20 July 1901

Attempt to Rescue a Prisoner

There was a large crowd, both inside and outside the Ashton County Police Court on Wednesday, interested in the proceedings in connection with the trial of three men named Fred and James WARD (brothers), and Edward DOLEMAN, Fulson’s Court, Lees, who were brought up on remand on a double charge of assaulting Constable PERCY; also being drunk and disorderly at Lees on July 3rd.

Mr J HURST (Richards and Hurst, solicitors) prosecuted on behalf of the police, Mr J B POWNALL (solicitor) defended James WARD, and Mr J S EATON (Eaton and Watson, solicitors) appeared for Fred WARD, DOLEMAN being unrepresented.

Constable PERCY deposed that on the 3rd instant, he was on duty at Lees about 6 pm, and a quarter of an hour later, he saw DOLEMAN, who was drunk and shouting and creating a disturbance in Church-street. Witness told DOLEMAN to go into the house and be quiet. DOLEMAN continued to be disorderly, and witness put him in the house twice over, but he came out again, and called witness a "big monkey in policeman’s clothes," and struck and kicked him on the legs.

Witness had to arrest him then, but Fred WARD came rushing out the house, drunk, and called upon his brother James to "fetch the —————— poker." Fred then took of his waistcoat off and kicked witness on the legs, and said "Let go that —————— prisoner." Witness got hold of Fred WARD, and told him he would have to go to the station. DOLEMAN got free, and getting behind witness hit him on the head.

James WARD, the elder brother, then appeared on the scene, rushing through the crowd of women who had assembled, and struck witness with his fist on the face and mouth, making his mouth bleed. Witness drew his truncheon, and hit him on the arm, and the next occurrence was that the constable’s arms were pulled behind him by James WARD, and they fell to the ground, and in the struggle his staff was taken from him, and Fred WARD gave him several blows on the head, causing two wounds and a loss of a considerable amount of blood. Witness was pulled away by two women, and got to the police station, and subsequently he was attended by Dr CURRIE who had to put a stitch in one of the wounds. Witness had not been on duty since.

Mr POWNALL: Up to the time of James coming out, what had you done to Fred? I had got hold of him and was taking him towards the police station. — And had you hit him? No. — Was it not after you had hit Fred that James turned up? No. — And he resented it? No. — And he came through the crowd? — He rushed through the crowd and struck me in the teeth. — Didn’t you hit Fred on the head with your truncheon? No; that was afterwards. — How many people were there about? A number of women. — Did no one help you? No. — From your story it was a murderous attack upon you? Yes. — Didn’t you provoke the whole thing? No. Didn’t James say, "It’s not good enough the way you persecute out Fred?" No. — You have dogged his footsteps in such a way that his life has been one of misery? No, that is not true. — Didn’t you strike James? No. — Didn’t you try? No. I hadn’t time. They had my arms behind me then. — Up to that time was it necessary to use your truncheon? Yes.

Mr EATON: Have you been tracking Fred WARD? No. The man had had no peace? I deny that. Where were you when the bother started? In High-street. — Didn’t you plant yourself right in front of this house? No. — What attracted you there? DOLEMAN was on the street shouting and making a disturbance and I told him to go in the house. — Fred was simply defending his brother James? No.

Edward DOLEMAN, on his own behalf, gave evidence on oath. He said that Fred WARD and himself had been doing some work together, and had got to their tea when the policeman came up and said to Fred that he would summons him again if he did not mind. Witness told the constable to get away, and not get the lad (Fred) into bother. The constable asked him for his name and he told him to get away, but he would not, and he called PERCY "a monkey in policeman’s clothes." He (DOLEMAN) then went inside and locked the door, and James came across the street and two women got hold of the latter to hold him back.

Mr POWNALL said the officer might have been attacked, but he provoked it, and did something which a British citizen could not tolerate. Fred WARD had had more attention paid to him by this officer than an ordinary citizen or taxpayer could stand. If he was charged with drunkenness the constable would aggravate him and make him act in a disorderly manner as well; that was the kind of conduct complained of. In this case the prosecution had tried to make out that the officer was practically being murdered, and yet all the witnesses looked on. He submitted that nothing took place to justify the drawing of the truncheon. Had a man to wait to be hit? In the struggle the officer got a knock or two, but had the officer not drawn the truncheon there would only have been a little street brawl.

Emily WARD, wife of Fred WARD, said that the officer struck James on the head, and was proceeding to repeat the blow when Fred got hold of the truncheon and struck the officer. Lizzie DODD, James’s sweetheart, Ralph WARD, another brother, and Alice Ann TAYLOR, a neighbour, gave similar testimony. Superintendent HEWITT enumerated a long list of convictions against the three prisoners.

The Chairman, addressing the prisoners, said: You are three bad characters, and we are going to relieve your village of your presence for a short time, trusting and hoping that it will have a good effect upon you. You are a disgrace to the place, and you will each have to go to prison for a month with hard labour.

The announcement of the sentence caused great commotion in court. Mrs Fred WARD, with the child in her arms, and Miss Lizzie DODD, commenced crying piteously, and rushed to the back of the dock to the prisoners. The WARDs tried to pacify them, James telling them to give over crying and making a fuss, remarking, "Never mind, it is not a hanging job. What are you crying for?" Other people crowded round the dock to shake hands with the prisoners and exchange a few hurried words with them. When quietness had been partially restored by the removal of the women, the chairman announced that with regard to the other charges against the three prisoners, they would be ordered to pay the costs which came to about 6s each.

Mr POWNALL then said he wished to give notice of appeal and Mr EATON said he wished to do likewise. The conversation between the solicitors and the Bench on the subject of appeal could scarcely be heard for the hubbub in court. It was stated that notice would have to be given in writing, and Mr EATON asked that the amount of the sureties be fixed at once pending the appeal, as the sentence was one of imprisonment without the option of a fine. His client’s wife had a child at the breast, and Fred WARD had already been detained in prison for ten days.

After the luncheon interval, Mr HIRST said he had had some conversation with Superintendent HEWITT with regard to the case, and he was rather inclined to ask the Bench to reconsider their verdict. He did not wish to be vindictive in the matter. Justice would be met by substituting a fine for the imprisonment. They wished to show there was no vindictiveness on the part of the police.

The Chairman addressed the prisoners. He said: — You are aware that it is no pleasure to us to send any of you down to prison. That you have richly deserved it there is not a shadow of a doubt. That you have not been good characters there is not a shadow of a doubt, but in the face of the police application, and the consideration they have shown towards your wives and families, and they having shown that they have no vindictive spirit against you, we can hardly refuse their request. You know that if anything of this sort happens again after this trial it will be brought against you and instead of getting a month, you will in all probability, get three months.

It is only at the earnest request of the police that we are going to alter the sentence. I take it that you solemnly promise we shall have no more of this drunkenness and disorderliness. For you will be severely punished. With regard to the child at the breast, I don’t think that a very strong argument, but, however, we have decided to fine you as follows. The fine will be 40s and costs for each of you, and then you will have to pay "2 2s for the advocate’s fee, and 1 1s for the doctor,, and the two male witnesses will receive 5s each, and the two women witnesses 3s 6d each, and I hope and sincerely trust we shall never have you here again.

Prisoner James WARD: You won’t have the chance of seeing me again. I shall leave the country.

The Chairman: I hope you will. It will be a good job for the country.

Ralph WARD, another brother of the two prisoners in the above case, was then charged by Constable PERCY with creating breach of the peace on the 3rd instant. By shouting and swearing, and arguing with his brothers to induce them to continue the assault. Ralph WARD, on the advice of Mr POWNALL, pleaded guilty, and was bound over in the sum of 40s to keep the peace for three months, and pay the costs.

The Chairman said he would like to say to all of them that as to where they get their drink from in Lees, he would take care that the police watched the house.

Creative Commons License Rhodes Family History by Ian Rhodes (1999-2018 v.3.0) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me.