NO SUGAR, BUT PLENTY OF SPICE
.'\ : ■ ■ Vicar's Son Forsakes Farm For Easy Street
JENNE DECEIVED BY GEOFFREY'S GRAND MANNER
\ (From "N.Z. Truth's" Special Auckland Representative.) ■ . • • AN OXFORD ACCENT and a real military swagger, plus plenty of self-assurance, especially with the fair sex, will achieve wonders m this world— provided the brains are there to put over the bluff. But when brainpower is lacking— likewise cash— then the bluffer, m spite of his other attributes, is foredoomed to crash at any time. ■ . ",:.'■ So it has proved m the case of Geoffrey Edward Gibson Forster, son of the vicar of Bradford, England, ex-Imperial Army officer and a man with no scruples about borrowing from women. This remittance man from England was sufficiently-plausible to deceive Jenny F. Syme, a clerk m the employ of a Whangarei dairy company, and by his grand manner and Oxford accent to induce her to part with her motor-car.
BUT Jenny is no fool and took steps to bring Geoffrey, the twister, to book, with the result that he was convicted 'by an Auckland jury last week on a charge of false pretences. On a further charge of stealing the car, he was found not guilty. During the course of his crossexamination by Crown Prosecutor Meredith, some piquant details of Fortster's. life came to light. - Among other things was his partiality for writing to a woman m England for money. She had parted out to him her "reserve savings" of £200, but when Forster put the nips m later for another £20, he was turned down cold. Forster said the £200 was for "business purposes." His father, the vicar of Bradford, has no great opinion of his son. He had written to the vicarage asking for money. *In a letter Forster's father wrote to him, and which was produced m court, it was stilted m no uncertain language that "when you left for New, Zealand it was understood that it Avas to be the last time you were to be a charge on the family exchequer." But, after all, blood is thicker than water. The vicar agreed, m spite of the previous understanding, that "m certain circumstances I will endeavor to allow you £3 a quarter." The vicar's letter made it quite clear that GeoffreY could not expect to draw indefinitely on the family banking account. However, what Forster's father m distant England thinks of him — and also what is the opinion of the young lady who parted with her £200 "for business purposes"— has no real bearing on Geoffrey's fall -from grace. He left England four years ago with very, little, except his Oxford accent, his plausibility and his military swagger. How he proposed to earn a crust m the land of his adoption was a very indefinite subject when he left, but he has managed to get along quite well, thank you, and the English lady's £ 200 DID come m handy for those "business purposes." He has also tried his hand at farming and has \ro kerl for four cockatoos since his arrival m New Zealand.
Geoffrey is nothing if not versatile. Farming as a full-time oc-: cupation palled, so he blossomed out as a salesman of vacuumcleaners. • But there Avas not a great deal of money m it, for Geoffrey could not give an-average of his earnings from this uncertain source. It was m a Devonport boardinghouse early this year that the plausible manner and polished style of Geoffrey interested Jennie Syme sufficiently to intrigue her" to the point of discussing business with him. It was the grand manner and the airy way m which he spoke of motorcars that must have impressed her. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, don't you know, he had just sold a car and was looking for another. As a . further spur to the conversation, he told Jennie that he was experimenting m agriculture on a farm at Morrinsville. Forster was quite the big man and oozed ah atmosphere of cash and affluence. Now, it so happened that Miss Syme had a car which she was prepared to sell. What could be better than to secure Forster as the buyer? He was dead keen on the whole thing, although— unhappily for the owner of the vehicle — she did not' know that the plausible individual who talked so big 1 had virtually not a penny to bless himself with. Certainly, the extent of his exchequer was not sufficient by a long way to allow him to assume the responsibility of a car. However, everything went along nicely and the matter was practically settled. j A few further negotiations and then — m Whangarei- last April — Forster took over the car. ' First of all, he wanted it for a week's trial and airily undertook to pay £10 for the try-out m the event of his not buying it.
With a flourish Geoffrey drove off, but it was many moons before Miss Syme saw him again — or the car, either. .
Still, correspondence passed between them, though it was all very unsatisfactory. Strange to relate, Forster managed to persuade Miss Syme to send him some benzine. As a sop, he offered to take the car at her valuation of £150. But after thinking it over, he considered the figure too high. Really, you know, a little more than the car was worth. And so a further letter, when he offered to pay. her £135, which she agreed to accept.
No money came to light, however, and then he made the brilliant suggestion that he should sell the car to, a second-hand dealer and give her the proceeds. He also assured Miss Syriie that he would obtain financial assistance from England. , Jennie was sick of the whole business by this time and took legal proceedings
for the value of the car. She obtained judgment. It w.asnot'much good to her, though, for the judgment remained unsatisfied. Then came the unkiridest cut of all. The car was eventually found at Thames. It was held, by a local hotelkeeper as a Hen for board. Just what were Jennie's feelings, in the matter when she had to pay the
board bill before she could get the car. can better be 'imagined than described! : .
It was not long before the police got busy and Forster was roped m to give an account of himself. He made a statement admitting that he had no money and no prospects of paying for the car. Poor Miss Syme was badly deceived, but, as she told the jury, Forster was living ' with well-known people m Whangarei and she was under the impression that he was a man of substantial position. . , Which goes to show the value of an Oxford accent and the grand manner. [ When he entered the box to tell his story, Forster was quite at ease and remained unperturbed under a gruelling cross-examination. He denied that he had told Miss Syme when he met her at Devonport that he was the owner of a car. ' He had never had a car other than the one he obtained from Miss Syme. ' If she was under the impression that he told her he had sold his "own car, it was due to a misunderstanding. Crown Prosecutor : "Now, when you were negotiating for the purchase of this car, what money had you?" Forster answered' by asking another question: "At the time previous to this?" , Crown Prosecutor: No, at the time you discussed it? Had you any cash balance m any bank? — No. . Had you any money?— l was receiving money from England. How much?— Well, it was rather irregular m comingr, but it worked out at about £3 per month. From whom did you receive it? — Usually, from my father. / And had you accumulated anything from this money?— No, I had not. So you had no money by you when you discussed this car with Miss Syme? — Not actually m cash 6r f ,in kind. What do you mean by "m kind"?— Well, cash m my pocket or m hand. So outside* your ' possible earnings then, you might look forward to £3 per month from England?— Yes. Forster added that he was earning £3 per week when he was working and also had the money from home. His board was 32/6 per week. He also had a claim on, a war gratuity.
A Conceited Ass
The Crown Prosecutor produced a letter from Forster's father, the vicar of Bradford, m which he reminded his son that it was understood when he left for New' Zealand that it was .to be the last charge on the family exchequer. •■ * ■ But m view of certain circumstances, he .would do his best to make Forster. an allowance of £3 per quarter. The Crown Prosecutor: "So actually you. only receive £3 a quarter, instead of . £3 per month, as you would have the court believe."' ■. .: • Another letter was then produced. It had been written by the young lady m England who had sent Forster "her reserve savings" of £ 200. In the letter she declined his request to send another £20, as she could not do it. ■- \ ■. Asked what all this . meant, Forster glibly informed the jury that the £200 had been sent, to him for '-'business purposes." » "I don't think this £20 has any bearing on this case," he complained. \"ln the first place, you don't know what the money was for."
In any case, the court. was -not enligrhtened on the point. : . The jury did. not take long to arrive at a decision — a verdict of guilty on*the false pretences charge, but not gruilty on the charge of theft. There was llttip said . m favor of Forster when he appeared for sentence. The ".Crown Prosecutor described him as "a conceited ass" arid his own counsel, Lawyer Schramm, admitted ' that his client had "lived rather a gay life, but had sustained a great shock .over the .prosecution." He was not likely to offend again. "A mixture^ of swank and conceit," was the probable cause of his downfall, said the Crown Prosecutor, who went on to say that Forster. had been weir corned m New Zealand arid had abused the hospitality and kindness shown him. "■/■ He had been acting the fool, m England arid his relatives had been glad to get rid of him. Admitting that the case had, caused him "the greatest difficulty m coming to a decision, as to punishment," his honor told Forster that some of his letters showed "no sense of responsibility at' all." ■■' ■:• •■■■ ;; ; ; 1 However, he, would extend probation m his case and the period was fixed at three years. . • ."And I trust you will not come to court again," was the judge's parting shot. . Forster received his sentence with a courteous bow to the judge and a respectful: "Thank you, sir." •/