SINGULAR BANKRUPTCY CASE.
A TALE OF BURNT RECEIPTS. WIFE SIGNS HUSBAND'S NAME. The creditors of Recce Nicholson, storekeeper, of Whaitianga, near Mercury Bay, met again to-day at the office of the Official Assignee. The meeting was adjourned laat week in order that thie. presence of Mrs Nicholson might be ensured. In reply to the Official Assignee Mrs Nicholson said she started storekeeping three or four years ago. The equity of the lease of the house in which she and her husband livid had been sold to defray lawyer's costs in i dispute with the County Council some time ago. The witness carried on the business up to a month ago. She admitted having dealt with several firms mentioned by the Official Assignee. In respect to one' of the bills for £16, which she swore had: been paid, the representative of the firm in question denied that any money had been received. Mrs Nicholson said that she had had receipts but when the store was fumigated last August, all receipts and bills were burnt. The Assignee: Do you state seriously that you had a receipt, and yet no entry of the payment was made in the firm's books? The witness said that she had paid another if the firm's representatives, and that the receipt for thiß bill had also been destroyed. She admitted, however, owing one of the creditors present £16 or £18. She did not know that the store was going to be fumigated until it had been done. She could not say whether the rubbish and paper had first been swept out and burnt, or destroyed in the ordinary process of fumigation. Mrs Nicholson admitted having signed several of the orders for goods produced. The Assignee: Now, I give you fair warning that you answer carefully the questions I am going to put to you, as you may have to be tried for them. What possessed you to sign these orders "R. Nicholon"? Witness: I had no bill head of my own and thought there would be no harm in it. I meant to strike the name out. Assignee: No you didn't, because you wrote in "R. Nicholson and Son," on one bill that had no heading. Why did you do thist It was forging your husband's name. The witness, who broke down at this stage, said she had done it with no bad intention. Another creditor, whom Mrs Nicholson said she had paid, asked if she had never received a registered letter threatening to make her insolvent if she didn't settle her bill. Witness: I don't remember receiving such a letter. The Assignee: How soon do you say you received the receipt after sending the money?— About a week. I suppose it was burned Eke the others?— Yes. Witness added that she had paid a fourth creditor £ 18, and owed the firm ,in question nothing* The Assignee: Is it seriously your impression that all these firms are try*
'■ ing to take advantage of you?—lt look* very much like it. The Official Assignee, at this stage, remarked that there seemed nothing more to be asked. "I have," he said to the creditors, "Mrs. Nicholson's word o» oath ■against your bare statements. If «he is right you ■would be in a very- qneer position. What are you going to do! If you want to press your, claims it k your; business to make her bankrupt. It will be then my busines* to prosecute her. I see no other way." To Mrs. Nicholson: "I should advise you to file your own petition. It. will be so much the worse for you if. you are made bankrupt on a creditor's petition. I may tell you," added Mr. Gerard, "that I don't believe your statement, and it. would be very hard to get a.jury to, believe you against the words of several respectable tradesmen." Mr. Gerard said that, in his opinion, the witness had piled, one lie on another. It was his duty to see this thing through, and therefore he would aek Mra. Nicholson to file her petition in bankruptcy now. As she had no money, he would: suggest that the creditors should' pay the filing fee. « "I don't usually express my opinion as I have done in this case," .concluded that Assignee, "but the only alternative to. believing that you have- lied is that we have a most unecrupuloue set, of merI chants in this town."' Mrs. Nicholson (tearfully): "So there is—a lot of scoundrels!" The Assignee: "I am sorry to hear thet." "A lot of-rotters!" reiterated the witness. Before Mrs. Nicholson signed her sworn statement, the Assignee warned her of the danger of a prosecution for perjury, ibut she persisted that her evidence was true in every detail.. Mrs. Nicholson's petition to be declared bankrupt was then filed, on a creditor providing the fee. She etatetl that she had no ready money, but the Maoris owed her some. The Assignee: You have recorded the debts in your books, I suppose? . Mrs. Nicholson, however, then expladaed that the books had been destroyed in the same fumigating process that accounted for the receipts. She had a horse and some furniture. Y. It was decided to hold the first meeting in the bankruptcy of Mrs. Nicholson next Tuesday afternoon.
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