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EMBEZZLEMENT OF POSTAL MONEYS.

At the City Police Court tiiismorniug, before Mcsi-rB W. Hutchison and J. Logan, J.P.s, Thomas Euston Waugh was charged with embezzling moneys—viz , L2017s 8d on August 4,1887; L 54 on Julv 21,1888; and L6O on May 3, 1889, from the Postal Savings Bank, Dunodin.

Mr Haggitt prosecuted on behalf cf the department ; Sir Robert Stout appeared foracoused. Mr Haggitt paid that acoused was formerly a clerk in the Postal Bank Department, and duiing portion of the time acted at the counter, receiving deposits and handing money to persons desirous of withdrawing bank moneys placed there to their credit. There were several accounts at the bank connected with the Postal Department which had lain untouched for a number of years, and it appeared that accused had operated on these accounts. Statements had been made in writing to the effect that the pass books of some of the persons had been lost, and new pass books issued according to application. Then someone had presented a notification of withdrawal from these accounts, and the notices and particulars had been entered in the lodger by accused—or at any rate, the statements therein were in his (accused's) handwriting. The inference drawn was that accused had forged depositors' receipts, and had withdrawn the moneys mentioned from the several accounts on account of these persons not having made any deposits for a number of years. It was so done that accused would escape detection, and it was only when ho was sent away in charge of the San Francisco mail that the defalcations were discovered. Accused was therefore detained, and came to Dunedin and was suspended. While under suspension accused left the colony, and was subsequently arrested at Sydney and brought back. He (learned counsel) intended to proceed against the accused on two charges only, as the principal witness in the other was at present at Cardrona and unable to appear. He would, however, go into the case before the sitting of the Supreme Court. He called Sydney Stevenson, employed in the Post I Office Savings B»nk, who recognised accused as a former clerk in the department. He also 1 acted as teller at times, but his usual occupation was ledger e'erk. Ho acted as teller in June, 1888, The teller's duties were to receive deposits and withdrawals. The process of withdrawing moneys from the bank would be to present a withdrawal receipt and his pass-book to the teller, and the amount would therefore be written off in the ledger and in the passbook, and then paid. When a depositor lost bis pass-book ho would make application for a new one. A new one would be issued, and he could then withdraw the money. He could not withdraw moneys unless he had a pass-book in his possession. On July 21 there was, witness bdieved, a depositor named James Phillips, of Wailtomiti. Tho book produced was a Post Oflice Savings Bank book. Tho declaration of withdrawal produced and the bank book contained similar writing. When a pas3-book was lost a copy of the account for the current year would by made on the original declaration. That had been done in the caso of Phillips's declaration. Tho handwriting was that of Mr Crombie, an employe" in the Postal Department, The copy of tho ledger account of Phillips showed that including interest thtro was Lsl lis 51, but tint was drawn out on July 21. He know that by tho utatements contained in the ledger. Previous to that amount being withdrawn a new pass-bock purported to have been issued to Phillips, and the receipt purportod to have been signed by James Phillips. The stamp on the reosipt indicated that the amount was withdrawn on July 21. Th« handwriting ia the depositbook was accused's, and his initials were also contained in the book. He could not state who wrote tho name "James Phillips," but traced a resemblance thereto that of accused. It was the duty of the tellers to check the receipt on the stamp book. The account standing in Phillips's uamo was originally L3O, and had never been changed, simply accumulating intarest.

James Phillips, farmer at Dunback, was previously schoolmaster at Waikouaiti, end remembered depositing money in the P.O. Savings Bank, but could not remember tie exact amount. The pass-book produced was taken out by bim, and witness did not part with the book until it was sent for in Juno last. The dilapidated condition of the book was explained on account of it being handed to one of witness's sons, becauso be had forgotten about the money being depo-ited in tho bank. Witness never withdrow any money, and never made application for a new p.is?-book, or appeared at the bank with refer nee to the amount standing to his credit. The signature on the withdrawal receipt was not in his handwriting, as was the withdrawal application. William Churchward, ledger-ke'-per in tho Rank of Zealand, and for a period of seventeen years teller, said he had examined tho signatures of the various documents produced. The bignaturo on the depositor'* book and the signature on the declaration were tho same, but the signature on the depositor's withdrawal receipt differed. Sir Robert Stout: Where ii the declaration for the now book ''.

Mr Haggitt: Properly there should be one, but it cannot bo found. We do not produce it because we have not got it. Kdward Butts, chief postmaster at Dunedin, said accused was employed in the Postal Department until he wa3 sent to San Fianoiseo in charge of the mails, In consequence of something discovered he was di t%ined and sent back to Duntdin. An efficient officer was generally sent. Accused came bick, and an investigation took place, during which be visited the post office voiy frequently. Then accuped disappeared—that was about the middle of May, Witness did not know that aocused was about to leave. To Sir Robert Stout: Witness heard accufled frequency caHed at the post oflico. He had been sent to San Francisco twice before.

Constable Grey (aid he arrested aocused at Sydney about June 2D, 1889, on a New Zealand warrant. Witness balu'vcd that accused left for Sydney by the Wnirarapa. Sir Robert Stout said that after waiting for Beveral weeks he had advised accused to leavo, as tho department evidently did not intend to prosecute him. Mr Haggitt: Oh, he Ift on legal advice, then?

Sir Robert Stout: Certa'nly, he did. Mr Haggitt intimated that the case for the prosecution had concluded Sir Robert Stout, in replying, said that there was really no case to answer. Oonccrning accused, there was noevidence adduced toßhowthat he was in any way connected with the alleged embezzling of the moneys. What was there to prevent a poison persrnating those who possessed banking accounts and applying for a withdrawal of moneys, which would as a matter of course bo accepted by accused in his official capacity ? How could accused be held responsible for that ? There was nothing whatever to connect accused with the missing moneys. Mr Haggitt said ho differed entirely from the suggestions nude by his learned friend Declarations re losing of pass-books had been made, others had been iss'ied, and the statements had been made in the ledger, a'l in accused's hand writing, and accused had managed the whole thing. It was true that persons might have personated others who possessed banking accounts; but it was the duty of the Bench to commit accused for trial if they considered a prima facie case had been made out, and he (learned counsel) considered that that bad been done. An expert witness had said that the forged signature " Phillips " resembled tho handwriting of accused. Sir Robert Ptout said that it was stated there was a slight similarity, that was all. Accused, upon being challenged, reserved his defence, and was committed for trial at the next sitting of the Supreme Court, bail as previously fixed being allowed. The charge of embezzling tho sum of L6O on May, 1889, was made a separate one, and tho evidence of Edward Butts was taken. Witness paid accneed was employed as ledgor clerk in the Post Oflice Savings Bank. Mr R. Gerhard triad certain moneys deposited in the bank at that time, and his signature appeared in the depositions for deposit books. The deposition produced had on the back of it a statement to the effect that the pass-book bad been lest and another had been issued. The statement was mado in accused's handwriting. The transfer from the old book to the new book was Bigned "R. Gerbardt." and the withdrawal note showed that L6O bad been taken ojjfe on May 3, 1888. The notification was in thfwandwritinß of accused, as was the statement of accused corresponding with the withdrawal notice contained in the ledger. The signatures to the depositor's receipt and the withdrawal receipt weie similar, but not exactly the same. The latter resembled the handwriting of accused, the "ardt" especially. Evidence was also given by Sydney Stevenson (who testified to tho amounts having been withdrawn), Jessie Mitchell (who said that Mr Gerbardt had not been in the colony for some years), and Isabel Mitchell (who said that a letter dated May 5,1888, had been forwarded by Mr Gerhardt from Calcutta). George Horder, accountant in the employ «f Mr H. Benjamin, said that accused had borrowed money and had paid it baok in monthly instalments. On May 3, 1888, the sum of L 56 was paid by aocused, that being the amount then owing. George Churchward gave evidence as to th* similarity in the handwriting of accused and the handwriting contained in the application for withdrawal, and to the difference between that of Gerhardt's and that contained in the rectipt of withdrawal. Accused was committed for trial on this charge, same bail as fixed in the previous hearing of the case being allowed.

Mr Haggitt intimated that he would withdraw the tbiid charge without prejudice, but would prosecute on that before the sittings of the Supreme Court.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890723.2.9

Bibliographic details

EMBEZZLEMENT OF POSTAL MONEYS., Evening Star, Issue 7966, 23 July 1889

Word Count
1,665

EMBEZZLEMENT OF POSTAL MONEYS. Evening Star, Issue 7966, 23 July 1889

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