Territorial soldier was caught speeding

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1914 Police Court

At the Scarborough Police Court, today, before the Mayor, Mr CC Graham, and other magistrates, Oswald Rossiter, King’s Cliff Holiday Camp, was summoned for having driven a motorcycle in Huntriss Row in a manner dangerous to the public on October 3rd.

He was further summoned for having driven the motorcycle without being licensed, on the same date.

Defendant pleaded guilty.

PC Taylor said that defendant was a territorial (Devon) stationed at Scarborough. He said he thought the cycle was proceeding up Huntriss Row, he should think, at about 
30 miles an hour, and it turned the corner at a terrific speed, he had never seen one go round that corner sharper. One man was nearly knocked down.

Thomas Renwick, barman, Post Office Tavern, said he should judge that the cycle turned the corner at between 20 and 30 miles an hour.

Defendant: Do you think it is possible for a motorcycle to go round that corner at between 20 and 30 miles an hour?

Witness said he did not know, but it was going very fast.

Defendant said such a speed was impossible in going round the corner.

PC Taylor, recalled, said that when defendant returned he motioned to him to stop, but he didn’t do so. Witness followed him to the Grand Hotel, and asked for his name and address. 
Defendant asked, “What for?” On being told he said, “The police have nothing to do with me. I am on active service – see my officer.” Witness saw the officer, and secured the name and address. Defendant failed to produce a licence.

Defendant said that he understood when he was on active service there was no limit to speed, and it was also unnecessary to have a licence, as none had been supplied.

The Clerk said that defendant was subject to civil law, martial law not having been declared. He must conform to the civil law with regard to speed.

Defendant: And what about the licence?

The Clerk: I shall advise the magistrates that you should also have had a licence, unless you can show me some law to the contrary.

Captain Ball, 7th Devons, said that with regard to a licence he thought that was rather a moot point.

The motorcycle belonged to the Government. The defendant had enlisted, he was told to ride the machine without any regard to the 
licence. Licences had not yet been given out. In the course of the next 12 months licences would be given out, no doubt. He (witness) was advised that it was not really necessary for them to have a licence on 
active service.

The Clerk: Can you refer me to any law?

Captain Ball: No, I cannot. He added that there had been so much to do in other directions, separation allowances and other financial matters, that the question of the licences had not been reached yet.

The Mayor: Do you mean to tell us that a man does not 
require a licence to ride a 
motorcycle?

Captain Ball said that, generally speaking, the men had got their own licences. Defendant, he believed, had his at home. He had sent certain things home, when mobilised, and the licence was amongst the goods, it being in a pocket of his civilian clothing. He had never been asked for the licence since until the policeman, on this occasion, pulled him up. As to going round the corner at the speed indicated he (witness) rode on a motorcycle a good deal, and he would not care to risk taking a corner at that speed having regard to the safety of his own neck.

The Mayor said the magistrates thought that defendant had been driving at a speed dangerous to the public. We were not under martial law, and it was quite out of all reason that because a man was in uniform he should drive along the streets at any rate he chose. A man might drive down the main street at 50 or 60 miles an hour, and it be necessary, under martial law in the presence of an enemy, but it was not necessary at the present time to ride at a speed of anything like 20 miles an hour. The defendant was, no doubt, driving at a speed dangerous to the public, and the magistrates must take that into consideration. But they also took into consideration that defendant was evidently labouring under a natural mistake in thinking he could do it. Hence the Bench would be lenient. On that charge he would be fined 10s.

On the second charge there had been a contravention of the letter of the law in not producing a licence when called upon. The magistrates, however, would, in that case only impose a nominal penalty.