Some history of the Sailor's Return on Bell Barn Road at Lee Bank, Edgbaston in Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire
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"At the Birmingham County Court, yesterday [before Mr. J. Motteram, Q.C. Judge], the case of Sarah Jane Odams, of
William Street, Lozells, v. John Baker, retail brewer and publican, of the Sailor's Return, Bell Barn Road, was tried. The action was
brought to recover £50. as damages for false imprisonment. Defendant did not appear, neither was he represented in Court. Mr. Stubbins [instructed by
Mr. Cheston] appeared for the plaintiff, and in stating the case, informed the Court that in October last the defendant was in the employ of Mr. Davenport,
at the Wellington Inn, Bromsgrove Street, Bristol Street, as barmaid. On the evening of October 21st the defendant Baker, who is a publican and brewer, and
keeps the Sailor's Return, Bell Barn Road, came to the Wellington Inn, and asked the plaintiff to go with him to the Carl Rosa Opera Company's
performance at the Theatre Royal. She declined his invitation, and in reply to his questions she told him she was about going to her mother's, at 10,
William Street, Lozells, and that her brother was coming to fetch her. Defendant was the worse for drink. Between ten and eleven the next morning the defendant
called at plaintiff's mother's house, and accused plaintiff of having stolen his diamond ring, value £20., off his finger, at a quarter-past
ten on the previous night, at the Wellington Inn. At the time mentioned by the defendant she was at her mother's house in William Street, Lozells.
Plaintiff's mother and sister were called in, and heard the accusation. Plaintiff demanded to go to the Wellington Inn at once. She went there with her
sister and the defendant, and Mr. and Mrs. Davenport assured the defendant that the plaintiff was not at the Wellington Inn at the time he said the ring was
stolen. Defendant then repeated the charge. Mr. Davenport told defendant it was a serious charge to make, and he better go home and reflect before saying
anything more. Defendant said he should not do that, and if plaintiff did not give him the ring back he would fetch a policeman, and give plaintiff in charge.
The policeman wisely declined to take the plaintiff in charge; he though Baker was suffering from the effects of drink, and gave him his number, saying he
would take the responsibility of his refusal. Plaintiff then returned to her mother's. About two o'clock the same day the defendant took Detective
Barrett to the house of plaintiff's mother, and gave plaintiff into custody for stealing his ring. Plaintiff indignantly denied the charge. Barrett called
the defendant on one side, and told him he had better not have the plaintiff locked up, and advised him to summon her. Defendant said, "She had stolen my
ring; I insist on her being locked up." Plaintiff was then taken in a cab with Barrett and Baker to Moor Street. They positively stripped the plaintiff,
and subjected her to the greatest indignity she could be subjected to. His Honour: It is monstrous! Mr. Stubbins [continuing] said that Mr.
Goodrick, a magistrate, came to Moor Street at eight o'clock on Saturday night, made a full inquiry into the matter, and he himself was bail for plaintiff's
appearance on the Monday, and expressed his great indignation at thee proceedings. The searcher even went so far to take plaintiff's stockings off, and took her
hair down. The defendant appeared before Mr. Kynnersley on the Monday morning, and gave his evidence against the plaintiff. Mr. Kynnersley at once said "I don't
to hear anything more." Mr. Cheston the magistrate that the plaintiff was a lady of highly-respectable character, and then Mr. Kynnersley said that the
plaintiff left the court without the slightest stain on her character, and the defendant ought to be thoroughly well ashamed of himself for having brought
the charge against her. Mr. Cheston wrote to the defendant telling him that, as the charge was false and totally groundless unless he made ample and satisfactory
apology, and paid a donation to a charitable institution to be named by the plaintiff, he was instructed to prosecute an action for substantial damages. Defendant
offered no apology, and simply allowed the plaintiff to come into court and ask for damages. His Honour said it seemed that the plaintiff had been subjected to an
indignity which no lady ought to be subjected to, except upon the strongest possible ground, and it should be only conducted then in the most delicate manner. He
thought that the authorities could not have known of the conduct of the searcher towards the plaintiff. The evidence of the plaintiff fully supported Mr. Stubbins's
statement. She informed the court that she knew the defendant at a customer at the Wellington Inn. When taken to Moor Street she was placed in the dock in the charge
room, and then she was taken to a cell and stripped by the searcher. Afterwards she was locked up in a cell by herself. There was a kind of box to sit upon, and some
iron rails. She remained there till eight o'clock at night, when Mr. Davenport and Mr. Goodrick, a magistrate, came. His honour: How many hours were you
there? Plaintiff: Six hours. Did you have any refreshment? Yes, I had a cup of tea. Mrs. Statham, sister to the plaintiff, corroborated.-Mr. Davenport,
landlord of the Wellington Inn, said that the plaintiff had been employed by him as a barmaid for seven years. She was highly respectable, and left his service of
her own accord. She was not at the Wellington Inn between nine and eleven o'clock on the night of October 21. On the Saturday evening he heard that the plaintiff
was in custody, and he at once went to Moor Street and proffered bail for her. His bail was refused. He had other bail with him, which he offered. He [Mr.
Davenport] did not limit the amount. On finding that his bail was refused, he want to Mr. Goodrick's house at Edgbaston. Police-Constable Hickman said
Mr. Davenport remarked when the charge was made that if it cost him £1,000. he would see the plaintiff righted. Detective-Constable Barrett said that Baker
persisted in having the plaintiff locked up. Replying to the Judge, he said it was the rule to have persons searched who were charged with felony. He did not know
that the plaintiff had been subjected to the degradation of which she complained. He did not think it was necessary. This was the plaintiff's case. His Honour
said that the case was, without exception, the very worst that he ever heard in his life, not only that had come before him, but of any case in which he had been
engaged. There was not a single excuse for the defendant. He would not make thee defendant responsible for the degradation to which the plaintiff was subjected at
the hands of the female searcher. If it was the rule, in such a case as this it would be better observed in the breach than in the performance. Still, if it was
the rule, he could not say that the female searcher did anything but her duty. It was an unnecessary act, but he pronounced no opinion whether it was a proper rule
or not under the circumstances of this case. The authorities should say whether in a case like this a lady in the plaintiff's position should be subjected to
such a degradation as she was subjected to. If the damages had been ten times the amount claimed he did not think he should have been prevented from giving full
damages if defendant was justly liable in point of law for that act of the female searcher. A more wanton charge - a charge without the least pretence, as far
as he could see, by the defendant, who knew that the plaintiff had seven years' good character - had never been made. The case had been very clearly
established, and he should give a verdict for the full amount and costs. The verdict was received with applause, which was immediately suppressed."
"Action for False Imprisonment"
Birmingham Daily Post : December 21st 1881 Page 6