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1880: Claims that 'Furious driving in Broad Street caused serious accident'

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

West Sussex County Times - Saturday 04 December 1880


At the Petty Sessions. on Monday, before J. M. Norman (in the chair), Lieut.Col. Holden-Rose, Admiral Pakenham, Mr. G. A. Hankey, and Captain Sergison, Harry Fielder, of the Cock Tavern, Wivelsfield, was summoned at the instance of Edwin Norris, Cuckfield, for furious driving.

Mr. J. H, Dresser (from the office of Mr. Nye, of Brighton) appeared for the defendant. Complainant stated that on the night of the 2nd November, he was riding in Mr. Bennett's trap towards Cuckfield from Hayward's Heath about seven o'clock, William Tester was driving. When they got near Bedlam House, defendant's cart ran into them. His cart was nearly broken to pieces. He was not thrown out, but on looking round saw Mr. Fielder's cart lying on its side and the horse turning round to go towards Cuckfield. Mr. Fielder was lying on his back on the footpath, and he appeared to be very much hurt.

Another man was lying on the hedge, and another had been flung to the horse's head. They got out and helped them to set their cart on its wheels, and then he walked on to Cuckfield, and Tester led the horse and trap to Mr. Bennett's.

Road by Bedlam Cottage circa 1905

It was a dark night. They had lamps and the others had none. Fielder could have seen their lights a hundred yards before he came to them.

—Examined by Mr. Dresser : There was another man in the cart when he got in, but after the accident he went away, and he had not seen him since. He was a stranger to whom Tester was giving a ride. They were on the left hand side of the road, and Fielder had, at least, 12 feet clear road, which is there about 20 feet wide. Fielder was on his right side, but took too much road. He could not swear whether they were galloping or trotting. but they were going, at least, 12 miles an hour. He should not have taken out this summons if they had not said that he was drunk. He had taken it out for the good of the public. He did not tell anyone that he would take out this summons until two days after.

Mr. Bennett did not say when they got to his house that he would summons Mr. Fielder for furious driving. William Tester corroborated the above evidence, and being questioned by Mr. Dresser, said he was trotting at about six or seven miles an hour.

When he got the pony and trap home, Mr. Bennett said be should summons Fielder for damages and also for furious driving.

—For the defence, Mr. Dresser called Noah Heygate. who said he was a general dealer at Wivelsfield. He was riding in Mr. Fielder's cart on the night in question. They were going at about seven miles an hour. The horse was his. He had it about a fortnight. It could not gallop, and if it was touched with a whip it stood still. They were driving along their own side of the road, while Bennett's trap was in the middle of the road, occupying the whole of it.

Noah King corroborated the evidence of the last witness as to the character of the horse. This was all the evidence called. Mr. Dresser then pointed out the disparity in the evidence of the two witnesses for the prosecution, and contended that the weight of the testimony was against the prosecutor and insufficient for a conviction.

—The Chairman announced that, after a careful consideration of the case and in view of the conflicting evidence, they had decided to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt, and the case must be dismissed.



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