1916 court: Broken blind leads to an appearance in court

Frederick Hesling, 60, Raleigh Street, Scarborough, is an old man, much respected by those who know him. He is an ex-chief clerk of one of HM prisons. Latterly, however, he has suffered in health and can only take very short steps. Living alone he would be much better - the chief constable told the Scarborough magistrates - if someone could look after him.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 12th March 2016, 10:00 am

It appears that on two occasions special constables visited the house with regard to a light showing, and the old man had, unfortunately, been somewhat truculent.

The result was that he was summoned in two cases - two different dates - and the chief constable made a statement to the magistrates that defendant had refused to take any notice of warnings or any special notice of what was said to him.

He had told the special constables that he would turn the light out when it suited him. When they went to the house he had said he could not be bothered with a lot of monkeys going to his house about lights (laughter). He (the chief) had come to the conclusion that the defendant was either a lunatic or wilfully bad.

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The next day defendant refused to go to the door and said: Go to Putney (laughter). The blind was broken and the light could be seen. If the man was a lunatic he should be in an asylum, and if not he should conform to the regulations.

Infirmities cause the trouble. The chief then gave further particulars, which threw a different light altogether on the man’s condition, and possibly accounted for his attitude. He said he knew defendant well. Defendant was an ex-chief clerk of a prison, and he was a very old man.

He thought defendant was simply awkward, as well as old. Defendant lived quite alone in the house, it was a peculiar life. When he walked he could only go an inch or two at a time now. The condition of the blind was much in keeping with the rest of the house, which was getting into a most dilapidated state.

Special Constable Dawson said when he went to see the old man, the latter said: German Billy wasn’t it with him (witness); he was nothing but a nuisance.” (Loud laughter.)

Special Constable Morley said the old man told him to go to Putney (laughter).

Replying to the bench, the chief constable said defendant was not badly off - he had a pension, he believed, of some £76 a year.

A letter read on behalf of the old man by Mr W Steward, apologising, and stating that a new blind had been secured.

No doubt defendant’s infirmities had helped the matter, for the chief said the house was in a bad state. The old man wanted someone to look after him, but he would not have anyone in the house.

The bench imposed a fine of £1 in each case.