Man in court on slander charge

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1913 Police Court

An unusual case was heard by Mr SN Smith (in the chair), and Mr J Hall, in the Scarborough Police Court today, Harry Lill, 7, Dumple Street, being summoned for having used indecent language within hearing of passers by in Westborough, on March 6th.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, appeared for the prosecution, and Lill denied the alleged offence.

Mr Whitfield said that on the date in question, the defendant was in Westborough, near the Home and Colonial Stores, in company with two young men named Costello and Oldridge. Whilst there, defendant was speaking about Mr Sharpe of the Whitby Arms. The conversation seemed to have opened by Lill enquiring when Mr Sharpe would be leaving the Whitby Arms. That was in consequence of the licence being referred for compensation. Then Lill went on to ask when the daughter would go out. Subsequently he made a vicious and virulent attack upon her. Such language said Mr Whitfield, was disgusting, but when applied to a perfectly respectable young woman it was most reprehensible. It was put to him why he should say those things, and the excuse he gave was that her father, (Mr Sharpe) had refused to let him carry his bag from the railway station a few nights before, and gave the job to another man. The fact of the language being used was reported to Mr and Mrs Sharpe, and on the following day Mr Sharpe made a point of seeing the defendant. He saw him at the billiard hall, in Huntriss Row, and asked him why he uttered those remarks about his daughter. The exact words which had been said were put to the defendant, and the latter admitted having said them, and also that he had no reason for saying them. He was told that if he went round and saw Mrs Sharpe, within an hour, and made an apology, there would be no more about it, but in default of his making an apology there would be further trouble. The defendant did not make an apology, and his clients felt it was necessary, in the interests of the girl, to bring the defendant to that court, so as to protect the young woman from virulent attacks by any foul-mouthed man who cared to make such remarks.

Albert Costello, labourer, 8, Oxford Street, spoke as to defendant joining him and another young man named Oldridge, and using the language about the girl. Witness did not remember Lill speaking about the Sharpes leaving the Whitby Arms. Witness had told defendant it was not likely that Sharpe would give him his bag to carry when he never went to Sharpe’s house.

Lill said: “If he stops there twenty years I shouldn’t spend three-halfpence in his place.”

When he used the words about the girl witness said: “You shouldn’t talk about anybody like that – before you start to call them you want to catch them.” Witness went and made a statement to Mr Sharpe the same night.

Lill: Do you reckon I used the words complained of? – Yes.

Do you say I said something about them leaving the Whitby Arms? – Yes.

You just told this gentleman (Mr Whitfield) that I didn’t say anything about that? – You did, but I had forgotten what you said.

What was your object in running to Mrs Sharpe and telling her even if I did say such a thing? – I thought it wasn’t right you should say so.

Do you say you told me it wasn’t right? – Yes. I said: “You want to catch her before you say anything about anybody.”

Replying to another question, witness said that Lill was with them about eight minutes, (Lill was going to the station for some newspapers).

James Sharpe, landlord of the Whitby Arms, spoke as to seeing Lill on the following day. He told him if he went and apologised they would settle the matter, but defendant did not go.

Lill had been before the court on three occasions for different offences, the last time being in 1908 – five years ago.

The magistrates imposed a fine of 21s, or a month. A friend of defendant’s in court undertook to pay the fine.