Joseph Crewe (Prudential Superintendent) – Statements

The full statement of Prudential superintendent Joseph Crewe. Courtesy of John Gannon.

Statement #1:


Central Police Office,
Dale Street.

Joseph CREWE, 34, Green Lane, Mossley Hill, says:-

I am a Superintendent employed by the Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd.

William Herbert Wallace was an agent of the Company and worked under my supervision. He has been employed by the Company for about 16 years, and has worked under me for the past 12 years. His accounts with the Company are in perfect order. I went to live at my present address about 3½ years ago and since then Mr. Wallace has visited me on business at my home on many occasions, and for a period of about 2 months, about 18 months ago, he visited me once a week. Green Lane runs between Menlove Avenue and Mather Avenue, and I live about midway between the two, so that a No. 8 tram up Mather Avenue, or a No. 5a or No. 7, along Menlove Avenue, would be equally convenient for anyone coming to my house.

Menlove Gardens are about 5 munutes walk from my house. I have often cisjted Mr.Wallace’s house, 29, Wolverton Street, and I knew his wife. They were a very devoted couple. Mr. Wallace’s salary was £3.16/- per week and his average commission and bonus would be about £2 per week. Mr. Wallace as an agent of the Company had authority to go to any part of the City to get new business in connection with ordinary branch Insurance and general branch Insurance, but with regard to Industrial Branch business it was not a general practice, although not against the rules, for an agent to go outside his own district.

(Sgd) J.Crewe.

Statement #2:

Evidence taken 23rd February 1931.


I am a Superintendent in the employ of the Prudential Insurance Company Ltd., and live at 34 Green Lane, Mossley Hill, Lpool.

I have known the accused as an insurance Agent under my supervision for 12 years. I went to live at my present address _ yeats ago. The accused has visited me there 4 or 5 times. No _ more or less as a friend, about 3 years ago the accused asked me if I know anything about a violin. I said “Yes, I did”. I suggested that I should go with him to buy one which I did. I then asked him who was going to teach him. He said he did not know as he did not know of anyone. I suggested that I should give him a few lessons until he had found someone to teach him. That is how he came to call at my house. He only came about the violin. He came once a week for 5 weeks.

BY Mr. SCHOLEFIELD ALLEN, Counsel for accused:-

So far as the accused’s work is concerned I have known the accused for 12 years. During that period he has _ the _ character in every respect. Putting it mildly, I would describe him as a kindly gentleman. No form of words would be too high praise for him in that respect. I know Mrs. Wallace. Up to 12 months ago I visited their home frequently. I have seen Mrs. Wallace frequently during the last 12 months. The accused and his wife were all is all to each other. When the accused came to my house two years ago I gave him directions how to get there. The nearest stop to my house for trams is in ALlerton Road at the corner of Mather Avenue and is marked on the plan W.H.W.15(?). When the accused visited me it was winter, and I should say would be at about 8 p.m. The Menlove Avenue district was xxxxxx never in his Prudential round. His district was the Clubmoor district. Before this case I did not know whether or not there was a Menlove Gardens East. I was not laid up 2 years ago. I have never been ill in my life. The accused did not visit me 2 or 3 times a week at any time. On the evening of the 20th. January last I was out of my house.

RE-EXAMINED :- THe nearest tram stop from __ __ at the corner of Allerton Rd. a_ Mather Avenue is the one at the corner of Menlove Avenue and Green Lane.

BY Mr. SCHOLEFIELD ALLEN, Counsel for accused :-
The tram stop at the corner of Menlove Avenue is on a different tram route from the one at the corner of Allerton Road and Mather Avenue.



907. Is your name Joseph Crewe? Yes.

908. I think you are a Superintendent in the employ of the Prudential Insurance
Company? Yes.

909. And you live at 34, Green Lane, Mossley Hill Liverpool? Yes.

MR HEMMERDE: Your Lordship will see where 34 Green Lane is and the Jury had better see. It is a little way up Green Lane looking down the car corner straight up from Mather Avenue just before one comes to Silver Beach Avenue.

MR HEMMERDE: It is only a short way below Menlove Avenue.

910. I think the accused has been under your supervision for some 12 years? Yes.

911. Did you go and live at your present address some 3 and half years ago? Yes.

912. Had the accused visited you there? Yes.

913. Often? Yes.

914. How many times altogether? Five times.

915. Some time ago, did he suggest anything to you about music? Yes.

916. What was it? Well, he suggested he would like to play the violin and asked me if I knew anything about it and I said I knew a little bit.

917. Did you play yourself? Yes, I did and I went with him to buy one. I asked him who was going to teach him and he said he did not know, but he was going to get one and I said I would give him a few lessons till he got one.

918. You undertook or suggested you should give him a few lessons? That is right.

919. How many lessons altogether did you give him? Five.

920. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Did he come to your house to get them or how? He came to my house, my Lord.

921. MR HEMMERDE: Apart from those lessons, did he come at any other time? No.

922. What time of day used he to come? I should say about half past 7.

923. What time of year was it he came? In the winter.

924. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Which winter, this winter or last? No. It is about two years ago.

925. MR HEMMERDE: Have you ever been at his house? Yes.


926. Five times two years ago, he came to your house for violin lessons? Yes.

927. To get to you would the best way be the ordinary way to take the tram that comes along the Allerton Road and get off at the corner? Get off at Green Lane.

928. Your house is marked on this plan No 34. So that tram would take him nearly to your door; that tram would not take him within sight of Menlove Gardens, would it? No.

929. Did you as a matter of fact know whether there was a Menlove Gardens East or not? Menlove Gardens are behind the main road and I would suggest very few people, only those that reside in those Gardens, ever came through them.

930. Just answer my question. Did you know whether there was such a place or not? No.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Such a place as what?
MR ROLAND OLIVER: Menlove Gardens East.

931. How long have you known Mr Wallace? 12 years and a few months.

932. What is your opinion of his character? An absolute gentleman in every respect.

933. Have you ever seen any sign of violence or ill temper about him? None whatever.
934. Scrupulously honest? Absolutely.

935. What about his accounts, were they always in order? Always to a penny.

936. There was no question of his ever being wrong in his accounts? None whatever.

937. Did you know his wife? Yes.

938. Have you been to their house and seen them together? Yes.

939. What do you say about their relations with each other? The best possible.

940. Is there any possible foundation for suggesting that he was indifferent to her as far as appearance went? None whatever. I suggest that Mr Wallace appeared to be very fond of her.

941. I think the phrase you used before was that “they appeared to be all in all to one another”? That is so.

942. With regard to the violin lessons were they 5 weeks running? Yes, 5 weeks running.

943. What part of the year was it? I could not tell you the months but I know it was during the winter.

944. I mean was it after dark that he came? Yes.

945. Was his job in life collecting money for the Prudential? Yes.

946. How long had that been his job? 15 years.

947. When he had collected the money did he account to your for it? He accounted to the office each week.

948. What did he do with the cash? Keep it.

949. How did he get rid of it eventually? He had to remit it each week.

950. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Remit where? What do you mean? Remit the cash to the District Office in Dale Street.

951. MR ROLAND OLIVER: You mean hand the cash over to the District Office? Yes.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: What day of the week?
THE WITNESS: Wednesday and sometimes Thursday.

952. MR ROLAND OLIVER: Was Wednesday the normal account day? Wednesday was the normal day.

953. Would the account include the Wednesday’s money or only the Tuesday’s money? It would include the Wednesday morning.

954. At any rate, anyone who knew him or knew about his habits or employment might expect him to have the bulk of his cash by Tuesday night? Yes.

955. What sort of sum would he collect, because they were not always the same but ordinarily what sort of sum would he be collecting a week? Anything from £50 to sometimes over £100.

956. Sometimes over £100? Yes.

957. And sometimes less than £50? Anything from £30, I said.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I thought you said £50.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: So did I my lord.
THE WITNESS: I said £30.

958. Some of his collections would not be much, I suppose? I suggest mostly cash.

959. Would he occasionally collect a cheque? Yes, no doubt.

960. I have some hundreds here. Three National Insurance receipts. Would they be cash? No, they are not cash. That is cash paid out to the clients and those are the receipts for the cash paid out.

961. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: You mean for payments due to them in some National Insurance? No, sickness benefit due to the member and receipts for the cash paid out by Mr Wallace.

962. Something paid to a member? Yes.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: You do not want to trouble about that.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: No, my Lord, it is only the cash I wanted.

963. This district, I gather, would include Menlove Gardens? No.

964. He would have a district, I suppose, somewhere round his house? Yes.

965. Would he have any right to have business in such a district as Menlove Gardens? Every right.

966. Just tell us why that would be right? Because he is only restricted to his own area for industrial premium, that is weekly premiums; for any other class of business he can go where he likes.

967. You mean for such a thing as a proposal for an endowment policy? Yes, he can go where he likes.

968. Something has been said about a 21st birthday party. Do people sometimes give endowment policies to their children? Yes.

969. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Ordinary life policies? He could go anywhere in the country.

970. And he could get life policies or endowment policies? Yes.

971. What else? The general branch, fire insurance and motor cars and that sort of thing.

972. MR ROLAND OLIVER: So far as life and endowment is concerned, anything that is not a weekly premium but a yearly premium? Yes.

973. What commission would he get on an endowment or life policy? Would it be something worth having? Yes, 20 per cent of the yearly premium, that is the first premium.

974. 20 per cent of the yearly premium? Not of the yearly, the first.

975. No more? No.

Look at exhibit No 44.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I think these names will have to be mentioned. I quite appreciate the reasons and if I could see my way to keep the names, back I would but I do not think it is right to have any mystery in the case.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: I want to ask this witness if that is true and your Lordship sees if the name is mentioned it makes it worse.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I know, but we cannot keep the name back.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: If your Lord pleases.

976. “Mr Gordon R Parry of Derwent Road, Stoneycroft, is a friend of my late wife’s and myself. He is now an agent for the Gresham Insurance Company but I’m not quite sure of the company. He was employed by the Prudential department to about 12 or 15 months ago and he then resigned to improve his position. Although nothing was known officially to the company detriment to his financial affairs it was know that he had collected premiums which he did not pay in and his Superintendent, Mr Crewe, of Green Lane, Allerton, he told me that he went to Parry’s parents who paid about £30 to cover the deficiency. Mr Crewe’s office is at 2 Great Nelson Street. Parry is a single man about 22 years of age”. Is that statement true? Partly true.

977. Which part is true? The £30 is a little bit exaggerated.

978. It is not so much as that? Not so much as that, not from his parents.

979. But there were deficiencies and there were payments by the parents? Yes.

MR ROLAND OLIVER: Having said that I do not know whether the Press need publish that.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I am not concerned with what the press does, but I only mean as far as the truth of the case before the Jury is concerned there will be no suppression of the names. The Press will do what they think is right a proper. They always do.


980. Do I understand that the money was collected by him all the week and then paid over at the end? By whom?

981. By any Prudential agent? Yes.

982. That is so, and by the prisoner, it would be similarly collected? Yes.

983. Would that be paid over to you? No, it is paid in the District Office in Dale Street to a clerk.

984. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: You would have nothing to do with taking that cash? No, my Lord.

985. What do you do? You are said to be an Inspector or Supervisor. What are your duties? Supervise the agents’ work, see that the accounts are in order and see that they attend to the business properly.

986. MR HEMMERDE: You cannot help us perhaps as to what his cash returns were per week? I can.

987. Will you? Yes.

That week particularly, for instance, the 21st. The day you said was the 21st, a

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Wednesday was the 21st; Tuesday was the 20th.
MR HEMMERDE: Yes my Lord.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: When had he last made a return?
THE WITNESS: The week before, my Lord, on the Thursday.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: That would be the 15th.

988. Was it not the Wednesday it was made? Our accounts are all dated for the Monday of that particular week. The agent is debited with an amount each week on a Monday, whatever day he pays it in during that week; it is all for that Monday. On the 5th January, Mr Wallace paid in £35 2s 11d. On the 12th January, that is for the Monday, he paid in £89 0s 9d.

989. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: What about 19th January? The 19th January only £10 11s 0d was paid in, for the simple reason either the police or someone else had taken the cash and the police have a portion of that cash yet.

990. MR HEMMERDE: What makes you say that? Well, I understand the police have at least £18 cash and I have asked for it.

991. What makes you say that; where did you get it from? Because they took, it and I have asked for it.

992. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: When was the £10 11s 0d paid in? Was it paid in, in cash? No, the £10 11s 0d was paid in on the Thursday, the 21st January.

993. MR HEMMERDE: Paid in by whom? By Mr Wallace.

994. Will you tell my Lord and the Jury what makes that to be different between the 5th and the 12th? I think you call that return a debit, do you not, in the Prudential? Yes, that is right.

995. And the return is made up from industrial subscriptions, pennies a week, and that sort of thing? Yes.

996. Do you find as a rule they vary very much at that? The reason they vary is this. On the 5th January he paid £36 2s 11d in. The following week, the 12th January, is what we call a monthly week. He also collects weekly premiums and monthly premiums. That accounts for the £89 being paid that week. Another item in that particular week he paid £9 10s 7d ordinary branch premiums in and £1 19 18s 0d general branch premiums. That accounts for the amount being larger.

997. The monthly premiums are paid in on a regular date just the same as the weekly premiums? They are paid in once a month.

998. And the date of the quarter’s monthly premiums always means a much larger sum? Yes.

999. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: All paid in the same week? The weekly and monthly are

paid in at the same time.

1000. MR HEMMERDE: It is always four weeks apart? Yes.

1001. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: And they swell the weekly return when they come? Yes.

1002. And apparently, they come here on the 12th? Yes, they come on the 12th.

1003. MR HEMMERDE: The 12th would be the big amount? Yes, four weeks apart.

1004. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: What ought to be the proper return for the week ending the 19th? The proper return should have been about £30.

1005. MR HEMMERDE: Much the same as the 5th? Yes, much the same as the 5th.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I thought you said the 5th was £35?
MR HEMMERDE: I thought he said £50.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Yes, so did I at first.

1006. What do you say it is? £35. That particular week there should have been £30 of industrial branch premiums collected.

1007. MR HEMMERDE: Not necessarily by the Tuesday night? No.

1008. They would collect also on the Wednesday morning? Yes.

1009. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: If they did not pay the money till Thursday they would have the whole of Wednesday? They usually take the cash on Wednesday afternoon.

1010. MR HEMMERDE: And they often do on the Thursday? Yes.

1011. A collection of £30 is thought to be a fairly average debit? Yes, that is a fair average debit, but I do not want you to overlook this point, that there is the ordinary branch premiums to collect also in the same week.

1012. I am taking merely the weekly debit? Yes.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I think he is saying £30 is only industrial.
MR HEMMERDE: Yes, that is so, and that is what I meant to put to him. We have had all this out in the Civil court during this Assize. That is why I am rather familiar with it


  • Known Wallace for 12 years.
  • Claims Wallace had visited him often on business. Contradicts this on trial, claiming Wallace had only been there for the violin lessons. Seems uncertain or evasive about the amount of times Wallace has visited him.
  • Claims Wallace had visited once a week for a period of about 2 months around 18 months ago. The violin lessons began at the end of 1928 according to the diary report (Wednesday, November the 28th).
  • The tram along Allerton Road is the most convenient, and is on a different tram line than the one which runs up Menlove Avenue.
  • Has visited Wallace’s home often and knows his wife.
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