Assault by a Constable in Braintree

Essex Herald - Tuesday November 2 1869

Tuesday, November 2, 1869.



Thomas Cuff a police constable in the Essex constabulary, was summoned for having on the 12th of October at Braintree, unlawfully assaulted and beaten George Mills.

Mr Cardinall, of Halstead, appeared for the defendant.

George Mills, carter of night soil, said: On the 12th of October, at about half-past ten at night, I was stopped by two policemen; the defendant was one and I believe P.c. Emery was the other; the defendant ran before me and asked me where I was going; I said, "I am going home:" it was on the Coggeshall-road near the ox and Hounds Inn; they "pitched into me" and knocked me into the hedge, and then laid me across the fence and kept chopping me on the back or my neck
We had had one word in the town, and they began to shove me about there: I have no witnesses; there was no other person present; he began to mob me and I mobbed him; I told him he was a blackguard, and he had always treated me like a blackguard; have never given him any provocation before.

Mr. Cardinall closely examined complainant, with the intent to show a notorious character continually being in trouble with the police, calling them foul names on the highways, and getting summoned for assaulting people. He made strong complaints against certain members of the constabulary in court but was compelled to acknowledge he had not any evidence to support his charge.

He admitted having been fined for assaulting Susan Sutton, being summoned for assaulting William Tobias (which case was settled out of court), and being fined in another case. He did not think he said on the night in question, when the police advised him to go home, "I shall stop as long as I like for all you ------, or Savill, or Raison, or any one else," but he would not swear that he did not say so.

Mr Cardinall then addressed the bench for the defence, observing that the case was one of considerable importance, inasmuch as it was one against public officer of the town, and it was serious charge against his client. If his conduct had been of an improper character he was liable to be dismissed from the force. There appeared to be a very strong prejudice in the complainant against all members of the police force in the town,  from Supt Raison himself downwards.

He should prove that he was drunk on the evening in question and that his language was of the most disagreeable kind. He was afterwards asked by the police to go away, and he called them by the most obnoxious names and finally said he would not go away.

They then endeavored to push him along the road home, when he tried to catch hold of the wall to prevent them. Mr. Cardinall then read part of an opinion expressed by Mr Justice Willes in a case tried before him, which was in effect that any police-constable to prevent any mischief or any person causing a disturbance, might use a certain amount of violence.

Mr Wm. Gage, innkeeper, Charles Turner, basket-maker, P.c Emery, and Sergeant Savill having given evidence to prove Mr. Cardinall's statements, the bench, after a few minutes' consultation, said they were of the opinion that Cuff had not exceeded his duty in what he did, and therefore the summons was dismissed.

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