The Northcote Leader (Friday June 5, 1936) reported as front page news that on the night of May 2nd 1936, the Mont Park Cricket Club held a Dinner and Social evening at the Ernest Jones Recreation Hall in Mont Park.
This Hall ‘back in the day’ was used for Dance and Social Events like this, and on other occasions, after seats were faced the other way, used as a Church.
The Hall is still standing today in the Springthorpe Estate in Macleod (then the Mont Park Hospital precinct).
The Ernest Jones Hall (which back in the early-mid 1900’s served as a Recreation Hall for Movies & Dances, and also as a Chapel/Church) still stands on the Site to this day. Image courtesy of Gary Cotchin. 2018.This particular evening’s event was called to celebrate the Club winning a local cricket Premiership that season.
The article then went on to say that at around midnight there was a ‘disturbance’ at the Dance that resulted in brothers Robert and William Ayton (both of Cooper St, Preston) being charged by a Constable Campbell with having assaulted Campbell whislt in the execution of his duties (Campbell was from the Police Stud Depot across Plenty Road where Bundoora Park is now).
The Ayton brothers plead ‘Not Guilty’ to the charge at the Court hearing.
Constable Campbell, who was in plain clothes and off-duty at the time, had earlier been invited to the evening by the Cricket Club’s President, Mr Reginald Cook.
In the Court case that followed, Mr Cook informed the Court that at about midnight he was told of a ‘disturbance’ that was in progress outside the Hall and that he went outside and saw Constable Campbell trying to break up a fight, and when he made his way through the crowd he was struck twice himself.
Constable Campbell then told the Court that around this time he saw Robert Ayton attack a man. Constable Campbell then said “I am a Constable, I cannot allow this.” And then he alleged that Robert Ayton struck him and called out “Come on” and then Robert Ayton’s brother allegedly joined in with several others and attacked Campbell, before the Cricket Club President Cook and Mont Park employee Fred Sweeney stepped in and stopped the fight, with Sweeney saying that he saw Robert Ayton strike Constable Campbell.
However additional and somewhat contrary evidence was then presented by other witnesses that suggested that apparently just prior to the fight outside, a man by the name of Makle suggested that he would like to see a Mr Donald Reay (from Thornbury) ‘outside’.
When the music stopped Reay (who was near the door) was allegedly hit by several men and dragged outside where a fight between about 20 men ensued in a good old ‘Donnybrook Brouhaha’ (‘Brew’ perhaps being the operative word by the sounds of things).
Reay then grabbed his coat and left.
After giving evidence as a witness for the defence (on behalf of the charged Ayton brothers) Reay was asked by the Prosecutor, Sergeant Lang, as to whether he was aware that there was in fact a warrant out for his arrest for having also allegedly assaulting Constable Campbell.
Reay indicated that he was not aware of this and was then told by Seargant Lang that “You will learn it soon enough”.
Another witness, Gerald Mooney of Gower St Preston, then told the Court that Constable Campbell “appeared to be doing most of the hitting’.
When Mooney was asked if he was in the fight he said that “There was a big crowd in the porch and I could not get out (there)”.
And yet another witness, Kelvin Harrigan, said that the accused (William Ayton) was trying to stop the fight when he was hit from behind, and when Harrigan went in to help Ayton, he (Harrigan) got ‘hit on the nose’ by Constable Campbell, knocking him to the ground and causing his nose to bleed. And when he got up the fight was all over and Robert Ayton (who was charged with assaulting Constable Campbell) was in fact bathing Constable Campbell’s face.
After hearing the charges the Preston Magistrate had some doubts as to the validity of the claims and thus dismissed the charges, but not before he commented on the fact that the consumption of liquor (two nine-gallon barrels of beer) had been permitted to take place in a building that is under the control of the Lunacy Department, and he suggested that the matter be bought to the attention of the authorities concerned.
Later this same day in the same Preston Court before the same Magistrate, the charge of assault (on Constable Campbell) against Donald Reay was heard, and after evidence of a similar nature to that presented earlier in the Ayton brothers case, Leay was fined one pound and ordered to pay twelve shillings in costs.