A pensioner could have been slapped with over £42,000 in late fees after returning an overdue library book 58 years late. The perpetrator was relieved that the workers “saw the funny side” and did not issue the fine.
David Hickman was 17-years-old when he first borrowed The Law For Motorists from Dudley Library in 1964. He sought the guide following a car accident involving the town’s mayor.
He had crashed into a vehicle owned by Councillor W.G.K Griffiths after waving to a group of teenagers from Dudley High School for Girls. David was arrested and subsequently convicted of driving without due care and attention despite his attempts to swat up on the law with the library book.
The now 76-year-old had forgotten to return it after he lost the case and took it with him when he moved from Dudley to Battersea in London in 1970. But with his tail tucked between his legs, David returned to his hometown and gave it back in person.
Late fees were given at a rate of 20p per day, but after just over half-a-century the fines skyrocketed to a total of £42,340. Though once they heard his amusing story, librarians waived the penalty.
David explained: “I used to come across it now and then and think ‘I must pop that back next time I’m in Dudley. I even considered posting it anonymously but then I decided I would face the music and take it back in person- fortunately, they saw the funny side."
Dudley librarian Sharon Whitehouse said: “I’m thrilled to have the book returned, complete with its pre-computerisation cardboard tickets, and to hear the story behind it. We’re hoping to donate it to The Black Country Museum.”