A serious case of assault came before the magistrates, Mr WS Rowntree and Mr J Hall, at the Borough Police Court today.
George Clarke (44), labourer, 3, George Street, was charged with assaulting PC Charles Veitch whilst in the execution of his duty in St Thomas Street on May 4th. Clarke pleaded not guilty to assaulting PC Veitch.
PC Veitch said that during the time he was assisting PC Taylor with another prisoner, this man tripped witness up and threw him to the floor, he then jumped on his back and seized witnesses’s coat collar and tried to strangle him. During that time there was a crowd pushing on top of them, PC Moore came up and got hold of prisoner.
The Chairman: Was accused drunk?
Witness: Well, he had some drink, but he was not drunk.
The Magistrates’ Clerk (Mr Black): Could he walk? – Yes, he could walk. Witness added that accused smelt of drink.
PC Moore said that he saw prisoner, who kicked PC Veitch’s legs from under him and both came down on the ground. Prisoner jumped on top of PC Veitch. The constable added that Clarke “flew from the footpath clean on top of Veitch.”
Witness rescued the constable and assisted in taking accused to the police station.
The Chairman: What was your opinion of accused?
Witness said accused had had some drink but he was quite able to take care of himself.
Asked if he had anything to say, prisoner asked their worships to be as lenient as possible with him. He promised nothing of that sort would occur in future. He was going home about five minutes past eleven when somebody shouted that a friend of his was in trouble.
In reply to the Magistrates’ Clerk the accused said that he knew this person but it was not a friend of his.
Prisoner continued that he had said, “Let’s just go and have a look at them.” That was all he knew.
The Chief Constable remarked, with regard to assaults on police, that if anything, if there was no previous conviction against the defendant, it accentuated the crime as he should know better.
The Chairman asked the prisoner if had anything to say with regard to the case.
Prisoner: No, sir.
The magistrates retired, and on their return the chairman said: If there is one offence in this court that ought to be treated severely it is cases of assaults on the police. The police represent the public. They go about very often alone, and if it was at all that they could be interfered with by anybody in the execution of their duty, they would be liable to very great danger, and therefore we feel we must always at this court, treat severely cases of offences against the police, especially assaults of the nature committed by Clarke. We take into account that it is the first time defendant has appeared in this court.
He seems to have been mad drunk and he did not know what he was doing. The chairman pointed out that being drunk was no excuse, it simply made it worse. Under the circumstances stated, Clarke would be fined £2 or one month’s imprisonment.
Clarke was granted two weeks within which to pay.