False pretences indeed

Hertfordshire Mercury, 9th May 1914 & 30th May 1914


At Marlborough Street Police Court, London, on Tuesday, Mr Lionel Gerard Ames (24), of Welwyn, and of the Drive Mansions, Fulham, was charged with being drunk in charge of a motor-car in Piccadilly Circus, also with driving away when called upon to stop by a police officer, also with driving in a dangerous manner, and also with assaulting a motor-car driver.  A Police Constable described the circumstances, and a doctor proved that the defendant was drunk when arrested.

The defendant had given the name of Leonard Ames, but his solicitor said that his real name was not Leonard Ames, although that was the name under which he had obtained his motor licence.  He also advised that the defendant’s actual name was Lionel Gerard Ames and that he was to be found at both the addresses he had given, and also at chambers at an hotel in Jermyn Street.  He also had a country address at Welwyn, Hertfordshire, and it was there that he had another licence, the endorsements on which had influenced him in deciding to get another licence under another another name.  The defendant’s solicitor agreed to the acceptance of bail, initially, in the sum of £200.


At Welwyn Sessions, it was reported again that Lionel Gerard Ames had already appeared at Marlborough Street Police Court charged with various related motoring offences in and around Piccadilly Circus, and with assaulting Arthur Schlater, a motor-cab driver.  He was also charged with driving a motor-car without a licence, and having given a false name when obtaining his last licence.

Mr H. Mustett, representing the Commissioner of Police, said that the defendant had been convicted several times under the Motor Car Act.  It had been after midnight, on 5th May 1914, when he had been driving a car from Coventry Street into Regent Street and had run violently into a man who had been crossing the street.  P.C. Vincent had instructed the defendant to stop the vehicle.  The car had then stopped very briefly, but had then pulled away down Regent Street at a speed of between 20-25 mph.  The constable managed to get into the car and asked the defendant again to stop the car, but he drove on.  A number of taxi-cabs gave chase and hemmed him in in Argyll Place.  There, he had to be forced from the car by several constables.  He had struck out in all directions, and had hit Mr Schlater on the cheek.  When charged, he had given the name of Leonard Haynes.

Dr Dunn, the divisional surgeon at Vine Street, certified the defendant to be drunk.

P.C. Vincent, who had previously given evidence, was recalled and said that, directly the man crossing the road had been struck, the car had stopped.

Arthur Wellesley Smith, a porter from the Monico Restaurant, said that, as he was crossing Piccadilly Circus, he had been struck on the left side by a motor vehicle.  The car then stopped.  He heard the driver say to a constable “Is he hurt?”.  The Constable had replied “If you will kindly draw over, I will take particulars”.  When the car stopped, the driver had got out, but had then immediately got back in and set off up Regent Street.  The witness had been unable to continue his work because of his injuries and had been advised that he would be unable to do so for a further month.

The defendant said that he had dined, with two friends, in the grill room at the Savoy Hotel, and that the three of them had drunk champagne.  He then went on to the Alhambra and, on leaving there, returned to the Savoy for supper and drank a sparkling Moselle.  That was all he had had to drink before leaving the hotel at about 12:45.  He drove from the Savoy, his chauffeur being by his side, and his two friends in the back of the vehicle.  On reaching Piccadilly Circus, he had seen a steam omnibus going down Regent Street and had determined to pass it. This meant travelling on the wrong side of the road but, on passing the omnibus, he came upon a man named Smith and just touched him with the car, a 40 to 50 mph Rolls-Royce which was then travelling at about 10 mph. The affair had been a pure accident.

The defendant said “Although being asked to stop by a Constable, I decided to continue my journey up Regent Street.  I wish to express my regret for what I did. I cannot offer any explanation.”  With regard to the assault, he said that he had been struck first, but had been hooted at by the gathering crowd.  As for having a licence in a wrong name, the reason, he said, was obvious, and that it was because he had so many endorsements on his actual licence.

A number of witnesses called for the defence positively swore that at the time of the alleged offence, the defendant had been sober.

The Chairman, who said that he thought that the defence offered by the defendant actually made the case look much worse, imposed fines of £10 for not stopping, £5 for the assault on Schlater, and £35 for negligently driving, making a total fine of £50, but with the alternative of 3 months imprisonment.  In addition, there would be 15 guineas costs, and there would also be an order that the defendant should not be eligible to hold a licence to drive for 12 months.

This page was added on 30/10/2014.

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