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Getting PC Ashford Fired

One night in August 1906 (just after Arthur had come out of Borstal), he was walking along Old Montague Street and saw a well-known policeman in the area, PC Ashford, just coming off duty. Another man, called Gamble, who was some distance away, was talking to a ‘bride’ (prostitute). Ashford decided he wanted the woman to himself, confronting Gamble who walked away. The bride however refused to go anywhere with Ashford, so he took out his anger on Gamble, kicking him so hard between his legs that he got a ruptured urethra and had to go to hospital.

Arthur decided to pursue this case and to try and get Ashford charged with assault. It just so happened that there were two witnesses to the event: a newsboy and an elderly woman who had heard a commotion from her window which overlooked the street and who recognized both the man and the badge number. Through his skills in the legal field, Arthur eventually got PC Ashford a nine month jail term, and the sack as a policeman.

Actually, Arthur’s legal skills were put to the test in two ways. The first way was in finding the witnesses, taking the case to court and acting as the accuser. The second was in battling off the bogus claims that the police made against him after they found he was on their trail. Firstly, they brought Arthur to the station and brought in the victims of twenty or so crimes who might possibly have recognized him as the perpetrator. They failed to get a single positive identification.

Then just four days later, Arthur was accused again, this time of assaulting a policeman in front of six witnesses. The charge was false and Arthur chose to defend himself. One of the supposed witnesses was even PC Ashford himself. When questioning him, Arthur managed to show the inadequacies in Ashford’s story by asking what Ashford least suspected straight away. “How long have you known me”? was Arthur’s first question, to which Ashford replied “Six years”. “And how long have you been in the force”? asked Arthur. “Six years”, came the reply. Arthur thought that asking such questions would throw him off guard and disrupt his pre-planned story. He was right, and managed to get him to admit that he was off duty and in bed when the assault took place, but had somehow heard the police whistle and come running. “Did you take your truncheon?” Arthur jokingly questioned.

Eventually the case was thrown out and the judge said that perjury had been committed. Funnily enough, Arthur later regretted getting the policeman in trouble because it secured a lifelong rivalry with Commercial Street Police Station.

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