Monday, 16 November 2020

More pub crime

In my series on WW II pub crimes, here's one where it definitely was the landlord who was up to no good.

Why have I started this series? Because I'm in a lazy mood and can't be arsed to write something technical.

You quite often to have to do some reading between the lines in these sparse reports about what was really going on.

Portsea Manager Fined

UNLAWFUL possession of public stores by the manager of a Portsmouth public-house alleged at the Portsmouth Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

Defendant was James Oatley, of the Ship Anson public house, The Hard, Portsea, and he was summoned for having in his possession a table cloth, two hand towels, two bath towels, a linen mattress case, three "C " gas masks, a 2 lb. tin of marmalade, a 2 lb. ton of blackcurrant jam, two 2 lb. tins of suet, and 24 lbs. of tea, valued together at £15 7s. 5d., contrary to the Public Stores Act, and also having in his possession a sailor's blue serge suit and a sailor's duck suit, valued together at £2 0s. 5d., contrary to Seaman's Clothing Act. Detective Inspector Bray said on March 7 he went to the Ship Anson public house where, after a conversation, Oatley handed him 24 lbs. of tea. Within an hour or two witness obtained a search warrant and searched Oatley's premises. Detective Constable Kendal said when asked where he got the marmalade, jam and suet Ostley replied, "Mum bought those." 

Sergeant Heale said Oatley told him the linen articles had "been here a number of years," and he told Detective Hall the gas masks "have been here a long time." Oatley, in evidence, said he had never been in trouble before. His public-house was just opposite the Dockyard and he had a lot of service men as customers. They sometimes left things which they claimed afterwards. Regarding the parcels, on March 7, he did not hand them back immediately as Det. Insp. Bray asked for white parcels and the parcels in question were grey. The gas masks were left with him during the period of blitzes. 

Iris Oatley daughter of defendant, said the sailor's clothing were left with her by a Fighting French sailor who  was courting her. 

The magistrates dismissed the summonses relating to the possession of sailor's clothing and gas masks, but on the other summonses Oatley was lined £5."
Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 24 March 1944, page 14. 

The gist is Oatley had large packages of rationed food which I assumed were identifiable as government property. Presumably for use in canteens. And also rationed textiles.

What about the parcels? Reference is made to them but there's no explanation as to what they were and why Det. Insp. Bray wanted them.

It sounds like they had got wind of Oatley selling items on the black market and had sent Bray there to trap Oatley.

The stuff with the sailor's uniforms is just weird. Why would the French sailor leave them with Oatley's daughter, even if they were courting. And why would he want spare gas masks?

Presumably worker in the dockyard had pinched the items and swapped them for alcohol with Oatley.

Oatley was running a great risk. Any sort of criminal activity was used by magistrates as a reason for refusing a licence.


Mike in NSW said...

I wish I could get proper suet in Australia.

Anonymous said...

I am loving these pub crime stories. They really help flesh out what drinking culture was like.