George William Taylor (29) , of 15 City Street , Hertford , cinema attendant , was charged with unlawfully causing a false alarm of fire to be given to the Hertford Fire Brigade on Sunday night , February 1. He pleaded not guilty.
John William Jones , of Hertingbury Road , Hertford , night operator at Hertford Telephone Exchange at the Post Office , stated that at 10.39 p.m. he received a call from the Castle Cinema , Hertford , asking for the Fire Brigade to be called to a fire at Benington. He at once put through the call to the Police . Then another call came from the Gramaphone Works in the same voice .
P.c. Baulk said he received a call to a fire at the Cricketers’ Inn , Benington , and put it through to the members of the Brigade .
Lieut H . Hughes , of the Fire Brigade, stated that when he got to the Cricketers’ at Benington with the engine and eight men he found it was a false alarm and returned .
Mr G. C. Brett , of Maidenhead Street , stated that at 10.45 ( six minutes after the call ) he saw the defendant come from the side entrance of the Castle Cinema and run towards the Police Station .
P.c. James Paton produced a statement made by the defendant the next day , in which Taylor said he had some home-made wine to celebrate a wedding and then went to a public-house, and had eight or nine half-pints of beer . He then went home , was told there was a fire at the Cinema , and rushed there , but he did not remember anything after going to the telephone . He had had several accidents and suffered from lapses occasionally .
The Constable said he found marks on the side door of the Cinema , where it had been broken into , and also the box office .
Capt W. H. Nicholls stated that the cost of the false alarm to the ratepayers was £14 3s. 6d. The members of the Brigade did not wish to press the charge , but they did not want this sort of thing to occur again.
Alderman Graveson ( who presided during the hearing of this case ) said it was not only members of the Brigade that suffered but also the ratepayers . It was a most serious offence , and defendant was liable to a penalty of £20 . The Magistrates had decided to fine him £5 , and hoped that in future defendant would keep away from the drink .