William Okins, blacksmith and cycle agent, Rushden, was arrested on Tuesday evening on his return home, after attending the Northampton Bankruptcy Court. It seems that, armed with a search warrant, his premises were searched during his absence, with the result that about £200 worth of bicycles were found hidden between the ceiling and the roof of his workshop. Subsequently Okins was arrested by a constable from Wellingborough. The charge on the warrant was that on September 18th, having been "adjudged a bankrupt, unlawfully did not to the best of his knowledge and belief disclose to George Gresham Popplewell, of 26, Corporation-street, Birmingham, chartered accountant, the trustee administering his estate for the benefit of his creditors, certain part of his property, to wit, certain bicycles and tricycles which had not been disposed of in the ordinary way of his trade, or laid out in the ordinary expenses of his family."
Wellingborough News, 12th Sept 1890
Okins was taken before the Wellingborough magistrates this morning, when Mr. C. C. Becke, of Northampton, who prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury, applied for an adjournment. He called one witness, Frederick Wm. Bradshaw, bailiff, of Northampton, who said that some of the missing cycles were found beneath the roof of the adjoining premises, which were used as a Constitutional Club.—Mr. F. Stimson, of Bedford, who appeared on behalf of Okins, applied for bail, but this was opposed by Mr. Becke, and prisoner was remanded to the Northampton Gaol.
|Elsewhere in the same paper
Re WILLIAM OKINS, of Rushden, blacksmith and cycle agent.—This debtor came up for adjourned public examination; and it was adjourned again to enable the accounts to be gone into. Mr. Stimson (Bedford), who appeared for the debtor assented.
14 December 1894 - Northampton Mercury
Arrest of A Rushden Bankrupt—William Okins, blacksmith and cycle agent, Rushden, was arrested on Tuesday evening on his return home, after attending the Northampton Bankruptcy Court. It seems that, armed with a search warrant, his premises were searched....
28 December 1894 - Northampton Mercury
Alleged Fraudulent Bankruptcy at Rushden - Extraordinary Evidence—At a special sitting the Wellingborough Police Court, on Monday, before Mr. C. J. K. Woolstoft, William Okins, cycle agent, Rushden, was brought on remand, on charges under the Bankruptcy Act....
|Wellingborough News, 28th December 1894, transcribed by Kay Collins
The Charge Against a Rushden Bankrupt - Okins Committed for Trial
At a special Petty Sessions held at the Wellingborough Police Court on Monday, before Mr. C. J. K. Woolston, Wm. Okins was brought up on remand on charges under the Bankruptcy Act.— Mr. C. C. Becke, Northampton, prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury, and Mr. F. Stimson, Bedford, defended.
The solicitor for the prosecution said he had to prefer a charge against the prisoner under what is known as the Debtors' Act. He would make a short statement, so that the Bench might have a general outline of the case. The debtor had carried on business as a blacksmith and cycle agent at Rushden, having also a branch establishment at Kettering, in this county. Prisoner seemed to think it would be convenient about the month of September to stop payment to his creditors, and with the view of not being a great loser himself over the transaction he seemed to have made very extensive preparations with the design that the creditors should not have too much of his property. Prisoner first made an assignment to Mr. Pendered, of Wellingborough, of all his property for the general benefit of his creditors. The creditors met on the statement, but they, seeing that it was of an unsatisfactory character, intimated to Okins that unless he filed his own petition they would file a hostile petition. Whereupon prisoner filed his own petition in bankruptcy and consented to a receiving order and adjudication being made against him, and he was adjudged a bankrupt. He filed a statement under which he showed stock-in-trade to the value of £300, stating that that property was partly at Rushden and partly at Kettering. His total indebtedness at that time was £2,617, and his assets amounted to £1,820, leaving a, deficiency of £1,796 not accounted for. The creditors were very dissatisfied with this statement of affairs, and a trustee was appointed with instructions to investigate matters, and the result was that already £700 worth of property had been found that had not been disclosed in the statement of affairs. The property had been found in various parts of the country concealed in all sorts of places, in the roofs of buildings, in stables, and other places. The charges that might be preferred against the prisoner were almost numberless, but unfortunately they had not yet conclude their enquiries, and the effect of the prisoner not having been allowed out on bail had been that a very large amount of information had already been brought to the prosecution, and the remainder they were about to follow up. He proposed, with the permission of the Bench, to select three charges, and to ask that the prisoner should be committed to the forthcoming Sessions at Northampton upon those charges. The Bench would find that the three charges involved four separate offences under the Debtors' Act, (1) not disclosing property, (2) not delivering up property, (3) concealing property which he ought to have delivered up, and (4) fraudulently removing property to the value of £10. In conclusion, Mr. Becke said he thought the evidence he had to lay before the Bench would convince them that prisoner had been guilty of the offences under the sub-section with which he was charged.
The evidence of Fredk. Wm. Bradshaw, bailiff of the Northampton County Court, given in a previous issue, was read over. He also produced a file of the proceedings in bankruptcy. The goods witness found at Rushden he handed over to George Mardlin, the agent of the trustee, and they consisted of 23 pneumatic wheels, 8 solid tyres, 11 bicycle frames, one small bicycle, 168 mud-guards, 29 bicycle forks. George Mardlin, an agent, residing at Turvey, Bedford, stated that he had been employed by Mr. G. Poppleton, the trustee in this bankruptcy, to search for property belonging to the debtor, he applied for and obtained a search warrant to search the Conservative Club at Rushden. On the 10th of this month he accompanied the last witness to Rushden. He obtained a ladder and went up to the roof of the Conservative Club. Witness saw signs of someone having recently been on the roof. He got on the top of the roof and walked along the gutter until he found, between the two roofs, the property enumerated by the last witness, which was covered over by some sacks and sheet iron. It was in a very bad state, having been exposed to the wet weather. Witness took possession of the property on behalf of the trustee, and had since shown it to G. H. Smart and Geo. Kirby Pointer. On Oct. 5th he went to the Ship Inn at Bedford, the landlord of which was named Peacock, where he found four bicycles in a loft. He showed those four bicycles to Smart and Pointer. On Dec. 15th he proceeded to the house of James Barker, of Mears Ashby, where he found six bicycles in a loft, one in a barn in the yard, one in a barn in the house occupied by Barker, one in some straw in a place occupied by Barker's father, and in another loft there was another bicycle, making ten altogether. He took possession of them all, and showed them to Smart and Pointer.
George Kirby Pointer, 43, Queen street, Coventry, general cycle repairer, stated that about the middle of June in this year he entered the employ of the bankrupt at Rushden, on the 15th of Sept. a number of bicycles went from the defendant's premises. There were ten to twelve that day which were taken in two spring carts. The next day, Thursday, another ten or twelve machines were moved, a small portable forge, some bicycle lamps, and a vice. He did not know where they went to. The following day, Friday, Sept. 7th, he went to work about six in the morning and when he got to the premises he saw prisoner, his brother Albert, Edward Abbott, and Arthur Smith moving bicycles, rubber tyres, lamps, and some tools off the bench. They were putting them into spring carts. In the three days from 40 to 50 bicycles were removed which would be worth from £7 to £10.
The last witness saw some of the parts of bicycles found on the roof of the Conservative Club and he recognised them as having been the property of the prisoner during the time he was there. Their value would be from £30 to £40 He was also showed the four bicycles found at the Ship Inn, Bedford, which he recognised as having been in the possession of Okins during the time he was there, and they would be worth from £6 to £10 each. Witness also identified the ten bicycles found at Mears Ashby as having been prisoner's property, and they would be worth from £4 to £10 each.
George Heritage Smart, 27, Unwin-street, Coventry, clerk to a firm of Coventry bicycle manufacturers, said they had been in the habit of supplying the prisoner with bicycles, and at the time of his failure he was indebted to them of over £200. He had been shown certain portions of bicycles found on the roof of the Conservative Club, some of which he recognised as being their make and similar as supplied to prisoner. The present value of the goods was about £25, they being very much injured by exposure to the weather. Witness also saw the four bicycles from the Ship Inn, Bedford, one of which he recognised as having been supplied to prisoner in February last. The present value of the four machines would be about £25; they having been knocked about a good deal. He had also seen pointed out ten machines two of which were their make. The value of the ten machines would be from £50 to £60.
George Minney, ostler at the Ship Inn, Bedford, said he remembered finding four bicycles in the yard of the "Ship'' about September 18th. He did not know who brought them. They were under a shed in the yard. He reported the matter to Mr. Peacock, his master.
John Austin Peacock, landlord of the Ship Inn, Bedford, stated that some time in September he remembered the last witness reporting that there were four bicycles in the yard. He found them under a shed, and subsequently prisoner went into his yard and said "Are the bicycles all right?" and witness replied "Yes, I believe they are." He instructed his man to put the machines in a loft. Prisoner did not enquire where the machines were put nor did witness tell him. On October 5th he gave them up to Mr. Mardlin.
James Barker, shoemaker, Mears Ashby, said he had acted as agent for the prisoner. Since August last he had received six pneumatic machines, one cushion tyre, and one lady's machine. He received them some time in September. The six were all delivered after eight o'clock at night: some as late as between ten and eleven. They were ridden over by various people in Okins’ employ, one of them being Albert Okins, prisoner's brother. He knew nothing about the machines found at his father's. Prisoner never spoke to witness about the machines. Six were placed in a loft, one in a barn and one in his house.
Albert Cripwell, clerk to Mr. Poppleton, trustee who had had the management of the ............ ............ ........... did not disclose to him that there were any goods belonging to him on the roof of the Conservative Club, or that he had four machines at the Ship Inn, at Bedford, or that he had ten machines at Mears Ashby. The total value of the property of the debtor not disclosed in his statement of affairs, and which had been discovered since the bank¬ruptcy, was from £700 to £750.
This was the case for the prosecution, and Mr. Becke asked that the prisoner might be committed on the four charges to the ensuing Sessions.
Mr. Stimson applied for bail for the prisoner so that his defence could be better conducted, but this Mr. Becke strongly opposed, thinking that were the prisoner at liberty much of the information of other goods the prosecution were on the track of would never be gained, and the Bench, taking a similar view of the case, refused bail.
|The Wellingborough News, 4th January, 1898, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Northampton Quarter Sessions
The Charge of Fraudulent Bankruptcy at Rushden
William Okins, (32), cycle agent, Rushden, was indicted for that he on the 18th September having been adjudged a bankrupt unlawfully did not to the best of his knowledge and belief discover to George Graham Poppleton, of Birmingham, the trustee administering his estate, for the benefit of his creditors, certain part of his property, namely, certain bicycles and tricycles which had not been disposed of in the ordinary way of his trade, or laid out in the ordinary expense of his family; secondly, that he did not deliver up the articles as required by law; thirdly for unlawfully concealing property to the value of £1120 and upwards; and fourthly, for fraudulently removing the property in question. – Mr. Toller prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury, and the prisoner was defended by Mr. Attenborough.
In opening the case, Mr. Toller said the prisoner was charged with certain offences under the Fraudulent Debtor’s Act, which was passed for the punishing of fraudulent bankrupts, men who did not discover and deliver up all property for the benefit of the creditors, or who fraudulently concealed or removed it. The prisoner carried on business at Rushden in the capacity of a black-smith and a small manufacturer of bicycles or agent. About September he desired to call his creditors together, but as they would not consent he on the 18th of September filed his petition in bankruptcy, and a receiving order was made the same day, and he was adjudicated a bankrupt. It then became his duty to fully disclose and deliver up all his property to the Trustee appointed for the benefit of his creditors. Prisoner filed a statement of affairs, in which he showed stock-in-trade to the value of about £300, which was said to be partly at Rushden and partly at Wellingborough. Mr. Cripwell, a representative of the Trustee, Mr. Poppleton, attended at Rushden and took possession of the property of the prisoner, and, in reply to a question if that was the whole of his property, he said it was all that was there, but he had some at Wellingborough. Enquiries were, however, made, and it would be shown that his statement was false. It would be given in evidence that on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of September goods were being removed from Rushden by means of a spring cart, and some as early as six o’clock in the morning. Other goods were also found secreted in a loft at the Ship Inn at Bedford, and which had not been discovered to the trustee. Further, other bicycles or parts of bicycles were found secreted on the premises of Mr. Barker, of Mears Ashby. Mr. Toller said it would also be proved that the prisoner superintended the deposit of certain parts of bicycles on the roof of some premises adjoining his premises at Rushden, access to which had been made by the making of a hole in the wall, and which could not be reached except by means of a ladder. The articles were valued at from £30 to £40, and were perfectly hidden. That property had never been disclosed to the trustee, and, he contended, were placed there with the view of defrauding his creditors. He suggested the articles were removed in order that after all was over prisoner would have a nest-egg to enable him to start in business again.
This statement was borne out by Fredk. Bradshaw (bailiff), George Mardlin (Turvey), George Pointer (cycle repairer, formerly in the employ of prisoner), Edward Abbott (Rushden), George Minney and John Peacock (Bedford), Jas. Barker (Mears Ashby), and Albert Cripwell (clerk to Mr. Popplewell), who repeated their evidence given at the Wellingborough Police Court on Dec. 24.
In defence, Mr. Attenborough raised several technical points of law. The first count was for not disclosing the property found in the roof, and he argued that the prosecution must show those goods were the property of the prisoner at the time of the bankruptcy. Mr. Toller had put in evidence the deed of assignment made on the 6th of September, and that deed purported to assign the whole of the property of the prisoner to Mr. Pendered for the benefit of his creditors. The deed, he said, divested the prisoner of his property, and it could not have been his at the time they were alleged to be removed. – Mr. Toller said the charge was that the prisoner did not fully disclose, and Mr. Attenborough argued that the property was not his to disclose. Such, however, Mr. Toller contended, was not the case, as the deed of assignment was in itself an act of bankruptcy. – The Court decided against Mr. Attenborough, but agreed to grant a case as to the question of the property not being that of a bankrupt. – Mr. Attenborough said he took the same objection to the other counts in the indictment, and asked for cases upon them. The Court having decided against him on his contention, Mr. Attenborough said he did not think it necessary to occupy the time of the Court or the jury in addressing them upon the question of fact, looking at the evidence adduced. – Mr. Toller agreed to withdraw four of the counts in the indictment, and then addressed the jury on the evidence given in support of the other five counts, principally relying upon that of the prisoner not disclosing his property to the Trustee.
The Chairman having summed up the case, the Jury expressed a wish to retire. After an absence of about eight minutes they returned, and found the prisoner guilty on all the counts submitted to them, those for not disclosing, not delivering, and concealing, there being three counts for the latter offence.
Mr. Attenborough asked the Court to allow the prisoner out on bail until the case in the Higher Court was disposed of. – Mr. Toller thought before the Court decided on such a thing they should hear the whole of the facts concerning the prisoner, because what had been brought before them up to that time was only a small portion of what had taken place. He had concealed property which the Trustee had been able to discover, without any help from the prisoner, to the extent of £573, and also about £250 worth of book debts. It is further believed there is still property not yet discovered. – Mr. Attenborough suggested the Court should not pass sentence, as it might affect the subsequent proceedings. It was not unusual to allow a man out on bail without passing sentence. He understood the prisoner would carry the case further. – The Chairman said on another occasion there might be another Chairman and another Court. – Mr. Toller thought it was usual to pass sentence, and then if the Court confirmed it the prisoner would at once go to prison. – The Chairman said they would take bail, the prisoner in his own recognizance of £500, and two sureties of £250. The Court, however, thought it would be more satisfactory to pass sentence at that time.
Addressing the prisoner, the Chairman said he had been found guilty of a deliberate and systematic attempt to defraud his creditors. The county had a good name for commercial morality, and they should endeavour to preserve it, and not lose that character. The County Court Judge, they thought, acted quite right in ordering a prosecution in that case. They could not see anything in the prisoner’s favour, and the sentence of the Court was that on each of the five counts on which he had been found guilty he be sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment with hard labour, the sentences to run concurrently – 12 months in all.
Only one of the prisoner’s sureties was present at the time, and he consented to be bound over for £500, but the Court decided there must be two sureties. The prisoner was then removed.