The last place you expect a priest to appear is in court. But this item which appeared in the Essex Newsman newspaper on 31 Dec 1938 under the headline:
A PRIEST’S DRIVING MISHAP
This article is a report of a case at the Chelmsford Petty Sessions involving the Reverend Francis Kieran Heenan, brother of John Carmel Heenan who became the Archibishop of Westminster and a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.
The report reads:
The Rev Francis Kieran Heenan, The Presbytery, Frinton, Catholic priest, pleaded not guilty to careless driving at Margaretting on Nov 29. Mr F N Wingent defended. George, Victor Edwards, The Bungalow, Margaretting, stated that at 7.30pm he left his car outside the premises of Mr Jennning’s builder, Margaretting, facing London and touching the kerb. While waiting outside the house of Mr Jennings, a car approached from the direction of Chelmsford at about forty-five miles per hour. There was slight fog but one could see for three hundred yards, The car continued on its near side and when a few yards from the stationary vehicle it swerved out but struck the off side rear wing. The car stopped and witness went to the driver who was the defendant.
Witness asked : What is your idea of going so fast?
Defendant replied: Don’t think I was going on without stopping. I didn’t think I had hit anything. He added that it would “only be a job for the insurance people. “ Defendant got into witnesses’ car and felt for the ignition key.
Insp Parrott: Did he say why he got into your car? No Did you invite him to sit there – No How long was he there – about three minutes. He left his gloves and notebook in my car and I only found them when he had gone.
The Chairman – was there any other traffic at the time? None
Mr Wingent: I suggest that visibility was nothing like you say, that there was considerable fog or mist about at the time. No. In fact visibility was so bad that later on traffic was advised not to travel between Chelmsford and Brentford? Later, Yes.
You say defendant got into your car and tried to find your ignition key. If I told you that he was looking for an inside light so he could get his driving licence for the benefit of the policeman, you would not give exception to this? No but I did not give him permission to get into my car.
P C Hearne said defendant told him it was very foggy, I was following the white line in the centre and I did not see the other car. I only hit a glancing blow. Witness pointed out that the fog was slight, that the stationary car had a good rear light and that the road was thirty feet wide.
Mr Heenan in evidence said the fog was patchy and fog was gathering on the windscreen. He was watching the white line and “at the last moment” he saw a red stationary light and swerved to avoid it. He caught the back mudguard. He pulled in and went along for a little way in case a car was following. He stopped and got out and was quite aware he had had a collision and denied that he told Mr Edwards that he had said he did not think he had hit the car. He got into that car to put on the light to find his picket book. Convicting, the Bench imposed a fine of £3 with 10/7 costs, licence endorsed.