1898: Aldeburgh Town Councillor Fined

Before Mr. H.F. Harwood (chairman), Messrs. G. A.  Crasey, W. Jolly, and J. Loder, and Majors Mellor and Moor, at Woodbridge Petty sessions this afternoon, George Oliver Knowles, builder, Aldeburgh (a member of the Town Council), was charged with having assaulted Edward Thomas Coe, at Aldeburgh, on January 21st.

Mr. W. Marshall, of Ipswich, appeared for the defendant.

Complainant said he was walking from his house when he met the defendant, whom he had not spoken to for weeks previously. He and the defendant got to the top of the Town Steps together, and without saying a word defendant struck him a violent blow in the eye which cut it, and as he picked up his hat defendant struck him twice more. Knowles called him opprobrious names, and would not tell complainant why he struck him. They quarrelled last November. He considered it a most brutal and cowardly attack.  

Cross-examined: The event of last November had nothing to do with this case. He did not use any vile language to the defendant on November 16th. And had not given the defendant any provocation in the street since. He could not say how many times he had been convicted at Aldeburgh or Woodbridge.

The Chairman here remarked that he thought Mr. Marshall was straining the question of the alleged disputes between the parties a little too much, and Mr. Marshall did not pursue that course further. Elizabeth Airy, widow, Aldeburgh, said she witnessed the assault, but heard nothing pass between the two parties previous to that. She was only about eight or ten yards off.

Mr. Marshall said his client had not been convicted of any offence before magistrates; while the complainant had been convicted some 20 times. Upon that man’s evidence the Bench had to convict. The complainant said he was knocked down, but his witness had not corroborated him. The assault arose from continual persecution by the complainant, who had told the defendant, before his workmen, that he was a man of straw, whose credit was gone.

The Chairman said the Bench were compelled to convict, but would only fine the defendant 6s., with £1 12s. 7d. costs, or seven days in default. They did not consider , although there might have been previous provocation, that the defendant, as a gentleman, had a right to take the law into his own hands, but should have exercised a little more self-control. As to how Coe could be dealt with they had had him before them, and had to send him to gaol, and if he broke the law again they might have to take a similar course.

The Ipswich Journal, Friday 4 March 1898