Cst. Stephen Perry McCavour

Saint John Police Force, Cst. Stephen Perry McCavour, 30

Liquor flowed freely at the New Year’s Eve dance in the Seaman’s Mission. Though said to be good-humoured when he drank, Murdock Evoung became agitated. A Cape Breton seaman and due to leave shortly on the Emperor of Saint John, bound for Havana, Evoung challenged another man with whom he was having an argument. Trouble was averted when Constable Stephen Perry McCavour – a native of Lorneville, married with four children, and a member of the force since 1923 – entered the hall, and told the men to quiet down. After the dance had ended, some of those attending continued their celebration upstairs. McCavour returned. On one of the landings he encountered Evoung again. The men scuffled. The constable fell to the bottom of the stairs. His skull was fractured. Six hours later he died in the public hospital.

One witness, Wallace Steele, said he had seen Evoung strike the officer on the side of the head before his fall. The seaman was taken into custody and charged with murder. Contradictory and incomplete evidence resulted in two trials – the first concluded with eleven jurors in favour of conviction, one for acquittal. The defendant gave his own version of the events of that night:

I took a black bag with me and it had four bottles in it. I argued with James Melville (another seaman, a native of Vancouver) and the officer (McCavour) came in and told us to stop. The only time I saw the policeman that night was when he came into the dance hall. While I was going up the stairs from the dance hall I could see through the front door and the policeman was on the sidewalk, standing by a pole. I was not real drunk, but had quite a lot in me. I was going up the stairs when the policeman came up behind me. He talked about liquor. I said, “Go away from me,” and pushed him. He lost his balance and bell downstairs. I did not look where the policeman fell but I went up to the top and at the same time I heard someone calling, “Come back.” I came back about five minutes later and there were some men around the policeman. I pushed him with my hand, but I did not intend to do any harm to him. I left the building and started down the street to my ship, and only got half way when I turned and met an officer who asked me where I was going and I told him to the Mission. I went upstairs to the dormitory. I sat on a bed and a fellow from Saint John told me to get under the bed, which I did. I was excited and was under there when the policeman pulled me out.

A second trial was quickly scheduled. This jury deliberated for two hours and returned with a verdict of not guilty. They concluded the crown had not proven? Evoung had struck the constable with the intention of deliberately injuring him. They had listened carefully to the judge’s reminder that “if balancing the probabilities for or against the prisoner, there was a slight shade in favor of the crown, the crown had not proved it case.

The youngest of McCavour’s children had been born only six weeks before.

The Saint John Police Story.