Prisoner refuses to take the oath

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1913 Police Court

At the Borough Police Court this morning, before Mr Henry Stephenson and Mr John Hall, John Charles C. Campbell (56), labourer, the Workhouse, was charged with having unlawfully assaulted John Henry Roberts, on January 21st.

Prisoner pleaded guilty.

John Binks, labour master, said that as the men and women were filing into the dining hall for their breakfast, he saw Campbell deliberately strike another inmate, John Henry Roberts, who suffered from bronchial asthma.

John Henry Roberts said that he was very short of breath, and when he was going into the dining hall Campbell got hold of him by the shoulders, and when he spoke to him, felled him.

Prisoner said he took him by the shoulders gently, and that witness being weak, he had been upset by the “shove”.

Three other inmates at the workhouse corroborated Roberts’ evidence. They all said that as far as they could see, there had been no provocation.

The prisoner went into the witness-box but refused to take the oath. He said he had extreme provocation from various sources: language had been used that he would not utter in court.

A piece of paper was then handed up to the magistrates.

In reply to a question from the Bench prisoner said he had been in Scarborough 26 years, and that in the summer he was employed by the Coffee House Company.

Mr Binks asked Campbell whether the provocation didn’t take place in the day-room and not in the dining hall. He saw the prisoner, he continued, make a half-jump and deliberately knock Roberts on the head.

Mr John Hall: The language is bad enough to provoke anybody.

Prisoner: I thank you, your Worship.

Roberts was handed the paper, and said that he had never used such language.

Mr John Dyde, workhouse master, said that the prisoner had admitted to him that the “provocation had been given after he had struck Roberts.” Prisoner had been a trouble to all at the workhouse, Roberts had also admitted using the bad language to him, but after the blow.

Several previous convictions were read out. He was sentenced to prison for fourteen days.