THE COSTLEY HOME.
' CASE SENT TO THE SUPREME i' • - COURT. '■ A QUESTION" OF BY-IAW VALIDITY. . The case in which William Bannerman, manager of the Costley Home, was charged by an inmate named William Law with having assaulted him last year in ■ the course of forcibly making him take a bath, was concluded yesterday afternoon, " r Mr Kettle, S.M., at the conclusion of the ' evidence, deciding to refer the settlement 1 of the matter to the Supreme Court, j "In ray opinion," , remarked Mr Kettle, in the course of his comment, "this case is one of considerable importance, not only \ to the defendant himself 4 but more particularly to those aged persons who are compelled to live in institutions like the Costley Home. It is also one of considerable importance to the general public. The informant is a man of about 52 years of age, almost blind, and suffering from a disease known as locomotor ataxia —a disease which, apparently, justified Dr. King, who is medical superintendent of the institution, in coming here and prol testing as medical officer against the cross- - examination of the informant upon the t grounds that it would be highly undesir- ■ fc able that he should be in any way excited. ' He also further said that the informant i was a man who was not responsible, in : his opinion, for what he said or did. He ; Vould not, however, go the length of say- . ing that he was a lunatic or should be > confined in a mental asylum. Defendant , ia the majiager of the institution, and the • informant charges him with having, on ■ i Augusts of last year,'committed an as- ■ i satilt upon him in the institution. It ap- . ! pears from the evidence that he was mis- ■ t taken as to the date, June 26 having : i been the dat« of the occasion. Under these i I circumstances, and having regard to the i date upon-which the alleged assault took - place, this Court, as a court of summary ■ jurisdiction, has no power to deal with ' the matter in a summary way, because under the Vinimary eTurisdiction Act I can only here deal with" an offence alleged .to. have been committed within three monthe of the prosecution. "It is therefore my duty," continued his Worship, "looking at the whole of the evidence, to say whether there is a . prima facie case of assault made out, j which would justify mc in spnding the (. case to the Supreme Court for further j investigation. It is clear, indeed it is j not disputed by the defendant and ha.c s been sworn to by the witness, Simpson, j that the informant was on the date j mentioned at about half-past two in s the afternoon, when sitting on bis bed t : fully pressed, seized by the defendant j and Simpson, who was acting under de- . c fendant's instructions, and forcibly and y against his will taken to one of the bathrooms. On arrival there his clotbmg was forcibly - and against I his ' Tvill removed, and lie was : also- forcibly and against his will put into a bath of water. It cannot be questioned that this amounted to an issault unless the defendant's eonduot ' was justified by by-law- No. 32 of the 3 institution, which reads: 'Inmates, male t and female, niiist have a bath once at - least in every two weeks, at the discres tion of the manager and subject to the c approval of the medical officer.' " a ATr Kettle went on to express the 1 opiniontliat the hy-law in question was not. legally sound. '/The, whole qnesr] tion;" he continued, "is in 7iiy opinion > practically one of law. whether the do- - fendant was justified by thp by-law in question in compulsorijy bathing the informant. and whether the circumstance? Hurler which the bathing took place justified the manager in exercising his right—if it existed. In my opinion these . are questions of great importance. They raise the whole question as to .the right , and power of the manager of such an institution to physically enforce upon I" iiitnates compliance to the regulations ami. :by-Jaws;. In my opinion it would be better to got the authority and de- " cision in a case of this sort from a judge of the Supreme Court." "I am exceedingly doubtful whether any such authority as that inferred in the by-law exists and it may be it will do good to have the matter put upon a sound foundation," remarked the Magistrate. He added: "In justice to the defendant I will say that in my opinion no more force was used in bathing the informant ; than was necessary under the circum-) stances. But .it is clear that what)" was done was done forcibly and against _ the informant's wish and will, and that he was not in any way a consenting 1 : party to it. For these reasons I think * .the case should go to file Supreme , Court, and, I have no alternative but to a commit the defendant for trial." The defendant's own bond of £50 was accepted in bail.
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