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“Jack Lett Is Given Ten Years In Prison,” Toronto Star. November 22, 1918. Page 02.

Canadian Express Co. Robber Also Pleads Guilty to Robbing Union Bank.

Jack Lett, the embryo highwayman who robbed the Canadian Express Co. of $20,000 on October 23, was to-day given ten years in the penitentiary. He withdrew his plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty to robbing the Union Bank and stealing an automobile. For these crimes he also received five and three years respectively. The sentences are to run concurrently.

His brother, Walter Lett, also withdrew his plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty to having received $1,000, which he knew to be stolen. This money he gave to his wife. He was let go on remanded sentence provided he gives $1,000 security and finds two other securities of $1,000 each.

James Gordon Dougall is to spend not less than one year and not more than two years in the Ontario Reformatory.

In addressing Jack Lett, Chief Justice Meredith said: ‘I have no desire to add to the severity of your sentence by lecturing you. I regret that I have no testimony as to your mental capabilities, so I must judge you as I have seen you. The main trouble with you seems to be inordinate vanity. In opening your case your counsel has pictured you as a pigeon-chested, varicose-veined misfit, who is undeveloped both physically and mentally.

Looking Into the Future.
‘Your picture of yourself is that of a bold highwayman. It is to cure you of this delusion that you are to be disciplined. If you were allowed to go free that gun of yours might go off some time, and then some judge would be talking about Jack Lett being hanged by the neck until he was dead.

‘If there had only been a ‘man’ in that express car who would have given you a good thrashing, taken away your pistol, and thrown you out you would have been cured. The only thing to do now is to seek to cure you by the panacea of hard labor.

‘Jack Lett, you were not made for a highwayman. You were given freedom of that express car. Afterwards you went wandering about like a frightened child, and impressed the first man whom you met as a thief. Moreover you left your plunder right under the very nose of those who suspected you. 

‘Walter Lett, you certainly did not do all you could to save your brother, and let me tell you the offence to which you plead guilty is a serious one.

Severe Words For Dougall.
‘James Gordon Dougall, your case has caused me a deal of thought. You were the chief clerk, you held a responsible position, and you can understand that your connection with this crime will cast suspicion upon your associates and inferiors. You were leading a disgraceful life. Don’t you think one should be horsewhipped for a life of that kind.

‘You were found guilty of the lesser offence, but a jury might well have found you the instigator in this farce.’

All the prisoners refused to say anything in their defence, and received their sentences in silence.

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“Witnesses Identify Jack Lett As Robber,” Toronto Star. November 21, 1918. Page 02.

Two Express Messengers Say He Made Them Kneel in Car and Gagged Them,

THEN TOOK $20,000

Hewitt Ave. Residents Say He Called at Their Houses, Carrying the Plunder.

John Lett, Walter Lett and James Gordon Dougall were all three charged to-day before Chief Justice R. M. Meredith, with stealing $20,000 from the Canadian Express Company on October 23, on a train leaving Toronto for Hamilton. Frank Denton, K.C., is defending the Lett brothers, and U.K. Murphy is defending James Gordon Dougall. Jack Lett is charged with the actual commission of the crime.

George Williamson, the messenger who was robbed, said, in his evidence: ‘Just after we had left the Union Station a man got in the side door of the express car. The door was closed but not latched. He pointed a revolver at us and told us to kneel down and put up our hands. He ordered my assistant, Wilson, to lie down, then he swore at him and pushed him down, tying and gagging him.’

Both Went on Their Knees
The gags and ropes were produced and identified. 

Judge Meredith: ‘What were you doing at that time?’ Williamson: ‘I was down on my knees. Then he ordered me to open the strong box. I was tied and he helped himself. Before he jumped from the train he said: ‘If you open your mouth or say anything about this, I’ll get you again.’

Judge Meredith: ‘Did you have a weapon?’ ‘Yes, in my hip pocket.’

‘Couldn’t you use it?’ ‘No.’

‘Not when you were kneeling down saying your prayers all the time?’

Williamson and Wilson, the other messenger, who was called next, said that they got loose just west of New Toronto. Twenty thousand dollars was taken, and $100 in silver.

Both Identify John Lett
Both messengers identified Jack Lett as the man who robbed them.

W. J. Greenway, 37 Hewitt avenue, and Mrs. Roberston, 39 Hewitt avenue, both identified Jack Lett as the man who called on them on the morning of Oct. 23. He carried a paarcel wrapped in a black apron. He asked Greenway if he had a garage to rent, and if he knew anyone who had a room to rent. Greenway referred him to Mrs. Robertson, next door. Lett asked if she were a widow, and asked her for a room.

Mrs. Robertson: ‘I told him to come back in the evening. Mr. Greenway phoned me not to take him. He asked me if he could leave his parcel until evening. He said he was a printer and that these were his books. Afterwards, I became suspicious and opened the parcel. It contained sealed parcels. One of them was open, and I saw $2 bills. The man came back and rang the bell and tried to get in, but I had locked the doors. Then the police came and he ran away.

Found $8,800 Hid in Park.
Detective Taylor was called. He told of taking Jack Lett to High Park and finding $8,876.70 in a Canadian Express bag. He went to the home of Mrs. Walter Lett, 534A, St Clair avenue west, and recovered $1,000 from her. The police still keep this money, although they have turned over the rest to the express company.

Detective McConnell, who arrested the Lett brothers on November 5, told of finding $99.90 in silver in the Howard High Park Methodist Church.

Dougall’s Connection
The Inspector of Detectives, George Kennedy, gave evidence. He told of his interview with James Gordon Dougall.

‘Dougall said that he had known the Letts since he was a boy, that he had been raised by them. He said he saw Lett six weeks before at the Duke of Connaught Hotel at Hamilton. They discussed the possibility of robbing a jewelry store in Hamilton, which displayed a tray of diamonds in the window. They even walked down and looked at the window. Dougall said they would be caught if they broke the window. They also talked of robbing a Hamilton bank. They walked back to the hotel and met a railwayman named Cox. Cox said he knew an express messenger who left the Union Station often carrying between $60,000 and $100,000.

‘Later John Lett called up Dougall and asked if he knew a boarding place convenient to the Union Station. Dougall suggested a hotel at the corner of Spadina and King. Lett went there and registered under the name of Miller. Dougall admitted that he was to get some of the booty.

‘Again Jack Lett called up Dougall and asked him to get two keys made for a Ford and a McLaughlin car. Dougall said he hadn’t time to do it.

‘On the morning of the robbery Jack Lett called up Dougall, said he was speaking from a church, and asked Dougall to meet him. Dougall refused, say he had an appointment to go to Gravenhurst with a young lady that morning.’

James Henry, the police court stenographer, read the interview that he took down between Inspector Kennedy and Dougall. Dougall said that Jack Lett had previously robbed a bank and stolen a McLaughlin car in Hamilton.

Walter Lett’s Part.
Inspector Kennedy told of questioning Walter Lett:

‘He admitted bringing his brother to Toronto from Barrie and giving him a captain’s uniform which he, Walter, had worn. Walter Lett said he enlisted early in the war in a Forestry battalion, obtained his captaincy, and went to England.

‘He also admitted receiving $1,000 from his brother, which he knew was stolen. This money he gave to his wife.

‘Jack Lett, when I questioned him, admitted holding up the messengers and taking the money. He said that when he got to the roadway he expected to meet Dougall and Walter Lett, and when they were not there he was frightened. He hid some of the money in High Park and left a bag of silver in the High Park Methodist Church, from where ‘phoned to Dougall. He said he went to Mrs. Robertson’s, then left another parcel there. When the detectives came he ran back to High Park and hod. A man with a car drove past. He held him up, took his car and drove to Medhurst, where he abandoned the car. He purchased a ticket to North Bay, and got off at McTeir, and returned. After the robbery Walter saw Jack at Barrie and received $1,000 from him. He also tried to get his brother over to the United States.’

Walter Lett Acquitted.
Walter Lett was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to rob the company, at the direction of Chief Justice Meredith, because there was no evidence against him, but Walter Lett is still held on the charge of receiving stolen money.

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“Three Go For Trial In Train Hold-Up Case,” Toronto Star. November 15, 1918. Page 04.

John Lett, Walter Lett, and Gordon Dougal Committed on Story to Detectives.

On their own admissions as given to Detective Mitchell after being cautioned, John Lett, Capt. Walter Lett, and Gordon Dougal, were committed for trial by Col. Denison in the Police Court to-day. The Crown submitted that it was not a case for bail, and the trio remain in custody.

The men are the alleged conspirators in the hold-up near Sunnyside on October 23 when $20,000 was stolen from messengers of the Canadian Express Company.

‘John Lett, when cautioned,’ Detective Mitchell testified, ‘admitted holding up the two messengers at the point of a revolver, taking $20,000, and jumping off the train at Sunnyside, with the money.’

‘Where was it, in a box or safe?’ queried the colonel.

‘Safe, I think,’ replied Mitchell.

‘He admitted throwing a parcel of it away in the High Park district. I later accompanied him there and found the package. It contained $9,000.’

Walter Lett, the detective continued, admitted going to Barrie the day before the arrest and receiving $1,000 from John Lett, knowing it to have been stolen. He further admitted that his brother had come to his farm at Jordan and had told him of the proposed hold-up. He further said that the day after the robbery he came to Toronto to look for John, his brother.

What Dougal Says.
Gordon Dougal admitted, after being cautioned, that John Lett and he met the night prior to the robbery to discuss the robbery. It was arranged then that Dougal was to meet him the morning of the robbery at Sunnyside, which he admitted leaving the house to do. The meeting did not take place. He further admitted after arriving at the Union Station he had a telephone message from Lett about 8 a.m. – a hour after the robbery. Lett told him that he had got the money. Lett said that he was phoning from a church and wanted to know why Dougall didn’t meet him. He told him he had got the money and had hidden it under a rock pile.

In the church the police a black club bag, which belonged to Williamson, the Canadian Express messenger. The bag contained $99.90 in silver and papers belonging to the company.

Cross-examined by Frank Denton, K.C., counsel for the Letts, Detective Mitchell replied that the admissions included references to another man.

‘Did not the admissions allege that this man was the brains behind the hold-up – that he prompted John Lett and Dougal?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Was there any admission that Dougal was to get any of the money?’ asked Mr. W. K. Murphy, counsel for Dougal.

‘That was not suggested.’

‘If the Crown Attorney of the other court wants the other man he is able to get him,’ Col. Denison commented.

Find Reservoirs
The crocks of exhilaration cached beneath the sidewalk belonging to Mrs. Annie Portchuk, Adelaide street west, did not waste their sweetness on the desert air. According to police evidence in the Women’s Court to-day, they formed the reservoir from which the pop bottles which the lady retailed at $3.50 per, were filled. This marks the second time within the week that the Porichucks have moved in court circles. The record of to-day’s visit includes the fine, $200 and costs or three months.

Murdock Henry had a clothes sideline. He pleaded guilty to-day to augmenting his wardrobe with some $50 worth of garments to which he had no right. Most of these, the police stated, had since been recovered. The colonel was told that the quick change of costume set had been Henry’s first bad break. The colonel gave him the right to don the becoming Jail Farm uniform for the next 15 days.

Found guilty of defrauding Mrs. Dorothy Whitaker, wife of a soldier overseas, out of five $100 Victory Bonds, and of stealing an automobile the property of Jas. O’Leary and Ed. Murphy, W. F. Grimwood goes to the Ontario Reformatory.

Mrs. Whitaker stated that she had given him the Victory Bonds, 1917 issue, last November to put in a safe in the Bank of Montreal. She had since asked for them and couldn’t get them. In connection with these, Mr. S.N. Gibbons testified to having sold a motor car to Grimwood for $700. ‘In part payment for this, I received four 1917 Victory Bonds from Grimwood,’ Mr. Gibbons said. Mrs. Whittaker further remarked that she had given Grimwood $1,700 in Government pay checks and her own savings. This she gave him, she said, to invest in the Mossop Hotel, which he told her he was to convert into a club.

Two offenders against the O.T.A. got docked $300 and costs or three months in as many minutes. Harry Hurd was a retailer. He kept the bowl flowing on the broad highway. He that ran might drink, if he stopped and paid $1 for the quencher. John Parker added to the H. C. of L. He likewise retailed. His wee deoch and doris cost $5.50 per. Art Penn both makes and sells. ‘He has his own labels and makes a profitable business of it,’ said the Crown Attorney. Fined $800 and costs or five months.

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“Youths Given Hard Labor,” The Globe and Mail. October 27, 1938. Page 03.

Barrie, Oct. 26 (Special). – Magistrate Compton Jeffs today sentenced three youthful burglars who entered Reeves jewelry store here at an early hour on October 14, stealing more than $2,000 worth of watches, rings and cigaret holders. The loot was recovered two days later in a house at 26 Beatty Avenue, Toronto, through the efforts of Toronto police detectives and local police.

His Worship meted out terms of twelves months definite plus twelve indeterminate, at hard labor, in the Ontario reformatory, to each of the three youths.

Mike Kornick, aged 18, no address, and Alex. Young, aged 18, no address, pleaded guilty a week ago to breaking and entering. Walter Andrews, aged 22, residing on Beatty Avenue, Toronto, where the loot was recovered by Toronto detectives, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods.

Magistrate Jeffs treated each alike in passing sentence. Charges of receiving had been withdrawn against two others.

‘I am influenced to this extent,’ he said. ‘When you consider the deliberate and extensive looting, my first idea was that it was a case for Portsmouth Penitentiary, but in view of what has been said as to your youth, and in hope that leniency may have some influence on you, I have decided that your sentence will be served in Ontario reformatory.’

Crown Attorney F. A. Hammond, K.C. pointed out that Young had a record dating back to 1935, and that both he and Kornick had used aliases

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“Ex-Soldier Sent Down: Passed Forged Checks.” Toronto Globe, April 4, 1917. Page 05.

Victimized Bereaved Women – Had Served Several Prison Terms 

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Barrie, April 3. – Seven years in Kingston Penitentiary was the sentence imposed by Judge Vance this morning upon Francis James McKay, aged 35 years, a New Zealander and ex-member of Canada’s military force, who pleaded guilty to four charges of uttering two forged cheques of $30 and passing them on Geo. Green and the Bank of Toronto at Bradford last October.

His criminal record is heavy, dating back to 1904. In Edinburgh, London and Glasgow, he served seven terms for a total imprisonment of six years on charges of fraud and theft. Coming to Canada in 1914 he enlisted at London with the Mechanical Transport as Francis Knowles, but a ninety-day imprisonment for passing a fraudulent cheque prevented him from going overseas. A few months later he signed up with the Canadian Engineers, and when at Rockcliffe passed a bad cheque.

Surely an Undesirable
Going overseas he made a bad record and was sent back last September as an undesirable, being given his discharge at Quebec. In Toronto, stealing a returned soldier’s uniform, he passed himself off as a wounded veteran, and watching the obituary notices in the Toronto papers, visited some bereaved homes and palmed himself off as a friend of the deceased solider from overseas, and borrowed, or attempted to borrow, money from widows. Between times he went back to his old cheque game, and as a result was sent to the Guelph Farm in January for victimizing Mrs. Lee, 5 Howland avenue, Toronto, with a $40 cheque.

In a letter to one Toronto lady he asked her to get him the names of people living at about a dozen numbers on King street west, Toronto. The lady’s reply was found in McKay’s papers by Dominion Immigration Inspector Reynolds, who had been working on the McKay case for several months. His inquiries disclosed the manner in which McKay had been imposing on some of the soldier’s widows.

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“Hold Prisoner Who Escaped from Rail Car,” The Globe and
Mail
. October 23, 1939. Page 04.

Police Probe Record of Fugitive for Clue in Thamesford Holdup

CAUGHT ON BORDER

Windsor, Oct. 22 (Special). – Lucien Lassaline, 21, who escaped from a train
while being taken to reformatory to serve a two-year sentence for theft, was
captured today and police immediately checked back over his recent activities
to see if there was anything that might throw light on the holdup of the bank
at Thamesford.

Arrested with Lassaline was William Charuk, 20, of Kendall Avenue, Sarnia. Both
are charged with automobile theft. Police recovered a collection of men’s
clothing from the stolen car.

Lassaline made a daring escape from the C.N.R. train which was taking him from
Mimico to the Ontario Reformatory at Burwash. All prisoners are handcuffed, one
to the other, but there happened to be seventeen prisoners and Lassaline was
the ‘odd’ man and was at the end.

In some manner he was able to wriggle out of his cuffs and, taking advantage of
a train stop at Barrie, slipped out the window and vanished. His absence was
not noted until the train was passing Orillia, about twenty-five miles further
on.

Police patrolling the streets here saw an automobile
carrying Michigan license plates, reported as stolen. The car was parked at the
curb and after waiting a short time, they saw two men approach the machine.
When the officers came toward them, the men fled, but were captured after a
chase.

A large supply of clothing and men’s wear was found in the car and police
charged it was loot from a store robbery. An extra set of Ontario license
plates was found in the car.

The car was sighted at Comber, a small village near Windsor, on the night of
Oct. 19, when a store there was robbed. The store owner will view the loot
tomorrow in the hope of identifying it.

Barrie, Oct. 22 (CP) – Lucien Lassaline, arrested with another man on
automobile theft charges in Windsor, today, is believed to be the same person
who escaped Oct. 13 from a train here, while being taken to reformatory with
sixteen other prisoners.

The man who escaped from the train gave his age as 20, and his address as
Windsor, when sentenced at Chatham Sept. 26, to two years less a day in reformatory
for theft.

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“Two Years For Stealing Auto From Barrie,” Toronto Globe. October 11, 1916. Page 11.

S. T. Russell Was Discharged from American Legion – His Companion Held.

(Special Despatch to The Globe)
Barrie, Oct. 10 – This afternoon Sherman T. Russell of Massachusetts, who pleaded guilty to stealing J. A. MacLaren’s automobile, was sentenced to two years in Kingston Penitentiary by Police Magistrate Radenhurst. Russell was discharged from the American Legion at Camp Borden on September 30, and stole the car from the postoffice square the same night, driving to Hamilton, where he was arrested on Tuesday night. With him when arrested was a man who gave his name as Walter Davis of Toledo, Ohio. He was acquitted of complicity in stealing the car, but evidence showed that he had enlisted with the 213th Battalion as Walter Dewberry, deserted from that unit in September, and signed up with the 153th Battalion at London as Walter Doyle. When arrested he was in mufti, and had overstayed his pass two days. He is being held here pending action by the military authorities.

“2 1-2 Year Terms For Jail-Breakers,” Toronto Globe. October 11, 1916. Page 11.

Two Men at Guelph Had Tried To Escape – Broke Out of Reformatory.

(Special Despatch to The Globe)
Guelph, Oct. 10. – John Smith and Orville Ellis, who made a desperate effort to escape from the County Jail on Sunday afternoon, were charged in the Police Court this morning with having escaped from the Ontario Reformatory on October 4. Both had been sent to the Reformatory on September 28, and remained there only six days. They both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to two years in the Kingston Penitentiary. They were then charged with assaulting George Everson, turnkey at the County Jail. On this charge they were found guilty, and six months was added to their sentences. Ellis is a tinsmith from Chatham and Smith is registered as a farm from Thamesville.   

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