before the dreaded Stipendary Magistrate, Mr Leslie Walsh, a proper, old school, no-nonsense Magistrate who would send you down if he even thought you looked guilty!

Heaven forbids if your name was to appear on that page, you instantly became a social pariah a veritable, "talk of the washhouse" merchant.

This particular story comes from August 1918 and tells of a gentleman called Charles Berry or Charles Clennel depending upon who he was meeting.

Charles would appear to have been a somewhat silver-tongued, lothario, fond of the ladies, a drink and a gift of the gab as poor Miss Adelaide Evans was to find out.

Charles Berry appeared before Salford Magistrates Court charged with obtaining sums of money from Adelaide Evans with intent to defraud.

The couple met on that popular Salford thoroughfare, Cross Lane, where they got into conversation.

Charles told Adelaide that he was a "well known local footballer" by the name of Charles Clennel, a single man who worked at Mather and Platts Engineering Company in Trafford Park.

I liked the way he told her he was a "well known local footballer" perhaps Adelaide had visions of becoming a forerunner of the modern days WAG?

He asked the fragrant Adelaide to "keep company" with him and promised her that one day he would marry her, what a smoothie.

The poor girl should have got the "odour of rodent" when Charles began to borrow sums of money from her on various pretexts.

He told her that during their courtship he had, had the misfortune to lose not only his father but his mother and aunt! fortunately, they had all left him sums of money in their wills, sadly he had to look after his sister who was ill and living in lodgings.

Charles had some neck he even offered to take her to his family's solicitor's to verify the facts.

When she declined this offer, the borrowing of money began, obviously with promises to pay it all back on a lump sum and an added bonus as a gesture of goodwill.

Charles like all good con men went in low borrowing small sums such as 10 shillings one week and a £1 the following week, slowly increasing the amounts until he had run up a debt of £25-17-6, a tidy sum in those days.

He then began to tell Adelaide further excuses as to why he couldn't pay her back just yet, the £15 his mother had left him had been stolen, the £50 his father had left him had somehow got misplaced by the bank, sadly no mention of the money his aunt had left him, eaten by mice presumably?

The poor woman (and she probably was) by now had by now had enough and contacted the police who quickly tracked him down and arrested him, charging him with deception.

Charles wasn't beaten yet he wrote to her from Strangeways prison, one letter read,

"I have only you to think of me whilst I am in here, I am going to ask you to fix the day to make me the happiest of men"

He is persistent I'll give him that!

In the dock, Charles did the honourable thing and pleaded guilty to all of the charges.

However, all sympathy for him evaporated with the appearance of a surprise witness, no other than Mrs Berry, his wife and mother of his two children.

Mrs Berry told the court that Charles was a good husband and always tipped his wages up regularly, let's face it he could afford too.

Charles told the court that he loved his wife but his downfall was horse racing and gambling, no mention of gullible young women.

The Stipendary Magistrate said that this was a carefully thought out and cruel deception and sentenced him to six imprisonment with hard labour as a possible inducement to curb his future activities in Salford.


Edited by KARL

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