‘Drunk’ farmer given benefit of the doubt

1913 Police Court

There was a large attendance at the North Riding Police Court today, when the case in which James Wm. Jackson, a well known Cayton farmer, was charged with having been drunk on licensed premises, the Star Inn, Cayton, on Thursday May 22nd, came up for hearing.

It will be remembered at the trial, a week ago, there was a great deal of contradictory evidence, and the case was finally adjourned in order that additional witnesses might be called.

Mr F Baker (in the chair), Mr AH Robinson and Mr JE Marsden were the magistrates on the Bench.

Mr J Whitfield again appeared for the prosecution, and Mr Hart defended.

Joseph Coates, signalman at Seamer Station, said that on the day in question he saw Jackson talking to Mr Stead, the station master at Seamer, at about 4.15. He (witness) was about eight yards away in the signal box. In his opinion he was not drunk.

Mr Whitfield: What makes you say that he was not drunk.

Witness reiterated that when he saw Jackson the latter did not appear to be drunk. His attention had not been drawn to defendant by any unusual behaviour of his. He noticed most people who passed the signal box.

Annie Edith Jackson, wife of defendant, said that her husband had driven herself and two children to Seamer Station, where they took the 1.40 train for Scarborough. There were no intoxicants whatever in the house when she left, and when her husband left her he was quite sober.

Mr Whitfield, cross-examining: If PC Boynton and PC Bromley were telling the truth when they said that Jackson staggered and shouted, would you think he was drunk?

Witness: No, not necessarily. He is very excitable.

Alice Vasey, domestic servant in the employment of defendant, spoke as to having prepared his, defendant’s, tea. The only “drinkable” she got ready was tea. She could not say if he took the tea, as she did not clear the table.

Her employer left the house at 5.50, driving his trap, and was sober at the 

Mr Whitfield: Does he stagger about when he is quite sober?

Witness: Yes, sir.

Mr Hart: You have no doubt seen several people stagger when they have not been drunk?

Witness: Yes, sir.

Mr Hart: I have – scores (laughter). Very common thing (laughter).

Mrs Bromley, wife of PC Bromley, then went into the box.

She said that she saw Mr Jackson pass her house at about six o’clock, Sawdon (an earlier witness) came along the road and she had a conversation with him. She said: “Did you see my husband going down the road?” To which he replied that he had seen a Mrs Chew, who had told him that she had seen her (witness’s) husband taking Jackson to Scarborough drunk. She answered, “He has been asking for this for a longtime and deserves it.” Sawdon then told her that he had tried to stop him coming out, but it was no use his saying anything. He had been drunk when he left him. She denied having said to Sawdon, “It’s a pity he did not fall out of the trap and kill himself.”

Mr Hart submitted that the evidence was not conclusive. There was a lot of evidence to the effect that defendant had been drunk and a lot to the 
effect that he had been 

He submitted that there was no case to answer.

“They are matters of opinion, and nothing more,” he said. He submitted that there was no case to answer.

The Bench retired to consider the case, and on their return the chairman said there had been a great many witnesses on both sides.

There might be some doubt about it, and therefore they would give defendant the benefit of the doubt. They had considered the case very carefully.