Only One Sidelight – Fatal Fact in Conisbrough Road Tragedy

February 1951

South Yorkshire Times, February 24, 1951

Only One Sidelight

Fatal Fact in Conisbrough Road Tragedy

A car sidelight exhibited at a Conisbrough inquest on Friday, told the  story of the death of Mr. Richard Dunn, 47-year-old accountant, of Lowfield House, High Street, Conisbrough, and Clerk of Old Denaby and 1 N Edlington Parish Councils. Mr. Dunn was killed by an oncoming car In Sheffield Road the previous Monday when he stepped from his car to clean his windscreen.

Removal ” Not Recent ”

Witnesses in two other cars involved spoke of seeing only one light—similar to that on a motor-cycle—before the collision occurred, and police evidence revealed that the offside front sidelight was missing from Mr. Dunn’s car. It was later found in an inside pocket after the collision, and P.c. A. Bowman said its removal had not been recent. A jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” and the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile) said the whole point of the accident rested on evidence that the car driven by Mr. Dunn had only one sidelight. “That was the whole misleading fact in this case,” he said. “He had only a sidelight on  the near side of the car, and you can see the size of that, and also a spotlight underneath. When people driving along a toad seen one light only it leads them to conclude it is a pedal cycle or motor-cycle. This is, of course, totally misleading to other people using the road, and by law a driver is supposed to have two sidelights to show the extreme widths of his car

Mr. Albert Edward Maxfield, of 37, Church Street, Conisbrough„ told how he left the Hill Top Hotel at Conisbrough with Mr. Dunn at about 10.25 p.m., each having had two pints of beer. About a quarter of a mile along Sheffield Road towards Conisbrough, Mr. Dunn stopped the car to clean his windscreen. Although Mr. Maxfield offered to do it, Mr. Dunn said: “No. you stay here,” stepped out and closed the door.

Definite Turn

Mr. Maxfield then noticed an oncoming car. “It seemed to be coming along in a straight line, then to my great surprise it took a definite turn towards our car,” he said.  He let out a “terrific yell” when there was a definite impact as the cars collided. Mr_ Dunn’s body was found by Mr: Maxfield four or five 1 yards to the rear of his car.

In reply to Mr. A. Ashton, of Sheffield, representing the driver of the second car involved, Mr. Maxfield said there was no reference to the Car lights before the collision occurred. He had a faint recollection of another car behind the oncoming vehicle, but could not be sure that one car was overtaking another.

Mr. William Robert Robinson, 65-year-old iron and steel merchant, of

Handsworth Road, Sheffield, driver of the other car involved in the collision, said he was returning from a wrestling match at Doncaster and had followed friends in another car as far as Conisbrough when he decided to overtake. He was very familiar with the road and incline at that point, and overtook in top gear. He was travelling at about 25-28 m.p.h. and had cornpletely passed his friends in the  other car when the accident happened. “Up to the last moment I did not see anything, and I was working to the one light which was giving me ample room to pass.

Dipped His Lights

Mr. R. S. Pennington, representing Mrs. Dunn, had earlier established that the ear overtaken by Mr. Robinson and driven by Miss Margaret Monica Dalton, of Norton Park Drive, Sheffield, was carrytng two headlamps, both of which were also lit. Mr. Robinson said he was carrying two headlamps but had dipped his lights when overtaking, because he thought there was something ahead.

Mr. Robinson’s companion, Miss Edith Phillips, and Miss Dalton, along with other witnesses in the cars, spoke of seeing only one light ahead of them. At no time did any of the witnesses see the car in front. Replying to Mr. Pennington, Miss Phillips said they must have still been travelling in the centre of the road when they collided with Mr. Dunn’s car, as they had only just overtaken the other car.

Not Going Fast

Mr. Carlile said he could see no fault to find in the way the cars were being driven in the opposite direction. Mr. Robinson was not going at a fast speed, and thinking there was only a pedal cycle or motor-cycle ahead had not made the allowance he would have done had he known a car was standing in the road.

Mr. Carlile, Mr. Pennington and Mr. Ashton, together with the jury foreman, expressed their deepest sympathy and personal expressions of grief to the widow and relatives.