The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Friday, January 28, 2005

From The Times 28 January 2005

A MAGISTRATE who gave his wife a Rolex watch that had been accidentally dropped in a supermarket by its real owner has been convicted of theft.

Geoffrey Rowlett pocketed the £3,200 lady’s watch instead of handing it to police or trying to trace the owner. He then gave it to his wife, Margaret, as a 60th birthday present.

The deceit was not exposed for almost another two years when he took the watch to be repaired and the jeweller checked the serial number against a list of Rolex watches reported lost or stolen.

Using records from his supermarket loyalty card, police were able to prove that he had visited the Tesco store in Poole, Dorset, within two hours of the watch’s real owner on January 16, 2002.

Rowlett, 67, from Poole, was convicted of theft at Southampton Magistrates’ Court and fined £600 and ordered to pay £400 costs. He had denied the charge.

District Judge Roger Ede told him: “The conviction is the real penalty for a man of your standing. It was an act of folly and an incredible story.”

Detective Sergeant Ben Hargreaves, of Poole CID, said: “As a magistrate he certainly couldn’t argue that he didn’t know the law.

“He was given every opportunity to tell the truth but chose to keep his lies going. It is not the sort of behaviour you expect from a magistrate.”

The Rolex has now been returned to its owner, a widow who had been given it by her late husband.

Rod Brummitt, justices’ chief executive at Dorset Magistrates’ Court, said that Rowlett had been suspended as a magistrate as soon as the allegation came to light. He said: “He retains his status as a magistrate and any further action will not be taken until we know whether there is to be an appeal.

“It would be our expectation that the magistrate would resign. He has been a long-serving and distinguished magistrate in many ways, but clearly we cannot and do not condone that sort of offence.”

None of that surprises me in the least - the system has worked as it is supposed to work.

What fascinates me is how his wife reacted to being given a beautiful Rolex only to find that the old man had actually found it on the floor in Tesco's.

I would rather face everything that the court had to throw at me than have to explain that to my wife.