Denaby Assault – Loaded Rifle in Street Row

April 1920

Mexborough Times, Saturday, April 24, 1920.

A Denaby Assault.
Loaded Rifle in a Street Row.

On Saturday, at Doncaster, Charles Smith, a screen hand, of Firbeck Street, who said he had served in the Army, was summoned by John Christmas, a miner, also of Firbeck Street, for assaulting him on the night of April 3, outside his house.A remarkable story of a struggle for a loaded rifle, which Christmas, said the defendant threatened him with, was told.

Complainant alleged that at 11.30 on the night in question, defendant came across to his house and said “I will blow you through the – wall.” Complainant asked him what he meant, and he repeated the threat. He then went back to his own houseand reappeared with a rifle, which he put to his shoulder, and again said he would blow him through the wall. Christmas told the magistrates how he went up to the defendant and tried to struggle with him.

Another man came up and took the gun from the defendant, but in the struggle he (complainant) was struck by the defendant over the head with the butt end of it, a wound which required the insertion of four stitches as a result.

He got the gun, however, and took it home and sent for the police. The rifle was found to contain five live cartridges. He was off work six days as a result of the assault.

Replying to Mr Frank Allen, he denied that six weeks ago he borrowed 50 shillings from the defendant. He did not borrow anything, and he didn´t not now owe him 22s 6d. The wife might have done, he added, but it was unknown to him. The defendant did not come to the house and asked to be repaid the balance, and witness did not order him out. He did not follow him across the road, and his wife did not urge to hit him over the head with a poker. He also denied that he and his party got Smith on the ground and kicked him.

Charles Baines, Peter Farley, Mrs Farley, Annie Burns, and Edward Wordsworth were also called.

Mr Allen, for Smith, said he did not deny that his client struck the complainant with the butt end of the rifle, but it was in self defence. He went across the road to ask for the repayment of the money due to him. He was ordered out, and was followed by Christmas and his wife, the latter having a poker in hand, and she was urging her husband to strike him with it.

He went into the house and picked up the rifle. It belonged to the Denaby Main Rifle Club. He defended himself with it, and admitted striking the complainant on the end with it.

Defendant bore this out in evidence, and added that he was thrown onto the ground and kicked. The rifle was not in order. It would not fire.

Replying to the chairman, Brigadier General Sir Alington Bewicke – Copley, C.B., he said he served in the Army. He knew the rifle wasloaded, but the bolt was out of order.

The chairman examined the rifle, and asked defendant how we came to have a service rifle in his possession.

In his opinion the rifle would fire.

Defendant replied that it was lent to him by the secretary of the rifle club for instructional purposes. He knew three others like them.

The chairman also asked him if he thought a manhad a right to have a service rifle in his house if he was not in the Army. Smith said he had belonged to the club, andhad placed the cartridges in the gun when his son came home from France in 1917. He was also asked if he thought as an experienced man, a rifle was a safe thing to strike a man on the head with.

Elizabeth Wilkinson and other witnesses were called, and the Bench fined defendant £4 and ordered the retention of the rifle pending enquiries being made.

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