Farm servants denied trespassing with guns

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1913 Police Court

At the North Riding Police Court today, before Mr AH Robinson, presiding, Mr AM Daniel, the Rev TG Little, Mr Yarborough Anderson, and Mr J Hall, William Hartley and William Panks, farm servants, Seamer, were summoned at the instance of David Shepherd, gamekeeper, for having trespassed in pursuit of game in the day time.

They pleaded not guilty.

Mr JD Munby, solicitor, appeared for the prosecution, and said that this case was undertaken by the Yorkshire Sports and Games Protection Society. On Sunday, November 16th, about 7.30 in the morning, a gamekeeper named David Shepherd was going his rounds on Mr Charles Taylor’s farm. He saw defendant, William Hartley, attending to some turnips and sheep, and he noticed him deliberately move away from the sheep and go into one of Mr Taylor’s fields and take a rifle, aim at something, and fire a shot. Hartley then went away. The gamekeeper would tell them that he saw Hartley crouching along the hedge with a gun in his possession. Soon after the gamekeeper heard another shot. Almost immediately afterwards he saw the other defendant Panks take a rifle to pieces and put it in his pocket. He followed the two defendants, but did not come upon them until they were on the railway line, and charged them with shooting on Mr Taylor’s land. They were very offensive, and the gamekeeper, in order to further prove his case, made an 
attempt to search them. He went to search William Hartley, and put his hands in his pockets and there found his 
rifle. They threatened him, however Panks made an 
attempt to assault him. They then went away.

David Shepherd, gamekeeper, said he was employed by Mr Gerald Heaton, who had all the shooting rights of this land in question.

Questioned by Mr Munby, witness said that he was quite satisfied that the shot was fired on Mr Taylor’s land, but he could not see them at the time. He saw them two or three minutes afterwards. He went up to them and asked them what sort of a game they had been up to that morning? They said, “What the hell have you to do with that!”

They started using most abominable language.

Witness told Hartley he would take his rifle from him, and he said, “You bloody well won’t,” and they threatened him. Both refused their names and addresses. They denied shooting and being in possession of rifles, but witness had hold of Hartley’s rifle. They were both farm servants in Mr Taylor’s employ, and they said they had a right on Mr Taylor’s farm.

Hartley (to witness): Did you see me with a rifle?

Witness: Yes.

Hartley: You did not. I have never had a rifle this last six months. What you have said is nothing but lies.”

PC Mail (Seamer) said he saw the defendants on November 18th. He said, “You have been reported for shooting game. Have you got a gun licence?” Panks became very abusive, and asked what that had to do with him. He said he had not a gun licence. Witness said, “Where is your gun?” and he replied, “That is my business.” Hartley said he had not a gun licence and no gun. Witness asked him what he had done with it. He replied, “We have sold them. I sold mine to a man at Spiker’s Hill”.

Mr Gerald Heaton, in the witness box, said he had the whole of the shooting rights on Mr Taylor’s farm. Mr Taylor said he would not let his men shoot anything at harvest time or any other time.

Hartley said on the day in question they (the defendants) were not poaching, but simply walking round Mr Taylor’s field. On returning home they saw David Shepherd about 30 yards up the line. They walked slowly waiting for him – and he came up to them. David Shepherd grabbed hold of him, but he never had his hand in his (Hartley’s) pocket at all. William Panks came up, and “never opened his mouth” to him, but Shepherd turned round and threatened to cut his ear off. They said they would both stand. When going away they asked him who was his witness, and he said he did not want a witness. Hartley denied having poached or having a gun in his possession. Panks said that he met William Hartley after he had been working on the field, and they both went for a walk. They saw Shepherd about 30 yards away. He grabbed hold of him (defendant) by the collar and threatened him. Panks said he asked Shepherd if he had seen him shoot, and he said “No”.

The magistrates chairman said they had considered the evidence and had decided to dismiss the case.