A drunken woman beats herself up in the local nick.

Caroline Rowland had got a little tiddly. In fact she was so drunk that she was stumbling about on the Caledonian Road bumping in to people. Eventually she attracted the attention of a local bobby on his beat who watched her attempt to peer in through the open windows of a furniture shop.

Caroline was so unsteady on her feet that she was unable to balance and fell forward into the shop, crashing into the assembly of tables, chairs and what-nots. Police sergeant Baldwin (1YR) moved in and attempted to extricate her.

The drunk woman was acting in a disorderly manner, abusing him and anyone else and, with difficulty, he conveyed her back to the police station. Caroline’s troubles were not over yet however.

According to Sgt.Baldwin – who presented the case at Clerkenwell Police Court in February 1874 – Caroline ‘behaved in a most violent and unseemly manner’. When they locked her in a cell she ran to try and stop the door being closed but only managed to trip herself up and crack her head.

The sergeant was obliged to call for the divisional surgeon to see to her injuries. Even then Caroline’s anger was not burned out – she had to be restrained so the doctor could attend to a deep cut in her head.  The court was told that her head wound was added to a black eye she had sustained earlier on in her drunken episode.

In court (and now sobered up) Caroline was ashamed of her behaviour and begged the magistrate’s forgiveness and indulgence. She had never before been in trouble or seen the inside of a court she said, and if released she would never offend again. The drink had ‘overcome her’.

She wouldn’t be the last person to get injured in police custody, nor to bang her head into a convenient door or wall (or floor). The Victorian police was probably much more heavy handed than the modern Met but ‘fighting drunks’ are  always a handful, even 43-year old women.

Mr Barker, the magistrate, admonished Caroline and said her ‘conduct at the station was most violent’. He ordered her to pay a 5s fine or go to prison for five days. She paid up and left.

[from The Illustrated Police News etc, Saturday, February 14, 1874]

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