KOCH J.-—Siman v. Miskin.
1936Present: Koch J.
SIMAN v. MISKIN.
322—M. C. Kandy, 11,446.
Motor car—Charge of exceeding the speed limit—Use of stop watch—Accuracyof reading—Proof.
Where in a prosecution for exceeding the speed limit the only evidenceconsisted of readihgs from a stop watch, there must be proof that thestop watch was tested at or about the time it was used and the readingsfound to be accurate.
PPEAL from a conviction by the Municipal Magistrate of Kandy.
Colvin R. de Silva, for accused, appellant.
July 15, 1936. Koch J.—
The learned Magistrate has missed the nicety of the point raised by thedefence. The facts are briefly that Mr. Bromley, Superintendent ofPolice, Central Province, was returning in his car from an election atHatton and at a spot between the 69th and the 69th and a quarter mile-post the appellant, a bus driver, in following from behind attempted toovertake. Mr. Bromley’s orderly who was driving then gave the appellantthe signal to overtake but the appellant on drawing alongside recognizedthe Police uniform of the orderly and fell back. Mr. Bromley thereuponpulled out a stop watch and timed the speed of the appellant’s busbetween the 69th and half milepost and the 71st milepost. According tothis watch, the appellant took 3 minutes and 52 seconds to do the mileand a half. Arithmetically this works out to a speed of 23 miles per hourand if the stop watch check prevails, the appellant is clearly guilty of theoffence he is charged with.
I accept every word of Mr. Bromley’s evidence to be true. He^ hasproved a frank witness and admitted that the accuracy of his stop watchreadings were not checked for some time before the incident. He alsodoes not say that this was done immediately or at any time thereafter.The learned Magistrate remarks that though this may be the caseMr. Bromley “ knew the stop watch to be reasonably accurate ”. I donot find one single word in Mr. Bromley’s evidence to the effect that hehad reason to regard the stop watch as being in good order at the time.It is a pity that the stop watch was not tested soon after the occurrence ;had this been done and the readings found to be accurate, I should haveaccepted the case as proved although the watch had not been checkedat a reasonable time prior to the incident. The Magistrate bases hisconviction on the proposition that “ giving the accused the largestpossible concession for inaccuracy of system and watch, he still must havebeen travelling well over the speed to which he was entitled This is adangerous principle to adopt. It means nothing more or less than sayingthat granted a watch is inaccurate and granted the extent of the inaccuracyto be unknown a reading of 23 miles per hour must necessarily show thatthe accused was exceeding the speed limit. The fallacy lies in assumingthe extent of the inaccuracy to be so trifling as to render it negligible.
SOERTSZ A.J.—The King v. Simon Apjm.
This is an unwarranted assumption, for there is not a particle of evidenceto establish this. It is as reasonable to suppose that on the day the stopwatch was used its readings were grossly inaccurate as to suppose that theinaccuracy was trifling. It may be one or the other, and in this state o£things a conviction cannot be legally catered.
I wish to add that the prosecution has based its case entirely on thestop watch readings. There has been no evidence whatsoever led besidesthis to indicate at what speed the bus was travelling.
The conviction is set aside and the appellant acquitted.
SIMAN v. MISKIN