1916: A most unusual case of road rage in Haywards Heath

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 04 January 1916


A DEFENDANT APOLOGISES.

STRANGE MOTORING INCIDENT AT HAYWARDS HEATH.

YOUNG LADY STOPPED AND TOLD TO TURN OUT THE LIGHTS.

A most unusual case came before Major J. J. Lister (in the chair) and Mr. A. J. Bridge, at Haywards Heath Petty Sessions on Wednesday, when William H. Gray, of Haywards Heath, was summoned for driving a motor car to the danger of the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, and also for assaulting Miss M. C. Bevan, at Hayward. Heath, on December 17th.

Mr. G. F. DONNE said he was happy to be able to tell their Worships that they would, not be troubled with a lengthy hearing of the case. He was instructed by Mr. B. Y. Bevan that he felt it his duty, both in the interests of his daughter and the public generally, to bring the facts before them so that there should not be a recurrence of such a thing.


Miss Bevan, who had been driving a particular motor car for a considerable time, was driving from Cuckfield to Haywards Heath Railway Station for the purpose of meeting her father, who was coming up by train from Brighton. She was coming along the road from Cuckfield to Haywards Heath when she passed the defendant in his car. The defendant called out to her, in a somewhat angry tone, telling her to do something, but she did not hear what he said. She passed him, and he shouted to her again to do something, and then travelled on until she got to the top of Boltro Road.

The defendant then caught her up, and endeavoured to pass her, and he passed her in such a manner as to cause the near side wheels of Miss Bevan's car to scrape against the near side kerb. Defendant then swung his own car directly in front of hers and stopped it dead. Miss Bevan had to stop abruptly in order to avoid running into the defendant's car. The defendant got out of his own car, went round to Miss Bevan's car, placed his hand upon the door leading to the seat where Miss Bevan was sitting, and a conversation took place in which defendant said "I am going to insist on those lights being turned out. - You have got to get out and turn them out." Miss Bevan was nervous, and was frightened. She got out and turned the acetylene lights completely out. Defendant no doubt felt that be was acting in the public interest in regard to the lights, but he (Mr. Donne) contended that it was not for any member of the public to interfere as defendant had done, as defendant was not a special constable or anything of the sort. The car had been driven with the same lights throughout the winter, and Miss Bevan had frequently driven it down to the Railway Station and past the Police Station, where Superintendent Anscombe and his men would no doubt be keeping a sharp look out. Miss Bevan subsequently drove on to the Station, and was considerably distressed and in a state of mental anxiety. Although Mr. Bevan felt it his duty to bring these facts before the Bench, he did not desire for one moment to be in the least vindictive. He (Mr. Donne) had had a conversation with the defendant, who told him that he was quite willing to express his regret for what he had done and was prepared to contribute a sum towards Mr. Bevan's costs. Under those circumstances, if Superintendent Anscombe had no objection, Mr. Donne asked the Bench to allow the charge to be withdrawn.


Superintendent Anscombe : I am prepared to leave the matter entirely in the hands of your Worships .


The Chairman (after a private consultation by the Magistrates) said Mr. Donne had told them that Mr. Bevan was prepared to accept an apology. The Magistrates had not heard any apology yet. They considered it a blackguardly act to stop a young lady like that on a dark night, and defendant ought to be absolutely ashamed of himself. Instead of doing as he had done he ought to have protected her, if anything. The Magistrates had had a very serious discussion as to whether they were quite entitled to allow the case to be withdrawn. Under the circumstances, however, rather than put Miss Bevan to the further unpleasantness of having to give evidence, they would agree with the suggestion that the case should be withdrawn, but they would like to hear what the apology was and hoped the representatives of the Press would put it in the papers. Defendant might consider himself very lucky indeed that he had not been very severely dealt with, as he undoubtedly would have been if the case had gone on.


Defendant : Of course under the circumstances I must plead guilty, and I do sincerely regret any annoyance or distress I caused the young lady. It is a case of my zeal running away with my discretion. It will be a warning to me never to interfere in a case of this sort again.


The CHAIRMAN said there was no question of zeal at all, but of very great interference, which defendant had absolutely no right to make. Defendant was not far from the Police Station, and if he had any reason to complain he could have informed the police. It would never do for people to take these things into their own hands—police work like that, too.


Mr. BRIDGE said he quite agreed with everything Major Lister had said. The case was then withdrawn, by consent of the Magistrates, on the terms stated.

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