Couple embrace in dock at Preston court as they are jailed for burglaries

The couple embrace in the dock at Preston Sessions Court
The couple embrace in the dock at Preston Sessions Court
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Local historian Keith Johnson takes a look at a dramatic turn of events at a court house...

In mid-June 1925 a waitress and a waiter, namely Ruth Toole, aged 27, and Herbert Perrins, aged 25, appeared before the Lytham magistrates charged with house breaking and larceny at St Annes and Marton.

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Supt Crapper told the court that early in June a house in Marton was broken into at the dead of night and a quantity of clothing, some food and £7 in cash was taken.

It was stated that Perrin had called at a pawnshop in Blackpool with some of the stolen clothing and the police had kept watch on his movements.

A couple of days later he was seen on Blackpool Promenade along with Miss Toole who was wearing a missing raincoat.

According to the officer when charged at St. Annes police station Perrin and Toole had pleaded guilty to entering the house, but denied taking any money.

Toole had commented: “I am guilty of stealing everything but the money. If money had been there I would have taken it. We needed food through no work and starvation.”

Det Insp. Rigby was then called and he gave details of two similar cases of theft of food and clothing in St Annes with goods valued at over £20 taken.

Neither of the accused were prepared to admit to those offences. Consequently after some deliberation the magistrates committed the couple to the next Preston Sessions in early August, allowing them bail until their trial.

At the Preston Sessions, before chairman James Openshaw, it was announced that the accused wished to plead guilty to nine charges of housebreaking and theft in Marton, Lytham, St Annes and other parts of the country. It was stated that Toole who was a native of Coventry had a long record of convictions, dating back six years.

She had previously served a 12-month prison term and had with a previous male companion been about the country stealing, including the theft of a diamond ring from a trusting former employer.

Whilst Perrin had a clean record up to meeting Toole the previous November.

Perrins told the court that he wanted to get everything cleared off, so that they could start afresh, and if they got the chance he and Toole would marry and go straight.

At this point Miss Toole turned to her companion in the dock and flung herself on his shoulder, sobbing hysterically, while Perrins embraced her.

They were gently separated by a warder and wardress. Toole then pleaded that if she got a chance she would go straight. Saying she had had everything to make her go wrong, she had been with a cad before, but now she had a gentleman. “Give me a chance,” she implored, “and let me be worthy of this good boy.”

The magistrates then retired for deliberations and when they returned the chairman addressed them both.

He remarked that the male prisoner would probably not have been concerned in any crimes except for his association with Toole.

The chairman concluded by sentencing Toole to 12 months in prison and her partner in crime to a period of six months with hard labour.