Charge against a military motorist dismissed

Hertfordshire Mercury, 31st July 1915

Transcript

At Hatfield Petty Sessions on Monday George William Impey, of Northumberland Avenue, London, a second lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, was charged with driving a motor-car in a manner dangerous to the public at Hatfield on June 8.  He pleaded not guilty.  Mr A. Clark prosecuted on behalf of the police, and Mr Robinson defended.  Mr Clark said that on the evening of June 8 Mr. Thomas William Powers, a member of the county surveyor’s staff at Hatfield, was driving a motor-car from St Albans to Hatfield at a moderate speed, and when passing the Lemsford Road opposite the Fiddle public-house, the defendant emerged from the by-road at a very high rate of speed on the wrong side of the road, with the result that his car came into violent collision with the car driven by Mr Powers, both vehicles being seriously damaged, but fortunately no one was injured.

Lemsford was a side road leading on to the main road on which there was a great deal of traffic, and it was the rule of the road, supported by many legal decisions, that a person driving from a side road must be careful and give way to the main road traffic.  The hedges at this time of year were very high, and the defendant when emerging from a blind lane like that ought to have been very cautious; instead of which he was driving a great deal too fast.

Mr Harold Whittaker, an official in the county surveyor’s office at Hatfield, said that he came on the scene of the accident two or three minutes after it occurred, and he made some measurements as to the positions of the cars, and produced a plan showing the wheel tracks, which were very plain because the main road had recently been  tarred.

Mr Powers bore out counsel’s statement.  He could not tell the pace the defendant’s car was travelling, but it was coming much too fast. He tried to avoid a collision by swerving away to the right, but the defendant’s car crashed into him on the other side of the road near the Fiddle public-house.  The hedges were high, and he could not see the car coming.  Cross-examined, he blamed the defendant for coming too fast and on his wrong side.  He did not remember another officer, who was behind him on a motor-bicycle, coming up to him and saying he had been trying to pass him all the way from St Albans, but that he could not do so on account of the speed at which he (the witness) was going.  It was not correct that he was going at from 20 to 30 miles an hour.  He could not say whether or not he blew his horn; and he did not hear the defendant give warning.

Herbert Gray, of New Town, Hatfield, said he was carrying water across the road when the accident occurred.  Mr. Powers was going at a slow pace, when the defendant’s car came straight out of the Lemsford Road and smack into the other car.  He should say that Mr Powers was travelling at 10 or 12 miles an hour.  P.s. Olding gave some measurements from the wheel marks he saw after the accident.  Mr R.J.C. Meakin, of Hatfield, said he saw the County Council car about 200 yards before it reached the scene of the accident, and it was then travelling at a very moderate pace.

The defendant stated that his car was a four-seater, 12 h.p. Decies, and he was driving it from Astwick Manor to St Albans when the accident occurred.  He saw the prosecutor’s car coming, and was only going at six miles an hour.  He had sounded his hooter for some distance, but he could not get out of the prosecutor’s way, and the accident was unavoidable.  The other car struck his car on the off-side.  He should say the other car was doing at least 20 miles an hour.  Capt. J.E. Blake, A.S.C., who was with the defendant, said the car was going slowly, at about four miles an hour.  His experience of the defendant was that he drove too slowly.  If the defendant had driven straight across the main road from the Lemsford Road, as was suggested by the prosecution, they would have all been killed. The County Council car was going at 25 to 30 miles an hour.

Mr Joseph Pugh, of Butterwick Farm, who was riding in the car with the defendant, said the latter car was only going at four miles an hour.  Mr Lloyd: ‘He was only creeping?’  ‘Yes.’  Charles Tyler, of New Town, Hatfield, who was working on the railway 40 or 50 yards away from the scene of the accident, said he heard the defendant sound his hooter just before the accident occurred.  The Magistrates decided to dismiss the case.

 

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