Dutton
THAT COURT CASE


PREAMBLE


Over 10 years ago Dutton sold a Commander to a limited company in Cumbria that was specifically set up to give fare paying passengers pleasure cruises around Lake Windermere . The unique selling point being that the Dutton would go out on the water then drive up the lake bank giving the passengers a unique experience.

However the company had not researched and failed to realize that no one is allowed to drive onto the land beside the lake, half the land being private and the remainder being a conservation area so their business plan was catastrophically flawed as it would rely entirely on customers being willing to pay a lot extra to simply go out in an amphibious car that was only allowed to stay in the water making the experience no different from the myriad other boat cruises already available on the lake at a much lower cost.

It was agreed by both sides that the sale of the Dutton was conditional that a standard car would be delivered to Lake Windermere at Duttons' expense, the Lake Warden would examine the car, make his observations - for example more fire extinguishers, signs, handles etc - then the Dutton would be collected at Duttons’expense and taken back to the factory where the necessary additions would be made so it could then be licensed to take fare paying passengers and be “fit for purpose”. It would then be delivered back to Lake Windermere, again all at Duttons’ expense.

THE COURT CASE CARLISLE CROWN COURT

When the limited company realised their business plan was fatally flawed they attempted to get their money back by rejecting the car, they refused to let Dutton collect it after the Lake Warden's inspection (as had at all times been agreed ). They then went to Court which ultimately failed so Dutton was then reported to Cumbria Trading Standards.

In 2008, Dutton were convicted of selling an amphibious vehicle “unfit for carrying fare-paying passengers” - not really surprising bearing in mind that at all times the Dutton was going to be delivered as a standard car. It was never ordered as “fit for carrying fare paying passengers” as it had not yet been checked over by the Lake Warden.

Cumbria Trading Standards have access to unlimited public funds (well it’s actually your money) and spent over £54,000 on this case, an amount that a small company like Dutton could not possibly hope to match. In the end the judge only ordered Dutton to pay a derisory £2000 and gave a year to pay.

Dutton
Cumbria Trading Standards photos, prosecution attempted to prove the firemen were “unhappy” about being in the craft - they don't look very "unhappy " to us........
Dutton


HOW CUMBRIA TRADING STANDARDS REALLY OPERATE

They start with a conclusion then shape the arguments to fit it. And this is how they did it:-

1/ This photo clearly shows where Cumbria Trading Standards tampered with Court evidence and deliberately drained out the fuel from the tank and put it in plastic barrels ABOVE the tank to increase the roll centre in an attempt to de-stabilize the craft.......

2/ Not being content tampering with Court evidence they then tested the Dutton against a vehicle regulation that even the prosecution admitted it did not have to comply with.

3/ They then tested the Dutton against an ISO Marine Regulation that - exactly like the vehicle regulation - the prosecution confirmed it did not have to comply with.

But it got even worse, the ISO test clearly states that the testing MUST be conducted using a weight of exactly 75kg in each seat. So to obtain the fake figures that suited Cumbria Trading Standards they overloaded the Dutton by a massive 33% - so no real surprise at the outcome


THE APPEAL HIGH COURT LONDON

Everything printed in red is taken verbatim from the Court of Appeal Neutral Citation number (2009) EWCA Crim 811 No.200802902/C4

After the court hearing, an immediate appeal was lodged and was heard 6 months later in the Royal Courts of Justice in London by 3 judges, Lord Justice Moses, Mr Justice Hedley and The Recorder of Preston. The Carlisle Crown Court in Cumbria was presided over by Judge Paul Batty, QC, who was criticised for his handling of the case by the appeal judges, stating that Dutton was unfairly treated by the judge. (as opposed to the prosecution) The 6 month suspended prison sentence was thrown out . Lord Justice Moses stated :-

“In our judgment, this offence did not cross the custody threshold. It was both wrong in principal and manifestly excessive to order this man to go to prison, suspended or no. In those circumstances, we shall quash the sentence of suspended imprisonment”

The criticism of Judge Paul Batty QC continues throughout the appeal again Lord Justice Moses :-

We turn then to a further matter that does give us more concern. As we have indicated, firemen were used to imitate passengers on the vessel. Two of the firemen gave evidence before the jury but the judge proposed that the other firemen (at least some five others) should also be present in the courtroom. There is some dispute between the prosecution and defence whether they were in the public gallery or not. Two firemen were called to the witness-box to give evidence, Mr Tatlock and Mr Leather, the other remained close by. When Mr Tadlock and Mr Leather had finished their adverse evidence as to the stability of the vehicle, the judge, in the presence of the jury, asked the remaining firemen whether they were all of the same opinion. They spoke with one voice, saying that they were. Thereafter the defence asked one of the officers, an Officer Steadman should be called to. He gave evidence that the vessel did not appear to him to threaten to overturn and he thought he could extricate himself safely in an emergency. He did not feel that the stability of the vessel was ever compromised. The learned judge, at the conclusion of that evidence, then asked the jury whether they had any questions for the firemen and one of the jurors called out that they would like to know how the firemen would have felt on a longer trip. The fireman responded in a manner adverse to the defence, not surprisingly.

This procedure should never have occurred. It hardly needs saying, let alone emphasis, that to obtain evidence other than from a single witness in the witness-box, or according to the rules from some document is not permissible.

The suggestion of the judge, without seeking any agreement from defence counsel, who was in no position to agree, was quite wrong. The defence could not protest, since the jury were there and any protest was merely likely to look as though the defence were improperly trying to protect its own interests. We asked the prosecution why they did not object to this wholly unorthodox and impermissible procedure. It was an ideal opportunity for prosecuting counsel to act in the way in which all prosecuting counsel no doubt feel bound, namely to protect the defence from unfairness from the judge. He could have asked for the jury to leave the court so that any forceful submissions to the judge should not embarrass him in front of the jury and then told the judge that such a procedure was unacceptable. We do not make any personal criticism of Mr Haworth, who no doubt was equally surprised and startled at the procedure which the judge sought to adopt. That would, with hindsight, have been one remedy that would have avoided this very unfortunate consequence. It must have seemed particularly unfair to the defendant, watching this bizarre procedure take place whereby evidence is called by unanimous acclamation.

THE MORAL TO THIS

The Moral to this story is very simple if you are in business and want to help a customer with their project that involves you supplying something that is "out of the ordinary" regardless of whether you charge them extra or like us - do it all for free - just put EVERYTHING in writing so it wont come back to bite you years down the line - it only takes a few minutes and can save you wasting a week of your life in Court

2015 update it appears that Judge Paul Batty QC is still working so we wish "God help you" to anyone who appears in front of him