1916 court: Man resists arrest for flashing pocket torch

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Joseph White, licence holder, Bedford Arms, Castle Road, was charged with failing to extinguish an external light at 1am on 28th November.

The magistrates on the bench were the mayor (Mr CC Graham), Messrs HJ Tugwell, G Rowntree and J Sinfield.

The defendant was represented by Mr GE Royle, and a plea of guilty was put forth.

The chief constable stated the facts, and at the outset submitted there was no question of this coming within the regulations. The defendant knew perfectly well an air raid was in progress. Shortly before 1am the defendant was flashing a pocket lamp produced, in the street, showing quite a bright light. He was seen by two special constables with this lamp, and they cautioned him about it. Ten minutes later the defendant was again seen, and this time by PC Moore, flashing this lamp down the street. Moore was at the lower end of Bedford Street, and the defendant at the Castle Road end. The constable went up to him, arrested him, and brought him to the police office, where the chief saw him. He (the chief) ordered him to be charged with this offence and detained in custody until daylight, defendant in his opinion being not a fit and proper person to be at large, and it was not fair to the public that this man should have a flash lamp and be able to behave in the manner he did.

Coming back to his arrest, the chief said the defendant behaved very badly indeed. Grasping railings, hanging on to lamp posts and doing everything he could to bring PC Moore down. It took several men to take him into custody.

Mr Royle: He is not charged with that, you know!

PC Moore said at about 1am on Tuesday he was on duty in Bedford Street, where he saw a flashing lamp in Bedford Street and Castle Road. It was a very powerful light and illuminated the roadway. Witness spoke to the defendant. The latter refused to give him (Moore) any information, so witness took him into custody. Before taking him witness warned him, and the defendant said, “if you touch me, I’ll fell you.” With that he became very violent, resisting witness’s efforts to take him into custody. They both fell in Castle Road, and witness had to put the handcuffs on him. Prior to seeing the light himself witness heard someone shouting to put the light out, and this being so witness considered it his duty to take him into custody.

Replying to questions by the magistrates, witness said he was flashing the light in such a way that it illuminated the roadway. Defendant certainly had some drink, but he was not drunk enough to warrant his being charged with drunkenness. In view of the danger existing at the time witness considered it his duty to “take him on”.

Special Constable Gibson deposed to himself and Special Constable Maynard telling the defendant to put his flash lamp out prior to the interference of PC Moore. Defendant did so.

Replying to a magistrate, witness said the defendant was shining the lamp carelessly and indifferently.

He was shining the lamp without discretion? - Yes.

Mr Royle: Did you see him throwing his light on to a poor woman on the other side of the road? - Did you hear him (the defendant) asking her if she was frightened and would like to come into his house? - No, sir.

Defendant gave evidence on oath, and having explained the reason for shining the lamp, which was to assist two women walking along the road, denied the allegation as to his being violent and resisting Moore. He was in a state of great distress and perturbation at the time for in addition to the existing conditions he had had news that night of his son having been badly wounded.

Defendant said Moore took hold of him and said he was taking him into custody, a course he (the defendant) told him there was no occasion for. Defendant was leaning on the railings and Moore took his arm off and subsequently tripped him up and put the handcuffs on him. At this stage the defendant drew his sleeves up and showed his wrists to the magistrates.

Replying to the chief constable defendant admitted two special constables had told him to put the light out, which he did. The reason he shone the lamp the second time was because of his dropped glasses. He denied flashing the lamp about carelessly.

The chief: Is it not your custom to stand by your door flashing this lamp at people after closing time? - No sir.

The question was repeated, but the same answer was vouchsafed.

The chief: I would like you to put his answer down Mr Clerk.

Defendant also denied the chief having previously cautioned him with regard to his use of his flash lamp.

The denial was emphatic and the defendant was exhorted to be careful as to what he said.

Defendant: I am not telling lies - I am telling the truth.

There would be a fine of £10 or two months’ imprisonment in default.

Mr Royle: He (meaning the defendant) had £20 in his possession when he was in custody.

Time to pay was refused.