Cowardly assault on a child

Hertfordshire Mercury, 20th November 1915


At Welwyn Petty Sessions on Friday, George Bates (58), a drover, living at the ‘Shoulder of Mutton’ public-house, Hitchin, did not appear to answer two charges, namely using obscene language on the highway at Codicote on November 3, and assaulting and beating Joan Wingrave at the same date and place.

Joan Wingrave, the six-year-old daughter of John H. Wingrave, of Drivers End, Codicote, stated that on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 3, a man came down the road and hit her with a stick.  She had not said anything to him.  Her little brother was with her at the time.  The man hit her more than once, and hurt her.  She then went home and told her mother.

Maggie Dollimore, a servant in the employ of Mrs Wingrave, said she was out with the children on November 3, when she noticed a man driving cattle towards Welwyn.  She did not know him, and did not remember having seen him before.  When he had delivered his cattle, and was coming back he asked Joan Wingrave what she was going to do with the stick she had in her hand, and he added, ‘Don’t you think you are going to hit me with it, and don’t give me any of your cheek.’  He then struck her (Joan) with the stick.  It was quite a violent blow.

The witness asked him what he was interfering with the little girl for, and he then said he would knock the witness’s brains out.  There were some people about, and he used very bad language.  He then went towards Hitchin.  The little girl screamed for some time, and the witness had a job to get her to leave off crying.  The defendant did not appear to be very sober.  He left his cattle outside a public-house while he went inside.

Mrs Elizabeth Ewington, of St Albans Road, Codicote, said she saw the defendant strike the little girl with a stick, and he also used bad language.

P.c. Day, of Codicote, said Mr Wingrave complained to him that his daughter had been assaulted by a drover who had been driving some cattle to Mr Titmuss’ farm at Codicote.  The witness saw the man the following day, and in reply to some questions put to him he said, ‘I did hit the child; but she hit me first.’  The man was abusive to the witness, and refused to tell him anything.  He was then sober, but was a regular blackguard.

Nine previous convictions were recorded against the defendant, and the Bench imposed a fine of 10s. or seven days for using obscene language, and £1 or 14 days for the assault.

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