1915 Police Court
At the Scarborough Police Court on Wednesday, before the Deputy Mayor, and Alderman V Fowler, in the chair, and other magistrates, a case arising out of an alleged assault by an officer during the recent recruiting route march, when Harry Lauder’s Band was at Scarborough, was down for hearing.
The officer in question was Brigadier General NT Nickalls, of Westhorp, Westwood, Scarborough, and he was summoned by Enos Thompson Horsman, for assault on May 25.
A good many interested spectators were in court.
Asked to plead, the brigadier general replied: I don’t deny assaulting him, but I say I had provocation.
The clerk pointed out that that was a technical plea of guilty. Unless the defendant was going to justify the assault it was a plea of guilty. He was entitled to plead guilty or not guilty.
Defendant: I cannot deny the assault, but I plead justification.
A plea of not guilty was then taken.
Mr C Royle, solicitor, who appeared for the prosecution, reviewed the facts. On Tuesday morning, May 25, he said about 11 o’clock Horsman was on horseback in company with a witness named Stephenson near Malton’s brickyard in Scalby Road, near to Manor Road. It appeared there had been one or two recruiting bands passing, which had necessitated Horsman pulling aside for the purpose of letting them pass. When they had gone past a few yards, the defendant encountered Horsman.
The brigadier, also on recruiting business, “tackled” Horsman, and a conversation ensued. The general asked Horsman, pointing in the direction of the band: Now then doesn’t it make you think you ought to be in them? The suggestion was did not Horsman think he ought to enlist. In reply to that Horsman said he knew what his duty to his country was, and as a matter of fact he was already in the service of the Government. Horsman was a higher grade clerk in the Labour Bureau at Scarborough, which was a Government position. He pointed out to the general that he was at present in the service of the Government, and had been instrumental in helping to obtain about 400 men in various war work. The general then suggested that an older man could do that and Horsman said apparently the Government did not think so because he had made application to the Government on three or four different occasions to be released, and he was told he had to remain where he was - they would not give him permission. The general said he did not believe it. He said, “It is a lie, you have never asked.” Horsman said, “In order to prove who is a liar I will show you these papers.” He put his hand into his pocket with the intention of producing some papers he had from the Government in regard to the applications to be allowed to join the army.
Whether the brigadier was mistaken in thinking Horsman called him a liar was a matter on which there might have been misunderstanding. However, after that there was the assault which was admitted by the general. The brigadier struck Horsman with a stick across the face.
Witness said he was just bending his head to get the papers from the inside pocket of his coat when he received a violent blow, which burst his nose, and cut his lip inside and out.
Mr AJ Tugwell: What with?
Witness: I don’t know. I had my head down, and did not see what it was.
Mr Royle: These papers are what you were going to produce to the general when he hit you? Yes.
You are going into the army now? Yes, if I pass the doctor.
The defendant asked questions to show that in the position his horse was he could not have done this, but the witness said that he pulled the horse round.
Dr Griffin said he attended Horsman, who was bleeding from the nose, and was cut on the outside of both the lips. It was not serious. It was consistent with a blow from a stick.
The defendant then went in the box and said there was very little between him and the prosecutor. He did not deny having struck him, but he denied having struck him with a stick.
He acknowledged making the statement that Horsman had not tried to enlist, and he acknowledged that that was to a certain extent, provocation. The first word “liar” came from Horsman, the witness’s blood was up, and he contended that a man in his position if called a liar in public had no other redress.
Mr Royle: You think you are justified? - I think I am. I think there is no other redress.
The magistrates retired, and in the interval the brigadier chatted in court with Horsman.
The magistrates were absent 20 minutes, and on returning the Chairman said: The magistrates consider that the events which preceded the assault did not in any way justify the violence. The case was met by a fine of two guineas and witness’s allowances.
The decision was greeted with applause in court which the bench suppressed. As he left the court the brigadier shook hands with Horsman.