1916 court: Mix up with milk cart lands farmer in court

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A case of great interest to farmers, and showing how easy it is sometimes to get wrong with the police, came up at the North Riding Police Court before Mr F Baker, in the chair, and other magistrates.

Defendant was James Pearson, farmer, Burniston, and he was summoned for having used a carriage without having a licence for the same at Burniston.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, appeared for the defendant, who pleaded not guilty.

Defendant was a farmer and milk dealer at Burniston. He had a cart, his name being on it as was required. By means of this cart he conveyed milk into Scarborough. To do this he needed no licence, but on several occasions his daughters and son had been conveying passengers in the cart to Scarborough. He, therefore, forfeited his exemption and should take out a licence. Defendant was responsible even though he may not have known members of the family were doing so. He could carry members of his family, but on two occasions other persons were conveyed. These were a man named Sedman and a Mrs Broadbent, who lived at Burniston. The case was reported to the Finance Committee at Northallerton, and their decision was that defendant should take out a licence and pay the sum of £1. A notice was served on him, and he was given 10 days in which to comply, but he refused, hence the present proceedings.

Sergeant Dawkin gave evidence.

By Mr Whitfield: He knew a daughter of defendant took milk in the cart to Scarborough twice a day, and he also knew that a son was called to the colours three or four months ago. He did not know he was very short-handed. Neither did he know that one of the passengers had a licenced vehicle of her own.

Inspector Boynton said he had seen defendant after that time elapsed for paying the sum. Defendant was told that if he did not pay a summons would be taken out. Defendant explained the circumstances, and witness told him his son had used the cart for passengers. Defendant replied that he did not think it mattered about carrying passengers so long as payment was not received from them.

Mr Whitfield, addressing the magistrates, said defendant had one hundred acres of land at Burniston, and a number of cows. Each day the milk had to be taken to Scarborough twice. Only about three of four months ago he had a son who looked after the beasts, and took the milk to Scarborough. That son was called to the colours. Therefore, the daughter who kept the house and did all the housework, in addition to her household duties had had to milk the cows, feed them, and take the milk into Scarborough. Probably she had more than twice the work she could be fairly expected to do. It was a public meeting at Scalby, or at Cloughton, in regard to asking ladies to volunteer for farm work, and to give what assistance they could to farmers in order that men might be released for the colours. Canvassers were sent round, and very largely as a result of this public movement one of the alleged passengers (Mrs Broadbent) who resided in the village retired - saw defendant and as a result Mrs Broadbent very kindly and through motives of patriotism, offered to help Mr Pearson and also his daughter, by taking the milk into Scarborough on such occasions when it was impossible for the daughter to do so. She, of course, pointed out that for her to be able to do so she must know the round. Therefore, on the date in question, Miss Pearson took Mrs Broadbent in the trap to Scarborough with the milk to show her where the customers’ premises were, and the quantity of milk each required. It was on that occasion that the police officer saw Mrs Broadbent in the vehicle. He would fully substantiate that statement by witnesses. If Mrs Broadbent wished to go for a drive she did not choose a milk cart, because she had a pony and trap of her own properly licensed. She was going solely on business - for the delivery of the milk to Scarborough. He (Mr Whitfield) suggested that in view of those circumstances and in view of difficulties in which farmers were placed at the present time, he thought such voluntary action should be supported rather than discounted by the prosecution.

Defendant, Mrs Broadbent, and the daughter of defendant gave corroborative evidence.

Replying to Mr Whitfield, defendant said that Mrs Broadbent volunteered to do the work, when they were busy among the hay, or if the daughter was not able to go in case of illness. The clerk asked Mrs Broadbent if, when she went shopping to Scarborough, she did any shopping, in addition to helping to deliver the milk, The reply was “No.” She added she simply went to deliver the milk.

By Inspector Calvert: She had not been since for fear of getting defendant into trouble with the police. She did not want to do that.

Defendant’s daughter told the Bench that if they saw the milk cans she had to carry and felt the weight they would think she needed help. She had to get customers to help her with the cans. Mrs Broadbent had only been once with her. Sometimes she aided other persons at Burniston by conveying their milk for them.

The magistrates retired, and almost immediately returning, the Chairman announced that the case would be dismissed.