Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fracas in New Lynn

This is one of my favourite stories from early New Lynn. Comes from the Evening Star, 21 January 1886.

The Police Court was occupied for some time to-day with a prosecution for assault arising out of a neighbours' quarrel between Messrs Smith and Meurant, residents of New Lynn. Henry Meurant was charged with assaulting Henry Smith on January 14th by striking him with a stick and knocking him down.

Mr. Thorpe appeared for complainant and Mr. S. Hesketh for defendant.

The facts, as stated for the prosecution, are these. Complainant is the owner of an orchard, and is annoyed by frequent pilferings of fruit. Not only is the fruit stolen, but the branches of trees are broken down and the trees themselves injured. Smith believed that Meurant's children were the offenders, and he remonstrated with him on the subject. Meurant asked him to let him know which of the children had committed the depredations and he would correct them for the offence.

Next day complainant was told by a little girl that Meurant's children were going down the road with apples which must have been taken from his orchard. He went to Meurant's house again, and after some words, Smith expressed his conviction that Meurant was encouraging his children in the alleged thefts.

Blows were then struck, and Smith found himself outside of Meurant's house. He was, however, minus his chapeau, and called to Meurant asking him for it. He alleged that Meurant got the hat and threw it at him, at the same time striking him a heavy blow on the head, which injured his skull and knocked him down.

Dr. Girdler deposed that he found complainant suffering from a wound about an inch and a half long over the left eyebrow. The bone was injured, but not seriously, while the patient was suffering from slight concussion of the brain.

Alice Goldie, a little girl, related the circumstances of the fracas. The defence was that Smith used anything but pleasant language, and after some words, Smith, either accidentally or otherwise, trod on Meurant's bare foot. In stooping down to examine his foot Meurant was pushed over. A scuffle took place, and subsequently Smith used very offensive epithets towards defendant.

The two men had a second tussle, pea-sticks being used as weapons. Meurant did strike Smith on the forehead with a pea-stick, but throughout the whole affair Smith was the aggressor. Meurant and his son Edward related the story for the defence.

The case was dismissed, each party to pay their own costs.

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