An unprovoked assault

Hertfordshire Mercury, 30th October 1915

Transcript

At a special court at Hatfield last week George Salmon, labourer, of no fixed abode, was charged with assaulting George William Jeffs, stockman, of Symonds Hyde, and also with assaulting George Maddox, gamekeeper to the Marquess of Salisbury, on the previous Saturday night.

The prisoner pleaded ‘guilty under provocation’ to the first charge, and ‘not guilty’ to the second.

George William Jeffs, the complainant in the first case, who appeared with evidence of violence about his face and nose, said he had been in Hatfield shopping on Saturday evening, and was returning home when he met the prisoner in Green Lane, and he came across the road to him, and without any provocation struck him twice.  He did not even speak to the prisoner before this happened.  He believed the prisoner was quite sober at the time.

Mr Lloyd: ‘Did you hit him back?’  The complainant:  ‘No, sir; I had no chance; he knocked me silly’.

William Catlin said he was walking along the road when he saw the prisoner strike the complainant, knocking him into the middle of the road.  He did not hear Jeffs speak to the prisoner before the blows were struck.

In regard to the second charge, George Maddox, the complainant, said he was at home at Brooks Wood Cottage when he heard sounds of voices.  He went out on his bicycle, and could then see the complainant, Jeffs, lying beside the road and the prisoner standing by him.  He at first thought the man was drunk, but as he was passing the prisoner he flew at him, and struck him in the mouth, and knocked him off his bicycle into the ditch.  He also seized him by the collar and tried to throttle him.  He seized the prisoner by the wrists, and he then started to bite him.  He hit him on the chest and spat in his face.  Eventually the complainant succeeded in overpowering him and threw him on to the ground, where he held him until the police arrived.

The prisoner asked the witness if he did not attempt to garrotte him, which the witness denied.

In answer to the Chairman, the witness said he did not know what made the prisoner behave like that.  He could not say if he had any provocation.

The witness, Catlin, proved seeing the prisoner strike the keeper, knocking him off his bicycle, and endeavouring to throttle him.

A witness named Giddins gave corroborative evidence.

PC Spencer proved finding the complainant, Jeffs, lying on the ground, bleeding from the mouth and nose.  He found the prisoner a little way off, being held down by the gamekeeper.  He took him in charge, and accompanied him to the police station.

The prisoner told the Justices that times out of number he had been knocked down, and was scarred all over his body.  These men, who must have been acting under the influence of somebody else, had followed him about and peered into his face, without explaining what their business was.  The complainant, Jeffs, ‘curiously engaged himself in a dark place’.  All he did was to try and scare the men off as they had ben following him.  When he got to the police station, he added, a gentleman in plain clothes threatened to knock him down.  ‘I have no address’, added the prisoner, ‘and therefore cannot give anyone in charge .  All I want to do is to try and frighten these men away.  It seems as if it is all arranged, this spying about by these people’.

The Magistrates decided to commit the prisoner to gaol for a month, in order that he might be placed under the care of the Medical Officer of the prison, with a request that he should report upon his medical condition.

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