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1908: Motorist sent to prison after drunken escapade leads to car crash in Cuckfield

Updated: May 7, 2021

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 28 January 1908



“An Example is Absolutely Necessary.”

The sequel of a motorist's drunken escapade at Cuckfield, in which a car dashed through a hedge at Slough Green, was revealed at Haywards Heath Petty Sessions yesterday (Monday). Mr. W. Borrer was the Chairman of the Bench.

Frederick Wood, chauffeur, Homestead, Cuckfield, was summoned for driving a motor car recklessly on the highway, and also for being drunk whilst in charge of motor car, at Cuckfield, on January 23rd.

Defendant pleaded guilty to each charge.

Thomas Card, Ship Inn, Cuckfield, said that about ten minutes to two in the afternoon of the 23rd inst. he saw a light motor car go past his window. It then come back on to the pavement, close to witness’s private bar window. The car was pulled off the pavement, and three men got out. A man, called for a pint of beer for the men outside, but witness said they had had enough, and he refused to serve them. Defendant was one of the men.

Arthur Whtttington stated that at five minutes to two he was walking up his garden path, when he saw a motor car turn the corner at Slough Green, Cuckfield. The car ran into the hedge. Witness rushed off to the car. He saw the chauffeur, butler and gamekeeper in a “lump”in the garden. Witness pulled the gamekeeper and the chauffeur from the heap, and saw the butler lying as if he was dying. Witness went on a bicycle to fetch a doctor. He first went for Dr. King, but he was not at home, and witness then went for Dr. Parker, who came shortly afterwards. The car was travelling between 30 and 40 miles an hour, downhill and round a corner. There were two corners at the spot.

A tricky recovery

By Supt. Brooman: Witness saw the car before it struck the hedge. Defendant was driving. Witness did not notice whether it was foggy at the time or not, as he was excited seeing the car crash through the hedge. It was a bit misty just previously.

Dr. Parker said he got to the cottage about quarter past two, and saw the chauffeur and the butler. The only one to complain of anything was the butler, who was lying on the sofa. Witness found that he was not injured at all: he was able to stand up, but was decidedly drunk. The chauffeur was not injured, but was drunk, and the gamekeeper outside was also drunk.

Supt. Brooman said nothing was known against defendant. Two of his (the Superintendent’s) principal witnesses were not present. One of them was ill.

Mr. Fearn made a kindly appeal on behalf of the defendant. “This poor youth has been misled and enticed away,” he said. Defendant bore a most excellent character. He was a young fellow, and, the speaker thought, the least to blame of the three. Mr. Fearn had dismissed the other two men.

The Magistrates retired to consider the case, and on their return the Chairman said defendant would be fined £5 and costs, £2 12s.10d., for reckless driving, or in default “one month,” and would be sentenced to a month’s hard labour for being drunk whilst driving the motor. The Magistrates were sorry that there was necessity in this case of imprisoning defendant, but it was absolutely necessary to protect the public against cases in which men took a motor car and went out with their friends, drunk or otherwise, like this. It was extremely dangerous practice, and an example was absolutely necessary.

The £7 12s. 10d. was paid.



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