On the other hand, as a grocer by trade, he must have been well aware that a licence was required for the sale of beer. Who grassed him up? Quite likely someone in possession of such a licence - a landlord or off-licence holder - who didn't like unfair competition.
"GROCER'S ILLICIT TRADE BOTTLED BEER
AN anonymous letter led to the prosecution of William Lowden merchant Toll House, Tyrebagger, Newhills, at a J.P. Court in Aberdeen yesterday for trafficking in exciseable liquor without a certificate. He was fined £10 with the alternative of thirty days' imprisonment by Sir Sydney Gam mell and Mr G. Harper.
Mr Farquhar MacRitchie, solicitor, tendered plea of guilty for accused, a country grocer, to a charge of selling thirteen half-pints of beer between May 26, 1939, and November 25, 1939, to various people.
FELL TO TEMPTATION
These people, Mr MacRitchie said, were Lowden's customers, and once or twice he gave them a bottle of beer when they paid their accounts. They came pretty frequently and, knowing he had beer in the house, suggested that he might give them a small bottle. He could not afford to give them beer for nothing on every occasion. They suggested paying for it and he fell to the temptation.
The beer was not in stock, but was from his private supply. Mr George Alexander, prosecuting, said that
when the police searched the premises they found two dozen bottles of aerated waters, four dozen and eleven bottles of beer and three dozen empty bottles. Investigations revealed that from one firm from November 3 to December 3 he received sixty-six dozen bottles of beer.
During the past year his regular supply was from thirty to fifty dozen a week. It was a really serious case of wholesale dealing.
Mr MacRitchie objected to these charges because Lowden had not had an opportunity of answering them. They ought not to be taken into account. Sir Sydney Gammell said they did not charge a man with having various quantities of liquor. They charged him with selling definite drinks to definite people. In investigation it came out that these things took place. There was no excuse for carrying what was really an illicit trade which reached considerable magnitude. "
Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 11 January 1940, page 5.
Thirty to fifty dozen a week doesn't sound like a "personal supply" to me. Even I don't get through more than a couple of dozens a week. Even just selling the odd single bottle to his customers when paying their accounts wouldn't account for that much beer. It sounds to me as if selling beer was part of his regular business.
Given the seriousness of the crime, a £10 fine seems a lenient sentence.