Mexborough and Swinton Times February 1, 1929
Sequel To ‘Bus Accident.
Serious Charge Against Bolton Teacher.
Three Men Injured.
Alleged Blind Driving.
The adjourned case against James C. Walford, the Bolton-on-Dearne school teacher, arising out of a bus accident on the Wath Road near Manvers Bridge, were heard at Doncaster on Tuesday, when Waiford was charged alternatively with ” by wilful neglect doing grievous bodily harm,” or ” doing grievous bodily harm to Albert Holbrook (52), a miner, of 50, Victoria Street, Mexborough, and of driving to the danger of the public.” The latter charge was commenced the previous week, when the magistrates suggested that the charge be revised. The charge of dangerous driving was therefore adjourned.
The Clerk (Mr. E. W. Pettifer), said it would be for that court to decide which of the two charges was to be proceeded with after hearing the evidence. In the more serious charge it would have to be tried at Assizes or Quarter Sessions, but in either case Walford could elect to he tried there.
Mr. C. P. Bruton, who prosecuted, asked for Walford to be sent for trial on both charges
For the defence, Mr. H. Morris, of Sheffield, agreed to trial on both.
The prosecution alleged that the accident was due to the ‘bus having inadequate lights, Holbrook has suffered from loss of memory owing to the accident and was unable to give evidence.
The hearing was adjourned until to-day (Friday), Mr. Bruton said defendant was a school teacher, but occasionally drove a bus belonging to Messrs. Evans and on the evening of December 3rd, was driving it from Mexborough to Manvers Main. The bus had inadequate front lights and passengers in the bus could not where it was going.
Near Manvers Bridge a bump was felt and the bus went about 80 yds. before stopping. The driver said, “It’s only a tyre gone,” and got down. Witnesses left the bus and went back along the road to find three men, two of whom were injured. The accident was caused by the inadequacy of the lighting of the vehicle.
Alfred Dudley, a miner, of 4, Church Street, Mexborough, said he boarded one of Evans’s buses in Mexborough, to go to work at Manvers Main about 8.30, on December 3rd. He noticed the side lights of the bus were weak and there were no head lights. He looked through the side windows, but could not see owing to the poor lights. He thought the driver was finding his way by the lights of other buses coming behind. Several vehicles overtook them. When the lights of the other vehicles were not there the driver slackened speed and witness thought he could not be able to see at those times. When they got past the railway bridge, about 100 yards from Manvers Bridge, witness felt the bus hit something. He looked out of the window, but could see nothing. The bus travelled from 60 to 80 yards after the bump and then pulled up. The driver said ” There is nothing the matter, it’s only a tyre gone,” and all the passengers got out. Witness kicked the two near tyres and found them in order. The bus had been travelling on the correct side of the road at about 14 miles per hour. Witness went back along the road and found Holbrook and Clift lying on the road near the left hand kerb. He found Wake leaning against the wall holding his head.
Inadequate Lighting Allegation.
It was his opinion that the three men had been hit by the bus, while he was in the bus no signal was given. If the ‘bus had had good lights the accident would not have happened. The road was badly lighted and the night was clear.
Cross examined by Mr. Morris witness said he knew the road well, and it had a wide causeway. It was a practice for men to walk on the road at that point. He was not sure whether it was the driver or conductor who made the remark about the tyre. He did not agree that it was a man named Vardy.
Re-examined by Mr. Bruton, he said he did not know why the bus was stopped. It was not a usual stopping place.
Dr. J. J. Huey, of Mexborough, said he attended Holbrook at the Montagu Hospital, on December 3rd, at about 10 p.m. He was unconscious and was bruised near the left eye and had abrasions to the back and left arm. He was unconscious for seven days and was discharged on December, 19th. He had since suffered from loss of memory, headaches, sleeplessness, loss of nerve tone, unsteady gait and his vision was affected. He had no yet got over the loss of memory.
In reply to the Chairman (Mr. G. E. Cooke. Yarborough) witness said it was possible that Holbrook had forgotten what happened on the night of the accident, owing to the loss of memory. He thought it would take a very long time for him to recover, if he ever did.
Evidence of Passenger and Pedestrian.
John Senior, a miner, 15, Clifton Road, Mexborough, said he accompanied Dudley, in the bus to Manvers. The lights were very weak. The conductor was riding on the footboard and the driver was finding his way by street lamps and the lights of other vehicles going in the same direction. Between the first railway bridge and Manvers Bridge, about 150 yards past the first one, there was a bump and witness looked out of the windows, but could not see anything. The bus stopped and witness got out along with the other passengers and a man shouted ” Three men have been knocked down. ” He thought the bus had knocked them down. Afterwards he looked at the lights and found only one was in—the off-side one.
Jonathan Cliff., a miner, of 44, Albert Road, 04 Mexborough, said he was walking to work at to Manvers, with Holbrook and Wake on the Wath Road. They were on the left of the road and walking abreast. Witness was near the kerb, Wake being in the middle and Holbrook on the off-side. They were almost Shoulder to shoulder. When nearing Manvers Bridge they were run into by a bus. He saw no lights coming from the rear and heard no warning. Holbrook was knocked forward striking the kerb with his head, and Wake backward, witness being knocked down by Wake, who was thrown against the wall. Witness shouted for the bus to stop and it went 30 or 40 yards before being pulled up. The driver of the bus at the Hospital, to which the injured men were taken, told witness he was ” baffled with the shadows and said that he took the shadows for the persons.” He could not recall his actual words.
“Like A Candle.”
Robert Wake, a miner, 54, Hartley Street, Mexborough, said he was going to work about 9 o’clock on the evening of December 3rd, with Holbrook and Clift, and walking on the left, of the road. When between the two bridges he turned round because he saw a ” bit of light,” behind his back, like a candle light. There was only one light on the bus and it was about a yard behind him.
The front of the bus struck Holbrook and the rear struck witness. He was injured on the chest, head and arm.
P.C Bainbridge, of Bolton, said on December 5th, that he received a communication in respect of the accident and made enquiries in Mexborough. The following day he saw defendant who admitted he was the driver of the ‘bus. Witness causing him and told him he would be reported for driving a ‘bus in a manner dangerous to the public. He replied, ” Yes.” Witness examined the bus and found that the near side side-light had been re-adjusted, which the defendant, said had been broken off by the accident and put on again. No headlights were attached to the vehicle and the side-lights were small. Witness examined the road where the accident happened and found it was 33 ft. wide and on a straight stretch. There was a footpath a yard wide on the side where the accident happened and the other was three yards wide. The driver had not reported the matter to the police.
In reply to Mr. Morris witness said the side lamps did not protrude from the side of the but were in front on the body.
Inspector Redfern said he saw defendant on January 16th, and cautioned him and told him that he would be reported for causing bodily injury to Holbrook by knocking him down by a bus at 9 p.m. on December 3rd.
He replied “”I was going very slow. My lights were good. Had he not stepped sideways the accident would not have occurred.”
That concluded the evidence for the prosecution.
Mr. Morris, in his address for the defence, said the charge of “unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm,” could not possibly stand. If it did, intent would have to be proved, and in such cases, if there were fatal results, it would amount to murder.
The Chairman : I cannot accept that. I saw in a paper whore a man charged with being drunk in charge of a motor car was also charged with doing previous bodily harm
Mr. Morris submitted there was a considerable difference between being drunk and the present case. The charge against Walford of maliciously inflicting him was framed so as to be a felony and the charge of causing by neglect was a misdemeanour.
The proceeding were taken under the ” Offences against the Person Act,” and for the more serious. charge of felony intent would have to be established. They were concerned not with the extent or duration of the injuries caused but with the reason, and at, the worst that would not be called more than neglect —neglect in not having adequate lights. For that assumption they only had the opinions of the two passengers, Dudley and Senior.
He submitted that the lights were reasonably adequate. It was correct that motorists had a duty to pedestrians, but pedestrians also had a duty. It was known that pedestrians did use the road when there was a footpath, and that was particularly be on the road in question. The defence was that Holbrook stepped to the right just after the radiator and mudguard of the bus had passed him and was struck by the lamp which was behind the wing. They might find that he had driven too close to the men, but that did not amount to malicious intent, which a famous judge had said must be ” wicked and criminal.”
Walford, in evidence, said he took out the the ‘bus at 6 o’clock and did the Mexborough—Manvers Main journey. He left Mexborough at about 8.45 when the bus had two side lights, in good condition—the batteries had been put on that day. After passing the first bridge he noticed another car behind him. Witness sounded his horn after rounding the turn because of two men, whom he passed. After that he saw three men 5 or 6 yards, directly in front of him. He swerved the bus from the side towards the centre of the road The radiator and wings of the bus had passed the men, when the man nearest to him appeared to step towards the bus and was struck by the near side side-lamp on the shoulder. If the man had not moved, judging by the position of the wings, the bus would have cleared him by a foot.
The Chairman :-You say that the man did not move until the bus was partly past him ? -Yes.
The lamp projected about an inch from the side of the bus and was behind the wing. Immediately he applied his brakes, but could not pull into the side of the road because there were other men in front, and he stopped a little further up. He ran to the men and found Holbrook on the road being supported by Clift, and Wake was on the footpath. Holbrook was taken to Hospital, where witness had conversation with Clift. He told Clift he was dazzled by the headlights of the car behind and also by the car in front of him. “Clift told me,” he said, ” that it was no use me worrying, and that it was certainly a pure accident and no blame attached to me.” He had no conductor with him that night.
Cross-examined by Mr. Bruton, witness said he sounded his horn once when about six yards away from the men, but after that was too engaged in getting the ‘bus into the middle to sound it again.
Mr. Bruton : How on earth did you run into these men if you saw them when five or six yards away ? There was a car behind me just about to pass. I had to study it.
I suggest you did not see these men until you saw them lying on the road ?—It’s wrong.
Walford continued that he had driven the bus several times. The batteries for the lights had been re-charged that day. Dudley and Senior had been unable to see where the bus was going because of the curtain behind him, which shielded the windscreen from the lights in the interior of the ‘bus. ” The lights of an approaching vehicle and those of one behind, reflected in part of his windscreen, obstructed in some measure his vision, but not so as to prevent his seeing the three men.
Replying to the Chairman defendant agreed that what he had said showed that the light from his side lamps did not enable him to see men some 16 yards ahead.
The hearing was adjourned, there being several witnesses for the defence yet to give evidence.