It's a particularly British story, relating as it does to the weird (and severe) licensing laws. When you think about it, the amount of time and effort put into such a trifling matter are truly ridiculous.
"BOTTLED BEER.It's not clear exactly why the defendents were convicted. Was it illegal to pay for beer before closing time but take possession of it after closing? Or did the court believe the payment had been made after closing. A pretty ridiculous "crime" whatever the circumstances. And great that the poor landlord was prosecuted, despite not being present and having taken no part in the transaction.
Spondon Landlord and Customers in Trouble.
DELIVERY AFTER CLOSING TIME.
Three summonses relating to the sale of bottled beer which was not removed from licensed premises until after 10 p.m. were heard at the Derby County Police Court to-day. John Geo. Drabble, 273, Stockbrook-street, Derby, was prosecuted for taking beer from the White Swan inn, Spondon, during prohibited hours on February 24; Frederick Lewis Ward, landlord ot the White Swan, for supplying by his servant, and Robert Coxon, 6, Coxon-street, Spondon, for aiding and abetting Ward by supplying beer to Drabble.— Mr. Bendle W. Moore prosecuted, and Mr. H. M. Clifford represented defendants.
Mr. Moore said that at about 11 p.m. Police-constable Ackley was near the White Swan when he noticed a vehicle standing outside. The constable went to one of the side doors and met Drabble coming out with two bottles beer. When asked about the bottles of beer Drabble said "They are mine; I have bought them." Later he denied that he had bought them, or something to that effect. The officer then entered the inn, and spoke to the landlord, who said he had been lying on the sofa all night. Drabble then said was not the landlord who served him with the beer, it was the man Coxon. Coxon said, "I handed them to him about ten minutes ago."
Police-constable Ackley gave evidence in support, and said he heard the "chink" of money just as he reached the door of the inn. When he spoke to the landlord he was told that the beer had been paid for before ten o'clock.
For the defence Mr. Clifford said the sale the two bottles of beer was completed before ten o'clock, but the bottles were put on one side until Drabble left the house.
Coxon, in the box, supported this and said the landlord was not well. He was lying down and knew nothing about the transaction.
By Mr. Moore : What time did you hand the bottles of beer to Drabble? — Witness: Ten minutes to eleven.
Are you in the habit of selling stuff before closing time and allowing people to take it away when they like? — No.
Ward said he had been a license holder for 37 years. He knew nothing about the sale of the bottles of beer until the police officer saw him. A witness, named Burrows, corroborated as to the sale the beer before ten o'clock. Defendant Drabble, Anthony Ward, son the defendant and Clara Ward, also gave evidence.
Defendants were fined 40s. each, advocate's fee was allowed, and the costs were ordered to paid by the landlord, Ward."
Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 23 March 1928, page 10.