1916 court: Quartet charged for loitering in street

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Edward Clough Tasker, 46, Ramshill Road; Ernest Richard Storry, 8, Queen Street; Maud Thompson, 57, Moorland Road; Evelyn Columbine, 44, Newborough, were summoned at the Borough Police Court for unlawfully obstructing the free use of Westborough, and continuing after being requested by a constable to desist on 7th October.

The chief constable said this case was brought up under the by-law which stated that if a person obstructed the free use of any street, and continued obstructing after a constable had warned them to move, the person would be summoned.

On the day in question PC Moore was on duty in Newborough when he saw the defendants standing at the end of Huntriss Row. He requested them to move, and the defendant Tasker remarked “All right, sir.” They moved about a yard. He again asked them, and they moved along again, and stood for about 12 or 13 minutes. Since the reduction of the police force there had been numerous complaints of this kind. He, the chief, had brought this case just as an example.

PC Moore said there was a lot of traffic about at the time. Where defendants were is an extreme narrow part of Westborough. When he, witness, said he would report defendants one of them replied they had not done it willingly.

Edward Brown, news vendor, corroborated to a certain extent the evidence of PC Moore.

Evelyn Columbine stated that PC Moore had said “get on to the road,” which they immediately did.

Then PC Moore said “Now then, get on; don’t let me have to tell you again.” They, the defendants, then moved into a kind of recess in the old Home and Colonial shop. Later the constable addressed the young ladies, and remarked jokingly that the young men must have been the attraction. They then went away down Westborough.

Ernest Storry gave evidence which corroborated that of the last witness.

The constable had said “Get right back there,” motioning with his hand to the Home and Colonial’s old shop. They were in the road at the time. Later the constable said to Tasker “I am not going to have you defy me.”

Storry, who is a commercial traveller, incidentally said “I have never seen such a place as Scarborough for people being so funny. I have lived in London for some time, and it is easier to get about there than here.”

Edward Tasker, another of the defendants, also gave evidence. “He – meaning the constable – distinctly told them to stand on the road. They understood by the motion of the hand and the “move back” that they were perfectly right in moving in the place mentioned.

They had obeyed all the requirements of the constable, and if they had committed an offence it was on the constable’s instructions.

The chief constable said that these corners were places where people often stand and it constituted a serious offence to do so.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, for the defendants, said the constable had not given his instructions in a clear manner. There had been a misunderstanding. When the constable told them to step into the road they did so. “Get further back” may have meant further back into the road or on the footpath, into the “recess”.

The chariman: You can’t exactly call it a recess.

Mr Whitfield: Well, a sort of jutting out recess.

Continuing, Mr Whitfield said the constable had waited over twenty minutes after first speaking to the defendants before he decided whether the case was worth bringing into court. The offence complained of, said Mr Whitfield, “was one which was done many times a day.” The chief constable had said it was not a crime.

After retiring the magistrates said an offence had certainly been committed but owing to the misunderstanding of the constable’s statement they (the magistrates) would not convict. The case would be dismissed.

In any future case that might occur the magistrates would look upon it more seriously.