Friday, 11 March 2016

Speeding Solicitor Guilty of Manslaughter

A solicitor who knocked down a pedestrian and failed to stop was sentenced to six months imprisonment after being found guilty of manslaughter.

At 5.40pm on 17th December 1940 sixty four year old Margaret Kearns was crossing Princes Avenue during the blackout when she was knocked down by a car which failed to stop. In the driver's rush to get away from the scene, he collided with two parked cars but managed to escape in the direction of Princes Park, knocking a man off his bike in Croxteth Road. Kearns, who lived in Eversley Street, died from her injuries and the hunt was on for the car and its driver.

A headlamp was found in the road which was believed to have come from a dark coloured Rover saloon car, while a hubcap was found in the road next to one of the cars that had been hit. Extensive police enquiries eventually led them to a garage in Allerton Road, which had been asked in mid January to repair the headlamp, hubcap and bonnet on a dark saloon car. When the driver returned to collect it, he identified himself as sixty year old solicitor William Jones, a partner in the firm Giles and Jones based at Union Court. 

Jones made a statement to the police admitting failing to stop, but saying he only knew he had 'hit and object'. After being charged with manslaughter, dangerous driving and failing to stop after an accident Jones was granted bail by the police court and committed for trial at the next Manchester assizes. On 13th March Jones appeared before Mr Justice Hallett and was found guilty. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, banned from driving for five years and ordered to pay all prosecution costs. However an appeal was lodged and he was granted bail and allowed to return to his home in Harthill Road.

The appeal was heard by the Lord Chief Justice and two other judges on 20th May. Jones claimed to have been ill through overwork at the time of the accident and gave that as the reason why he didn't stop. Jones also claimed that the trial judge had misdirected the jury but the appeal was dismissed and he was returned to prison to serve out his sentence.

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