Police v The Rector of Rivenhall

Essex Chronicle - Friday January 28th 1938


Friday, January 28, 1938



At Witham on Tuesday, before Collingwood Hope Esq., C.B.E., K.C., and other justices, the Rev. Andrew A. Hunt, rector of Rivenhall, was summoned for leaving a motor car in a dangerous position in Newland Street, Witham. He pleaded not guilty.

P.c. Bonnage stated that at 10.25 a.m. on Jan. 6 he saw saloon car belonging to defendant standing outside the corn stores in Newland Street near the traffic lights. At that spot the road was narrow and traffic from the Maldon Road had much difficulty in turning into the Chelmsford-Colchester main road, having to swerve to the off side, over the metal studs.

Witness asked defendant, "Do you own that car, sir?" Defendant replied, "I do."

Witness said, "Would you please remove it, sir?" Defendant replied, "No, I am not going to move it; I am shopping."

Defendant then walked off down the street. Witness waited and defendant returned and said, "I want your name and number. ' Witness gave the information and said, "May I have your name and address, please?" Defendant refused the particulars, saying, "No, you have got my car number." He got in the car and drove off.

P.c. Bonnage stated that, accompanied by P.c. Beales, he visited the Rectory at Rivenhall. They were informed that the Rector was not at home. At 6.45 p.m they again visited the Rectory and witness said to defendant, "I am going to report you for leaving a car in a dangerous position in Newland Street, Witham." The Rector replied, "Good; I shall be pleased to fight you." Defendant added that his car stood there only seven minutes. Witness asked the Rector for his driving licence, certificate of insurance, and full name. Defendant refused, saying, "I am allowed five days in which to produce them. My name is on my driving licence." Witness issued defendant with a form, and he then produced the documents, from which P.c. Beales extracted the necessary particulars. P.c. Beales deposed that after he had taken particulars from the car documents, Mr. Hunt said, "I call this blackmail. I am the Rector of this parish." Witness replied, "I am afraid I don't understand you." Defendant replied, "Two police officers visited the Rectory this afternoon and two again this evening." Witness said he very much doubted if anyone saw them that morning and certainly they saw no one at night because it was too dark. Defendant said, "I say it is blackmail."

Defendant, in the witness-box, stated that he arrived in Witham at 10.15 a.m., according to his car clock. He left his car outside Redman's furniture shop facing Colchester. Mr. Hunt handed to the Bench a large scale map of Newland Street and models of vehicles said to have been concerned in the traffic. Mr. Hunt said that when he left his car it was beyond the end of the studs in the main road, as he was always careful. He had previously 'phoned tradesmen so that his goods should be ready for him. He had not been inside the corn stores more than sixty seconds before a policeman began to walk up and down outside. Then the constable asked him to move his car. Witness replied that he could not move it just then because he had not finished his shopping. He then went to another shop, and was away from the car altogether less than seven minutes.

"I was a little annoyed at being hustled by the police that way," added the Rector, "especially as I thought I had been reasonable in avoiding blocking the road. I asked for the number and not the name of the constable."

Supt. Sach (cross-examining) : You say you object to being hustled —what do you mean by that word?

— Mr. Hunt: I objected to the police hunting around and pushing me along before I had been there a minute. They were too abrupt.

— How were these officers abrupt to you? — Really they were most polite, but the first had taken to following me about, and he told me about it within two minutes of my leaving my car.

— When the police officer told you to move your car,why did you not remote it?— Because at that time the tradesmen were putting parcels into it.

— Why did you say you would not move it? I said I could not because I had not finished shopping

— A police officer has given evidence that you said,. "No, I will not move car I shopping. —Defendant: Yes, that is why I questioned him. There was traffic at that time in the morning.

— Is it not dangerous for any car to stand in that position?— Not in the place put it. I sympathise with the police p the work they have to do, and I always take the trouble not to cause obstruction.

— If you sympathise with the police, why were you objectionable to them? —I was not objectionable

—Supt. Sach: You were objectionable, both in the street and at your home. —Why did you not at once produce your licence when requested?

—l can keep my licence in the strong room of my bank if I like. And I need not produce it on demand.

—Why did you not produce your licence on demand? — I was annoyed that the authorities had sent what appeared to be a whole police force twice in one day to the Rectory—something which would expose me to the gossip of the parish.

—ls the maid at the Rectory frightened of the police?— Yes.

—Then she is the first I have ever heard of. (Laughter).

Supt Sach said he suggested that the way Mr. Hunt treated the police officers was abominable, and that his attitifde towards them was anything but that of a gentleman.

Defendant asked if he could put the Superintendent in the witness box and cross-examine him when he was on oath. The Chairman (smiling): You may frighten the staff, Mr. Hunt, if you put the Superintendent the witness box. (Laughter).

Supt. Sach: I shall not be frightened of him. Mr. Hunt then left the witness box and addressed the Bench.

The Chairman said the Justices were satisfied that Mr. Hunt left his car in such a position as to be likely to cause danger to others. In the view of the Bench it was an unfortunate case. There had been a great exhibition of want of tact and nice feeling dealing with the police. Defendant would be fined 20/-.

Mr. Hunt: I am going to appeal.

The Chairman: That is a matter for you to decide.

Mr. Hunt: What is the next step order to do so? The Chairman fixed the recognisances pending the hearing of an appeal at £20.

The Clerk (Mr. F. H. Bright), to Mr. Hunt: You must serve a proper notice of appeal upon myself as the Clerk of the Justices and on the Superintendent of Police setting forth the grounds of your appeal.

Mr. Hunt, intimating that he would so, collected his papers and left the Court.