RAILWAY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE SOUTH WEST BLACK COUNTRY
Vol. 1, No. 20 ] SATURDAY, 18th., MAY, 1867 [ Price 1d.
AND DISTRICT PETTY SESSIONS.
"This case created considerable interest from its importance. The defendants were Messes. Edward Woodall and John Newey, colliery proprietors, the Great Western Railway Company being the complainants. Mr.Mottram, of the Oxford Circuit (instructed by Mr.Bently, of Worcester), appeared for the complainants, the Great Western Railway Company, and Mr.Smith (of the firm Smith, Saunders and Co., Dudley) for the defendants. The summons set forth that the defendants, 'at Kingswinford on the 4th. of January, having the care of certain goods, to wit, coals then passing on or being on the Great Western Railway, did then and there give a false account on writing to William Turner, a servant of the said railway company, on the said goods, with intent to evade the payment to the said railway company.'
Mr.Mottram stated the case on the part of the complainants at considerable length. The learned gentleman said he appeared on behalf of the Great Western Railway Company. He said the charge was laid under 99th. section of the Railway Clauses Act, and 8th. Vic., chap. 20, against Edward Woodall and John Newey, who were coal proprietors at Kingswinford. The charge against them was that they gave a false account in writing to the collector of certain goods, 19 tons 2 qrs. of coal, stating that the weight of goods was 14 tons, with the intent to evade the payment. The 98th. section of the Railway Clauses Act, renders it incumbent to give an account of the lading to the collector of the company. The learned gentleman then read the clause of the act bearing the on the case, which showed that the defendants were liable to a penalty of £10 for every ton of goods the weight of which was not honestly stated. The charge, he said, in a few words against the defendants was that they, on a particular day in January, committed an offence within the meaning of the 99th. section of the act which he had read; whereas it was their duty in sending coal by the Great Western Railway to declare to the collector the weights which the trucks contained. They stated the trucks were for Mr.Garrett, of Wokenham, and they declared that the ten trucks contained 14 tons, neither more nor less. These trucks were received by the Great Western Railway Company upon the faith of the coal proprietors declaration, and they were carried to Redbury, and sent to Woking, by the South-Eastern Railway. The South-Eastern, however thought the trucks were overloaded, and found out afterwards that they were so to the serious extent of nearly five tons. The declared tonnage was for 14, and the coals weighed nearly 19 tons; therefore the defendants had overloaded the trucks nearly five tons. That was very serious in many ways. It was very serious to the railway company that they shall be called upon to carry 19 tons of coal, receiving only tonnage for 14 tons. It was not fair on the part of the proprietors to do so to the company. The company hitherto had placed reliance upon them, and had taken their declarations in good faith, but they found a serious discrepancy of nearly a third or a quarter of the return made to the company by the proprietors. The question then was for the bench to decide with what intent the overloading was done; because the Act of Parliament said it must be done with intent to evade the payment of tolls. They would scarcely conceive that could be done without intent. The declaration was that the trucks contained 14 tons, and they were found to contain 19 tons. By the declaration they would pay £4-2s-10d. for tonnage, whereas they might have had to pay £6-1s-8d. on the actual weight. In reply to the bench, the learned gentleman said that a case had lately been decided in which it was held that it was not absolutely necessary to bring home a knowledge of the facts if there was evidence sufficient from which a knowledge might be inferred. There was, however evidence sufficient to show that Mr.Newey had weighed and made the declaration. Serious as the case was yet, from the explanations given and the facilities afforded by the colliery proprietors, an arrangement had been made, which probably, under the circumstances would prove satisfactory. The proprietors had exposed their books for examination, and from the way in which they had done so, the railway company were desirous to take a lenient view of the matter. The company, therefore did not desire to do more than bring this case before the bench, in order that the bench might hear such statements from Mr.Smith with regard to the case. He would state that the coals in the trucks weighed in a little less than 19 tons, and the weight charged to Garnett was 15 tons, so that they must have know that the weight at least was 15 tons 17 hundredweight, when they were receiving from Garnett the value of 15 tons 17 hundredweight of coals. All these things taken together had led the company to believe that there was no absolute intent to defraud; that it was originally a mistake; and after the bench had heard the statement of Mr.Smith as to the false weight, the company were willing to withdraw the case. He might state that this was the only case in which the same leniency would be observed, because the company were determined not to submit to a practice so injurious to the shareholders of the company and the public.
the firm Smith, Saunders and Co., of Dudley) said he was pleased to hear
the Great Western Railway Company were about to press the case. It was
fully understood by him that a conviction in this case was not necessary.
It clearly appeared that the overloading was purely accidental. The colliery
proprietors sent by rail 26,000 tons of coals per annum. Mr.Woodall made
the entry sometime previously. Immediately he was applied to by the servants
of the company as to the weight, he immediately exposed his books, and
showed how the mistake had been made. Both Mr.Woodall and Mr.Newey wished
to assure the bench that they had taken every precaution to prevent similar
mistakes. Immediately after these declarations had been sent from the
colliery, they pointed out that a mistake had occurred. They had only
quite recently made a declaration against themselves, as they declared
that six trucks of coals had been sent from their colliery when only three
had been sent. He denied any intention to evade payment of the amount,
as Messrs. Woodall and Newey were not the persons to do so. He said again
that Messes Woodall and Newey regretted that the mistake had occurred.
As their explanation had been made, the case might be fairly withdrawn.