Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 8th September 1923
LANDLORD AND TENANTS DISAGREE
ASSAULT CHARGES DISMISSED
Judging from the evidence given at St Augustine’s Petty Sessions, Canterbury, on Saturday 1st September, there was a lively episode in Island Wall, Whitstable, on August 27th.
The sequel was that William John Ashby, of 81, Island Wall, was summoned on two charges of assaulting Henry Emptage and wife May Emptage. Defendant is the landlord of complainants house.
Mr S. Shea appeared for the prosecution and Mr A.K. Mowll for the defence, the pleas being not guilty.
The magistrates were Messrs. C. Hardy, (in the chair), G.W. Rivaz, F.J. Parret, W. Colthup, F.H.W. Wilbee, and J. Baker White.
At the outset, Mr Shea asked for all witnesses to be out of court. Mr Mowll remarked that he could see the serpent’s tail in that as Mr Shea had got his two clients – his only witnesses – in Court and wanted his (Mr Mowll’s) out.
Mr Shea said defendant was summoned for committing two assaults, one on the complainant Henry Emptage and the other on his wife.
The facts were remarkably simple. The defendant, Mr Ashby, was the freeholder of the house in which complainant and his wife lived and undoubtedly for some time past had been anxious to obtain possession.
Certain repairs were required to be done to the premises by the landlord, and Mrs Emptage, as the tenant, asked the landlord to come and have a look, especially with regard to the kitchen.
On August 27th Mr Ashby did come round to 79, Island Wall. Mr and Mrs Emptage and their child were at home. Mr Emptage by occupation a fisherman. He was sitting in the room about to partake of his mid-day meal. Mr Ashby was asked in and sat down and for a short time behaved in a perfectly normal manner.
In the course of conversation he indicated he was not going to do any repairs to the house until he got possession. Complainant replied that if that were the case he would look into it and see if he could not make him.
Then something happened. Mr Shea then went on to describe what happened as given below in his client’s evidence. He was prepared to admit that it was annoying to have purchased property and not to have been able to get possession, but that was no excuse.
Henry Emptage of 79, Island Wall, Whitstable, said his wife was the tenant of the house. On August 27th about 1pm. he was sitting in an armchair in the back room, which was used as a kitchen and living room. His wife had sent for Mr Ashby, the landlord, who then came into the room where witness was waiting for his dinner.
Defendant sat down beside him and witness asked about the stove as they could not have a fire. Defendant said he would have nothing done until he could have possession of his own house.
Witness said he would have to try to get somebody to make him have it done.
All of a sudden, defendant got hold of his shoulders and got him down on the floor. Defendant Mr Ashby was on top of Mr Emptage, pummelling him and very nearly choking him. Defendant’s hands were on his throat, which was not better yet.
Witness’s wife came in and got defendant off as best she could. Witness got up and had to sit in the chair as he was finished, whilst Mrs Emptage saw defendant off the premises.
Witness did nothing to justify such an assault and had not the slightest idea what was going to happen. He never struck the defendant.
Cross-examined by Mr Mowll, Henry Emptage said his wife May came in when he was on the ground. She had seen nothing of what had happened until then. His wife called the police sergeant.
Mr Mowell: Did he say you were drunk? – I wasn’t drunk.
He had had two glasses of bitter – that was all. He did not know his wife had said he was the worse for drink. The letters produced were in his wife’s writing. One was with reference to the stove. The other, as the result of an increase of rent, complained of the condition of the house and was signed “Mrs Emptage for Mr Emptage, occupier.
He did not know who went for Ashby. Witness was 41, and was perfectly sober at the time. Defendant never said he would have the stove repaired.
Witness did not get up and strike at defendant. He had his coat off and did not attempt to strike again or grab hold of defendant. They had been talking about five minutes. He never saw defendant get up and did not get up himself. They both went to the ground. Defendant, after abusing his “missus” went away quietly. Witness did not think he was swearing.
May Emptage, the wife, who stated she was deaf and stood very close to both solicitors the better to hear, said she considered she was the tenant, having taken the house in her own
name over four years ago. She paid the rent and had to work for it.
About 1pm. on August 27th she was getting the dinner ready. Her husband and son Alfred were in the room and she was expecting the landlord to call as she had sent a message to him in the morning. When he came, she asked him into the living room where her husband was sitting in the armchair.
Defendant sat down next to her husband in a higher chair. Witness went into the scullery to strain the potatoes. Whilst there she heard a little shuffle of feet from the living room, but thought it was the landlord getting up to go. Her son called her, and on going into the other room she saw defendant kneeling on her husband with both hands on his throat.
Defendant said to her husband: “I will will strangle the life out of you.” Her husband’s eyes were bolting out of his head and he was gasping for breath. She tried to get one hand away to relieve her husband a bit. Defendant twisted her arm to prevent her. The bruises (shown to the Bench), were those inflicted.
After a struggle she got him away from her husband who got up but could do nothing, and fell down into the armchair exhausted. She told defendant he was a wicked man and was never any other. She ordered him out of the house and he made threats as to what he would do to her.
She got him into the yard and he turned round and cursed her again. She said: “Damn the house and damn you,” shut the door and locked it. When she left the two together there were some high words.
Cross – examined, witness said when she went back in, three chairs, two pictures, and a looking glass were on the floor, and the table pushed to one side. She only attacked defendant with her tongue. Her husband had only a pint of bitter and a glass of ale. She told Ashby to come in, saying in a joking kind of way that her husband had had a pint of beer and might have had a glass too much.
Defendant, in evidence, said he was 49. On the day the boy came in and said the father wanted to see him in the house. He went and was asked in. They were at first perfectly friendly. They spoke of the stove and the conversation was practically as stated. He told complainant that it was very nearly time that he could get in to have one for himself.
Emptage said he would have to have one put in and got a bit “ratty.” He got up and struck witness on the shoulder.
At this point Mrs Emptage evidentally underwent an improvement with regard to her hearing for from across the Court she ejaculated with much emphasis: “Liar!” She was silenced by her solicitor.
Witness turned to get out of the door and complainant grabbed him. Witness did not want a row. They both fell on the floor together struggling, and what he did was in self defence. He
was glad to get out of it. Witness could not remember catching hold of his throat.
He never saw the wife come in, but met her in the yard as he went out, when she swore at him and shoved him. He had not been drinking himself, but Emptage was the worse for drink.
In reply to Mr Shea, witness did not know if Mrs Emptage took the premises off Mr Putwain, from whom witness bought the house. The boy used to bring the rent with the book. Ever since he had bought the house, witness had wanted to get possession.
He had not done a great deal to it since then. When the question of the stove was discussed he did not get “ratty.” He said he would have a lot done when he got the house for himself. but he promised to have the stove repaired. A lot of repairs wanted doing, but he would not do them as he wanted to get them out.
He never touched Mrs Emptage and did not cause the bruises. He did not lose his temper.
Mr Mowll addressing the bench, remarked that such cases were difficult when the only parties called to give evidence were those involved. The Bench had to decide which story was true. Who was the more likely to get cross! They started friendly and the wife went about her business. Then something happened. Defendant did not strike him as being an aggressive man and he was many years the senior.
His story was entitled to be believed as much as the others who wanted their landlord convicted. It was a curious thing that the police had not been called. Mr Mowll went on to suggest that it was because complainant was drunk, when Mr Shea got up and objected to allegations of drunkeness.
Mr Mowll complained that whenever he was making a point, Mr Shea bobbed up. He submitted with the utmost cofidence that his client’s story was the one that should be believed.
After a short retirement the Bench dismissed both cases.
Henry Emptage 1882 – 1940, son of Ebenezer Emptage 1845 – 1812 and Fanny Tilly (Turner). Married May Redman 1856 – 1942, in 1908 and they had 2 sons, Alfred Henry Emptage 1909 – 1980 and George Henry Emptage 1911 – 1911.
After the court dispute it is unknown whether they remained at 79, Island Wall but by 1939, Henry and May had moved to Tonbridge, Kent.