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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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“Jack Lett, Dougall Both Found Guilty,” Toronto Star. November 22, 1918. Page 05.

Mercy Plea on Behalf of Former Chief Clerk at Union Station.

After considering their verdict for 40 minutes the jury yesterday returned a verdict of guilty in the cases of Jack Lett and James Gordon Dougall with a strong recommendation for mercy in the case of the later. During the trial Jack Lett’s manner was one of cold indifference, while that of Dougall was broken-hearted. These two young men were charged with the robbery from the Canadian Express Company of $20,000 on October 23, Douglass was remanded until to-day or sentence. Then other charges will be preferred against the Lett brothers; Walter Lett is charged with receiving $1,000 from his brother which he knew to be stolen; Jack Lett is charged with robbing the Union Bank and stealing an auto.

At the afternoon sitting of the trial of James Gordon Dougall, charged with conspiracy in connection with the Canadian Express Co., $20,000 robbery, the young man’s father gave character evidence. Dougall, Jr., is 32 years of age and was chief clerk at the Old Union Station. His father commended, ‘My boy–’ and then broke down.

Chief Justice Meredith: ‘Your boy was always a good boy, gave you no trouble and you cannot speak too highly of his character.’

‘Oh yes, yes,’ said Mr. Dougall.

Gordon Dougall, sitting in the dock, hung his head and wiped his eyes.

Mr. Dougall, Sr., has lived in Barrie for 60 years. Gordon Dougall came to Toronto nine years ago.

Frank Denton, K.C., addressed the jury briefly. He admitted that his client, Jack Lett, was guilty of the crime, but made a plea on the ground of mental and physical weakness. Jack Lett has recently undergone several operations. Mr. Denton wanted to know why Cox, the Grand Trunk conductor who gave Lett the information regarding how the express money was handled, was not in the dock.

On behalf of his client, James Gordon Dougall, W. K. Murphy urged that he had taken no part in the crime, but that he had merely listened to the plans of his friend with whom he had grown up.

Mr. T. C. Agar, the Crown counsel, dismissed the case of Jack Lett in a few sentences since his counsel had admitted that he was guilty, and confined his address to the jury to the case of James Gordon Dougall.

His Lordship: ‘Mr. agar, all the points you presented were taken up from the statement of Dougall to the police.’

T. C. Agar: ‘I think so, my Lord.’

His Lordship: ‘Then, if he had kept his mouth shut there would have been no evidence against him?’

Referring to the messengers who held up their hands, His Lordship said: ‘I call them messengers, I cannot call them men.’

The jury retired at 3.15 pm.

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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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“$9,000 In Bills Found By Police,” Toronto Globe. November 7, 1918. Page 09.

Practically All Stolen From Canadian Express Co. Now Recovered

Covered over with leaves a bag containing $9,000 in bills was found by detectives yesterday afternoon in the yard at the rear of a house on Garden avenue. With this find the police have recovered all but $150 of the $20,000 stolen in the Buffalo express hold-up on October 23. The remaining $150 is alleged to have been spent by John Lett in travelling expenses.

Shackled with handcuffs, John Lett was taken by detectives through the residential section of High Park yesterday to try and locate the spot where he left the money. Before leaving headquarters he drew a map of where he thought he had gone after jumping off the train at Sunnyside. This diagram took the officers to Garden avenue, and after a lengthy search they found the spot. The bag had been thrown over a fence, and was lying between the fence and a chicken coop. It had not been disturbed, and the leaves that partly covered it from view had been blown over it by the wind.
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“Letts and Dougall Get A Remand,” Toronto Globe. November 7, 1918. Page 09.

Alleged Train Bandits Will Appear in Court Next Wednesday

John Lett, the alleged train bandit, Captain Walter Lett, his brother, and J. G. B. Dougall, Chief Clerk of the G. T. R. ticket office, appeared yesterday in the Police Court, and were remanded in custody till Wednesday, November 13th. All three are charged with conspiring to rob the Canadian Express Company of $20,000.

Besides the charge of conspiracy, three charges of robbery were preferred against John Lett as follows: Robbing the express messengers of $20,00, robbing H. S. Fergus of his motor car, and robbing the Union Bank, corner of Church and Wellesley streets of $1,200 last May.

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“Three Men Are Arrested,” Toronto Globe. November 6, 1918. Page 09.

Face Charges in Connection With Express Car Robbery

UNION BANK CASE, TOO

With the arrest of three men yesterday, the police say they have apprehended the persons implacted in the Canadian Express daylight train robbery, when $20,000 in money was stolen on October 23 last on a Grand Trunk train en route from Toronto to Buffalo, the express messengers in charge of the car being ‘held up’ by a bandit between the Union Station and Sunnyside. John Lett, alleged to be the man who robbed the messengers, is also charged with robbing the Church street branch of the Union Bank of Canada on May 2, and obtaining the sum of $1,200. His brother, Walter Lett, was arrested at a downtown hotel, and is held on a charge of conspiracy, and of receiving stolen goods. Early yesterday afternoon Gordon Dougall, 97 Spencer avenue, a clerk in the Grand Trunk ticket office at the Union Station, was also arrested on a charge of conspiracy.

Inspector John Miller of the Provincial Police, Detectives Mitchell, McConnell and Nichols, spent all Monday night searching for John Lett and his brother. Walter was arrested early Tuesday morning, but it was nearly 7 o’clock in the morning when they caught John Lett, who was wearing the uniform of a C Captain in the Canadian army, and had a revolver in his pocket. He made no resistance.

Three Charges of Robbery
Three charges of robbery, with violence, will face John Lett when he appears in Police Court this morning. He will be charged with holding up the two express messengers, George Williamson and William Wilson, and with stealing a motor car from Mr. H. S. Fergus in High Park, under threat of shooting, and with robbing the Union Bank of $1,200. The fourth charge against the prisoner is conspiracy. It is alleged by the police that Dougall, a chief clerk with the Grand Trunk for eight years, conspired with the two Letts to commit the train robbery.

Dougall was to have received a share of the money, the police state, but, owning to John Lett having to make a hurried exit from the city to avoid arrest, did not get his quota.

John Lett, according to the inspector, did the work of holding up the messengers alone, and hid the stolen money. It is charged that he handed over $1,000 to his brother, and, after leaving over $7,00 in a house in Parkdale, buried $9,000 in the residential section of High Park. After getting rid of the money, it is alleged John Lett commandeered Mr. Fergus’ car in High Park, at the point of a revolver, and drove to Midhurst, where the car was abandoned. From Midhurst Lett purchased a ticket to North Bay, and after riding on the line as far as McTier, got off and doubled back to a nearby town. Here he is said by the police to have put on the military uniform of his brother, Walter. He had been out of Toronto until Monday night. The police learned of his coming to the city, and a close lookout was kept for him. Walter Lett was an officer in the army, and went overseas with the 122nd battalion.

$3,100 is Recovered.
Three thousand one hundred dollars was recovered by the detectives yesterday after the arrests. One hundred dollars was found on the top of a boiler of a Methodist church in the west end of the city. Detectives spent yesterday afternoon searching for the remaining amount that was hidden in the High Park district. The police say that they are unable to find the exact spot where the money was placed, and are doubtful that it will ever be found by them. The bills were in small denominations, and it is feared that they have already been found.

John and Walter Lett are the sons of a Barrie family. Recently Walter has been conducting a small fruit farm near Jordan. They are both six feet in height. John is 32 years of age, and Walter 30. Dougall is also a tall, heavy-set man of 28 years of age. Frank Denton, K.C., has been retained to appear on behalf of John and Walter Lett.

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“‘Big Push’ Has Begun On The Drug Habit,” Toronto Star. July 28, 1916. Page 14.

Three Cases Were Tried To-Day and Two Jail Farm Sentences Given.

OUTFITS CONFISCATED

One of Those Charged Said Dead Mother Had Owned Paraphernalia

From the fact that three cases of alleged illegal use of morphine and other related opiates followed each other in the Police Court calendar to-day, it would appear that the police had begun to start their ‘big push’ against the ‘coke’ traffic, which recent convictions would seem to prove was waxing as the liquor traffic waned.

An elaborate outfit, consisting of hypodermic needles, syringes, a pair of scales and a quantity of morphine sulphate, approximating to 60 grains, formed substantial evidence against Harry Fontroy. Plainclothesmen Scott and Neill testified to having found the foregoing line-up in Fontroy’s possession and to have caught him in the act of injecting the illegal drug in his arm.

The young man, who has both African and Chinese blood in his veins, claimed that he had been cured of the habit. ‘That outfit belonged to my mother, who died two weeks ago. I found it in her drawer,’ he pleaded. Inspector Geddes disproved this claim by quoting a statement which the young man had made to him. He had admitted that he was ‘tapering off with 30 grains a day.’

‘The last time he appeared on this charge he was given leniency on the understanding that he inform the police the source of his illegal supplies. He has not done this.’ said Mr. Corley. Col. Denison committed him to the jail farm for five months.

‘Coke’ Vendor Jailed.
In addition to the foregoing charge, that of having morphine in his possession for other than medicinal purposes, had coupled against him the police claim that he had sold the drug.

In his possession had been found some dozen packages of both cocaine and morphine which Drake had acknowledged he had been in the habit of selling for a dollar a package.

‘This man, I hear, has been taking from 30 to 40 grains a day,’ said the Crown Attorney.

‘He has had consumption for the last eight or nine years,’ his wife stated in explanation of his drug habit.

‘I am curing him slowly,’ she added.

Drake also goes to the jail farm for a five-month ‘cure.’ In the woman’s court Tillie Evans faced with the same charge received a remand for a week.

Proof Enough.
The actions of Isaac Gilbert spoke louder than his words in proving the charge of drunkeness and disorderliness alleged against him. Eveidence showed that he endeavored to take on six feet two of solid constanbulary muscle, and in addition ‘lick the whole street.’

‘You must have been very drunk,’ sighed the squire. An added count against him was his association with a team of horses. The squire felt grieved that the noble animals had to witness such an orgy of inebriation. Remanded for sentences.

Quick Work.
One minute sufficed to change Jerry Long from a prisoner in the dock with a long and substantial record of drunkeness into laborer with the prospect of two months’ healthy toil ahead. Squire Ellis merely looked at Long and knew that his record resembled his name. Twnety dollars and costs or sixty days.

Got the Habit.
Jeremiah Flaherty has the polishing habit. He, according to his own statement, polishes off brass in the day time, and according to the constable, polishes off drinks in quick succession at night. Yesterday he appeared on the same charge. It was but a little drop ‘for his stomach’s sake,’ he claimed. Remanded for sentence.

Hostilities.
As both Sandy Jaegar and John Jacobson with one accord disclaimed responsibility for the hostilities in whcih they were found engaged, the court presumed that it must have been the heat of a case of spontaneous combustion. Police evidence, however, tended to show that Jacobson had figured prominently, both at the start and the finish. He was fined $2 and costs or ten days.

‘Pinched’ a Pom.
That Daniel J. O’Shea should consider a pomeranian dog worth the trouble of annexing, appeared rather strange to Col. Denison when O’Shea pleaded guilty to the offence. The owner placed the value at over $10. ‘I consider dogs worth about ten cents gross,’ interjected his Worship. ‘The man stole the dog and sold it to a Mr. Walters for $10,’ explained the Crown Attorney. ‘Mr. Walters subsequently saw the animal advertised for, and at once communicated with the police. O’Shea, who had ‘blown in’ the proceeds of his act, was remanded one week for sentence, on the understanding that restitution would be made. Pinky Pankey Poo was permitted to meander home with his mistress.

Poetry and Prose.
Frank Martin’s poetry, prose and actions are equally bad, according to Squire Ellis’ ruling after a perusal of all. On a grimy car the alleged poet submitted the following:

‘To-day a poor cripple appeales for your aid.
Don’t turn with a sneer or a frown,
For God in His Mercy is the only one knows
When a loved one of yours will go down.’

The prose followed.

‘Price – Please give what you wish.’

His actions, described by himself, were living an exemplary life, and the brisk bartering of many pencils, described by several feminine witnesses, they consist of the exploitation of the grimy quatrain, a fond pressure of the hand, and the claim that he was a wounded warrior back from the war. – $50 and costs or six months.

Not content with the profit pouring into the coffers of his ice-cream soda fountain by reason of the weatherman’s climbing thermometer, Dragutin Radinrobitch, according to the police, ran a sideline in the form of a gambling den. The charge alleged that he permitted these quiet numbers round the table in his ice-cream parlors. Four guilty – $20 and costs or 30 days.

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“Toronto Holdups Laid To Three Youths,” Globe and Mail. July 27, 1939. Page 13.

Police Squads Make Arrests In Two Raids

Young Men Identified by Victims in Lineup at Station

John Kelly, Charles Long and John Losse Are Nabbed

The arrest yesterday of three youths on charges of armed robbery, theft, and illegal possession of firearms ended the extensive five-day investigation into at least three of the recent drug stores holdups in Toronto and East York.

Also taken into custody and later released were three girls, none more than 20 years of age, who were, the police said, with the suspects when squads of detectives, augmented by East York Police, simultaneously raided two downtown rooming-houses.

The three charged are: John Kelly, 23, of Matilda Street; John Losee, 21, and Charles Long, 21, both of Pembroke Street.

Kelly is charged with the armed robbery of a drug store on Eglinton Avenue at midnight Sunday, and the other two with holding up two East York drug stores. Charges of stealing an automobile and a set of license markers were also laid against Losee and Long.

Two Men Injured.
Both these men bore marks of injuries. The car driven by two men who held up Fred Sadlier’s drug store in East York last Friday was completely wrecked when it crashed into a tree. The police linked the hurts with the accident which followed the holdup with which the men are charged. Long may have a fractured shoulder and his companion is bruised.

Kelly was caught in his rooming-house on Matilda Street, where the police believe he hid a revolver in the water reservoir. A nickel-plated revolver was recovered by Sergeant of Detectives John Hicks and Detective John Nimmo. Kelly is charged with the illegal possession of the gun.

Identified in Lineup.
At the same time, Detective-Sergeant William McAllister, Detectives John Scott and William French kicked in the door of a room in a house on Pembroke Street and arrested Long. In another room Losee was arrested.

Chief Inspector of Detectives John Chisholm and Chief Constable Ernest Old of East York both expressed satisfaction with the cooperation of the city and suburban forced in tracking down the supsects. The three men were identified in a lineup at Police Headquarters yesterday afternoon. Four other victims of holdups during the past week viewed the suspects, but were unable to identity them, it was learned.

Later, after the three youths, manacled together, were removed to the cells; the girls were released.

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“20 Heave Bricks At Guards – Mercer On Bread, Weak Tea,” Toronto Star. June 28, 1948. Page 01.

A score of women prisoners at Mercer reformatory are ‘still holding out’ in their riot against the prison administration, officials said today. Although on rations of weak tea and bread as punishment for continued defiance, they have refused to stop shouting and during the week-end, some dislodged pieces of bricks from the wall and flung them at guards in the corridors.

Using nail files and spoons, broken and sharpened on stone, they picked at the mortar. Some whole bricks were heaved at the guards, but mostly the missiles were pieces of brick.

A dozen guards were brought from Guelph and Mimico reformatories. They are to replace Toronto police. Chief Chisholm has detailed three constables each eight hours to be on duty.

Will ‘Have Their Way’
T. M. Gourlay, inspector of prisons, is making a report on the disturbance to Hon. George Dunbar, minister of reform institutions. Meanwhile, no action is being taken.

Nine provincial police are still on duty. Toronto police are patrolling outside the building and the patrol sergeant in charge makes one trip through the jail with the matron.

Reduced rations had an effect on most of the women, who have returned to their regular work in the reformatory, officers said. The 20 out of the 100 who originally went on a sit-down strike and then rioted last Friday morning, seem determined to ‘have their way,’ they said.

Plans to remove the ringleaders to Don jail have been abandoned, officials stated.

The form of punishment to be meted out has not been decided. The superintendent, like the governor of all jails, has power to order the girls strapped, it was stated.

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“‘Siege for Days’ Seen in Mercer After Riot, Girls Scream Defiance,” Toronto Star. June 26, 1948. Page 01.

‘A state of siege that may last several days’ has developed inside Mercer Reformatory between police and guards and almost 100 women inmates who have been locked in their cells since a major riot Friday, Inspector Herb Harrison said today. More than 24 hours after the uprising, city and provincial police are still on duty as the belligerent women continue to yell and scream defiance at authorities, he said.

Friday more than 100 policemen were rushed to the old King St. W. institution when teh riot broke out during breakfast. At least two policemen were hospitalized, but have since returned to their homes. Det. Sergt. Sam Welsford had a wrist broken when he was clubbed with a baseball bat.

Toss Food Back
After struggling against clubs, fire hoses and innumerable missiles thrown at them, police and women attendants succeeded in locking the most serious offenders in the cell blocks.

When they continued to shout and break windows, their shoes were taken from them. Late last night and continuing through until late this morning, the prisoners kept up their shouting and swearing.

‘Food has had to be carried to them and everyone has been fed, although some just tossed it back out again,’ one official said.

To relieve city and provincial police now stationed within the building to check further disturbances, 15 male guards from the Ontario reformatory at Guelph are being brought to Toronto.

A. R. Virgin, provincial director of reform institutions, could not be reached this morning. His secretary said ‘he was too busy to talk.’

‘Tire Them Out’
Late this morning almost a score of city police and provincial officers were stationed in the building.

‘It looks as if it will be a matter of tiring them out,’ one official said. ‘They have shown no inclination to want to obey the regulations.’

Parcels addressed to inmates and brought to the buildings by the post-office department were being refused, it was learned.

A uniformed policeman patrolling the west wing near the kitchen was met with jeers and shouts of ‘There goes the law,’ every time he passed the windows.

Close to midnight last night, Chief John Chisholm and Inspector of Detectives Archie McCathie visited the reformatory, and left word that city police would stand guard until provincial authorities could muster enough men to take over.

While it is believed some punishments will be meted out to those taking part in the disturbance, provincial officials would not comment. They said a complete investigation must be held.

Under the reformatory act, the authorities have some powers to administer punishment but major penalties can only be applied by bringing accused before courts.

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“100 In Mercer Riot, Club Police,” Toronto Star. June 25, 1948. Page 01 & 02.

Scratch, Kick, Scream – Girls Hurt 3 Officers With Hose, Chair Legs

One hundred screaming women, wielding scores of chair legs, battled with police for half an hour today before a riot was put down at Mercer reformatory. Three policemen were hurt and several thousand dollars in damages was done before the riot that started with a sit-down strike [was over]. 

Scratching and kicking, the women were carried into their cells by police. Even after they were locked up they continued to scream.

An attempted mass escape was foiled by arrival of police, it was attested. A number of women were breaking down a back door to get out when first reinforcements arrived, Sergt. of Detectives William McAllister said.

About 100 police were required to quell the disturbance, which was said to be one of the worst in the history of the old institution.

OFFICER SLUGGED ON HEAD
One officer was hit with a baseball bat and another struck on the head as dished were hurled about the dining-room which was left a shambles.

The girls seized fire hoses and soaked the police who rushed into the building in answer to the riot call. Chief Constable Chisolm sent every available officer to the institution. Long after the actual riot ceased the girls were screaming at the top of their voices.

Prisoners charged two inmates were pushed down the steps by matrons. Expectant mothers in the institution were harshly dealt with, one girl prisoner told a reporter through a window as police ringed the building.

At 1:20pm, the girls were still shouting and screaming in their cells.

Rush 30 Cruisers
Police said there isn’t a whole dish in the place. They were hurled out the windows when the riot started in the dining room. The prisoners are said to have demanded the release of a girl, a favorite among them, from solitary confinement.

When their demands were refused by the superintendent, they refused to go to the factory. A sit-down strike started, police said, and when matrons attempted to break it up, the fighting began.

One of the first offenders to arrive, Det.-Sergt. Sam Welsford was the target of swinging chairs. He was warding off the blows with his arms when one of the girls who had a baseball bat struck him on the arm.

Taken to Hospital
Det.-Sergt. Arthur H. Keay was struck on the side of the head by a cup. He required medical treatment at the prison hospital. Sergt. Welsford was taken to hospital for x-ray and it was found he had a broken wrist.

Police sent 30 cruisers with instructions to pick up every available officer on the way to put down the trouble.The girls broke several windows in the east wing of the building and sang and shouted in profane language.

Fifteen provincial police were sent to assist Toronto police and the prisoners were finally herded into their cells. They continued to scream and shout long afterward. Work was called off for the day.

Miss Jean Milne, the superintendent, was bitten when removing a girl from the dining room at supper time last night. The girl was put in solitary. During the night the prisoners decided to riot if their demands that girl be removed from solitary confinement were not met.

Traffic Officer J. Masters was struck in the eye by a cup hurled from the cells by one woman but did not require hospital treatment.

The prisoners armed themselves with legs of chairs. Not a chair was left with a leg on, police said, as the women roamed through the dining-room and corridors, smashing windows. The halls were running with water from fire hoses.

Keay. Welsford and Det. Sergt. Angus Taylor were bruised as they warded off blows from chair legs.

Welsford and Keay were at the bottom of a heap of women who were kicking them. Keay was first to go down and Welsford tumbled on top of him and then all the women piled on top.

‘It was just like being at the bottom in a rugby tackle,’ said Keay at Toronto General Hospital, where six stitches were put in his head.

The reformatory was surrounded to prevent any possible escape, police said. There hasn’t been any trouble at Mercer reformatory for more than 10 years, police said.

A member of the superintendent’s staff said: ‘The trouble is pretty well over and the situation is under control.’

Asked if the girls had staged a sitdown strike, she said: ‘Something like that.’

The staff doctor said no girls were hurt, but said all further details would have to come from Queen’s Park.

At the reformatory, a woman who answered the telephone said the superintendent ‘is very busy right now. I can’t tell you anything.’

Prisoners at Mercer, who come from all over Ontario, mostly do laundry work and dressmaking.

May Face Charges
A. R. Virgin, director of reform institutions and Chief Inspector Robert Anderson who was in charge of the police detail conferred in the office of the superintendent after the trouble had been put down. It was said likely some of the ringleaders would face charges.

100 SCRATCHING KICKING WOMEN CARRIED BACK TO MERCER REFORMATORY CELLS AFTER BATTLE WITH POLICE

Photo captions from left to right: 
1) RIOTING WOMEN INMATES at Mercer Reformatory squirt stream from fire hose through barred windows at squads of police outside. Some officers were injured as 100 police put down riot. One was hit with a baseball bat, one by a flying dish. 

2) 30 POLICE CRUISERS rushed to reformatory and officers were soaked by fire hoses, hit with chair legs in hands of screaming women as they rushed into building. One hundred women, scratching and kicking, had to be carried back to cells after the fight

3) SEVERAL THOUSAND dollars damage was done, including broken windows, in riot that started with sit-down strike. Girls tried to break down door to freedom, charged prisoners had received harsh treatment.

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“Burwash Fugitive Is Nabbed in Cafe,” Toronto Star. June 11, 1948. Page 03.

Lewis John Jones, 26, no home, who escaped from Burwash reformatory, May 5, exactly four months after he had been sentenced in Toronto for uttering forged cheques, was re-arrested last night by Det. Herbert White of Ossington Ave. station.

White saw Jones having coffee with a girl in a cafe on St. Clair Ave. near Oakwood Ave. last night. When the officer approached him, Jones denied he was the man police sought. When White called him by his name, however, Jones said ‘I guess you’ve got me.’

Frank McGann, who escaped at the same time, has not been located, police said.

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“Battered Up Wife With Stove Poker,” Toronto Star. June 4, 1909. Page 03.

Charles Morris Went Home Drunk and Hammered Her All Over Head.

A POLICEMAN SAVED HER.

Came While Woman Was Being Chocked – Prisoner Remanded for Sentence.

Willis street, formerly known as Sheppard lane, which runs west from Bathurst street, just north of Queen street, was the scene of a brutal wife-beating case last night. As the result, Mrs. Charles Morris is in the Western Hospital with seven deep gashes in her head and a badly bruised face.

The row began when Morris went home last night under the influence of liquor. It seems he got into an argument with his wife, and commenced to punch her face. Mrs. Morris is a rather strong person, and was able to successfully resist his attacks for a time, but eventually he picked up a poker and attempted to subdue her with that. The neighbors heard the woman screaming, but were afraid to interfere. Somebody notified Police Constable Young, who came along just as the drunken husband was attempting to choke his wife. The woman was lying in a pool of her own blood.

The constable quickly overpowered the man and took him away to the station. The injured woman was attended by Dr. Killoran, whom an excited neighbor had summoned, and was later removed to the hospital. In addition to the gashes, which required 17 stitches, the woman is suffering from the effects of a brutal blow in the face.

Morris was arraigned in the Police Court this morning on a charge of ‘wounding with intent to maim, disfigure, and abuse.’

‘I plead guilty, your Worship,’ said the prisoner.

Crown Attorney Corley said it was a pretty serious case. He suggested a remand till the 7th of June for sentence.

Morris was accordingly remanded till that date.

The neighbors say that Morris would have beaten his wife to death but for the timely arrival of Policeman Young, who was notified of the trouble by a little girl.

The Morris’ have two children, who were at a house on Brookfield street when the trouble occurred.

On the way to the station Morris said that his wife wouldn’t give him any supper. The constable says supper was on the table, all ready for the husband.

The doctors at the hospital said the woman was progressing as well as could be expected. The instruments with which the husband did the beating was of the crank handle shaker variety. It was heavy, and caused fearful wounds.

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“Three Years in ‘Pen’ For Stealing Auto,” Toronto Globe. June 1, 1915. Page 07.

Epidemic of Thieving Disposed Of In Police Court.

Herbert B. Jurgins, who was arrested on Sunday for stealing an automobile belonging to Mr. John Peace, 20 McMaster avenue, was yesterday sentenced by Magistrate Denison in the Police Court to three years in Kingston Penitentiary. In addition to the charge of stealing a motor car, he was charged with attempted robbery and with carrying a loaded revolver. When Constable Thompson arrested him Jurgins had in his pocket a loaded revolver, which he tried to pull out as the policeman was taking him into the Yonge Street Police Station. Jurgins had a previous bad record and was out on suspended sentence with a bond for good behaviour.

Two boys, Joseph Clark and Norman Cooper, who stole an auto from in front of Jarvis Street Baptist Church on Sunday night and led the police a long chase up to Davisville, appeared in the Juvenile Court and were fined $5 each. The car belonging to Mr. Lundy, 30 Lipton Boulevard.

Joseph Shields, who appeared yesterday in Police Court also charged with stealing an automobile, on Saturday morning, was able to prove and alibi and let go on that charge. On another charge of furious driving he was remanded until Friday on giving $100 ball.

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“Wife Deserter Sentenced,” Toronto Globe. May 5, 1914. Page 09.

Edward Tilson Gets Two Years in the Kingston Penitentiary.

Pleading guilty to a charge of perjury and bigamy, Edward Tilson was sentenced in the Police Court yesterday by Magistrate Denison to two years in the Penitentiary. The accused was charged with swearing he was a bachelor before an issuer of marriage license, well knowing at the time that he had a wife alive in England, and also that he bigamously married. The Morality Department was communicated with by the wife from England, when Tilson stopped sending her ten shilling a week as he had promised to do, and the bigamous marriage was thus discovered. Col. Denison in imposing sentence said that there were far too great a number of wife-deserters appearing in court, and that perhaps the sentence he gave would act as a deterrent.

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