Pen and Ink drawing of the Fracas on Epsom Downs

     At Epsom on Thursday, Mr Robert Neale, a merchant, was charged with stealing a watch from the person on Epsom Downs on the evening of the Derby Day. Mr George Hawley, an American physician, and Mr William Briggs, a gentleman residing in Surbiton, were severally charged with rescuing Mr Neale from the custody of the police and also with assaulting Police-constable Jones. Mr Harrawell said that the prosecutor was not present, and no doubt he did not intend to be present, for there was not the slightest ground for the charge against Mr Neale. He claimed his discharge since the prosecutor did not appear.
     The Chairman of the Bench, Mr T Hankey, asked whether the prosecutor was sobar at the time the charge was preferred.
     An inspector of police said the he was quite sober. He was a gentleman, named Luxmore and he stated that he was about to join the army. He was cautioned to be very careful in preferring so serious a charge, but he said he saw the prisoner's hand on his chain, and that there was no mistake possible on the matter. It appeared that a collision had taken place, and that in the confusion consequent thereon the affair happened.
     The defendant said that he wished to state how the whole matter arose. He was one of a party on the top of a private omnibus, and at seven o'clock, when they were about to leave the Downs, a cab, driven by a drunk driver, came into collision with the four horses, and then backed into the wheelers, cutting one of them dreadfully. One of the party jumped from the omnibus and seized the cab horse's head, and asked the driver for his name. Three gentlemen who were in the cab jumped out of it and rushed at this gentleman, and began to ill-use him. He (Mr Neale) and others got down and protected their friend, and then got on the top of the omnibus again. Five minutes afterwards a policeman got upp on the roof and said "I want you for robbing a gentleman of his watch." No resistance was offered but he was asked to take the name and address. It was not likely that he (Mr Neale) would rob anyone, for he was a well-known merchant, paying £700 or £800 a year rent for his premises. A friend of his had in the disturbances been robbed of a watch valued at £10, besides a rich breastpin.
     The magistrate said that in the absence of the prosecutor Mr Neale should be discharged.
     Mr Neale asked for the name and address of the party who preferred the charge, in order that an action for false imprisonment might be brought against him.
     The Inspector said the gentleman had given his card but it was not in court.
     The case against Mr George Hawley and Mr. Wm Biggs was proceeded with.
     Police-constable Jones deposed that on Wednesday evening, on Epsom Downs, he was told by Me Luxmore to take Mr Neale in charge for stealing a watch. Witness went on the omnibus and laid hold of the prisoner in the last case, who struggled and resisted. His friends tried to throw witness off the omnibus. With great trouble Mr Neale was got off the omnibus; and then a large crowd collected and tried to rescue him. The prisoner Hawley jumped on and threw himself across witness's arm to break Neale away from him, and Briggs threw himself on Hawley's back to add weight. Hawley kicked witness on the leg and knocked him down. In the struggle the truncheon was taken from him and Neale got away.
     By Mr Harrawell: Witness was struggling on the omnibus for two or three minutes. Neale did not resist much. He said, "I will go quietly, but his friends said "You shan't." Witness was perfectly sober.
     Police-constable McGillecuddy said he came up and saw several persons struggling with last witness, who was on the ground. A gentleman came up and pointed out Neale, and said to witness, "Take him, he stole my watch and he has got away from your mate." Witness arrested Neale. Mr Harrawell said that the case for Mr Hawley was this: He was an American physician, and was with Mr Neale on the racecourse. He never struck the police or attempted a rescue, but there was a great crowd, and gentlemen kept shoving and crying out "It's a shame to take the gentleman." Mr Briggs knew nothing at all of the parties. He was simply following Mr Neale towards the station-house when a constable turned round and charged him with rescuing the prisoner. - Mr Hawley had lost a watch worth £10 in the struggle. - Mr Robert Neale was then sworn but before he gave his evidence, Mr Luxmore entered the court, and said that he had been detained in town trying to procure a solicitor to prosecute for the robbery of his watch. He hoped the magistrate would adjourn the case until the solicitor arrived. - The magistrate said the case against Mr. Neale had been already dismissed. Mr Luxmore should have come earlier. Mr Neale proceeded with his evidence, and said that he offered no resistance to the police. The officer was intoxicated, and struck a lady a dreadful blow in the breast. People then gathered round and knocked his helmet off. There was no rescue. - Witness said "Don't make the matter worse. I insist on the police taking me to the station." Police-constable Jones gave witness into the custody of 110 L. - The magistrate: Now, I ask you a question on your honour. Were you not all excited from drink? - Witness: on my honour, no. Not one on the omnibus was intoxicated. Mr Biggs was not one of our party. We know nothing of him. - A police inspector who took charge said that all the parties were sober. Mr Neale charged the police constable with being drunk, but the superintendent was present, and said the man was sober. - Mr Neale said he would not have made the charge if he had not seriously believed it. - The magistrate said there was no foundation for the charge against the police. They only did their duty. It was clear that there was a general scuffle but there was some obscurity about the matter of the rescue. He would, therefore discharge the prisoners. - The three accused were discharged from custody.

Illustrated Police News 08 June 1867

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