Attack on PC Frederick Braithwaite [1873]

William Steele, Tom Hartley and Martin Williams were found guilty of wounding PC Frederick Braithwaite with intent to do him grievous bodily harm, on 14th June 1873. Steele was sentenced to 5 years' penal servitude Hartley and Williams were each sentenced to 18 months' penal servitude with hard labour

The Reporter [Saturday 21st June 1873] reported

Murderous Attack on a Policeman in Halifax

Shortly before midnight on Saturday 14/6/1873, PC Frederick Braithwaite was attacked near Godley Bridge by a man named Steele who resides in Claremount. The policeman had his eyes blackened and was seriously injured about the head and legs. The struggle terminated with the policeman being thrown down the embankment. William Steele, blacksmith, Lister Pit Hill, Claremount, on remand from Monday, Walter Willerby, labourer of 172, New Bank, Halifax Tom Hartley, labourer of Leopold Street, Halifax and Martin Williams, labourer of Havelock Street, Halifax. were placed in the dock.

The court heard that six or seven men set on the constable and Steele said

That expletive made me pay a 7/6d fine for a dog. I'll murder him

A cry of

Throw him over the bridge

which is a depth of 32 feet, was raised, and

Kill the expletive &c

Steele then threw the constable down the bank, a distance of 40 feet.

Steele was known as one of the most terrible blackguards in the neighbourhood. During the scuffle the PC knocked Steele senseless with his handcuffs.

At the corner of the junction of Wakefield Road they threw setts to his head. The PC then asked four young men to stop Steele, which they did, and accompanied the PC with Steele to the top of Godley Bridge where a large crowd had assembled and the young man then left.

A man named Sutcliffe came to his assistance but the crowd closed in on them and kicked the PC and Sutcliffe in the most shameful manner. Sutcliffe blew the PC's whistle and two PCs came to help just in time to arrest Steele.

Alfred A. Collinson, labourer of Havelock Street gave evidence saying that he heard Hartley say

Let's squash him

and rolled a stone down the embankment towards the PC.

Collinson admitted that he had been in prison four times for felony but he had not told a man named Cawthra that he would swear Hartley was there whether he was or not


© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 17:43 / 3rd May 2024 / 4809

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