Slips of Different Kinds

“Slips” were the discussion point in Hamilton Sheriff Court in August 1913. Slips of the betting kind, and slips of the tongue saying one thing but meaning another. As amusing story follows….

A Blantyre man found himself in the dock on the first Wednesday that month, accused of betting illegally in the street. That wasn’t so uncommon but usually didn’t end well for the individuals caught. It wasn’t looking good, as the prosecution had a star witness….a police officer.

During his statement a police officer stated he had observed the accused at 12.53, but later whilst speaking further, the officer referred to a time of 1:53. The defence quickly leaped on to the ambiguity.

On cross examination, they asked the officer, which do you mean, 12:53 or 1:53? The officer thought for a second then said 12:53, then immediately shook his head and said, “no, it was 1:53”. The court officials ended up cautioning the officer for his discrepancy and “the heat” piled on to the police officer in an instant.

The officer said it had been a mere slip of the tongue. “Yes” replied the Judge, “but those are the kind of slips that often convict an innocent man”.

The Court had heard enough. There was not enough to convict and the judgement of the officer now under question. As the Blantyre man accused in the dock gave a wry smile and sigh of relief, the Judge disbanded the courtroom.

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