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LAXITY OF OFFICIALS.

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LAXITY OF OFFICIALS. STRONG COMMENTS BY THE BENCH. At the Bridgend Petty Sessions, on Saturday last, hefore Mr. R. W. Llewellyn (chairman), Mr. C. P. Davis. Mr. R.L. Knight, and Col. Franklen, Edward -Petty, of Maesteg, collier, was charged with a breach of the 224th special colliery rule. he having, it was alleged, had in his possession an un- oeked safety lamp inside the lamp station. Mr. W. R. Randall (Messrs. Randall and Wilson). appeared to prosecute on behalf of North's Navi- gation Co.. Ltd.. and Mr. T. J. Hughes was mstructed for the defence. Mr. Randall was proceeding to open the case when Mr. Hughes took a formal objection to the summons, on the ground that rule 224 was merely an explanatory rule, and did not create an offence against the Act. A discussion ensued between the advocates, and Mr. Randall applied .to amend the summons by adding rules 210, 216. and 220. This Was strongly objected to by Mr. Hughes, who con- tended that three separate offences could not be charged in one summons. Mr. Randall thereupon abandoned his application and elected to proceed on the summons as drawn. A note of Mr. Hughes' objection was taken, and the case was proceeded with. Mr. John Ray deposed that he was manager of the Coegnant Colliery. Maesteg. at which defend- ant was employed as a collier, and produced a certified copy of the rules. In cross-examination witness stated that five men were employed at the commencement of each shift to examine, lock and Unlock all lamps at the lamp station, but admitted that during the shifts these duties were under- taken bv voting lads, although the general rules provided that a competent person should be em- ployed. and that it was equally important that lamps should be carefully seen to during the shifts as well as at the commencement of the shifts- that it was the custom to employ lads for this purpose.-He was not aware that the Chief Inspector of Mines had strongly disapproved of this. Evan Lloyd and William Lewis, firemen, deposed to having' on the 26th February, inspected defendants' lamp in the stall at which he worked. and that it was not locked. In cross-examination both witnesses admitted that the lock was catching and that it did not open easily, and that the defendant's partner. Oliver Jones, stated at the time that as his lamp had gone out, defen- dant had lent him his (defendant's) lamp to light his way back to the lamp station and that if there was anv fault he would bear it. Thomas Price (a diminutive lad. whose head scarcely appeared above the witness box) stated that he was employed on the day in question to examine, lock and unlock lamps at the lamp station during the day shift. That Oliver Jones had brought his own lamp "dark. ajid the defendants lamp lighted to the station, and that he had lighted, examined and locked both lamps and handed them both back to Jones. —Cross-examined by Mr. Hughes, witness stated that he sometimes had to leave the lamp station to see to some points about 30 yards distant, and that on the day in question he handed the key to unlock and relock the lamps to Jones, but subsequently stated that he had himself unlocked the lamps. the witness became utterly confused during cross-examination and did not seem clear as to what had taken place. Mr. Randall stated that that was his case. Mr. Hughes. for the defence, submitted that the rule under which Mr. Randall had elected to proceed did not apply to the case in point, and having read and commented upon the rule. pointed out that defendant ought not to be corrected, as he was entirely free from blame—he had not tam- pered with his lamp in any way, and was not aware of the defect. Mr. Randall contended that the magistrates were bound to convict, as the defendant had not satisfied the overman that he was unaware of the defect. Mr. Hughes pointed out that that was immaterial so long as the Bench were satisfied, and that it would be a very bad lookout for colliers if charges nf this kind were dependent upon the intelligence or want of intelligence of the officials, and that the prosecution was against the letter but not against the spirit of the Act. and that it came with very bad grace from officials who were them- selves guilty of the greatest laxity and neglect. Oliver Jones, for the defence, deposed that he was defendant's partner. That on the day in question he borrowed defendant's lamp to light himself to the lamp station to get his own lamp (which had become extinguished) re-lighted. The boy Price locked and examined both lamps, and witness took them Iwck to the heading. Defendant did not afterwards touch either of the lamps, and witness was quite at a loss to understand how defendant's lamp was unlocked. The Chairman, after a consultation with the magistrates, stated that the defendant had com- mitted a technical breach of the rule, and imposed a mitigated penalty of -tl. John Thomas, collier, was then charged with a similar offence. The same advocates appeared to prosecute and defend the firemen.- William Lewis and Evan Llovd deposed to having found de- fendant's lamp unlocked on the 26th February. Defendant was working in his stall, and his partner William Rees was with him.—Mr. Hughes. for the defence, submitted that the fact of the lamp being unlocked was due to a defect in the lock. which was the result of gross carelessness of the lampman. Defendant had on the previous Monday trusted his lamp to this official for repair, but the latter had been either too lazy or too care- less to put in a fresh lock. and had put in an old one instead, which had Income loosened by the bumping of the lamp against the tram.—The defendant and William Rees, his partner, and John Machon. lampman. were called and bore out this statement. The Bench held that although there had been carelessness on the part of the lampmen. the defendant must be held to be responsible for his own lamp, and inflicted a fine of All. including costs. William J ones, collier, was thou similarly charged, the same advocates appearing.—William Walden. fireman, deposed to having found the defendant's lamp unlocked in his working on the 26th February. In cross-examination witness admitted that the lock was catching'' a good deal—Mr. Hughes here produced the lamp in question, and handed it to witness who admitted that the ridge showed signs of the lamp having being locked for some time in the wrong place. For the defence. Mr. Hughes stated that the "■lass of defendant's lamp being too long the lower part could not be secured sufficiently to allow for the lamp being locked in the proper place, and that for many months past it had been locked in the rid(l"e. the key having in course of time made a slight hole for itself. This had been winked at by the officials for a long period, and he contended it would be unjust to make the defendants suffer for their neglect.—The defendant and his partner. Solomon Jones, were called to bear out the defence, both stating emphatically that the lock had not been wilfully tampered with in any way. The Bench, after consultation, imposed a fine of Cl. including costs. A similar case against a lad named Davies was by consent withdrawn. Mr. Llewellyn (chairman) then stated that the magistrates could not allow these eases to close without expressing their strong sense of the great neglect and carelessness which had been proved to exist at this colliery. In each of the cases that had come before them it had been clearly proved that great laxity existed on the part of the officials, and the magistrates hoped that. considering the terrible risk and danger of life to which a collier was subject, much greater care would be shown in the future.—Mr. Randall expressed a hope that their worships would reconsider this statement, but the chairman stated that they could not do so. A mere child had been placed in a post of the greatest responsi- bility. A fireman had allowed a defective lamp to be used nearly a year, and the lampman had put in an old lock instead of a new one, and it was clear that there was great carelessness all round. Mr. Hughes It is they who should be in the dock instead of my poor clients. The proceedings, which had excited the greatest excitement, then closed, and the parties then left the court.

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