R. v. Benge
Maidstone Crown Court
44 F. & F. 504 (1865)
Benge (defendant) was a prisoner serving as foreman of a gang of workers who were taking up railroad tracks and repairing them. Misreading a train timetable, Benge assumed that a train would not be arriving at the area his gang was working on until 5:20 p.m. when it fact a train was due to arrive at 3:15. A worker was sent ahead to signal any approaching train to stop, but instead of going 1000 yards ahead he went only 540 yards, leaving less time for a train to stop. On seeing a train approaching, the worker raised his warning sign, but the engine-driver was not paying careful attention and did not immediately see the signal. By the time the engine-driver applied the brakes, it was too late to stop the train before it reached the area where the tracks had been taken up. As a result, the train crashed and many people were killed. At his trial for negligently causing the accident, Benge argued that, although he was negligent, the accident could not have occurred without the negligence of the flagman in not going far enough up the tracks and the failure of the engine-driver to pay careful attention. After the instructions from the trial judge summarized below, Benge was found guilty. There is no record of an appeal.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Pigott, J.)
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