The driver of a horse-drawn cart who found himself being chased through Appleby by Cumbrian police during this year’s horse fair has been fined £400 for the 1847 offence of “driving a carriage furiously”.

Magistrates at Penrith heard how two officers in a patrol car had to take evasive action as Obey Coates’s high-speed sulky careered towards them along Battlebarrow at around 11pm on 7 June.

The cart, which had several men on board, then hurtled off along the middle of the road with the police in hot pursuit.

One officer shouted to the driver to pull over. But 37-year-old Coates, of Dartford, Kent, refused to stop and continued on his way, apparently out of control.

He brought his cart to a standstill only when he spotted another police car heading towards him.

When questioned by a police officer he said: “I was just having a laugh, mate.”

Prosecutor Peter Kelly told the court: “The horse was sweating and agitated. Coates was not in proper control and there were pedestrians around. It was a dangerous act and may have caused injuries to other road users.”

Magistrates, who could have jailed Coates for 14 days, found him guilty in his absence.
He was convicted of driving a carriage furiously, contrary to the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847, fined £400 and ordered to pay £42 costs.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (9 September 04)

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