A drunken musician picks a ‘fight’ with the police

George Cutler, a 22 year-old ‘milk-carrier’ was charged at Clerkenwell Police Court in early January 1886 with being drunk and disorderly in Holloway Road at Christmas. One imagines that plenty of people were getting  bit worse for wear in the festivities surrounding Christmas so George must either have stood out as particularly inebriated or he gave some resistance to the arresting policeman he encountered. The latter seems more likely in this case.

Cutler had been on the Holloway Road on Christmas Day at about 1.30 in the morning when PC Berriman (152 Y Division) approached him. Cutler was ‘standing in the road and playing tunes on a instrument’.

‘What sort of instrument’ asked the magistrate?

‘A melodian’ replied the policeman.

‘One of those instruments they grind?’

‘No, like a concertina’.

‘Well then, he wasn’t too drunk to play’ commented the magistrate, drawing laughter from the courtroom.

A second copper appeared to corroborate his fellow officer’s story, he was quite drunk he insisted. But Cutler challenged this arguing instead that it had been the policemen who were drunk, not himself. After all, as the justice noted, he was (by the police evidence) playing his instrument so can’t have been as intoxicated as they suggested.

They had ‘interfered with him for no cause’ and had taken him to the station, where no account was taken of their drunken state. At this the magistrate took the side of the police (as he was likely to do), insisting that had the brother officers been drinking it would have been noted at the police station.

Nevertheless he took pity on the man because it was in a season where merriment was expected. He fined him just 6s and sent him on his way.

 

[from Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, January 3, 1886]

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