Boy, 16, was unable to afford ‘compensation’

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1913 Police Court

At the Scarborough County Court today, before his Honour Judge Lock, Mary Jane Mail, Seamer, wife of Edgar Mail, police constable, sued Edger Atkinson (16), care of Mr Newham, farmer, Cayton, for the sum of ten guineas damages for injuries and loss sustained by the plaintiff by reason of defendant’s negligence.

Plaintiff, it was alleged, sustained concussion of the brain, shock, bruises, and other injuries, and the plaintiff’s clothing and bicycle were damaged.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, was for the plaintiff, and Mr C Royle, solicitor, was for defendant.

Mr Whitfield said that the damages were claimed 
because of the negligence of defendant whilst the latter was riding his bicycle along the road, as a result of which he collided with Mrs Mail, 
doing her considerable injury. His Honour would not be troubled with the question of 
liability; that was admitted.

The Judge (to Mr Royle): Is that so?

Mr Royle: I have no alternative, or else I should like to.

Mr Whitfield said the question before his Honour was as to the amount of damages.

Proceeding, he read a letter sent on behalf of defendant expressing regret, and stating that as he was only a boy with a boy’s wage he could not afford much, and he offered 30s. Mr Whitfield urged that the liability and the consequences should fall upon the defendant, no matter whether he was getting a small wage or not.

Mrs Mail, in the box, spoke of the injuries she had received. The doctor had ordered her to Saltburn after she had been in bed a week. She still suffered, after four months, from nervousness and had a pain at times near the eye. The doctor said that that might never be really right again, and it might 
affect her sight.

Replying to Mr Royle, witness said that the doctor’s bill was 13s 6d, but she detailed other expenses, mending of the cycle, getting help into the house, and so on. The lad had acted in a gentlemanly manner and expressed regret.

PC Mail, a constable in the North Riding Police, also gave evidence. Atkinson had been on the wrong side of the road. His wife had been in ill health for some time after the accident.

Mr Royle argued that the station in life of defendant did make a difference; he was not to be treated as a person of means. Mr Whitfield had offered, at one time, to settle the case for £3, and it was unfortunate in some respects, that the matter had come before the Court. Defendant had already been brought before the North Riding Justices and fined 10s under the Highway Act for 
riding on the wrong side of the road.

Therefore that case was a second punishment for him.

Defendant said he was with Mr Newham as a butcher’s apprentice, at £8 a year.

Mr Royle: Have you anything to pay out of that?

Defendant: I have insurance to pay.

Mr Royle: Oh, you have Lloyd George’s insurance to pay. What is that, threepence in your case? – Yes.

By Mr Whitfield: He admitted that PC Mail had told him that he would accept £3 if the money was paid at once without going into court. Defendant thought that was fair and reasonable: “It wasn’t a great lot, but I couldn’t afford it.” He went to his father, and then went back to PC Mail stating that his father would not let him pay it.

Mr Whitfield: Isn’t your 
father a tailor with a fairly good business?

Defendant: A fair business, I think.

The Judge held that the boy was liable, but thought that the claim was vague in some ways. He gave a verdict for plaintiff for £2 18s 6d.

On the application of Mr Royle he made an order for the money to be paid at 2s a month.