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THE CHARGE AGAINST A CONSTABLE.

After wb went to Jireda last evening Sir Robert Stoilt called the following evidence in defence of Constable Willis

John Roberts said that on the night in question he was standing at Mitchell’s corner, at the junction of Dundas and King streets. Constable Willis passed and said “Good night” to him. Just then the row commenced. Witness started off between a trot and a walk, and the constable was there before him.

To Mr Haggitt: If Mr Mallard was in bed when he heard the row, and got there before the constable, lie must have got there very quickly. John M'Laren, seaman, saw the constable pass him and go into the ground by the St. David street entrance. \\ itness did not sec him standing. The crowd were about forty yards inside the gate. William Woods, engineer, said that when Mr Mallard came into the crowd the fight was stopped. The belt had come off one of the men who were fighting. Witness and another man went out by the St. David street entrance. Ho saw the constable come in. The constable was only three yards inside the gate, and was just stopping to shine his lantern, when they heard Mr Mallard sing out “Is that a constable?” and the constable ran off towards the crowd. Witness did not go to Mr Mallard’s assistance. Ho once went to assist to stop a row, and was injured and sent to the hospital in consequence. Charles Bennett, tinsmith, was with the last witness when they met the constable. Ho (the constable) made a sort of stop and asked; “What’s the row?” Witness said : “ You’re wanted further on,” and the constable then went on. Mr Mallard cried out for a constable before the constable got inside the gate. Charles Neave said that as soon as the constable came inside the gate he flashed his lantern and made for the crowd.

Tc Mr Haggitt : The men went on fighting until Mr Mallard caught hold of one of them.

Henry Bolton said that the constable trotted down St. David street and into the grounds past Woods and Bennett. Robert M'Taggart said it was fully a minute from the time the constable entered by the St. David street entrance until he got up to where the Mallards were in Cumberland street. The constable was running. Sir R. Stout intimated these were all the witnesses he had to call.

His Worship asked whether it was not intended to put the defendant into the witness-box.

Sir Robert Stout said that he would do so if His Worship desired it. Constable Willis, on oath, said that on the night in question, while in Queen street he heard what seemed to be high words passing between some men. He went along Queen street to Dundas street, and ran down Dundas street to King street. He saw two men at the corner, and asked them where the noise was, Ono of them said : “ About St, David street.” Witness ran along King street to St. David street, and then found that the row was inside the recreation ground. He ran in through the gate, and, meeting two or three men going out, asked them what was up. One of them said “I think you are wanted over there,” pointing to a crowd about 30 or 40 yards from the gate. Witness immediately ran towards the crowd, and when they saw him they commenced to scatter. Then ho heard a voice; “Are you a constable?” Witness answered “ Yes.” Then the voice said “ Follow me.” He ran over to the entrance by All Saints’ Church, and found two men holding a third. He put his light on to them, and said “Is that you, Guy ?” The elder of the men said “ Take that man in charge,” and repeated it three or four times. Witness asked his name, and he said it was Mallard. Witness said “ All right, Mr Mallard ; I’ll take the man in charge, but you’ll have to accompany me to the station and sign the charge sheet.” Witness took the man to the station. He had not seen men fighting. From first hearing the row ho had come ail the way from Queen street. It was quite untrue to say that he stopped at all in his movement towards where the disturbance was.

To Mr Haggitt: Witness did not know Mr Mallard by sight. lie had been in the police force about two years, and for about eighteen or twenty months in Dunedin. Mr Mallard called witness a coward, a scoundrel, and made use of other epithets. Mr Mallard : I give that a most unqualified denial.

His Worship said that Mr Mallard had no right to interupt the Court. Mr Haggitt observed that he would recall Mr Mallard later on to give evidence with regard to what he said to the constable.

Joseph Northfield also gave evidence for the defence, afeor which Fredrick Mallard, recalled, stated that he did not call the constable a scoundrel, but admitted that he had called him a coward.

His Worship intimated that ho would give his decision next morning.

On taking his seat at the R.M. Court this morning, Mr Carew said :*1 now give my decision in the case of tho Police against Willis. This is a charge against the defendant of breach of duty as a constable, under the Police Offences Act, 1884. It is a duty cf a constable under the provisions of that Act to arrest disorderly persons whom he may cither find disturbing the public peace, or whom he shall have good cause to suspect of having committed a breach of the peace. There is no doubt the constable know a breach of the peace had been committed. He admits having heard the noise from Queen street, and he ran in the direction it came from. The noise itself, disturbing the rest and quiet of the neighborhood, was a breach of the peace, and a constable of ordinary intelligence arriving at the scene of the disturbance could have little doubt as to tho nature of what had been going on. There is considerable conflict of evidence as to the time when the constable first came on to the ground. It is not shown that there was any unreasonable delay in that respect. Mr Mallard and Mr Mallard junior both state that tho constable was there while the fight was actually going on, and stood quietly some distance away ; but some seven or eight witnesses swear positively to the contrary. My opinion is, from the evidence, that Mr Mallard and his son are mistaken as to the time when the constable did arrive, and that the weight of evidence is in favor of the constable, and that he did not stand merely looking on at the fight; but the impression the evidence leaves on my mind is that he did not—as ho should have done when he came on to tho ground and saw men who, he must have felt convinced, had immediately before been offending against the peace—follow them up promptly and use his best endeavors to arrest one or more of them. I feel satisfied that, although he did follow them, it was more as a matter of form than with any real attempt to capture, aud had it not been for Mr Mallard and his son all would have escaped. Mr Mallard has stated, and it has not been contradicted, that defendant said at two different times “1 did not know it was, yon, Mr Mallard.” The inference I draw from this is that if he had known it was Mr Mallard ho would, and therefore could, have done more than he did do. If I had found the defendant guilty of quietly looking on while the fight was proceeding, I would consider the maximum penalty the proper one ; but I have not found that, aud the evidence docs not show that the constable was actuated by cowardice. My impression is that he thought as he had not seen the fighting himself, and the crowd dispersed after he came in sight, that he was not called upon to interfere. If that was the view he took, or whatever tho cause was, he did not do his duty; but it is not so serious a case as to merit the maximum penalty, and a fine of 40s with costs will be a sufficient punishment and give him experience in the future, (To Inspector Weldon): Do you claim witnesses’ expenses ? Inspector Weldon replied in the affirmative. Ho had subpoenaed Mr Stanford and the witness Guy, and he did not know whether the Messrs Mallard would not want their expenses.

Mr Stanford said that ho would not claim witness’s expenses. Hir Worship thereupon certified for three witnesses, Tho costs of Court were 13s'; witnesses, 30s; fine, 40s ; total, L 4 3s,

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890628.2.12

Bibliographic details

THE CHARGE AGAINST A CONSTABLE., Evening Star, Issue 7945, 28 June 1889

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1,483

THE CHARGE AGAINST A CONSTABLE. Evening Star, Issue 7945, 28 June 1889

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