10th December 1907
Reference Numbert19071210-28
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown
SentenceMiscellaneous > sureties

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SANSOM, Richard ; having charge of a motor omnibus, unlawfully, by wanton driving, wilful misconduct and wilful neglect, caused certain bodily harm to John William Dove, a cabman.

Mr. Muir and Mr. Kershaw prosecuted; Mr. Coumbe defended.

Police-constable CHARLES PELL , 266 C. On the morning of November 19 last I made a plan of the scene of the accident. The motor bus was still in Park Lane, opposite Dudley House. The railings between Hyde Park and Park Lane were broken down to the extent of about 11 ft. 6 in. I could not say what damage the motor-bus had sustained as I did not examine it. The front of the motor-bus was right up against the coping of the railings. The width of the road there is 41 ft.

JOHN WILLIAM DOVE , four-wheeled cab-driver, badge number 14941. On the night of November 18 I was driving my cab along Park Lane empty, going home, on my near side. I do not remember anything about the accident until I found myself in St. George's Hospital.

Cross-examined. I cannot even remember that the motor-'bus struck me. My horse was a very quiet one. I shall not get another one like it in a hurry. I have not yet brought an action against the motor-'bus company for damages, but they have been to see me.

HENRY WILLIAMS . I live at 36, Lyncroft Gardens, Finohley Road, N. I am of independent means. On the night of November 18 I got O. on this Vanguard motor-'bus (which was driven by the prisoner) P. close by Victoria Station, with the intention of going to Marble Arch. Q. I was sitting inside on the nearest seat to the driver on the left-hand R. side immediately opposite to him, and could see everything clearly. S. I noticed with regard to his driving that he took the corners that we T. passed at the same speed as when going straight, which was too fast.

When the motor-'bus got into Park Lane I noticed that the accused, instead of keeping on the near side of the rests, after passing one rest, got in between that and the next that he was approaching; he drove as near as he could safely do to the next rest and then came out on the near side again, coming past the rest he was immediately meeting with only a few inches to spare. (To the Judge.) He was keeping what was described in the police court as a "serpentine" course. (To Mr. Kershaw.) He was not driving faster than motor-'buses usually are driven. We passed several horse-drawn vehicles. I saw the four-wheeled cab. When I first saw the cab it was being driven along in the same direction as the motor-'bus was going. Immediately before we got to it, the driving of the accused was what I should describe as "monkey tricks"—he was apparently trying his best to pass the cab in the same kind of way that he had been previously driving. Immediately before striking the cab I think the cab horse took a step to the right, but it was only then a question of inches. There is a slight turn in the road there, and the cab was on its proper side. As far as I can say the body of the motor-'bus caught the box of the off-hind wheel of the cab. I think the accused in his excitement, instead of putting off power, accelerated the speed. I thought to myself, "Am I going to be killed?" and I flung myself on the bottom of the 'bus, which went into the Hyde Park railings like greased lightning. This stopped the 'bus. The glass of the motor-'bus was smashed. I suggested that the cab horse should be shot; I believe it eventually was killed, though I did not see it. When I got out of the 'bus I saw the accused, who spoke to me, and I said, "Please do not speak to me; you drove like a damned lunatic." I saw the police put the cabman in another four-wheeled cab and send him off to the hospital. This was about 20 minutes after. The accused at that time had not been taken to the station.

Cross-examined. The steering gear of the motor-'bus and the cab may have been closely locked. The accused took the corners in a reckless fashion. I have very rarely been up and down the route at all. I cannot say whether there is a sweep of the road as it comes by St. George's Hospital. There are several rests in Park Lane. I am absolutely certain he drove as I have said. It was not a greasy night but there had been plenty of wet on the roads. I thought it was a most scandalous way of driving. I had been spending the evening with my sister and some nephews, with whom I had had tea.

Re-examined. He appeared to be driving as near the cab as possible. We passed a couple of hansom cabs, and, I think, one or two other horse-drawn vehicles; there was lots of room. (To the Judge.) Although I have come to give evidence against the accused, I have had a great deal of experience of motor traffic, by cycling and seeing it where I live; and I know these drivers have precious little time to themselves. No sooner is a 'bus up, than it is off again, and if this poor fellow had been drinking a little, I could excuse him myself. I hope, if he is found guilty, you will be lenient with him.

Mr. Kershaw stated that whatever the result of the case might be he felt that everybody was much indebted to the witness coming forward to give evidence, with which the Judge concurred.

Police-constable CHARLES GREEN , 392 C. About half-past 11 on November 18, I was on special duty at Dudley House, in Park Lane. I heard the crash and saw the motor-'bus on the left hand side of the road; it was then on the pavement, the front of the 'bus touching toe railings, about 12 of which were broken. The cab was also on the footway a little south of the motor-'bus. The horse's head was lying on the coping stone of the railings, its front legs were under the wheels of the 'bus, and the other part of it was on the footway. I saw the driver lying on his back in a southerly direction. The motor-'bus must have passed 10 yards at least from where he fell off. I saw the prisoner there and by this time there were a number of other people. Police-constable Thorn came up, and I sent him off with the injured cabman to the hospital. I also sent for a "vet.," and the horse was slaughtered. I said to the prisoner, "How do you account for this? Where is your license?" He produced his license and said, "The driver pulled to the right into me, and struck my steering wheel, rendering it powerless." While I was speaking to him I noticed his condition—he was drunk. He smelt very strongly of drink; he was unsteady in his gait; and while I was taking particulars of his license, he kept pushing up against me. I sent him later to Marlborough Street Police Station in custody of Police-constable Marony—I should think about 12 o'clock. Marlborough Street Police Station is about 20 minutes or half an hour's walk from Park Lane.

Cross-examined. I did not send him off to the station until about half an hour after the accident. In my opinion he was drunk—I do not mean that he was incapable; his breath smelt very strong. His speech was thick. I cannot say that I have ever been in a fright myself, but I have seen people who have been very frightened indeed and have not thought that they were drunk. Those people have been able to talk quite clearly and distinctly at times, and at times not.

Police-sergeant ALBERT TIMMS , 23 C. I went to the scene of the occurrence on the night of November 18. Police-constable Green was there before me. When I got there I saw the motor-'bus and the horse and the cab. I sent for a "vet." and the horse was slaughtered. I did not speak to the prisoner until after this, which would be 20 to 25 minutes after I got there. I asked him how it occurred and he explained to me that his steering wheel caught the hind wheel of the cab. I made a note at the time which says, "I saw the driver and asked him how it occurred, and he said, 'I was coming up the Lane when I thought I had got room to pass the cab. My steering wheel might have hit this cab and I could not help myself.'" After I had spoken to him I came to the conclusion that he was drunk. I judged this by his manner of speech, and he reeled up towards me; he was

thick in his speech, and his face was very flushed. I sent him with Police-constable Marony to Marlborough Street Police Station. The conversation I had with the prisoner was quite independent of that which Police-constable Green had with him.

Cross-examined. When I spoke to prisoner it would be about 40 minutes after the accident. There is not, to my knowledge, a public-house quite near the scene of the accident—the nearest one would be in Park Street. I did not know at the time I spoke to the prisoner that he had gone to the nearest public-house and had a drink. I do not think there was time. I saw him several times without speaking to him. During the time I was taking particulars of the accident he did not go away to my knowledge. He may have received a shock, but I do not think if would bring him in the state in which he was.

Re-examined. While I was there I am quite sure the accused did not go into a public-house. I was not asked any question about this at the police-court.

Police-constable GREEN , recalled. There were a number of people collected on the spot, and a number of constables came up. The nearest public-house is some distance from the scene of the accident. I should think 500 or 600 yards; 440 yard is a quarter of a mile; probably the public-house was not quite so far away as that—it is the length of a street—it is some distance. It would take the accused some noticeable time to go there and get a drink. and come back again to the scene of the accident. I was not keeping any particular observation on him during this time. I know the route of the motor-'bus. Some 'buses take a diagonal sweep from the Triumphal Arch to Hamilton Place; others do not.

Police-constable HENRY MARONY , 171 C. I was on duty at half-past 11 on November 18, and was sent by Sergeant Times with the prisoner to Marlborough Street Police Station. I started with the prisoner about 20 minutes past 12. The Marlborough Street Police Station was about 20 minutes' to half an hour's walk. Prisoner was very excited and he smelt very strongly of drink, but he walked all right. In my opinion he was drunk.

Cross-examined. I have been five years in the force. I have had some experience of 'busmen and cabmen, and rows and accidents, I should not, because I heard a row, say that a man was drunk. He smelt strongly of drink and was very excited; I do not think he was frightened.

Inspector JOHN RENFRAY , C Division. I was on duty at Marlborough Street Police Station in the early morning of November 19, when the prisoner was brought in at 12.40. In my opinion he was drunk—unfit to drive. He smelt very strongly of drink—he had a flushed appearance and a generally "muddled" appearance. I did not say anything to him at that time with reference to drink. The divisional surgeon, Dr. Edmunds, examined him. I told Dr. Edmunds that the prisoner was charged with being drunk in charge of a motor-omnibus.

It was 1.30 when the charge was read to him. After the charge had been read he said he had not seen the doctor. I then read, from the doctor's book at the station, the doctor's certificate that he was drunk and not fit to drive. The prisoner still denied being drunk.

Cross-examined. I took into consideration the fact that the man had had a bad accident; I think that would have a sobering effect rather than anything else. I did not put him to any tests. I had formed my opinion of him before I saw the doctor. The constables came and told me what happened, and I had to go on that as to whether it was a case to go before the magistrate. Mr. Montgomery (a member of the London County Council) came to the station, and expressed surprise on hearing that the accused was charged with being drunk.

DR. PERCY EDMUNDS . I am divisional surgeon at Great Marlborough Street Police Station. On the night of the 18th and the early morning of November 19 I was asked to examine the defendant, and I did so. He most fully understood that I was the doctor. After I had examined him, and told him I thought he was drunk, he asked me to put him to further tests. When I examined him I asked him first of all to show me his tongue. It was very dirty and quite dry; his lips were also quite dry. I then examined his eyes with a lenses and I found the pupils rather dilated, and they did not respond quickly, as the pupils should do when a beam of light is thrown in. His breach smelt very rankly. It was a stale smell, as if he had been drinking half the day. I could smell it at a distance off—4 ft. or 5 ft. off. He spoke very well; his articulation was not affected arterially at all. He walked fairly well, considering that he had heavy trousers on, such as motor-drivers wear. I gave him credit for walking and good enunciation. I told him I considered he had had a great deal too much to drink, and was not under control. He said, "This is a very important matter for me, doctor; I want you to put me to other tests." He said he would like to write his name, and I handed him that piece of paper marked "A" that I had been making some notes upon. He came up to the desk, and wrote his signature, "Richard Sansom." I said, "Well, that is not bad, but the 'Richard' is rather weak." He said, "Let me write it again," and he did so. Taking everything into account I considered it then my duty to say that he was drunk—that he was not fit to drive a motor-car.

Cross-examined. The effect of coming out from the dark into a lighted room would make the pupils contract. His eyes were a little too open. I do not know of any sudden action, by fright, upon the pupils. The defendant showed no symptoms of fear. I think Darwin's "Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" was written 25 to 30 years ago. People have learned a great deal more shout the nervous system since then. I paid a great deal of attention to the defendant's case, and endeavoured to treat him with every fairness. It was not brought to my knowledge that between the time of the

accident and when brought to the police station he had had one glass of bitter ale. I have been 13 years at Vine Street and Marlborough Street Stations. I don't think, from the fact of having had to deal previously with a lot of "drunks and disorderliness," that I came to a wrong conclusion with regard to this man.

Re-examined. It would not be possible for him to be in the state he was in if he had only one glass of beer in the morning and one after the accident.

(Thursday, December 12.)

JAMES ARTHUR VENNING . I was house surgeon at St. George's Hospital, on November 18 last, when the cabman was brought into the hospital at about midnight. He remained under my charge until he left the hospital on December 4. When brought in he was conscious, but suffering from concussion of the brain. There was no external symptom; his recovery was slow. I saw him yesterday, but not to examine him. It is impossible to say how long it will be before he can resume work. I said at the police court that I thought two months at least. From seeing him yesterday it is still more impossible to say.


RICHARD SANSOM (prisoner, on oath). I have been a motor-'bus driver for 11 months, in the employ of the Vanguard Motor-'Bus Company; previously I was in the employ of the London United Tramway Company, for five years as conductor. I have a clean license. On the morning of the day of the accident I started from home after a fair breakfast. I took the motor-'bus out of the garage, and at 11 o'clock something went wrong with it. I put it right, and went on again to Willesden, when the 'bus broke down altogether. I could not rectify it, and the conductor telephoned to the road-fitter, who arrived at six o'clock in the evening. The motor-'bus was got to go again at 9.55 that evening. We loft the "White Horse," Willesden, and got to Ebury Bridge just about 11 o'clock. Inspector Ellis is time-keeper there. The conductor's name is Henry Jeffries. The fitters name is Haddow. I had a glass of beer at 11 o'clock in the morning; one glass at 1 o'clock with some bread and cheese, and I had had one more drink in the course of the afternoon before the road-fitter came at six o'clock. I did not have any drink after that. From Ebury Bridge to the place of the accident I have seen the road worse, but it was bad. On the route there is only one corner that can properly be described as a "corner"—Hamilton Place. The motor-'bus went slantingly across the road from Grosvenor Place to Hamilton Place, because there was little traffic. It bad been raining a considerable part of the day, but it was not raining at the time; although it was muddy it was drying. In Hamilton Place the condition of the road was rather bad. There was mud towards the side of the road where the road sloped down; the middle of the road was pretty good travelling. In Park Lane there are several

rests, some of which I was obliged to pass before the accident happened. I kept the middle of the road as much as I possibly could. I had to go a little to the side when I came to a rest, and after I had pared the rest I went round into the middle of the road again, to as to have the beet part of the road to drive on. There is no truth in the suggestion that I followed a "serpentine" course or was up to "monkey tricks." I was driving carefully from eight to 10 miles an hour where the road was good. The distance from the Victoria Station to the scene of the accident is perhaps a mile and a half. The accident took place just after 11.25, but before 11.30. What took place immediately before the scene of the accident was this: I came to this four-wheeled cab; it was not exactly in the kerb, it was more towards the crown of the road and I attempted to panama him. I had to get a little nearer him than I was in the first place, but I allowed myself sufficient room to pass him, and certainly there were more than inches between me and the cab. I had to keep a little closer in on account of a nasty turning I was coming to. At that time of night there are a good many hansom cabs and motor-cabs taking theatre parties home which come across from Upper Brook Street at rather a swing round the corner. I could not get too far on the right-hand side of the road in case of an accident in those cases. I was just passing the four-wheeled cab—I passed his back wheel—and suddenly I saw his horse pull out—whether the horse was frightened or not I do not know. I pulled my 'bus out, but I pulled my wheel rather too violently having regard to the bad state of the road—the road sloping down a good deal towards the gutter—with the result that my front wheels skidded into him and my near front wheel caught his off-front wheel. The collision quite took the steering out of my hand, and the 'bus, in skidding as it went down, rather gained force than anything else by the skid, the state of the road being what it was; and being still looked with the four-wheeled cab we both went on to the pavement. Directly afterwards I got down to see what assistance I could give, and I found my conductor had tacked up the cabman, who was afterwards taken to the hospital. After that I went round trying to interview people I thought were passengers. Mr. Williams got out of the 'bus first and he spoke to me, and also Mr. Montgomery and also Mr. Deverell. I felt rather shaken up and very much distressed on account of the serious accident, and walked down the mews and went across to a public-house in Park Street and asked for a drop of brandy. I put threepence in coppers on the counter and the barmaid served me with "mild and bitter"—I did not know whether it was only a beer-house or not. I drank the "mild and bitter," and the girl looked at the coppers and wondered I suppose why I put threepence down, and I had another glass. I was not gone more than 10 minutes. I went back again, and the police-sergeant being there wanted more particulars; he sent me with a constable to the station. I was charged with being drunk, and I said it was ridiculous. I asked to see the doctor and saw him. He examined me and I asked to be put to further tests. The doctor told me to

write my name down, which I did. The inspector said that I said I had not "seen" the doctor. What I said was I had not "finished" with the doctor.

Cross-examined. This was last journey home that night. At 11 'clock in the morning the motor-'bus broke down near the Falcon Hotel, West Kilburn. I did not have to get assistance on that occasion. I had one drink at the Falcon Hotel. It broke down again at one o'clock and did not star: again until 9.55. I had nothing to eat at all after breakfast except some bread and cheese at one o'clock. I recognise the plan. I did not mention the skidding to Police-constable Green. I did not ever in any way suggest to Sergeant Timing that the accident was caused by skidding. To my mind skidding was not the principal cause of the accident—it was that the cab pulled out of its proper course. If I had not skidded possibly I should have cleared the cab. It did not strike me at the time as being important to mention it to the police-constable. I thought Sergeant Timms would have gone and seen for himself the marks of the skidding. I cannot say why he did not see them; they certainly must have been there. I was very much upset; I was suffering from a good deal of feeling.

Re-examined. I was not asked by either of the police officers about skidding. There is no truth in the suggestion that I was guilty of wilful and wanton driving, or that I was drunk.

HENRY EDWARD JEFFRIES , conductor of the motor-'bus, corroborated the last witness as to the times the 'bus was running. Just before the accident I noticed the cab immediately in front. Noticing the bus slightly swerve I thought there was a passenger to pick up. Whether the cab horse was startled or the driver pulled him I could not say. The front wheel of the 'bus seemed to skid into the cab and the two vehicles ran into the railings. The driver was not either reckless or drunk.

Cross-examined. The first time when the 'bus broke down, near the Falcon Hotel, the accused did not go and have a drink while I was there. If he says he did I never missed him. I never missed him between three o'clock and 9.55. At seven o'clock I loft the 'bus and went to a coffee shop to get some tea. The fitter was working at the car about six o'clock and Sansom was assisting him, and if he went away then I should have undoubtedly missed him.

Re-examined. I could not say the exact time as I had no watch. All I can say is I did not miss him.

PETER HADDOW , fitter Vanguard Motor Omnibus Company. I got to Church Road. Willesden, at six o'clock on the day in question, and the accused stayed and held a light for me while I was repairing the 'bus He was perfectly sober the whole of the time.

Cross-examined. He was holding the light for me.

GEORGE ELLIS , inspector and timekeeper, Vanguard Motor Omnibus Company. I was on duty at Ebury Bridge at 11 o'clock on the night of the accident. The accused, before leaving Victoria, had to go down a decline, and circle round, and come up the hill again, and

turn to his right, and to his right again. That requires a driver who is perfect in his work. The accused was as sober at I am now. I booked him of! at 11.6.

Cross-examined. The drivers know I am on duly there; I book the 'buses away. The driver got off and stood on the pavement; I Spoke to him for a few minutes.

ROBERT HUGH MONTGOMERY . I am a member of the London County Council. On the night of the accident I was in Park Lane. I saw there had been an accident, and made inquiries as to what had happened. The accused came up to me and said, "Did you see the accident?" I said I did not I asked him how it had occurred, and he told me that a a he was passing the four-wheeler it pulled out and hit his steering wheel and he lost control. He said a few other words, but I do not recollect what they were. I was very much interested in the horse, which was in great pain and was afterwards slaughtered. After that I saw the prisoner being taken off, and I went to the police-station and expressed my opinion to the inspector. During my conversation with the accused he struck me as being absolutely sober. I should have been quite content he should have driven one of my cars. I have attended here at great personal inconvenience.

Cross-examined. I did not see anything at all of the driving of the motor 'bus. I was given to understand that the accident occurred eight or 10 minutes before I arrived on the scene. From the conversion I had with the accused I formed the opinion that he was sober. I went to the police court, but I was not called—nobody was called.

FRANCIS DEVERELL . I am a mining engineer, living at 17, Bryanston Street. I was in Park Lane on the night of the accident about two minutes after it occurred. I asked the driver how the accident happened, and he gave me his version of it. I noticed that he appeared to me to be in every way absolutely coherent, and he did not seem to have had anything at all in the way of drink. I have a very keen sense of smell, and I think I should have noticed it if he had been drinking. I attended at the police court, but I was not called as the defence was reserved. I have attended here at great personal inconvenience.

Cross-examined. I did not notice any smell of drink at all. The prisoner seemed to me to be exactly in the same state that he has been on other occasions in which I have met him in Court, except that he was much upset at what had happened. I should say he appeared aggrieved rather. I have a very keen sense of smell myself, being practically a teetotaller. I understood from the accused that the cabman pulled across in front of his wheels as he was going by and the vehicles in acme way got locked together.

Mrs. ELIZABETH KIRTON . I live at 14, Barnsdale Road, Maida Vale. I was a passenger in the motor 'bus on the night of the accident. I should say the pace was moderate. If he had been driving furiously I should have been too nervous to stay in it. After the accident the driver said, "This is rather a serious accident. I hope nobody

blames me, as my steering gear got looked." He was decidedly not drunk.

Cross-examined. I got on the bus at Victoria Station; there were five other passengers in it besides myself. I was sitting on the first seat inside on the right hand side. I did not see anything of the four-wheeler before the accident—I only heard the crash of the glass.

WALTER HENRY PLOWMAN . I live at 102, Disraeli Road, Putney. I am an inspector in the employ of the Vanguard Motor 'Bus Company. I was checking another 'bus coming from the Marble Arch to Park Lane. My attention was called to the accident. I saw the driver of the four-wheeled cab picked up by the conductor and taken on to the pavement and then sent away in a cab. I had a conversation with the driver, and he told me how it occurred. I also smelt his breath in the company's interests to see what his condition was. If I had found him drunk and incapable or found anything improper in his driving it would have been my duty to have sent to the yard for them to take the 'bus away. I formed the opinion that he was absolutely sober. (To the Judge.) When I smelt his breath I smelt nothing in the shape of drink.

Cross-examined. I should say it was five minutes after the accident happened that I smelt his breath. I was not at the police court I do not know Dr. Edmunds. If be has said that the driver's breath when he examined him at 20 minutes past one was very offensive and smelt of drink, I should be very much surprised. That would not alter my opinion at all. It is a serious thing for the company if a driver is the worse for drink.

Re-examined. I do not know how it would affect the company in this trial, which is a criminal one.

Verdict, Not guilty of being drunk. On the second count, the Jury said there was not proper care used in driving and added that they thought the 'bus itself was not in a proper condition to be let out.

The Judge suggested to accused whether it might not be wise for him to put himself for the future in such a position that, if any accident ever occurred again, he would be in a very strong position with regard to his condition. He was released on his own recognisances in £10 to come up for judgment if called on.


(Thursday, December 12.)

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