- Assizes record courtesy of Mr John Gillespie, grandson of Insp Fred Janes.
Sidney George Quince, aged 28, labourer, 66 Hitchin Road, Luton, was charge with: “On the 19th July, 1919 together with divers other persons to the number of one thousand or more unlawfully and riotously did assemble to disturb the public peace, and then did make a great riot and disturbance to the terror and alarm of His Majesty’s subjects there being, and against the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity.”
Sgt Frederick Smith told Luton magistrates on July 25th that Quince was arrested in Hitchin Road by Sgt Henry Parsons. Sgt Smith said prisoner addressed the crowd at the Town Hall on Saturday afternoon and shouted: “Come on, let's out the ------ Mayor and all the ------ policemen. Come on, boys.” He came towards the steps, but witness pushed him back three or four times.
“Prisoner: “I was like a hundred and one other people. I was only a looker-on, and never interfered with the police in any shape or form. I had no grievance to make a speech about. I am a discharged soldier, but not a pensioner.”
In court on July 30th, Sgt Smith said he saw Quince at the bottom of the Town Hall steps before it was broken open. Shouting “Let's rush the Town Hall and out the ------ Mayor and policemen,” he ran up the steps and was followed by others, but the police kept them back.
Quince appeared in a photograph of the crowd outside the Town Hall at a later period that afternoon. This photograph was handed in. Prisoner alleged he was pushed up the steps by the crowd.
Pc Albert Higgins corroborated, and added that prisoner was one of the first to enter the building when the doors were forced by the crowd. Witness also saw prisoner in the crowd when speeches were being made from the Town Hall steps.
Inspector Herbert Hunt, who still limped badly and had been in front of the Town Hall during the speeches, said Quince continually cheered the speakers. At one time he was getting about five yards from the speakers, and witness heard him shout, “Let's fetch them out. Rush the ------.”
The Town Clerk: “Nice language on Peace Day!” Mr H. W. Lathom (defending); “Terms of endearment!”
Quince, who pleaded not guilty, admitted he was there, but did not interfere with the police or make a speech. He was committed for trial at the Assizes, bail being refused. A second application for bail was refused by magistrates on September 13th.
AT THE ASSIZES
Quince, who was undefended and had no witnesses to call, pleaded he was a married man with five children, and denied that he made any speech and said he was forced into the Town Hall by the crowd.
He said he was deaf, and his curiosity made him push forward to hear what was being said. A minute or two later a rush was made, and those who were in front of the steps, including himself, were forced into the hall.
On July 30th at the police court he was accused of being one of the speech-makers, and he said Sgt Smith told that court that he had said, “Let's out the ------ lot of them.” It seemed very off to prisoner that, although there were 8,000 or 10,000 people present, the police did not bring one witness to corroborate the statement that he said this. Prisoner denied making any such statement, or any speech at all.
Cross-examined, prisoner agreed there was some talk about rushing the Town Hall and fetching the Mayor out, but he heard nothing about “outing” the police.
The jury found Quince guilty of rioting. Inspector Fred Janes said Quince was a window cleaner on his own account who joined the Army in 1914 but was discharged in December. In 1908 prisoner was twice arrested as an Army deserter and since then had been bound over for assault. In May last his wife obtained a maintenance order from the magistrates.
Sentencing him to four months hard labour, the Judge said: “You have got a very bad record; try and get out of these bad ways.”