Haines v Roberts

All England Law Reports/1953/Volume 1 /Haines v Roberts – [1953] 1 All ER 344

[1953] 1 All ER 344

 

Haines v Roberts

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

 LORD GODDARD CJ, CROOM-JOHNSON AND PEARSON JJ

 26 JANUARY 1953

 Street Traffic – Charge of motor vehicle while under influence of drink – “In charge” – Vehicle left in public yard – Road Traffic Act, 1930 (c 43), s 15(1).

 

Where a person leaves a motor vehicle in a road or public place away from home, he is in charge of that vehicle until he puts it into the charge of somebody else.

 

Quaere: whether a person remains in charge of a motor vehicle left in a car park where there is an attendant.

Notes

For the Road Traffice Act, 1930, s 15, see Halsbury’s Statutes Second Edn Vol 24, p 589.

Cases referred to in judgment

Crichton v Burrell [1951] SLR 365.

Dean v Wishart [1952] SLT 86.

Adair v McKenna [1951] SLT 40.

Leach v Evans [1952] 2 All ER 264, 116 JP 410.

R v Wallhouse (1933), 97 JPJo 699.

 

Case Stated

Case Stated by Monmouth justices. At a court of summary jurisdiction sitting at Abergavenny on 10 September 1952, the appellant, John Haines, a police superintendent, preferred an information against the respondent, Haydn George Roberts, charging that he, on 18 July 1952, at Abergavenny, was under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of a motor cycle of which he was in charge, contrary to the Road Traffic Act, 1930, s 15.

It was proved or admitted that on 18 July 1952, the respondent, who was aged seventeen years and eight months and was employed as an engine fireman, went on his motor cycle to Abergavenny where he left it in the yard at the rear of a motor garage. During the evening the respondent, who was with a friend, F, had a good deal to drink, and shortly after 10 pm he was seen leaning on a wall of an omnibus station opposite the said garage by two other friends, S and H, who had themselves spent the evening in a local cinema, were sober, and had not been drinking with the respondent. S and H saw that the respondent was drunk. They took him to the back of the omnibus station and asked him how he was going to get home. He told them that he was waiting for some friends and that he wanted a drink. Knowing that there was a water tap in the rear yard of the garage, S and H took the respondent to this yard, and, after he had taken a drink of water, they doused his head under the tap, and the respondent went to sleep and did not wake up till about 11.30 pm. While the respondent was sleeping, F arrived on the scene and after discussion it was arranged that F should go and find a fourth friend who was to ride the respondent’s motor cycle back to the respondent’s home at Llanellen, some four miles away, and get the respondent’s father to fetch the respondent. The respondent took no part in, and was not aware of, these arrangements made by his friends. At about 11.55 pm, before the arrangements were completed, two police constables found the respondent clinging to an upright steel standard in the rear yard of the garage. He was swaying backwards and forwards, his breath smelled strongly of alcohol, and the constables formed the opinion that he was drunk. They shone a torch and saw a pair of gauntlet gloves and goggles hanging out of the respondent’s pocket, and within about five feet of the respondent was his motor cycle. The respondent was asked if it was his motor cycle and he replied: “That is my bike, and you leave it alone.” The constables tried to find out who the respondent was and where he lived, but he refused to give any information and was truculent and aggressive. When asked if he intended to ride his motor cycle in his condition, the respondent replied: “If I want

[1953] 1 All ER 344 at  345

to ride that bike, I will ride it, and no one in town will stop me.” The respondent was taken to the police station and examined by the police surgeon who found he was under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having control of a motor vehicle. The rear yard of the garage was a public place. From the time when S and H first saw the respondent they intended to look after him and to prevent him from riding his motor cycle home.

It was contended on behalf of the appellant (i) that the respondent was in charge of the vehicle when interviewed by the police officers in that he had retained the element of control over the said motor cycle, (ii) that he was not insensible and had in no way authorised or acquiesced in the arrangements which his friends were alleged to have set out to make, (iii) that Crichton v Burrell, Dean v Wishart and Adair v McKenna were distinguishable from the present case, and that Leach v Evans and R v Wallhouse applied. It was contended on behalf of the respondent that, although he was admittedly under the influence of drink to such an extent as not to have proper control of a motor vehicle, he was not “in charge” of his motor cycle at the time in question, that he had been brought by his friends near to his vehicle at the rear yard of the garage from a place further away, that he had neither the intention nor the ability to ride the motor cycle, that he could not be said to be “in charge” of it merely because he was the owner, and that his friends would have prevented him from riding the motor cycle.

 

The justices were of the opinion that there had been no movement or possibility of movement, nor was the respondent a free agent, because his presence near his motor cycle was involuntary in the sense that he had been brought to the rear yard of the garage by his friends, that they were looking after him, that they would have been able to prevent him from riding or attempting to ride his motor cycle, and that he did not intend to ride his motor cycle. They, accordingly, dismissed the information and the appellant now appealed.

 

Arthur G Davies for the appellant.

James Campbell for the respondent.

26 January 1953. The following judgments were delivered. 

 

LORD GODDARD CJ.

This is a Case stated by justices for the county of Monmouth before whom the respondent was charged with the offence of being under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of a motor cycle of which he was in charge. [His Lordship stated the facts and continued:] How can it be said that in those circumstances the respondent was not in charge of the motor cycle? He had not put it into anybody else’s charge. It may be that, if a man goes to a public house and leaves his car outside or in the car park and, getting drunk, asks a friend to go and look after the car for him or take the car home, he has put it in charge of somebody else, but if he has not put the vehicle in charge of somebody else he is in charge of it until he does so. His car is away from home, on the road or in the car park–it matters not which–and he is in charge. Some day, I daresay, we shall have to decide the question whether, if the car is in a car park and there is an attendant at the car park, the attendant is in charge. That, no doubt, will be a question of fact.

 

The justices gave a great deal of attention to this case and had three Scottish decisions cited to them. Those cases have also been cited to us, but they are not binding on us and, I think, they are clearly distinguishable. Here it is clear that the respondent was in charge of the motor cycle until he had given it into somebody else’s charge. He was not charged with driving while under the influence of drink. In these circumstances the Case must go back to the justices with an intimation that the offence was proved, and with directions to them to convict and to disqualify.

 

 CROOM-JOHNSON J.

 I am of the same opinion and for the same reasons.

[1953] 1 All ER 344 at  346

 

PEARSON J.

 I agree.

Case remitted.

Solicitors: Torr & Co agents for H J P Candler, Abergavenny (for the appellant); Gibson & Weldon agents for Everett & Tomlin, Pontypool (for the respondent).

 

F Guttman Esq Barrister.

 

 

 

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