Court 1916: Cayton innkeeper caught serving stout to soldiers

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Before Mr F Baker and other magistrates at the North Riding Police Court at Scarborough, Betsy Ann Chew, innkeeper, Cayton, was summoned on a charge of serving members of His Majesty’s Forces with intoxicating liquor in contravention of a military order under the Defence of the Realm Act, on March 6th.

Mr Whitfield, for the prosecution, said the order prohibited the serving of soldiers at Cayton except between 6.30pm and 9.30pm.

On Monday, March 6th, PC Bromley entered the Star Inn and noticed defendant’s son hurriedly enter the taproom and shuffle with the window curtains. On a table was a glass containing stout and two soldiers were in the room. PC Bromley asked whose the stout was, and without giving the soldiers opportunity to reply, defendant’s son said, “That is my stout, Mr Bromley.” In a sense that was true. Looking behind the curtains the officer discovered two bottles each half full of stout. He asked to whom these latter belonged and the son replied, “They are mine too. A friend of mine has been and treated me to them.” “That”, said Mr Whitfield “was an absolute falsehood.” He would show the two soldiers entered shortly after six o’clock. They ordered two bottles of stout for which they paid. One supplied the son with a portion. The two bottles found behind the curtain had been ordered and paid for by the soldiers. When told she would be reported Mrs Chew said, “Don’t do that, please. Look over it this time.” Before 6.30pm two other soldiers came in and asked to be served, but as the officer was there they were refused.

Concluding Mr Whitfield said the prosecution considered the efforts to evade detection made the offence more serious than perhaps it might have been.

The facts were corroborated by PC Bromley and Mr Hart admitted everything. PC Bromley had asked defendant if she knew the regulations, and she replied “I don’t know they (the soldiers) have been served.”

Previous convictions: 1899, fine of £5 and costs for permitting drunkenness, two dog licence offences; 1915, selling drink during prohibited hours, fined 10s; and it was stated a charge of permitting drunkenness in 1913 had been withdrawn.

Mr Hart reminded the bench that there was only one conviction of importance during 17 years. After a person had been fined £5, and paid that, and had then had the licence renewed so many years, it certainly struck on as being rather hard that it should be brought up after so many years. The only mitigating facts there were in the case were those deposed by PC Bromley, that defendant had said, “I don’t know they have been served.” They had been served contrary to her express instructions. He suggested a nominal fine of £1 or 10s would meet the case.

After the bench had retired the chairman said to defendant: You plead guilty to a very serious case. It is at this time when the country, and all the world, is at war, a very serious thing to supply soldiers with drink in prohibited hours. You will be fined £5.