Charge against a soldier

Hertfordshire Mercury, 9th October 1915


At Hertford Borough Sessions on Saturday William Johnson, aged 31, a trooper in the Herts. Yeomanry, was charged with assaulting P.s. Palmer whilst in the execution of his duty on September 30, at Hertford.  P.s. Palmer said that on Thursday, September 30, about 10 p.m., he went with Sergt.-Major Reed and Sergt. Poulton of the Herts. Yeomanry to a house in Railway Street, which was occupied by a woman, as the defendant was absent without leave.  They knocked at the door, and the woman said there was no one there.  The house was searched and the defendant was found hiding in a w.c..  Eventually the door was got open and the defendant made a rush at the witness and struck him violent blows.  They closed, and with the assistance of one of the officers the defendant was overpowered.  P.c. Pitcher then came to the witness’s assistance and he was bitten on the hand and also kicked.  The defendant was taken to the barracks  and detained for the night.  A remand was granted until Thursday.  The evidence of P.s. Palmer was repeated on Thursday, and corroborated by Sergt. Poulton.  Sergt.-Major Reed said the defendant joined on September 15, and went away without reporting himself.  He was afterwards found in Woolwich Hospital, and an escort was sent for him at the time of his dismissal.  On September 29 he absented himself, and had not yet done a parade.

The defendant handed in a long statement to the effect that his position had been brought about by bad associations and drink.  He had served in the Royal Field Artillery for three years, and was now quite willing to go abroad with any regiment.  The Clerk said there were 24 previous convictions against the defendant, and he read out some of the offences, which include the following: drunkenness, poaching, indecent language, refusing to quit, stealing a bicycle, housebreaking, making false answers on attestation, fowl stealing, burglary, assault on the police, and being found in enclosed premises.  The Chairman said the defendant had a terrible record, and would be sentenced to six months’ hard labour.

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