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Diary digs into the history of the Courthouse Hotel

16 November, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary

Drink in the atmosphere: iron bars on the way to a bar at the Courthouse Hotel

 

And while we are in the environs of Great Marlborough Street, let Diary share a tale of intrigue, relating to the Marlborough Street Magistrates’ Court – now the Courthouse Hotel.

The Grade II-listed building dates from the 1800s and among those who have stepped over its threshold was Charles Dickens, who had a job as a court reporter for newspaper The Morning Chronicle, and Louis- Napoléon Bonaparte – who became Napoleon III – who appeared as a witness in a case involving fraud there in 1847.

John Lennon, Johnny Rotten and Oscar Wilde have faced the beaks there, as did The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, busted for marijuana, and Keith Richards, busted for marijuana, mandrax, heroin, a revolver and an antique shotgun, ending any discussion as to which Stone was the most rock and roll, Diary thinks you will agree.

But perhaps the most interesting case heard at the court in recent years was that of David Martin, a transvestite bank robber. He turned over a Barclays in Highgate in 1982 and then shot a policeman in Belsize Park as he tried to escape.

Eventually caught, Martin was taken to a cell at the courthouse, where, on Christmas Eve, he used his skills as a lock- picker to free himself from his confines and walk out into the cold night air.

His case was tragic: on the run for a few weeks, at one point police officers thought they had found him and when the car in which they suspected he was the driver did not stop, they opened fire (he had repeatedly shouted at officers during previous chases that “you will never take me alive”): the man behind the wheel wasn’t Martin, but a BBC editor called Stephen Waldorf, who survived being shot seven times.

Finally Martin was apprehended, but never faced a jury. He took his own life while he waited for the trial to begin.

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