Assault in a Train – Councillor Baker Refusal to Be Bound Over (picture)

February 1907

Mexborough and Swinton Times February 16, 1907

Assault in a Train
Councillor Baker of Conisborough Fined
Refusal to Be Bound Over
A Lively Journey to Doncaster


A case which has aroused considerable interest in Conisborough and district was heard at the Doncaster West Riding Petty Sessions on Saturday.

Henry Baker, described as a Brewers agent, of Conisborough, a member of the Conisborough Parish Council and of the Doncaster Rural District Council, was convicted of having assaulted John Charles Marshall, the holder of an off beer licence at Conisborough, while in a railway carriage at Doncaster, and after declining to be bound over to keep the peace six months, was fine 20 shillings and costs.

The hearing occupied a considerable time, there being a full bench of magistrates, Mr G.B.C.Yarborough resigning, Mr Brocklesby, chairman of the Parish Council, who was recently created a magistrate, had been adjudicating in the previous case, but he did considerably refrain from taking part in this case, though he did not leave the Bench.

Mr Gichard (Rotherham) prosecuted on behalf of Mr Marshall, and the defendant was represented by Mr W Baddiley.

Only the case, Mr Gichard explained that the assault was committed on the previous Saturday in a railway carriage while they were travelling from Conisborough to Doncaster. It appears that the complainant was lucky enough to meet with a certain amount of good fortune before the licensing Bench, sitting in that Court 12 months ago, and was then granted a beer off-licence. The defendant was a Brewers agent, and traveller, and evidently made overtures to the complainant with a view to getting the latter to give him a portion of is trade. Unfortunately for the defendant he was unsuccessful in the overtures he made. That appeared to have annoyed the defendant considerably, for he had subjected the complainant from time to time to a good deal of abuse and annoyance in various ways.

On the date in question the complainant, with some other person was in a compartment of a train travelling from Conisborough to Doncaster. While at the Conisborough station the defendant got into the compartment and almost immediately after it began to make himself a source of annoyance to the complainant, and introduced the question of the licence. He ventured to say no man had a right to interfere with the business of another, in any way, and especially he should not do it in such a place as a railway compartment and in the presence of other persons. However, Baker, seem to think he was entitled to upset everybody that compartment, there being two ladies amongst the company, and he continued a course of abuse towards the complainant, which he ventured to think, no one would have thought his client to blame if it had resulted in Baker getting a very good hiding.

His client, being a licensee, had to be very guarded in his conduct, but many men under the circumstances and in view of the statements that were made to his client, when they were licensees are not, would have been unable to refrain from chastising the person interfering with another in such a place and in such a manner. Fortunately however, if I was one of those men who could contain themselves better than most men, and he did refrain from doing that which, EL, E would be warranted in doing and which most of them would have given to the defendant.

Baker said “I heard you sold your place to Smith’s, of Tadcaster.” That was a reference to a firm of brewers for whom Baker did not travel, and the inference was pretty clear. Baker wanted it to be understood by Marshall that although he (Baker) had been unsuccessful in trying to get trade, some other brewer had got an interest in the house.

However Marshall said it was not true, and that he had not sold the place, simply because it was not his, and he had not the power to sell it.

Baker would not allow it to rest at that. He said, “You have sold it,” Marshall replied that if he had he would not disclose it to Mr Baker and he did not think that was either the place all the time for him to talk on business matters and his private concerns. Baker, not content with that, said: “Do you know who got you the licence?” Marshall having replied in the negative, Baker said he was the means of getting it for him. Marshall retorted that he knew the magistrates gave it him because he presumed they were satisfied with his character and further because they thought it was needed.

Baker replied: “Oh no; the magistrates had nothing to do with it; I was the one who got you the licence.” Not content with having asserted his own powers against those of the magistrate, Baker also asked: “Do you know got you the lease of your shop?” And Marshall having given the name Baker asserted that he got it. So that Baker was apparently a very influential person and controlling everything for the complainant’s benefit.

However, Marshall said, “I did not know, Mr Baker, you were a magistrate nor did I know you were a solicitor. Do let this rest.” Baker could not let it rest and became more insulting. “You borrowed money,” was the next statement of Baker’s, and Marshall retorted, “Well if I have I didn’t beg it, but it has nothing to do with you, so long as I am honest enough to pay my debts.”

Baker then said something about Marshall not being honest or respectable, and things were getting unpleasant for the other people in the compartment.The unpleasantness caused one lady to tremble, as she would tell them. When Baker said he was neither honest nor respectable, his client was beginning to lose his temper, and replied that he was as honest and respectable as Baker.

Defendant then said to Marshall: “You are a pig and the beast,” his client retorted that the words were very applicable to Baker himself. After more words, Baker immediately jumped up and hit Marshall a violent blow on the cheek. This was one of those cases in which, for the sake of the travelling public and the public generally, they should be some severe punishment on a man who would inflict himself upon another’s private business concern against the wish of the other, and also forgot himself and as to make himself an annoyance and a nuisance to persons in the train, who did not desire to hold any conversation with him or to interfere with him, and who went to such an extent that the passion terrorised women who were travelling in the same compartment. When a man could so far forget himself that his conduct was so reprehensible as that, there should be some means of protecting the public against such misconduct and Mr Baker had been guilty of.

The complainant, replying to his solicitor, said he had known Mr Baker for many years. He had been approached by the defendant several times with reference to his business and be a retailer, but he had not given him any orders.

Since you got your license as a nod you at any time? – Yes.

Why? – In forcing his conversation on me.

What was the reason for it? – Because I would not give him an order.

Have you attempted as far as you could to avoid his conversation and is interferes with you? – Yes.

Marshall then bore out his solicitors statement as to what took place in the train. Just as they were getting into Doncaster station he said Baker “swiped him a blow on the left cheekbone.”

The Chairman: With his fist? – Yes sir.

He struck you once – one blow? Just one blow.

Mr Gichard: Have you ever in your life given annoyance to that man? – No sir.

In reply to Chairman, Marshall said he could still feel the effects of the blow.

Cross-examined by Mr Baddiley, he denied that a man named Baines motioned to Mr Baker to come into the compartment.

Did you say this to Mr Baker after you and had a lot of anger conversation; “Tha think’s thas been clever but tha’ wa’ kicked out of the police force? – No sir.

Did you ever say anything about the police force? That no.

Did he ask you to withdraw that? – No he didn’t.

Did you ever mention a word about Nicholson’s? – No

You didn’t tell him he left Nicholsons for fraud? – No I didn’t

Never mentioned Nicholsons at all? – No

Replying to further questions complainant said no one had attempted to get out of the train when this took place. He was sat down, but Baker had got up. He denied that he attempted to strike the defendant first. He admitted having met one or two persons whose names Baddiley mentioned in a public house at Conisborough.

Did you get talking about the elections, and did you say you will stop Baker for what happened at Doncaster station? – No sir; I never did.

Re-examined by Mr Gichard the complainant said the defendant had approached him since, and tried to settle the case through his solicitor.

Isaac Gibbs, licensee of the Denaby Main Hotel, who was in the train, said Mr Baker was first aggressive. He discussed Mr Marshall’s private matters, and referred to the lease. Baker said he would bet Marshall £5 to £1 and put the money in witnesses hands, that he was the cause of getting the lease. Marshall refused to have anything to do with it. Baker could not let Marshall alone, and this continued right to Doncaster station. The ladies were trembling and very frightened. He saw Baker with his hands around the complainant’s neck. No blows were  struck by Marshall. Baker said to Marshall, “You know you got the sack from Dalton Main after Percy got you the place,” and Marshall retorted, “You got the sack from Rotherham police force.” In reply to the Chairman, he said he saw Baker bending over the complainant but did not see the blow struck.

Walter Bywater said he saw Baker strike Marshall, whose face was marked.

Cross-examined, he admitted he was laughing at what was taking place all along.

You were rather amused at what was going on? – Yes; it was rather amusing. (Laughter)

Mr Baddeley cross-examined some of the witnesses with a view to ascertaining whether they had got out of the train before the assault took place.

This concluded the case for the prosecution.

For the defence Mr Baddeley raised the question of jurisdiction on the ground that the train was standing in the Doncaster station when assault to play, but this was overall, the Chairman St he would take a note of the objection.

Mr Baddeley went on to say Mr Baker had already taken out a summons in the Borough Court when a summons against him was served and that was why he raised the point. When Baker heard that the summons had been taken out in that Court he gave instructions that a summons should not be served pending the decision of that court. Of course, he was ready to meet it.

The case had been up with a great flourish of trumpets. Something had been said about terrorising women, and of Baker being this, that, and the other, but what did it all resolve itself into? One of Mr Gichards own witnesses, Bywater, was laughing, thinking very little of what was taking place. They could see that Marshall spoke very little of the truth, because he swore that the police force was not mentioned, and that Nicholson was not mentioned, while other witnesses swore that they were. Marshall also swore that none of them had got out of the carriage, while others admitted that they had got out. He would ask the magistrates not to place the slightest reliance on what the complainant that said, because if he would tell untruths in one respect he would also tell untruths in reference to what actually took place. There was no doubt some angry words and pass with reference to the lease of this property. This man accused Baker of having been thrown out of the police force, and Baker asked him to withdraw. The complainant attempted to strike him, so Baker struck Marshall first. If that man was attempted to strike him Baker was justified in striking him.

Mr Baker giving evidence in his own behalf, said he had been district agent of a brewery for 17 years. He had not been to the complainant place but once, and that was just before the licence was conferred, when he reminded him of what he had done towards recommending the lease. He had never been at his place since then, and never spoke to him, and had avoided him in all ways. In consequence of the train being full he was asked to get into the carriage in which the complainant was. Marshall nodded to him, and they had a conversation and got talking about the lease.

Mr Baddeley: When you got to Doncaster station what was said about the police force?

Marshall said, “You – – – well got kicked out of the police force,” I said at once, “Withdraw that or I will serve you the same as Mr Pashley did, and then your mother won’t know you.” He said, “You – – –; you also frauded Nicholsons,” and he stood up at the same time and drew back as if to hit me. I let go back at him sir and hit him back in the seat.

And was that all that took place? – No sir; I held him down why I got by him. This is my character from Nicholson, gentlemen; if you look at it, please.

Did you then leave the station? – I then left the station; I had to attend the sanitary meeting at the Council.

Cross-examined he denied having said Marshall had sold his placed to Smith’s brewery and that he annoyed Marshall during the whole journey. Marshall annoyed him a lot. Mrs Law was certainly smiling all the way, but she seemed very much upset. (Laughter.) She would have given evidence for him. Marshall had been to her three or four times during the week. She would have given evidence for him (Baker) if he had summoned her; he happened to know that.

Did you know that Mrs Law was actually someone to appear as a witness, the summons being issued at the moment the other summonses were taken out? – No I was not.

I know it was – then I must appeal to the magistrates clerk.

You mean if had approached her you could have got her here to give evidence opposite to what she has given? You suggest she is committed perjury? – Indeed I don’t.

Well what you mean? – She has been seen three or four times by this man.

Do you mean to suggest that Mrs Law is telling untruths? – I don’t.

Then if she’s not telling untruths, why should she say that you were the aggressor all through?

You saw how she gave her evidence; she could not remember this and the other. Mr Baker was understood to say there was no doubt Mrs law had been influenced by Mr Gichard.

Do you make implications like that as an outcome of your experience as a policeman, or as an outcome of your general conduct?

From what you know me, Mr Gichard

reply to further questions, Mr Baker said he was surprised to find a witness gives there, but he could say that Gibbs was the cause of Mr Gichard been there.

Mr Gichard: I can quite appreciate that. Has Gibbs told lies in that box? – I will leave that to you.

Will you answer my question? – I shall not answer it; I refuse to answer it.

Is there any earthly reason why any of these persons should say anything against you, and in favour of Marshall?

I cannot understand any earthly reason for them doing so.

Stephen Baines said he was summoned by Marshall to give evidence and also by Baker. It was EU motion to Mr Baker to come into the carriage. If Marshall had insulted him as he had insulted Baker “there would something else have come of it.”

This concluded the case.

After a brief consultation with his colleagues, the Chairman said the Bench were of the opinion that the defendant, Baker, was the aggressor in regard to the conversation that took place in the train. They also thought he was the aggressor in the way of the assault, and, therefore, he would be convicted for assault. The Bench thought, under the circumstances, the proper course to take was that Baker should pay the costs, and should be bound over to keep the peace. Therefore, he would be bound over for six months.

Mr Baker: I hope your worships won’t press my being bound over. I must certainly ask your Worships not to do that. I would rather you would fine me what is the equal of it. I have never done anything to be bound over for. You can ask my character from all the gentlemen here. I hope you will not bind me over to keep the peace. I will pay any fine that you think is adequate to the case.

The Bench agreed to this course, fixing the penalty at 20 shillings, and ordered Mr Baker to pay the costs.

Mr Baker: I thank your worships.