Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?

hellgwm00-pgk3q2jj0-py4orq378logif8xwwyhboe Walter Smith, alias Walter Stanford, 29, was a painter who appears to have decided to relieve one Elsie Mortimer of clothing at her “dwelling house.” The case is an insight into criminal justice in 1924.


Smith was accused of stealing “one lady’s coat, one silk Jumper, one velvet dress, two silk dresses, end one woolen jumper, valued at £26.”

Smith is described as a “powerfully-built man over six feet high” who “created a mild sensation in Court by accusing Detective Surridge of having brutally treated him whilst in the lockup at Waverley.” The report also reveals the acceptance of the use of force:

He said that when he refused to explain the keys found upon him, Surridge struck him heavily in the face, “That’s absolutely untrue,” hotly retorted the detective. ‘I used no more violence than was necessary to quell your outburst.’ ‘You liar!’ hissed the accussed man. ‘That will do,’ lnterrupted the S.M. ‘You can’t say such things here.’ Then there was peace.

Smith was sentenced to 6 months hard labor in Australia.

14 thoughts on “Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?

  1. They should have exiled him to Hollywood. He could have been a bit player as a tough guy in the movies. He has the look of a guy who’s been knocked around and has had his share of trouble.

  2. I wonder if the dude’s parents or grandparents came from England’s convict boats.
    Or maybe he was stealing women’s clothing while exploring his gender identity crisis.

  3. “…valued at £26.”

    Not a small chunk of change in 1929. I recall reading about the ivory hunters of the era, between the world wars in British East Africa. After a particularly good season using marginal equipment (no matter how you feel about ivory hunting or hunting in general, it was a hard way to make a living and most didn’t, dying young of disease, thirst, or, elephants) hunters would order bespoke rifles in appropriate calibers from the best London gunmakers. Something like a .400 or .450 Nitro Express double rifle from Holland & Holland would go for £500 with case.

    Try doing that today.

  4. His booking photo was from12/15/1924. He appears to have stolen nice ladies clothing. It makes me wonder if he committed this crime to give his wife or mother or sister nice clothes for Christmas. Or was it to sell.

    Still wrong, but sad. Hard labor in Australia was grim, even as late as the 1920s. I wonder how his life ended up. Did he get back on his feet and find happiness?

    He looks haggard. It makes you wonder what his life was like so long ago. I’m sorry to think of all the violence that was acceptable until our recent history.

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