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1901: Teenagers' assault on older Cuckfield resident is punished in court

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 16 April 1901

Alleged "Hooliganism”—Cuckfield.

Ernest Pateman (17). butcher’s assistant. Cuckfield, pleaded guilty to assaulting an old man William Fox, at Cuckfield, on April 11th.—Prosecutor said that on the previous Thursday, at 9 pm walking by Knowle Lodge gates, he passed two youths and they had hardly got six inches past him when he felt a tremendously heavy blow on the head. It dazed him for a few seconds. The lads ran away as fast as they could go.

On recovering himself prosecutor walked direct to the police station and gave information to the police, to whom he showed his head. P.C. Milder then went in pursuit of the youths. Prosecutor had not spoken to them, and they did not speak to him, but they apparently turned round and deliberately struck him a severe blow with the fist, which “came down like a sledge hammer at least for my time of life."

Cuckfield High Street c1900 (Photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

He took the case up on public grounds, and the whole neighbourhood are pleased that he came there that day. Five weeks previously, about the same time at night, he was passing a fence near Rose Cottage, when someone hit him and split his hat all to pieces, and he was satisfied that the defendant was the person on the occasion. But, of course, that had nothing to do with the present charge.

—Defendant admitted he hit prosecutor on the 11th, but not on the previous occasion. He did not know why he struck him. He did not mean to hurt him, but only to knock his hat off.

—The Clerk; A boy like you hitting an old man like that is a very cowardly thing.

—PC Hilder said defendant was a very bad boy.

Prosecutor hoped the Bench would be lenient under the circumstances as the case might have a deterrent effect. There was “a complete gang of hooliganism and rowdiness in the place.”

—The Chairman said it was an unprovoked assault, and defendant would be fined £2 and 14s. Costs, or in default three weeks hard labour.

—Defendant asked to be allowed time for payment but the Magistrates decided that the money would have to be paid before the court rose

-Defendant: I cannot pay it, Sir.

—The Clerk: Then it will do you good to lock you up.—Subsequently, however, the money was paid.

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