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Document: Police Magistrate Acts as Interpreter

Deaf mute admits street assault and is sentenced to a month. Police magistrate acts as interpreter.



There was, in the Shepparton Court, on Tuesday morning last, an echo of an incident which occurred in Maude street, as far back as the middle of December – an occurrence which, at the time, aroused a good deaf of excitement and resentment. The date was the 15th December, when, as Mrs. J.O Rosson was returning home from a shop, wheeling a perambulator, some man placed his hands on her face, but as she screamed immediately, the offender made off, She, however, was able to give a description of the man. As a reult a warrant was issued, and on Monday afternoon last, Plain-clothes Constable W. M O’Farrell arrested a man who gave the name of Wm. Nancarrow, and he was brought to the Police Magistrate (Mr. H. R. McDonald) and Mrs O. A Hicken on the following morning, charged with having, at the time and place in question, assaulted Mrs. Rosson. When the man was called he proved to be a deaf mute, and a difficulty arose, as an interpreter was required. Where was he to come from. The Police Magistrate very soon set all doubt at rest by stepping into the breach and acting as an interpreter, and he proved himself to be an adept in his exemplification of the deaf and dumb language, and very easily made himself understood to, and himself understood the defendant.

Sub-Inspector Tatchell said the short facts of the case were that, on the night of the 15th December last, Mrs. Rosson was wheeling her child along Maude street in a peramulator with her left hand and held an ice cream in her right hand. In a dark spot caused by overchanging branches of some trees, she observed a man. A little later some person put her hands around her nect, when she screamed for help and the man ran away. Mrs. Rosson gave a minute decsription of the man which tallied with the defendant, who was apprehended by Plainclothes Costable W. M O’Farrell on the previous day, on a warrant which had been issued some time previously. Defendant admitted having committed the offence complained of.

At this stage, after conversing throughthe medium of the regulation signs, with the defendant, the Police Magistrate stated that the defendant admitted his guilt, but said that he was extremely sorry, and asked for an adjournment of the case in order that he could obtain the services of Mr. Abraham, of Melbourne. He said that he had explained to the defendant that it would be a costly job to bring Mr. Abraham from the metropolis.

After further conversation with the defendant, the Police Magistrate said “I think that we had better go on with the case. The Clerk of the Courts (Mr. Bourke) recorded in writing what the witnesses said, which the defendant was permitted to peruse. Ethel May Rosson, residing in Edward street, stated that she was walking Maude street on the evening in question, and when she was near the intersection of Maude and Edward streets, some person placed his hands on her face. She screamed and the man ran away.
By Sub-Inspector Tatchel: I hold of the pram with the right hand and had ice creams in the left hand.
Sub-Inspector Tatchell: What happened to the ice creams?
Witness: I list two of them. (Laughter).
Plainclothes Constable O’Farrell stated that he obtained a warrant for arrest of a man, name unknown, and kept that defendant under observation and on two or three nights since the 15th December, he observed defendant out late, and on one occasion witness saw him midnight standing in the dark spot at the intersection of Fryers and Wyndham streets and would every now and then look around the corner. As he was doing this two men passed and defendant walked away. A few days ago he received a complaint about an occurrence near the post office, in which the defendant was concerned. At 4.30pm on the previous day he went to defendant’s cap under the second bridge on the High road and questioned him when defendant admitted having acted in a certain manner near the post office.
The P.M. here interposed and said that the evidence witness had said was not strictly evidence in the case in question. Witness continuing, said he questioned defendant in regard to his doings on the 15th December last when admitted having placed his two hands on a woman’s face, as he wait to apologise. Defendant said also stated that complainant screamed and he ran away as he was afraid to wait and apologise. Defendant said also that he had a few drinks, but he had never been guilty of such an offence before.
By the P.M: Defendant wanders about on his own and does add jobs about the town.
The Police Magistrate having again conversed with the defendant, stated that he (defendant) expressed his sorrow and said such a thing would never happen again and asked to be dealt with leniently.
The defendant was sentenced to month’s imprisonment.

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