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BEER BOTTLES IN COURT.

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BEER BOTTLES IN COURT. Peculiar Welshpool Prosecution. Serious Allegations by Rival Bottlers. Under the Merchandise Marks Act, William Carter, mineral water manufacturer and beer and stout bottler, Oswestry, prosecuted James Davies, mineral water manufacturer and beer and stout brewer, Brookside Brewery, at the Welshpool Borough Sessions, last Tuesday, on a two-barrelled charge:— 1.—Selling two bottles of stout to which a false label was attached. 2.-Applying to three bottles of stout a false trade description. The case lasted over three hours, and only three magistrates sat it out:—The Mayor (Mr T. J. Evans), Mr Maurice Jehu, and Mr William Humphreys. During the proceedings the tables and shelves under the Bench became transferred into a minia- ture public-house bar, each side producing a quantity of empty beer and stout and other bottles in support of their case, whilst the prose- cution produced three corked beer bottles, which the defence insisted on being uncorked. One bottle proved so heady that the foamy nectar overflowed on the table after a loud pop," and for a time the atmosphere of the Court-room was more alcoholic than dignified. Solicitors Prose- cution, Mr Martin Woosnam. solicitor, Newtown defence, Mr Richard E. George, solicitor, Newtown. PAID .£400 A YEAR FOR BOTTLES, Mr Woosnam said the case was that defendant put into bottles belonging to Mr Carter stout and beer which was supplied to him, he presumed by Messrs Guinness and Messrs Bass, and used their labels, with the words at the bottom, Bottled by James Davies, Brook Side Brewery, Welshpool." Guinnesses supplied beer and stout by hogsheads, and the contents weie bottled by the persons to whom the hogsheads were supplied. Guinnesses at the same time supplied labels to their cus- tomers, Guinness's Stout. Supplied by — to put on the bottles. The stuff was supposed to be put into bottles belonging to the person supplied by Guinesses, but instead of doing that defendant had applied under this Act what was a false trade description by putting the stuff into bottles be- longing to Mr Carter, and then putting on labels bearing his name. Mr Carter's bottles, as the Bench would see by the bottle he handed up, were embossed with his name. Mr Carter did not bring this aase forward in any spirit of vin- dictiveness. The bottles were somewhat expen- sive, and the way in which Mr Davies got the bottles, it was alleged, was by going around to his customers and taking them when he collected his own bottles. He should have returned those that did not belong to him to the owner, and cer- tainly not filled them as his own. Mr Carter wanted to put a stop to this practice, because he paid X400 a year for bottles, and for tbose bottles to be refilled with stuff which was not sold by him was a serious item in his trade. The facts of the present case were that three bottles of stout were purchased at the Buck Inn, and were found to be Mr Carter's bottles with Mr Davies's label on them. THE COMPLAINANT CORNERED. Complainant said that for fourteen years he bad acted as mineral water manufacturer and bottler of Guinness's, Bass's, and Worthington's beer and stout. He bought Guinness's stout in hogsheads, and bottled it in his own bottles, which were embossed with his name. Guinnesses sup- plied him with labels to put on the bottles. He bad found that Mr Davies had been using hundreds of his bottles since he had been in business during the last three years. He wrote to him some time ago warning him against the practice, but he had no reply. He. however, received a letter from the Birmingham Bottlers' Association, of which Mr Davies was a member, stating that he (Mr Carter) was using Mr Davies's bottles. He (complainant) was a member of the Liverpool Bottlers' Association. He was not using Mr Davies's bottles as the Birmingham Association alleged. The three bottles produced bore his name embossed on them, and, as the Bench would see, labels were pasted on, saying they contained Guinness's stout, bottled by Mr Davies. Cross-examined: It was the practice of every bottler to be a member of an association. Bottles which came into their possession, and did not be- long to them, were sent to the Association, whe sorted them, and returned them to the owners, whose names were embossed on them. He had never received from the Birmingham Association any of the bottles bearing Mr Davies's labels. He never used any of Mr Davies's bottles. Mr George here handed to Mr Carter a bottle, and asked him to tell the Bench what was on it. Mr Carter said the bottle was embossed with the name of Mr Davies, but his (witness's) label was pasted on. Three more bottles were handed to Mr Carter, and in each case he admitted that they were Mr Davies's bottles with his labels on. He did not know that he had bottled stout in bottles belong- ing to T. Griffiths, Welshpool. The bottle handed up to him was Griffiths's bottle with his (com- plainant's) bottle. Mr Davies bought his business with all the stock-in-trade from his (Mr Carter's) brother-in-law (Mr Vigeon). He had never bottled Bass's ale in bottles belonging to Richard Evans, Llanfyllin. The bottle prodaced had Evans's name embossed ou it and his (complainant's) label. HIS OWN CASE. Mr George: So at any rate you have made some mistake when you say you have not used anyone else's bottles ? Complainant: I have not done so to my know- ledge. Cross-examination continued: He was not aware that Mr Davies never used a cork unless it had his name branded on it.—Further cross-examined His man, James Jones, told him his bottles were being used.—Asked why the proceedings were taken by him privately instead of through his Association, complainant said it was not because his Association refused to take up the case. He never asked them to take it up. Re-examined It would be very easy for some one to get some of his labels and put on other people's bottles. James Jones said he left the employ of defendant about twelve months ago, and entered that of complainant's soon after. On September 28th he went to the Buck Inn, called in P.C. Casewell, and asked for a bottle of stout. P.C. Casewell put his name on the label of the bottle. By that they identified the bottle produced. The bottle was supplied out of a case. It was embossed with Mr Carter's name, and bore Mr J. Davies's label. At other times in the day be went to the Buck Inn with Peter Reed and Vaughan Ellis and ordered bottles of stout, and they wrote their names on the labels of the bottles taken ont of a case. The bottles were Mr Carter's and bore Mr Davies's labels. When he was in Mr Davies's employ, Mr Davies did not have all his corks branded. He had seen thousands of Mr Carter's bottles with Mr Davies's labels on. He bad seen other people's bottles used by Mr Davies. Cross-examined: It was not true that Mr Davies discharged him. He gave Mr Davies notice. Margaret Evans, formerly barmaid at the Buck Inn, said Mrs Preece, the late licensee, used to deal with Mr Davies, but not with Mr Carter. She had seveial times seen Mr Carter's bottles with Mr Davies's labels on. Mrs Preece, P C. Casewell, Peter Reid and Vaughan Ellis having given evidence, The Mayor, before the Court adjourned for lunch, suggested that complainant and defendant should compromise the case. Mr Woosnam said this applied to hundreds and hundreds of bottles, posaibly thousands, and when Mr Davies's attention was called to it he per- sisted in the practice. If Mr Davies would deliver up all Mr Carter's bottles and not use them again and pay the costs, he would advise his client to withdraw the case. Mr George said that would imply guilt on the part of his client, and auch terms could not be accepted. MR GEORGE'S ABLE DEFENCE. Mr George, addressing the Bench, said it some- times happened when an innocent man was charged that things cropped up in the course of the case which stood him in good stead. So it happened in this case. They found the corks in the bottles were not Mr Davies's corks. Also, it now trans- pired that the labels on the three bottles bought were important evidence. When Guinnesses sent out a hogshead of stout they sent out a stock of labels for putting on the bottles. The labels bore the same numbers, so that the consignment would be bottled and labelled with the same date on each bottle. As they would see, the number on the label of one of the three bottles was 100525, which, read backwards, gave the date of the bottling approximately as May 25, 1910. The number on another was 100827, August 27, 1910, and the number on the other 090917, September 17,1909. As these bottles were in the same case they should have borne the same dates. With this discrepancy, and the fact that the corks were not defendants, he thought their worships would be satisfied that defendant was not guilty of the charge. Moreover, it would be proved by the Secretary of the Birmingham Bottlers' Associa- tion that since last year defendant had returned 457 dozen bottles that did not belong to him, and had received from his association 363 dozen of his bottles collected by other people. THE BRANDED CORKS. James Davies, in bearing out his advocate's statement, said he had been bottling his com- modities himself all the summer, and it was not possible for him to have bottled the stout in the three bottles in question. He did not use any plain corks. They were all branded with his name. He had 230 gross of corks in August. He had a contract with a firm, and there was a small "F" on every cork in order that it might be detected if he used anybody else's corks. If he did he would lose 10 per cent. discount. It was impossible that the three bottles bearing sush varying dates should have come out of one case. He had searched his premises since the summons was taken out and found several of his bottles with Mr Carter's labels on. Mr Woosnam objected to this, and said Mr Davies had his remedy in that respect. Witness, proceeding, said he sent out 30,000 bottles a year. He last supplied Mrs Preece with stout on September 8th. Cross-examined: He suggested that the stout must have been put in by somebody else, and f that his label was put on. He did not know who did it. The labels were put on the bottles after they were supplied to the three men. He never supplied Mrs Preece with Carter's bottles in his life. Mrs Preece used to be sending from one publican to another for stuff after September 8th, and he suggested that Mrs Preece sent out for these bottles and afterwards put them in his case. Re-examined: He never supplied Mrs Preece with anything after September 8tb. A MISTAKE POSSIBLE. Peter Henry Pierce, foreman corker, said he had used no plain corks at Mr Davies's that year, and none of Mr Carter's bottles had passed through his hands. A number of Mr Carter's bottles bearing Mr Davies's labels of recent dates were handed to witness, who said they had not passed through his hands. It was possible for one of Mr Carter's bottles to be used in mistake. John James Owens, secretary of the Birmingham and District Mineral Water Manufacturers and Beer Bottlers' Association, proved the figures of returned bottles, and said that for members of bottling associations to take action privately in- stead of through their association was always dis- countenanced by the association. The Bench deliberated in private, and the Mayor said the case would be dismissed, and each party would pay its own costs. Mr Woosnam asked the Bench to state their ground for the decision of a superior Court; and the Mayor replied that the case was dismissed on its merits. The Justice Clerk (Mr C. Pryce Yearsley) retained possession of the three extracted corks, which, it was pointed out, were all of a different sort.

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