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Percy Lewis Haskins

Convicted in 1922 of dangerous driving and being drunk in charge of a motor car, found guilty of manslaughter in 1925 after crashing head on into a motor cycle combination with suggestions of drink being involved, and then guilty of dangerous driving again in 1932.

Herts Advertiser - Saturday 29 August 1925

A verdict " Manslaughter” was returned against Percy Lewis Haskins, of Elgin-crescent, W.12 at an inquest, conducted by the Divisional Coroner (Mr. T. Ottaway), at Barnet on Thursday, on Edward Henry Manning, aged 50 insurance agent, Argyll-street, Kettering, who died at Barnet Cottage Hospital on Tuesday, from injuries received in a collision which occurred on August 10th, near South Mimms, between a motor - cycle combination and a motor car driven by Haskins.


Manning's wife and daughter, who were passengers in the combination, were also badly injured and are still in hospital. Allegations were made that Haskins was under the influence of drink at the time of the accident.   Mr Heathcote Williams appeared for Haskins, Mr Melville for the Police, and Mr W. Wright for the widow and family.  


William Jackson, lorry-driver, Weston-road, Acton Green, said a lorry which he was driving towards London Colney was overtaken by a light car near the five cross-roads.  The car was travelling at 35 to 40 miles per hour on its off side.  A motor-cycle and side-car was approaching very slowly from the opposite direction on its near side of the road, and a “head-on” collision occurred.  At the time of the collision the light car was on its wrong side.  It would have been quite possible, he stated, for the light car to have passed on its proper side.  He did not see the driver of the car make any attempt to slow up and was not driven on to its wrong side by reason of other traffic on the road.




The collision, added witness, resulted in the girl in the side-car and her mother being thrown on to the road.  Manning was "jammed up" into the radiator of the car.  The front forks and leg guards of the motor-cycle were fixed on the radiator.  I pulled up and attended to the injured persons.  I saw the driver of the light car but I did not have any conversation with him.  In answer to Mr Wright, witness said there were three vehicles on the road at the time of the accident.  He thought the driver of the car had had more to drink than he should have while in charge of a mechanical vehicle.

George William Wade, Strafford-road, Acton, who was riding with Jackson, gave corroborative evidence.  He stated the light car was travelling at between 30 and 40 miles per hour.  The motorcycle combination was travelling at a moderate pace.

The Coroner :  Was there anything unusual about the condition of the driver of the light car ?

Witness :  It appeared to me as though he had had some intoxicating liquor.

Mr. Williams : The driver of the car had not spoken to you ?

Witness : No.

On what grounds do you make the statement that he had had something drink ?

By the appearance of his eyes.  He looked sort of heavy and sleepy. 

Dr John Elam, New Barnet, said Manning's death was due to exhaustion caused by his many injuries and to acute parotitis. 

Henry E. Winch, lorry-driver, Holly-walk, Luton, said while driving a lorry from Barnet towards South Mimms, Manning's motor-cycle combination overtook him travelling at about 16 miles per hour.  The collision took place about 35 to 40 yards in front of witness's lorry.  The motor-cycle combination was on its near side at the time of the collision. The light car was on its wrong side of the road.   He saw the light car travelling along the road before the collision, and it was then on its wrong side.  It came round the bend on its wrong side, although there was no reason for it to do so.


The Coroner :  What was the condition of the driver after the accident ?

Witness : I cannot say but at the time I put him down to be under the influence of drink or mad.

Witness, in answer to other questions, said as his lorry came round the bend, he saw a two-seater car, in addition to the lorry previously mentioned,  but it had gone on towards Barnet before the collision occurred.

Albert Edward Ranger, New England-street, St Albans, who was with Winch, corroborated.

Harold Dunston Cobb, "St. Jerome", South Mimms, who was riding a bicycle near the scene of the accident, said the light car passed him on the bend near the five crossroads at a speed of 35 miles per hour or more.  It was on its wrong side of the road.

In answer to Mr Wright, witness said that when the light car passed him, the driver appeared to be lolling back in his seat as if in an armchair.

Mr Melville : Did you see the driver after the collision ?

Witness : Yes.

Did you notice anything about his condition ?

I cannot say I did. He appeared to be upset and assisted, I think, in helping the injured people.

In answer to Mr Williams, witness said he could not swear there was anything “wrong” with Haskins.

Arthur Jones Drake, garage proprietor, High-street, Barnet, gave evidence of taking Manning and his wife to hospital in the ambulance.  The daughter was taken to hospital in another vehicle.  The combination, he said, was on the footpath, the side-car body being detached from the chassis and lying a few yards away.  The front part of the motorcycle was completely wrecked. Witness also gave particulars of the damage to the car - Delage 12.8 h.p. sporting model.


Witness said he returned to remove the wreckage, on the instructions of the police, and, while he was doing so, Haskins came to him and gave him his card, saying "This is a bit of trouble for me." Witness replied that this was more trouble for the poor people who were so badly hurt. Haskins then said "I can't worry about them; they must look after themselves. I want to get my car back."

Haskins afterwards said he was sorry for the people, and asked witness do all he could for them.  He said : “Get their machine into your garage and send the bill for the work you have done to my car and that, and I will send you the money."

In answer to Mr Williams, witness said if Haskins was travelling over 20 miles per hour and applied four-wheel brakes, the car was likely to skid.

Mr. Williams :  Do you suggest the man made the remarks about the deceased and the relatives of the deceased being in trouble ?

Witness : I certainly do.  I was not the only one to hear them.

There was a murmur of disapproval from the people about.

P.s. Paine said when he saw Haskins at the scene of the accident, he smelt very strongly of drink, and was unsteady in his gait. Witness called Dr Harnett's attention to him.


Dr. W. G. Harnett, Barnet, said when he was attending to the injured, a man "butted in" and was ordered off by P.s. Paine.

The Coroner :  What was his condition ?

Witness :  He had had a few drinks.

Was he in a fit state to drive a motor-car ?

I think his judgment was probably affected. That was the rapid conclusion I came to.  I was much too busy with the injured people to take much notice of him.

Mr. Williams : You would not say the amount of time you gave this man was sufficient to give a conclusion that he was drunk or under the influence of drink ?

Witness : I should say, to some extent he was under the influence of drink.

Asked by Mr Williams whether he thought it fair to express an opinion not having made a detailed examination, witness replied : "Certainly : it is in the public interest that I should do so."

Mr. Williams : Express an opinion without any grounds for expressing it ?

Witness : Oh!  but there were grounds. I say in my opinion, he smelt strongly of drink.  I do not suggest the man was drunk.

Witness said he remarked to P.s. Paine at the time of the accident : "That man has been drinking."

Dr G.R. Hughes, Barnet, who was called by Mr Williams, said when he examined Haskins at the Police Station after the accident, he was in a condition of considerable nervous strain, but had no definite signs of being under the influence of alcohol.

The Coroner having summed up, the jury, who consulted privately, found that Manning died from the result of injuries received in the collision, and that " considering the evidence, we are of the opinion that Haskins had ample time to have drawn into the near side after passing the lorry driven by Jackson, and he showed gross and culpable negligence in not doing so.”

" Your verdict amounts to one of manslaughter," observed the Coroner, who then committed Haskins for trial at Herts Assizes but granted him bail.

right : Dundee Courier 15 September 1925

Gloucester Citizen - Tuesday 15 September 1925

Motorist Convicted of Manslaughter


After an absence of over hour, an Old Bailey jury on Monday found Percy Lewis Haskins (29), motor mechanic, of Elgin-crescent, South Kensington, guilty of the manslaughter of Edward Henry Manning, an insurance inspector of Kettering.  

Defendant who was recommended to mercy, was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment.

Mr Manning, with his wife and daughter, was returning from London to Kettering on August 10th when his combination came into collision with the car driven by the defendant on the road between Barnet and St. Albans.  Mr Manning received fatal injuries while his wife and daughter, who were also severely injured, are still in hospital.  

Detective Inspector Boothey said that Haskins was convicted at West London Police-court, in November 1922, of being drunk in charge a motor-car and of dangerous driving.  He was then sentenced to twenty-one days imprisonment, which was reduced on appeal to fourteen days in the second division.

Linked toPercy Lewis Haskins

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