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Regina v. Benge

Maidstone Crown Court
176 Eng. Rep. 665 (1865)


Benge (defendant) was the foreman of a crew repairing rails on a railroad track. Benge had a book of scheduled trains, but he misread the schedule. Benge ordered certain rails removed from a bridge shortly before a train was scheduled. Benge followed the usual process of sending a crew member with a flag down the track to alert any approaching trains of the work being done. The flagman was supposed to go at least 1,000 yards down the track because trains could stop within 1,000 yards of applying the brake. However, the flagman only went about 540 yards down the track. Also, a train engineer should have been able to see the flag at a distance of about 500 yards, but this conductor did not see the flag until he was passing it. The train did not stop in time and wrecked, resulting in the death of many passengers. The Crown (plaintiff) charged Benge with manslaughter.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Pigott, J.)

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