Defiant car dealer mocks Chief Constable in court

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1914 Court

At the Borough Police Court before Mr J Dipie, presiding, Alderman Pirie, Mr JET Graham, and Mr EH Butterworth, Frank Ernest Wasling, motorcar builder, 22 and 23 Blake Street, York, was summoned for having driven a motor car in Westborough, without the same having been registered in accordance with the Motor Car Act, 1903, on March 12. Defendant was further summoned for having fraudulently used a certain mark for identifying a motor car on the same date.

The Chief Constable in outlining the case said that at 4.30pm on March 12, PC Welburn saw a motor car standing in Westborough, opposite the Londesborough Theatre, the car bore the plate DN 400.

The constable saw the defendant, who admitted that he was in charge of the car, and he had driven it from York that afternoon for the purpose of delivering it to a purchaser. As was well known every motor car that was registered must bear the identification mark, and that mark could only be used for one motor car. In other cases, however, a general dealers’ mark was issued, which could be utilised on several different cars, while they were being tested, costing £2 or £3 – £2 in York. Defendant said there was a number on the car when he started from York, but he must have lost it or it must have been taken away by someone. This statement had been proved satisfactory. Defendant said that his number, DN 400, was the dealer’s mark and that this car was a new car brought from York to Scarborough for an intending purchaser. The constable then left him, thinking, as defendant had said, that the mark in question had been lost as stated.

He (the Chief Constable), however, would call evidence to show that defendant had not done anything in ignorance, having been identified with the trade for a number of years. He had a dealer’s card for the City of York in January, 1904, and this expired in January, 1905. Further, during the past five years, he had not had a dealer’s identification mark.

Further enquiries were made, and it was found that the plate, DN 400, was issued to defendant in July, 1912, at York for registration by him of a 15-horsepower Panhard car with a grey body.

The constable would prove that this was a Ford car with a dark blue or black body. PC Welburn gave evidence.

Defendant in the course of a lengthy defence stated that this car had remained in the same state as when he bought it, until January this year, when he sold the body of the car. The chassis was overhauled and a temporary body, a Ford body, was fitted on. They decided to come over to Scarborough in the car really as a trial run.

PC Croft, of the York City Police, attached to the motor car department, said no one was entitled to use a chassis with another body unless they informed and obtained the permission of the police.

Witness brought this car to Scarborough, and one of his assistants brought a second one. He added that he was commencing business at Scarborough, with a new garage. They had, at York, registered over 50 cars this year. He proceeded to state that the trade number was an absolute failure and unnecessary for an agent. He alleged that the Chief Constable knew nothing about motor cars, and could not tell the difference between a handcart and a Ford or Panhard car (laughter). The law should have been altered long ago.

Several witnesses in 
defendant’s employ gave 
evidence.

The Chief Constable said that defendant had been convicted time after time under the Motor Car Act. He defied the law. The Chief Constable read out a number of convictions against the defendant at various places.

In each case the magistrates found the defendant guilty of contravening the order of the Act, and he was fined in all £4 including costs.