1915 court: Owner seen thrashing horse in cruel manner

144919'1915 paper copy 'Picture by Neil Silk'05/12/14
144919'1915 paper copy 'Picture by Neil Silk'05/12/14

At the Borough Police Court before Mr J Dippie, Alderman Whittaker, and Pirie, and Messrs WW Gibson, RG Heys, and AW Sinclair, Percy Williams, 27, Harcourt Avenue, was summoned at the instance of Inspector Bodely, RSPCA for cruelty to a pony on December 12th.

Inspector Bodely said that at 9am on December 12th Mr Peck, a special constable, saw defendant driving a pony attached to a milk float in Seamer Road, and thrashing the horse in a cruel manner.

Arthur Edward Peck corroborated. Defendant was lashing the animal at his command. The pony was galloping at full speed, and he stood his bicycle across defendant’s path, causing him to pull up. He asked defendant if that was the way to treat a horse, and defendant asked to know what he had to do with it. He told defendant the pony was going hard enough when he began to hit it. Defendant said he had no time to argue the point with him that morning and went on. Twenty minutes later witness, who was again cycling, saw him at the bottom of Oak Road. He saw him grinning at what he evidently intended to be an insolent manner. He dismounted and asked defendant “is there anything to laugh at when a man is detected in thrashing his animal as you were doing?” He replied, “Yes, because if I had known why you were stopping me I would have driven over you and your bicycle as well.” Witness wrote out a report, and later was present when the inspector asked defendant for an explanation. Defendant then said he had only struck the pony three times.

By the inspector: Defendant had said “rotten pig” at the bottom of Oak Road, which was evidently intended to apply to him, though there was also a boy present.

Mr J Whitfield, for the defence: May I put it to you that as a special constable you have been a success?

The chief constable: In fact you have broken all records for the number of cases you have had at this court. No other special constable has come within respectable distance of you.

Witness: It may be.

Mr Whitfield: I hope the maths may rest peacefully upon you.

By Mr Whitfield: Defendant would be about 200 yards away when he saw him. He was wrong in suggesting that the horse was not galloping, and wrong again in saying that defendant only hit it three times.

Mr Whitfield: The second offence was that he grinned at you. That is really a worse offence than the other? Did you get off your bicycle to reprimand him for having the audacity in daring to smile at you – a special constable?

Witness: It was his cheeky manner all through.

Mr Whitfield: If there is no summons out against him for his manner you agree there ought to be? – I did not know him before this case.

Inspector Bodely spoke as to having examined the pony, which he found very sore around the legs and where the whip had evidently been used.

Defendant in the box denied that he hurt the horse, it scarcely took any notice. At Oak Road he had told Mr Peck he was not grinning at him.

Henry William Good, veterinary surgeon, said that as a result of a careful examination he discovered no marks or soreness on the pony. The latter was about 15 years old. Mr Whitfield, in closing his defence, pointed out that it was brought on the evidence of one man. “It is not,” he proceeded, “for beating this horse that my client has been brought here. That is only the peg on which it is hung. It was because half an hour later Mr Peck saw a smile hovering over Mr Williams’ countenance, as he might. It would not be proper respect to him, a special constable.”

His client had said he was not grinning at him. That was not enough for Mr Peck. He went to see his so-called superior officer and made his report. The chief constable did not take the case up and it came somehow to Inspector Bodely. His client told the latter what had happened.

“I don’t hesitate to say that Inspector Bodely has deliberately lied to your worships this morning when he saw those marks on the pony.

The magistrates dismissed the case, costs being remitted.