Black and blue !

Hertfordshire Mercury, 5th February 1916


Owen Stapleford, 18, a farmer, of Stapleford, was charged with assaulting Martha Parker on the 20th of January.

Mrs Parker told the Bench that she had been in her kitchen when her boys had returned home but, when they had made some adverse comment about the defendant, she had advised them not to go out if he was in the village.  One of her boys did, however, go out and, when close to the plantation, the defendant had jumped out of hiding and had hit him.

Mrs Parker had heard her boy cry out, and had run out to defend him.  She had told the defendant “Don’t hit him any more: keep your hands off him, Owen”.  The defendant had instantly hit Mrs Parker in the face and knocked her down.  She had got up, but the defendant had knocked her down again.  By this time she was covered in blood.  She then said that she would go to his mother and show her just what her son had done.  With that, the defendant had knocked her down a third time, and she had been rendered unconscious.  She had black and yellow marks on her face.

A neighbour, Mrs Collins, had come along and found Mrs Parker, prostrate. She had picked her up, had taken her into her house, had bathed her face, and had gone to fetch brandy from the local Woodhall Arms to try and bring her round.  A doctor had also attended her at that time.

In later cross-examination, Mrs Parker advised the bench that she had no idea why the defendant might have attacked her.  She said he could not have been in his right mind.  Mrs Collins corroborated this evidence.

A lad living in Stapleford said that he had seen the defendant strike Mrs Parker.  He said that, on being struck, she had twisted round and had gone up against a fence.  Dr Hodges, who had attended Mrs Parker, advised the Bench that Mrs Parker had suffered bruising on the forehead and cheek, a wound on the temple extending nearly down to the bone, a grazed elbow, a bruised hip, and a sprained left thumb.  These injuries were consistent with Mrs Parker’s statement.

The defendant explained at length how, in his opinion, Mrs Parker had seemed about to attack him and that he had been obliged to defend himself, albeit three times.

After much deliberation, the Bench confirmed that they were of the view that it was a most cowardly assault but, because the defendant was about to join the army (London Scottish), they agreed to let him off with a fine of £2 or 1 month’s hard labour.  The Bench told the defendant that he was very lucky not to get 3 months in prison for this.

This page was added on 26/02/2014.

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