At the Southampton Borough Police Court, this morning, before Mr. G. Dominy (in the chair), Sir James Lemon, and Mr. W. J. Atkins.
Annie Sergeant, alias-Groves, of no fixed abode, was charged on a warrant that she by certain false pretences obtained from Henry Bowyer, the Mayor of Southampton, 20s., with intent to defraud, on the 20th April last.
Mr. A. J. Rogers, who prosecuted, explained that the case was another fraud on the Mayor’s Titanic Relief Fund. The prisoner represented that she had been the wife of John Dilley and said he had lost his life in the disaster. Alderman F. A. Dunsford, J. P., was at the Mayor’s Parlour, and had been empowered by the Mayor to distribute the funds. Groves came in and applied for relief, and in answer to various questions she said that she had lost her husband; that he was a fireman on board the ill-fated vessel, that she had two children dependent, and that the name of her husband was John Dilley. On the strengths of these representations, and as she was very distressed, she was advanced £1. A few days later she called again at the Audit House and applied for more relief; and from the statements she then made the suspicious of Alderman Dunsford were aroused, and the case was referred to the Mayor. At the time Groves applied for relief the distributing officers had no record of the crew who had been lost or saved, and they had to take the statements of those applied on trust.
John Dilley, of Threefield-lane, who was a fireman on board the Titanic, said he was single man. He knew the prisoner, and she told him she was married.
Groves: I am not married. He is my sweetheart.
Mr. H. Prowett (the Deputy Magistrate Clerk): Is the prisoner your sweetheart?
Dilley: She is everybody’s sweetheart.
Groves: He told me he would take me to London, and we would get married.
Alderman Dunsford stated in evidence that the prisoner, when she applied for relief, declared herself to be destitute. A few days later she got the £1 she called again and proceeded to the table over which Councillor W. T. Hirst presided. Continuing, the Alderman observed that he overhead the conversation, and the prisoner on that occasion gave the name of Dillon, and a different address from what she gave when she originally applied. The case was afterwards referred to the Mayor.
Mr. Rogers mentioned that when charged by Detective Pugh, Groves replied: “I only had £1. He was my sweetheart.
Groves pleaded guilty and said: “This is my young man, and he said that when he came off the Titanic he would marry me.”
Chief Inspector Allison stated that Groves was a well-known character in the town, and she had been before the court on eight previous occasions.
Mr. Dominy said the Bench thought it was a very wicked fraud, and Groves would have to go to prison for three months with hard labour.