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Hastings & St Leonards Observer, 18th January 1918

Drink for a Soldier

Old Town Publican Fined

Police Allegations of an Attempted Bribe

 At the Hastings Police Court on Tuesday morning, before Mr J Macer-Wright, in the Chair, Captain A H A Colvile, Councillor H Samson and Councillor J N Collins, an interesting licensing case from the Old Town was heard.  Several unusual features were disclosed.

 James Henry Smith, licensee of the “Jenny Lind” High Street, was summoned that he did on January 4th supply Lance-Corporal George Jarrett, with intoxicating drink, to be consumed on the premises, after 4 p.m., and further with permitting him to consume drink.

 Mr. F W Morgan appeared for the defence, and said his client would plead guilty.

 The Chief Constable outlined the case, and said there were certain points aggravating the offence, which took place at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  P.S. Ford, in plain clothes, noticed defendant talking to Jarrett and a woman, who, it was ascertained, was the man’s wife.  He saw Smith go into the “Jenny Lind” with Jarrett, and the woman proceeded up the street.  Shortly after Acting Sergeant Baker, who was also in plain clothes, came along, and they both visited the house, where they found Jarrett had been served and the defendant was in the act of drawing something for himself.  Smith said he knew Ford could make a case of it and asked if it was necessary for him to do so, and wanted to settle there and then and wanted to give him something, but Ford said he would have to report it.

 The reason Jarrett was not present as a witness was due to a little error.  Mr. Edwards, the magistrate’s clerk, being under the impression that he was not wanted, but that was not his idea.  Jarrett was on leave and had seen service abroad and had known Smith for a great many years.  He came to Hastings for a day and met Smith while with his wife.  Mrs. Jarrett left them talking, saying “I will go and do my shopping and you can catch up.”  He went into the house with Smith.  It was quite possible that Jarrett did not know of the restrictions, although at Dover, where he was, they were very much more severe.  In spite of knowing the restrictions, Smith was aggravating the case.  Jarrett was a man who bore an excellent character, had been abroad, and was now ill, as an effect of his service abroad.  He was now qualifying for an instructor, and if he had been convicted before the Bench he would have lost his chance in the Army.  Under the circumstances he was not sorry that he was not present.

 P.S. Ford said that at 4 o’clock on January 4th he was in High Street and saw defendant speaking to a soldier and a woman on the footway opposite the “Jenny Lind”.  Before witness got to them the soldier and the defendant went into the house.  Witness passed the house and remained at Courthouse-Street.  Defendant came out of the private door and looked up the street, then went back.  Acting Sergeant Baker then came along in plain clothes, when they both went to the house, and saw defendant drawing some beer.  He called out “It is not opening time yet, we are closed.”  In the saloon Lance Corporal Jarrett was standing by a table and had three parts of a glass of beer on the table.  Witness asked what he was doing there and he said he knew Mr Smith, who had asked him in to have a drink.  Defendant then came from behind the bar, and witness said “What do you mean by allowing Jarrett to be in your house consuming beer?”

 Defendant came towards witness, and in doing so knocked the beer off the table and said: “There goes your beer, George”.  Witness said he would have to be reported, and defendant said: “Let’s settle this little matter between us.  Of course, you are in a position to be able to make a case of this, and if I asked you to have a drink you would be able to report that.”  Witness replied: “I shall report you to the Chief Constable.”  Defendant then said: “Let’s settle this matter between ourselves: you don’t want to make any bother of this,” and held out his hand towards me as if offering me something.  Witness was going to leave but defendant then said: “Let’s settle this little matter: I will see you tomorrow: I cannot do anything today.”  Jarrett left the house seven minutes after the witness went.

 By Mr Morgan – Defendant did not say: “You are quite welcome”, meaning to report him.  He [the police witness] had no difficulty getting into the house, the door was not locked.  He did not see anything in defendant’s hand when he held it towards witness.

 Acting Sergeant Baker gave corroborative evidence.  He heard all the conversation between defendant and Ford.

 Cross-examined – He did not see any money in defendant’s hand.

 Defendant, in evidence said, said he met Jarrett and his wife, and, not having seen the man for two years he shook hands with them and asked them into his house.  The woman went along the street to do some shopping and the man went with him.  It was wrong to do such a thing under the Defence of the Realm Act, but he said to Jarrett: “What are you going to have?” and he [Jarrett] said: “A glass of beer” and then said: “Are you not going to have one?” and defendant went to get a glass.  He left the door open so that the man’s wife could come in when she came back from shopping.  It was the public bar and he did not lock the door at all.  He went to the door to see if Jarrett’s wife was coming, and, much to his surprise, found two men coming in, in private clothes.  He was very sorry that Jarrett was placed in the position he was.  He accidentally knocked ove the glass and said: “There goes your glass,” not, “there goes your beer,” referring to the glass, which was a special one, and which Jarrett had used before the War.  He did not offer any bribe and had no intention of offering one.  He said: “It is no good offering you any beer because you are sure to report it, land if you do you are quite welcome to do so.”

 Witness [defendant] continued: “I know what the police are, they want to make their cases as bad as p9ossible and rake up every little item.  It is the crime of being a publican: if I was a private individual I could do this.  There is no crime in being a publican.  Jarrett has been absent from Hastings four years and had 15 years’ good character with Mr. Stanger, of High Street.  There was no secrecy about it: there is a much more private door up a passage.”

 The Chairman said he imagined that the word “private” which had been used referred to the saloon bar.  To the police and the public generally the door leading to the saloon bar would go under its old cognomen of “private” door.

 Defendant said he was not trying to get his friends in at the private entrance, everything was done perfectly openly.

 By Mr. James [who he?] Defendant said: “There is no need to make any bother about this.  Whatever I say to you will be reported.”  It was Jarrett who said: “Let us settle this amongst ourselves.”  He did not say to the police: “I will make it worth your while,” he only held out his hand to open the door which was awkward to get at.

 Asked what he meant by his remarks about the police defendant retorted: I meant what I said – the police try to make everything as black as possible.

The Chief Constable – Have you any complaint to make against Sergeant Ford, Baker or myself as to the form in which this case had been laid before the Bench?

 Mr Morgan – “That is not the question: it is a statement of fact.

 The Chairman – I don’t think he means Ford, he means generally.  We cannot admit that.

 The Chief Constable – Is there anything you have the slightest complaint to make about this case this morning?

 Defendant – I think it possible I had better say no more.

 Defendant further said: The law is being broken every day and it is impossible for a publican to carry on business without every day.  Why should I be made a scapegrace?  You know what is going on and why should I be made a scapegrace?

 The Chief Constable – I don’t think the other publicans would agree with you.

 The Chairman – The Chief Constable is asking you with respect to statements that you are said to have made in the presence of Baker.  Did you in the presence of Baker as well as Ford say “I will see you tomorrow?”

 Defendant - I said “Go away, I will see you tomorrow”.  That was to know what he was going to do so that I might go and see the Chief Constable about the matter.

 The Chairman – If you do not accept the evidence, the only course is for your advocate to have an adjournment to have further evidence.

 Defendant – I don’t want to bring him here to lose his stripe.

 The Chairman – He would not lose his stripe by giving evidence.

 Defendant – I will have it settled now.

 Mr Morgan for the defence said one had to be very careful as to what was said to police officers, not that they wilfully misrepresented what was said but because the mind of the police was ever suspicious and always unfavourable to the defendant.  On behalf of the defendant he asked that the best interpretation might be placed upon his language and that there was no improper proposal to the police officer.  The construction amounted to nothing more than “This is a trivial sort of thing; don’t say any more about it.”  It would have been very much wiser to have said nothing of this sort.  It was very easy to put a wrong interpretation upon words used in such a conversation.

 The Chief Constable had p8ut to the defendant a statement not given to the Bench.  “I will make it worth your while. But it was very easy to put that sort of interpretation on words used by Smith on that occasion.  It was very important that the Bench should be satisfied about the words.  Defendant offered hospitality to a man who had come back from the way in the same way that nine people out of ten would have done, but as a publican he was restricted.  It was important to know whether there was anything morally wrong in the action, the door was the most public door in the house and doing something that was morally wrong it would have been easy to up the steps and through a private entrance where nobody was about and having got inside to lock the door and put every obstacle in the way of discovery, but that had not been done.

 Mr James said that in 1911 defendant was summoned for selling intoxicating drink to a drunken person.  The case was dismissed but the person found on the premises was fined.  In 1914 defendant was fined for permitting drunkenness.

 Mr Morgan protested against the first case being mentioned.

 The Chairman said the Bench was quite satisfied that the defendant undoubtedly had used very unwise language.  It was a very foolish thing to use language to the police which might be so easily interpreted as offering a bribe but the Bench was quite satisfied that was not the intention of defendant.  The case was undisputed and the defendant had pleaded guilty.  The Bench had said more that once that they considered the Defence of the Realm Act and the restrictions of the Liquor Control Board had been an absolute necessity, and it was impossible for any intelligent man to walk about the streets and see anything of the life of the town without realising that it had done immense good.  They felt that this was not a case for a severe penalty as it might easily have been.  There would be a penalty of £5.

 Defendant asked if it would have any effect upon the transfer of the licensce.

 The Chairman – That is a question which it is quite impossible for me to answer, or the Bench, because the licensing business at the Brewster Sessions is dealt with by the whole Committee of Licensing Justices and we cannot answer on their behalf.  Whatever opinion we hold or whatever we said would not be binding upon absent members.

 Defendant – The reason I put that question is that the brewers intimate to me that if there is a conviction they will require me to leave the house.

 The Chairman – They seem to do that to everybody. We have heard it before.

Defendant – It is rather unfair.  If I can get an intimation from the Bench that I might get my licence they might consider that.  In your opinion you don’t think it will affect the renewal of my licence?

 The Chairman – All we are able to say about it is that if a man of your experience makes this mistake that you must suffer from it is inevitable, but we don’t think that you intended to bribe the police.  I don’t see how we can go beyond that.  It is entirely a matter for the Licensing Justices.  If we said there would be no opposition to your licence it would not be binding upon the others.  Our personal statement would be of no worth, it would not bind any of the others.

 Defendant – Thank you very much for your kindness.