Altercation led to attack with revolver

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Thursday Flashback 1912 Court

At York Assizes on Monday, John Bulmer Smith (44), out-porter, Scarborough, was charged with shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Albert Dennis, railway porter.

Before the magistrates it was stated that Dennis went into Hutchinson’s hairdressing saloon, Victoria Road, prisoner being already there. When Smith was leaving the shop a few minutes later he grunted back and said “Good night, Mr Hutchinson,” then after a pause, “Good night bastard – I mean Dennis”. Dennis then rushed after Smith and knocked him down, and whilst down Smith pulled a revolver from his pocket and fired at Dennis, who was standing over him, but the bullet missed and entered the ceiling. Mr Hutchinson then ran out of the shaving room to the outer shop and ordered prisoner, who was still on the floor, to leave, and this he did. On being arrested two days later, a six-chambered revolver was found upon him. Two cartridges had been fired, but there were still four unused cartridges.

Prisoner, whose sight is very defective, stated before the magistrates that Dennis sneered at him in the barber’s shop. Dennis struck him twice, and was going to hit him a third time when he pulled out the revolver to frighten Dennis. It went off accidentally and he never intended to do any grievous bodily harm to Dennis.

Evidence was given in support of counsel’s (Mr J Oddy) statement.

Mr Charles Mellor, who defended, called the prisoner, who said Dennis knocked him down twice. Prisoner then pulled a revolver out of his pocket with the intention of scaring Dennis, but the revolver went off accidentally.

He had no intention of shooting the prisoner.

Cross-examined by Mr Oddy, the prisoner admitted that he had a grievance against Dennis for having “destroyed his home and his happiness, and brought everything to disgrace”. He had not formed any intention of doing Dennis some injury.

His Lordship, in addressing the jury, commented upon the number of cases that were occurring in which people had carried loaded revolvers about them. “I have seen it,” his Lordship said, “here and at Durham, where I have just come from. At Durham it resulted in the loss of one boy’s life and the imprisonment of another. It is a great deal too common. I cannot see why people carry revolvers about with them when they have no admitted intention of shooting any-body.

I really do not know why they do it, unless it is because they are fools. I regret it very much, for it is a great deal too common.”

The prisoner was found not guilty, and discharged.