Pensioner returns library book 58 years late and racks up £42,000 in fines

David Hickman, 76, finally drove back to his hometown of Dudley to "face the music" this week.

David Hickman returning the book to Dudley Library. (SWNS)
David Hickman returning the book to Dudley Library manager Sharon Whitehouse (C). (SWNS)

A pensioner has racked up more than £42,000 in fines after returning a library book he borrowed 58 years ago.

David Hickman, 76, drove back to his hometown of Dudley to "face the music" this week after forgetting to bring back ‘The Law for Motorists’.

He was just 17 when he borrowed the book in 1964 to study up after being involved in a car accident.

With overdue fines of 20p a day, librarians could have charged David £42,340 for the book but they waived the fees after hearing his amusing story.

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The book is back where it belongs. (SWNS)
The book is back where it belongs. (SWNS)

He was waving to a group of teens from Dudley High School for Girls when he crashed his 1947 Ford Popular into a car belonging to town mayor Councillor W.G.K Griffiths.

David was arrested and to make matters worse, the mayor was also a magistrate but luckily for him he did not sit on his case.

Despite David’s attempts to use the book to get up to speed up on the law, the teenager was convicted of driving without due care and attention.

Dudley Magistrates fined him £7 – around £175 in today’s money – and ordered him to cough up a further £3 in lawyers’ fees.

After losing the case, David forgot to return the library book and it ended up being put in the back of a drawer.

In 1970 David, a father-of-one, moved from Dudley to Battersea, in south London, and he took the book with him.

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Sharon Whitehouse, manager of Dudley Library. (SWNS)
Dudley Library manager Sharon Whitehouse. (SWNS)

Over the years, the book remained almost forgotten at the back of a drawer.

David said: “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 added: “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.”