Laughter at homeless man’s comments

Scarborough Police Court resounded with laughter this morning, when James Butcher (labourer), of no fixed abode, made his appearance.

The charge was the customary one, that of having lodged in a brickyard without visible means of subsistence and failing to give a good account of himself, on the 4th December.

Evidence of arrest about 4.30 in the morning in a brickyard in Seamer Road was given by PC Shepherd. Defendant had a tin full of tea, which was “more like mucky water than anything else.”

Defendant was asked by the Mayor if he had any questions to put to the constable and Butcher said: “I would if he was a sensible man”. “How do you know I had no visible means of existence?” – (laughter) – he subsequently asked the witness.

“I have got something to say to you”, he said to the Mayor, “You are sitting in the chair as Mayor of the town.”

Giving his “evidence” Butcher said he went the other day to Mr Basham’s mother – a very nice woman (laughter) – to say that he was going to leave the town, and he was going to make her a present of a beautiful teapot before he went. He asked for a drink of tea.

He swept the snow away from the Court House that day, and never received a penny for it in return. He asked the magistrates to give him a chance because he could make plenty of money (laughter). Of course money was no object to him (laughter).

He had once given a chap 30s and thought no more of it than if it were eighteen pence – (laughter) – but that was when he was young and foolish. With regard to his conduct and cleanliness, he continued, he had once served in the Army, and had come out of it with two good conduct badges. He had always been the cleanest lad in the regiment.

The Chief Constable said this was defendant’s 18th appearance, the seventh time this year.

The Chief Constable continued that Butcher had swept the police office, and he gave him a good dinner for it, and PC Philpot gave him a good breakfast.

Butcher appealed for leniency: “I am some poor mother’s child,” he said, amidst laughter.

It was a terrible thing to be always sending a man to prison like this. He had got a good place to stop at, and a good bed to go to in William Street (laughter).

“She is a jolly old woman is your wife, Mr Basham”. The Chief Constable smiled.

Whilst the magistrates were considering their decision, the defendant said the other day he went to read the Bible to a dying man.

He was sent to prison for one month’s hard labour.