An Ingenious Defence, 1910

In September 1910, Mr James Main, a hawker from Douglas Street, High Blantyre was up in court for having broken a pane of glass at nearby Greenhall House. Whilst that doesn’t seem serious, you have to consider Greenhall House was then a private property, in a private estate and more than one crime had allegedly been committed.

It was said on 24th August, the pane was broken to aid stealing of tomatoes. Mr Nathanial Cochrane was the defence lawyer acting in James’s interests and his reasoning put in court raised a few eyebrows!

He explained to the court that James had been asked by the Gardener at Greehall to come by. James had done so and after walking up the hill had found himself tired, so he sat on a wooden cold frame, accidentally breaking the glass. Seeing tomatoes inside, anybody would be tempted said the lawyer, but on this occasion James’s hand had landed on several tomatoes, spoiling them and giving them the appearance of being partially eaten.

The Fiscal then had their turn and quickly slated this story stating that the gardener knew nothing of arranging any such meeting. It was suggested the tomato greenhouse was broken on purpose and that the gardener, far from arranging the meeting, had been the person who actually caught James with tomato remnants around his face!

A further look at previous convictions saw James had a flair for untruth and criminality. On this occasion, he was sentenced to 30 days.

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