Four brothers, John Francis Skinner, William Lindsay Skinner, Mark Skinner and Daniel Skinner were charged with offensive behaviour at Frankston on the 19th inst.
Senior-Constable Cullane conducted the prosecution and Mr. H. Shelton appeared for the defendants, who pleaded not guilty.
Albert Shannon, grocer, gave evidence to the effect that at about 5.30pm on the day in question he saw the four defendants fighting amongst themselves near Wheeler’s chemist’s shop, in Playne Street, Frankston.
One man was knocked down and while he was down one of the others kicked him.
The men continued fighting on towards the new picture theatre. Witness saw Constable Mahoney arrive and take two of the men into custody. The other defendants continued to fight on their way to the police station.
When they were opposite Keast’s shop witness heard one of the defendants say to Cr. Oates who was walking behind:
“You are the — man who caused this trouble.” The man then struck Cr. Oates.
There was a crowd of 200 or 300 people about at the time. Witness was also struck, but he could not say by whom.
To Mr. Shelton: Witness saw five men fighting. Did not know at the time that defendants were brothers.
They had taken enough liquor to make them nasty. The man witness saw knocked down may have been the defendant now in court wearing a returned soldier’s badge.
Witness could not say if that defendant was suffering from shell shock.
Thomas Bennett, corn merchant, said he saw the defendants on the day named. They were arguing the point at Wheeler’s corner, and then started fighting among themselves.
Three of the defendants went into the new picture theatre. Constable Mahoney came along, entered the building, and came out with two of the defendants.
The constable took them in the direction of the lock-ups and the others followed. Witness saw one of the defendants who was walking behind, strike Cr. Oates.
Mr. Shannon went to Cr. Oates’ assistance and he also was struck. All the defendants were under the influence of liquor.
William James Gates, farmer and dairyman, said on the day in question he was standing near his shop when he saw defendants fighting. One was on the ground when another kicked him.
Witness went to the phone to call the police, but found that three other residents were ahead of him.
Witness went over to the men who were still fighting and Constable Mahoney arrived shortly after.
The constable took two men away and the others followed. One of the defendants asked witness what he was interfering for and witness replied that he was a Justice of the Peace.
When they got to Shannon’s store one of the defendants struck witness. The four defendants now in court took part in the fighting.
When opposite the Shire Hall a fair brawl took place.
It was one of the worst exhibitions witness had seen. The fighting and language were something awful.
Mr. Shelton: When you say it was a fair brawl, I suppose. you mean it was unfair? – It was a disgrace.
You are a man with a grievance, because you were struck? – I was struck.
You took part in the arrest? – Yes.
These men did not know you were a Justice of the Peace till you told them? – No.
Did you see what led up to the fighting? – No, I saw one man on the ground and another kicking him.
Never mind the kicking. Even if you are a Justice of the Peace you are a witness at present. Did you see no one trying to help the man on the ground to get up? – I saw the man on the ground and two others fighting.
One of the two fell and the other put his boot into him. Mounted–Constable Mahoney said he saw the four defendants engaged in a brawl. Witness ordered them away.
They stopped fighting for a while, and then started again. He arrested two of the defendants and was proceeding with them to the lockup when he heard someone call “Look out.”
Witness returned and saw Mr Shannon holding his hand to his face.
Witness then arrested John Francis Skinner and later on took Daniel Skinner in charge.
To Mr. Sheldon: Witness understood that the four defendants were brothers and resided at Chelsea. He could not deny that they had resided at Chelsea for the last four years and had a good record and had not been previously known to the police.
Defendants on the 19th had been in the Frankston court in connection with a civil case. Senior-Constable Callane said there was no previous record against defendants.
Mr. Shelton, for the defence, said the four brothers after attending in a civil case at the Frankston court on the 19th inst. had evidently taken too much drink.
They were residents of Chelsea and had resided there for the last four years. They were registered bookmakers’ clerks and had never previously been in trouble.
They were all young men, the eldest being 25 and the youngest 21 years of age. The eldest was a returned soldier and suffered from shell shock.
In his condition he should not touch drink. When he did drink he was subject to fits and became very violent.
The citizens of Frankston when they saw these men in the street did not know they were brothers, and that every endeavour was being made to get the elder brother to leave the town.
He evidently thought that the younger brothers had no right to discipline him. Mr. Shelton said that it was not proposed to contest the facts; the defendants were too far gone in drink to know what did take place.
He suggested that the case should be adjourned for six months to see how defendants behaved themselves. This system has been tried in suburban courts with considerable success.
He would call evidence as to good character.
Thomas Naylor, tobacconist, Chelsea, said he had been a resident of Chelsea for 7 or 8 years, and had known defendants for four years.
They were always well behaved. The eldest brother was a returned soldier and suffered from the effects of gas or shell shock. They all followed the occupation of bookmakers’ clerks, and ordinarily were very quiet.
The chairman severely lectured the defendants, and in doing so he each warned them not to appear before the court again.
ASSAULT ON CR. OATES
Daniel Skinner was then charged with assaulting Cr. Oates.
William James Oates added to the evidence given in the former case.
When opposing Shannon’s defendant said to witness: “You are the one who got us into all this trouble; I will kill you.”
He then struck witness on the side of the head. Witness struck back and was then knocked down by someone at the back, striking him a blow behind the ear. Witness was dazed and did not remember what else took place till he found himself near the Shire Hall.
A bone in witness’s hand was broken necessitating medical attention.
Mr. Shelton: I suppose you feel like McTigue when he struck Siki? – I don’t know how I hurt my hand.
J.P. or no J.P. you were prepared to defend yourself? – Of course.
You got in one or two good ones yourself? – I am not complaining.
That’s what McTigue said.
Thomas Bennett said he saw defendant strike Cr. Oates.
Mr. Shelton said that as defendant had already been fined, the Bench might take a lenient view of the present charge.
The chairman said the Bench considered the offence was a serious one.
Cr. Oates had been compelled to seek medical attention and defendant would have to pay for that. A fine of £20/-/- with 42/- costs would be imposed.
From the pages of the Frankston and Somerville Standard, 28 & 30 Mar 1923