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EMBEZZLEMENT BY A POSTAL OFFICER.

At the City Police Court this morning Thomas Easton Waugh was charged with embedding L2O 17s Bd, the property of Her Majesty the Queen. Messrs J. Logan and J. P. Jones occupied the Bench, Mr B. C. Haggitt appeared to prosecute; Sir Robert Stout defended.

Mr Haggitt said that the present was one of a series of charges preferred against accused, who had gone in for a system of defrauding the Dunedin Post Office, Accused was usually placed at the Savings Bank counter during dinner hour, and the moneys of the department were at that particular time under his control, and he could practically do what he liked. He took advantage of his position to withdraw an account which had not been operated on for some considerable time, and which he doubtless concluded would not be operated on for some time. The system adopted by accused in this case was similar to that adopted by him on other occasions. He protended that the deposit book had been lost, made application for a new book (in doing which he forged the depositor’s name), and by these means was enabled to withdraw the money lying to the depositor’s account. In the present case the depositor’s name at the time the deposit was made was Isabella M'Kee. She subsequently married a Mr Willoughby—yet the depositor’s withdrawal receipt was alleged to have been signed by Isabella M'Kee at a date subsequent to her .marriage. The fact that accused had falsely entered the withdrawal in his ledger went to show that it was he who had withdrawn the money, and he (learned counsel) would call evidence to show that a peculiarity in accused’s handwriting was distinctly noticeable in the forged signatures. The signature of Isabella M'Kee, which was left at the office wherein accused was employed, contained a few peculiar characteristics which were not to be seen in her ordinary signature ; and the fact that these peculiarities had been carefully copied went to show that accused had had that signature of Isabella M'Kee before him when he made the copies. Sydney Pope Stevens, in charge of the Post Office Savings Bank, said he occupied that position on August 4, 1887, when accused was employed in the same department as ledger clerk. Accused was at the counter during the dinner hour. He was at that time transferred from the mail department, and hadfbeen in the bank about ten days. His duties whilst acting as teller would be to receive deposits, enter them, do counter work, and pay out withdrawals, entering them in the ledger. When a depositor opened an account a book would be furnished, which would have to be produced at every withdrawal or deposit of money. When a depositor lost his deposit book application would have to be made for a new book, and after the teller was satisfied that the application was genuine the account would be closed, and particulars of the account would be written on the back of the original declaration. When a new book would bo given, the account transferred to that book, a deposit slip made out, and the book handed to the applicant. Tho ledger that was used in August, 1887, contained an account—a now account which was opened by Isabella M'Kee, the original account being opened by a payment of LlO on September 0, 1869. That was the only deposit, the interest accumulating being added to the principal yearly. In August, 1887, the account was treated as " book lost,” and was transferred to a new book whfch was issued. The original declaration of September, 1869, was the one produced, and it was treated as "book lost.” An endorsement was made on the declaration in accused's handwriting, in accordance with the usual custom when a .deposit was transferred. Thp declaration of th,e new account was also in the handwriting of a.couaed, and purports to be signed by Isabella M'Kee. The signature on the original declaration apd that of the declaration re new deposit book differed, and did not seem to have been written by the same band. The signatures in tho new pass book and new declaration resembled accused’s, the signature in the pass book evidently being written lightly once, and then inked over. A peculiarity was noticeable in the "eo” of accused, the lasf'e” being higher than the first, and being formed on a different angle. The letters did not resemble those made by Isabella M'Kee. The preliminaries of the opening of the new account were finished with the drawing up of the documents, and on the same date as the new pass book was issued the money was withdrawn. Tho signatures on the withdrawal receipt were in accused’s handwriting, and the signature in the former did not compare with tho signature in the old book, but corresponded with the signature in the new book and in the declaration. The entries in the ledger were not in accused’s handwriting; they would be posted from the withdrawal slips subsequent to the withdrawal of the money. As the cash was balanced daily, the entry of the amount withdrawn would make the cash square for the day. Witness had been ninteen years in the department, and was constantly employed comparing signatures on vouchers, etc.

Isabella Willoughby, residing at Cardrona, said her maiden name was Isabella M’Kee. In September, 1869, she was living at Captain Hutchison’s, at Anderson Bay, and remembered opening an account some time in September, when she deposited LlO. The Mciarition produced was Signed by heir, and she usually Signed her name or Bella. Jn January, 188?, the book was sent to Dunedin, and with" that exception the book remained in her possession until April <24, 1889, when she gave it to an at the Dunedin Post Office. Witness went to Cardrona some twenty years ago—in November, 1869—and had not visited Dunedin since till April of the present year. Witness was married some six or seven months after her arrival at Cardrona to Mr Willoughby'. The signatures on the new djgp,Qsit book, on the declaration, and on tli# depositor’s receipt were not in her handwriting { she could not write so good. 1 William Gould Churchward) ledger-keeper in the Colonial Bank,’ said he had had twentyone years’ experience in banking, and it was his business to ( be expert in signatures. The’genuine signatures of Isabella M’Kee were different to the signatures in the new declaration, new pass book, and depositor’s receipt The signature to the depositor’s receipt and thofee of the new declaration and passbook resembled each other, especially In several letters, or were meant to resemble each other. The signatures which did not resemble the handwriting of Isabella M’Kee resembled each other, the two “ e’s” especially; while the top loop of the “k ” had evidently been formed after being traced more than once. ''

Ed war'd .Drury Butts, chief postmaster at Dunedin, asLitl accused Was in the employ of tlfe Postal Department before witness took Charge. Witness had been connected with, the ’postal Department for twenty-eight years, aud had had sortie considerable experience in handwriting. " The Signature to; the depositor’s Withdrawal receipt was not: in tihe handwriting of Isabella M‘Kee, but; Witness' believed it to be in the handwriting: of accused. The press copy of accused’s, handwriting was noticeable'on account of a; peculiarity in the formation of some of the letters, particularly in the “ e’s.” Mr Haggitt intimated that the case for the prosecution bad closed. Sir Robert Stout; I have no remarks to make.

Accused reserved his defence, and was committed for trial at the next sittings of the Supreme Court. Accused was further charged with embezzling the sum of L9O, the property of Her Majesty the Queen, ' Mr £faggitt said the circumstances were similar tS «w>*e .of the previous case, with this exception; dofan seid (the depositor) had deposited money at the bank, atd had withdrawn amounts until the amount gtooU at LSO, and it had lain unoperated until November, 1887, when it was withdrawn, a balance of 7s 3d being left. Mr Reid had died, and his widow had subsequently made inquiries, and it was then discovered that tbe ftrihi ,qf LSO had been withdrawn. Sydney Stevops rad that on August 1! tfte'apoCwnt In JOnbjßeid’a'jnaipp amounted to L9O 7s Sd, Qn tbpt date aft pppUoatiop for anew book was made', the .old book being alleged to be lost, A new deposit book Was issued, the application being endorsed by witness, presumably in return to

the application being made. Forma of application were kept in a press in witness’s office, the press at that time being open to the clerks in the office. The figures on the receipt showing the number of the receipt book and the amount withdrawn were in the same handwriting, and did not resemble the genuine handwriting of John Reid. William Gould Churchward said the signatures to the depositor’s withdrawal receipt and to tho original declaration were different. There was a great resemblance. The signature of John Reid in the register book of the manager’s agreed with the original declaration of John Reid.

Letitia Ashton, residing at Invercargill, said she was married to John Smith, who resided at that time at Oamaru. Her husband only lived six weeks after marriage, Witness knew that her husband had money in the bank, but the deposit book and other documents were destroyed. Witness made application for tho money sixteen years ago, and could have obtained it if a minister had been present, The signature on the depositor’s withdrawal receipt was not in witness’s handwriting. William Joseph Hall, Deputy-Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, of Dunedin, said that the signature contained in the book was signed by John Reid. This concluded the evidence, and Sir Robert Stout intimating that he had no remarks to make, accused (who reserved his defence) was committed for trial, same bail as before being allowed.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18891004.2.10

Bibliographic details

EMBEZZLEMENT BY A POSTAL OFFICER., Evening Star, Issue 8029, 4 October 1889

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1,647

EMBEZZLEMENT BY A POSTAL OFFICER. Evening Star, Issue 8029, 4 October 1889

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