Alleged Perjury

Cheshire Observer 07 February 1863

Nantwich Police Court

Saturday, Jan 31.

Before Wilbraham Tollemache esq.

Alleged wilful and corrupt perjury by two police constables.

At the last petty sessions, held on 20th January, the present prosecutor, Thomas Cooper, jun., plumber and glazier, Hospital Street was charged with being drunk and riotous in Hospital Street, on 17th January last, about 12.30 o’clock at night, and called his fellow-constable Woolley as a witness, who having partially corroborated him, Cooper was fined 10s, and costs.  Prosecutor now charged Sergeant Wood and P.C. Woolley with having committed wilful and corrupt perjury on that occasion.

Mr. R. C. Edleston appeared for the prosecutor and Mr. C. S. Brooke for the defence.

Mr. Brooke took a preliminary objection that the defendants were charged jointly, which was admitted.  He also contended that the charge must be dismissed on the ground of this informality, which was overruled, and the case was taken against Sergeant Wood singly.

Mr. Edleston on opening, after stating how the case arose, said it would be fresh in his worship’s memory that he had asked Sergeant Wood in cross examination, if it was not possible that he might be mistaken in the identity of Cooper, and that Wood had absolutely ridiculed the very idea of his being so, saying, “Oh!  Dear, no; I got my hand on his shoulder; I saw he was intoxicated;” and related conversation and acts that took place between one of the party and Cooper on the former hearing.  Sergeant Wood swore that Mottershead, one of the party, put him “Cooper” into the house, “Cooper’s”, advertising him not to be a fool, that he “Cooper” came out again, and that Mottershaw put him in again.  All which he (Mr. Edleston) said he was prepared to show by incontrovertible evidence was utterly false.  He should call before his worship three of the four persons who actually were met by the police on the night in question, and they would tell him who the fourth was, and that it was not Cooper but a man of the name of Henry Wilkinson, whom it was impossible to mistake for Cooper; and each and all would absolutely and most positively deny ever having been in company with or seeing his client that night at all.  Mr. Edleston said he must admit that there was an apparent absence of all motive on the part of the police to permit perjury, there being no previous ill blood between Cooper and them; but to those acquainted with the subject it was more apparent than real, as it was well known to those versed in such matters that with the police it was matter, as it were, of professional honour to support an information once laid, and that in too many instances they swore recklessly rather than be beaten. In this case there was a degree of irritation besides, in consequence of the prosecutor, as he admitted, having sneered and jeered at them. Mr Edleston then called

Thomas Cooper, jun., plumber, and glazier who said—l was working in the country on the day in question, and did not come home until between four and five o’clock; after supper I went to the Vine, my mother-in-law’s; it was then about half-past eight o’clock; I stopped there till near 12 0’clock; I then went home with my wife, and when in the house I pulled off my coat, waistcoat, scarf, and boots, and went upstairs, leaving my wife down stairs; I came down again for some tea, as I generally take some with me to bed ; when I came home my wife was not in the house; I heard a noise in the street, and went into the entry, and saw in the street two persons with shiny bats; I did not know them at first; they were jobbing a man with a stick, and then they struck him over the back or shoulders, I think very heavily by the sound of the blows; I said I would not stand that; I saw them afterwards; they were the two policemen; I was in the entry at this time, without coat, waistcoat, boots, or hat ; Wood said, “I will give you a month”; I said “You can give me two if you like;”  my wife came and fastened the door, and we went to bed; I was not in the street after 12 0’clock when I came from the Vine; I had three glasses of whisky at the Vine and one glass of ale at the Peacock about seven o’clock, and share of a quart of small beer at Doddington that was all the drink I had that day.

Cross-examined by Mr. Brooke – I swear l never saw Hassall; it was dark in places, but I could see them in street; I swear I did not see Wilkinson; I won’t swear that I did not say, Give the B— a slap in the face;” I did shout “Mr. Bobby, the next house is empty;” I had only three glasses of whiskey and one glass of ale that night; Wood has never cautioned me in his life; there was was (sic) once, when I and my father were having a few words, that a policeman came; I never was drunk in the streets in my life.

Mary Ann Cooper, wife of Thomas Cooper, jun., said Saturday night, January 17th, I went to the Vine, my mother’s, about nine o’clock, and stayed there till 12 O’clock; my husband had two or three glasses of whiskey in that time we then went home, and my husband pulled off his coat, waistcoat, scarf, and boots, and went upstairs; I went down the yard for some fire kindling; when I came back my husband had come downstairs again undressed as I had left him; we then went to bed; I heard a noise in the street.

William Hassall, shoemaker, was in the Peacock until 12 0’clock; I did not see Cooper at all; when I got to Harlock’s corner there commenced a row; Mottershead interfered and got his face knocked for his pains; they then called out “Laxton and myself, Mottersbead, Yoxhall, and Wilkinson then went away towards the Lamb; Wilkinson, who was fresh in drink, was very noisy; when Wood and Woolley came up I had not then seen Cooper; Wood said to Wilkinson “I will lock you up” and hit him with a stick; it was light from the gas lamp; and if Cooper had been there l must have seen him.

Cross-examined – I was quite sober: I had only had four glasses of ale that night; I never heard Cooper  shout, “Mr Bobby, there is an empty house next  door;” it would not  be more five minutes that we were opposite Cooper’s; we were on the move all the while.

John Yoxhall, Coppenhall Street, Crewe and William Mottershead swore positively that they had never saw Cooper that night.

Mr. C. S. Brooke, addressing the bench, said that the only witness who swore positively that Cooper was not out in the street was he himself. He tells you that he heard a noise and went in the entry, and that he never was in the street at all. His wife says that she went to fetch the fire kindling; that she heard a noise, but did not know who made that noise. She does not corroborate complainant’s testimony at all. Hassall says a disturbance took place at the Lamb; that they then walked on, and another took place at Cooper’s. He proves that he did not see Cooper; that is the whole of his evidence. Cooper said that there were dark places in the street, and Mr. Laxton and other witnesses can prove that they could not see what was taking place lower down the street without coming out of the entry. He says “I will not swear that did not say “Give the — a slap in the face.'” He then tells you he did shout “Mr. Bobby, there is an empty house,” making use of scurrilous language. None of the witnesses have sworn that it was not possible for Cooper to have come out of the entry. I will call Woolley before you, and when you consider the difficult duty these men have to perform, and that they should be protected in that duty

The Bench —Yes; but evidence must weigh with us. I think the case for prosecution is not made oat. What motive could they have? There is no motive for gross perjury. It is possible they might have been mistaken; but then the charge of perjury must fall to the ground.

P.C. John Woolley said – I was on duty in Hospital-street with Sergeant Wood on Saturday, January 17th, at the side of the Boot and Shoe, when we heard a noise, and when we came up to Cooper’s residence I saw Cooper and Mottershead. Cooper took three or four strides on to his own door step, and said “Give the b—- a slap in the face.” He again came out of the house and shouted.  I did not know Wilkinson then.  Cooper could not see persons lower down the street for a bow window. Wood said, “Now, Cooper, go home.” I have known Cooper for a long time. The far side of the street was the darkest. I heard Wood say, “Cooper, I will summons you.”

Cross-examined – I could not swear Hassall was not there. I saw three men in company, Mottershead, Cooper, and another man. I did not notice Cooper distinctly.

The Bench – Last magistrates’ meeting, when asked if you could swear to Cooper, you rather hesitated, but when pressed you swore positively, and to-day you swear positively.

Mr William Bott, wine merchant, said – This day fortnight I was standing on my own door step, smoking my pipe, when I heard a noise up Hospital-street. I went, and I think it was Sergeant Wood and Woolley; and I heard Wood say “You go home” to young Cooper. I cannot swear that it was to young Cooper; but I saw a man go into Cooper’s house. I was about 30 or 40 yards off, under a doorway, at the time.

Superintendent Laxton said he was on duty on the night in question. When opposite Mr Bott’s, he (Mr Bott) came to him and complained about a noise which there had been. On the following day he saw Sergeant Wood’s report. It was in his own hand-writing.

This being the case, the magistrate, with his clerk, retired, and after being absent a considerable times returned and said that he had given the case his careful consideration, and that be could not make up his mind to commit Sergeant Wood on a charge of Wilful perjury, therefore the case was dismissed. But, but if Mr Edleston thought fit, he might proceed by indictment, as he (the magistrate) had no wish to screen the police.

This case having lasted three hours, the other charge against Woolley was adjourned to some future day, whereof notice is to be given.


I’ve not yet been able to find any more about the charge against Woolley. Click here to learn more about the Vine.

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