Death by Careless Driving case.

JohnInStockie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 10, 2006
1,048
0
Stockport, SK7
Sorry Django, this isnt aimed at that at all.

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Denis Moore, 50, collided with cyclist James Jorgensen, 55, last September, on a roundabout in Seaham, County Durham, close to Jorgensen’s home. Jorgensen died eight days later of severe head injuries.

Although the court was told Moore was driving at around 20mph, Judge Richard Lowden said the fact Jorgensen had not been wearing a helmet was a “mitigating factor.”

Moore, of Byron Terrace, Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, admitted the new charge of ‘causing death by careless driving’. The court was told he regularly drove his partner’s Hyundai Matrix mobility car despite only holding a provisional licence.

The judge at Durham Crown Court sentenced him to 24 weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months, ordered him to be electronically tagged for three months and banned him from driving for two years, after which he must sit an extended test.

Ron Mitchell, representing Moore, said his client had suffered from a “momentary lapse of concentration”. He added that his remorse was so deep he had tried to commit suicide after the incident.
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Has it come to this ...

"Sorry I just didnt see him!"

"Oh well, accidents happen, dont do it again!"


Surely the judge hasnt even factored in that someone has been killed by a driver that shouldnt even have been on the road. At the least it should be manslaughter, or worse!
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,910
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This is the second time I've seen cases where the judge has ruled contributory negligence a cyclist involved in an accident not wearing a helmet. In part this may reflect the health and safety obsessions of our modern society.

This is open to misunderstanding though. The ruling isn't that the cyclist contributed to the accident, but that they contributed towards the consequences for them. That in turn would influence any subsequent award.

If the cyclist suffered a head injury that a helmet would have prevented or mitigated, the ruling is sound. If that was not the case, the ruling is wrong. The detail is necessary for us to judge which.
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cruiser

Finding my (electric) wheels
This is the second time I've seen cases where the judge has ruled contributory negligence a cyclist involved in an accident not wearing a helmet. In part this may reflect the health and safety obsessions of our modern society.

This is open to misunderstanding though. The ruling isn't that the cyclist contributed to the accident, but that they contributed towards the consequences for them. That in turn would influence any subsequent award.

If the cyclist suffered a head injury that a helmet would have prevented or mitigated, the ruling is sound. If that was not the case, the ruling is wrong. The detail is necessary for us to judge which.
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....words of wisdom
 

RedSkywalker

Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2008
87
0
I often wonder if judges confuse cyclists with motor cyclists who are required to wear helmets. It would help make sense of some of their decisions!
 

stranger

Pedelecer
Feb 7, 2009
103
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New Forest. Hants.
So if you should get siezed by an overwhelming desire to knock down a cyclist, make sure it is one that is not wearing a helmet and then your defence council can claim that it was not your fault at all.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,910
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So if you should get siezed by an overwhelming desire to knock down a cyclist, make sure it is one that is not wearing a helmet and then your defence council can claim that it was not your fault at all.
As I posted above, that isn't what is argued in these cases. The fault in causing the accident is the motorist's and the defence no doubt fully accepted that. The helmet wearing issue would not have played any part in that. Unfortunately these grossly misleading, biased and incomplete reports like the one on that link deliberately distort and omit the facts.

The defence argument in such cases is simply that not wearing the helmet made the consequences worse. This is an entirely legitimate defence since the charge was "causing death by careless driving". The defence argument would be that if the cyclist was wearing a helmet he would not have suffered severe enough head injuries to kill him, so their client would only be facing the lesser charge of careless driving. Any defence not using that argument would be negligent.

Clearly the judge has accepted that and therefore ruled that contributory part the cyclist played. We can have our opinions on whether the helmet would have made any difference to the injuries and disagree with the judge on that, and I do disagree with him, but it's wrong to imply that the cause of the accident was decided by whether the cyclist wore a helmet or not. It wasn't and never is.
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Alex728

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 16, 2008
1,109
-1
Ipswich
I've got some old cycling book somewhere from the early 60s (found in a charity shop) it mentions that magistrates (in the 1950s/60s) claimed that a bicycle with dropped handlebars was a "dangerous bike" as it encouraged the rider to "go fast" and thus was a contributory cause of accidents!
 

wibble

Pedelecer
Aug 9, 2008
178
0
The next time somebody dies after being hit over the head with a beer bottle whilst having a pint - I wonder if the defence would state that the deceased wasn't wearing a helmet in the pub.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,910
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The next time somebody dies after being hit over the head with a beer bottle whilst having a pint - I wonder if the defence would state that the deceased wasn't wearing a helmet in the pub.
Come now, why the bias?

There are recognised cycle helmets with BSI standards in common use, there's no such thing for pub goers.

I don't like helmets, don't wear one and am opposed to compulsion, but I do try to be fair regarding the judgement in cases like this. The defence argument was entirely legitimate.

The degree to which the judge accepted that argument and the cyclist's contribution to the outcome was quite small, around a one sixth reduction in the sentence.
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Mike63

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 23, 2008
809
63
A few years ago, where I live in West Yorkshire, we had a case where a motorist ran straight into the rear of a cyclist travelling quite legaly on an A road, killing him instantly.
The judge said that the cyclist was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the motorist walked away from court scott free.

.....Mike
 

Footie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2007
549
10
Cornwall. PL27
It’s the asinine UK law where the cyclist has to prove dangerous driving - bit difficult to do it from the grave. I suppose he thought the law would do it for him .... What a silly thought that was.
I didn't see a mention of a hi-vis jacket - if none was being worn I'm surprised the "out of touch with reality" judge didn't considered that a contributory part too - perhaps they forgot to add it to the summing up.
Doesn’t this sort of thing just make you proud of the UK legal system :mad:
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rooel

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 14, 2007
357
0
"A few years ago, where I live in West Yorkshire, we had a case where a motorist ran straight into the rear of a cyclist travelling quite legaly on an A road, killing him instantly.
The judge said that the cyclist was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the motorist walked away from court scott free."


That is yet another example of the motoring class judiciary siding with their own kind and exhibiting a prejudice against cyclists. Suppose a mini car had been travelling quite legally along the A road and a large lorry had crashed into its rear killing the occupants, would the judge have said "wrong place, wrong time" etc, and and sent the lorry driver off home with an apple and his blessing?
 

wibble

Pedelecer
Aug 9, 2008
178
0
Come now, why the bias?

There are recognised cycle helmets with BSI standards in common use, there's no such thing for pub goers.

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Then let's hope that somebody doesn't make helmets (with BSI standards) for pub goers. We'd be irresponsible not to wear them!


But no worries, flecc. I'm just being a smartass. :) I'm not one for enjoying seeing people locked up for man slaughter. I take my chances in this world. If somebody accidentally kills me - then that's life.
 

Barnowl

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 18, 2008
954
1
What if the cyclist had a huge 4X4 sitting at home on the drive? Could the defence not argue that if the cyclist had chosen to drive rather than cycle he would not have suffered any injuries.:confused:
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,910
22,540
I'm not one for enjoying seeing people locked up for man slaughter. I take my chances in this world. If somebody accidentally kills me - then that's life.
That's great Wibble, very much my attitude too. :)

I'm afraid cyclists and motorists are like cats and dogs, no chance of ever being at peace together.
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,910
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What if the cyclist had a huge 4X4 sitting at home on the drive? Could the defence not argue that if the cyclist had chosen to drive rather than cycle he would not have suffered any injuries.:confused:
Of course not, thats entirely different. Like many activities, cycling has recognised safety equipment. There is nothing wrong with a defence arguing that a cyclist would have been wise to use that.

There is equally nothing wrong with a judge giving a degree of credence to that, since the matter of whether a helmet would have made a difference to the outcome is a matter of judgment and cannot be exactly determined.

If the prosecutor was unhappy with the finding, it was open to him to appeal, but he doesn't appear to have done that. If the CTC think the finding is wrong, they are free to present a case to the prosecutor for an appeal against that finding. They don't do that each time this occurs, instead going into print with biased rants containing inaccuracies.
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rooel

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 14, 2007
357
0
The courts are bound by precedent in determining careless or reckless driving sentences to pay heed only to the degree of carelessness or recklessness, and must not take into account the consequences for the victim, whether these be maiming or death*. This precedent often upsets bereaved families when they find that the sentence takes no account of their loss. Here in Scotland, to meet such complaints judges often cite the precedent and explain the basis on which they are required to determine the sentence.

Therefore the judge in the case under discussion in this thread adopted an entirely wrong approach to sentencing. He should not even have mentioned the degree of injury or how the cyclist may have contributed to his injuries. All he should have mentioned is the degree of carelessness or recklessness on the part of the motor driver. He should have mentioned the cyclist's behaviour only if the way the bike was being ridden in some way mitigated the degree of fault on the part of the driver. The wearing or not wearing of a helmet has no relevance at all to that question.

The Crown Prosecutor therefore should appeal the sentence on the basis that the wrong approach was adopted to determining it.

*"The Durham case seem unlikely to set a precedent because the judge seems to have mis-interpreted the sentencing guidelines which say that mitigating circumstances should only be taken into account in cases of causing death by dangerous driving which relate to the commission of the offence not it's outcome." from the news report referred to above.
 
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Barnowl

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 18, 2008
954
1
Of course not, thats entirely different. Like many activities, cycling has recognised safety equipment. There is nothing wrong with a defence arguing that a cyclist would have been wise to use that.

There is equally nothing wrong with a judge giving a degree of credence to that, since the matter of whether a helmet would have made a difference to the outcome is a matter of judgment and cannot be exactly determined.

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I really don't see that this is entirely different. Many 4X4 drivers cite safety as a prime reason for buying their gargantuan 4X4. Many drivers cite safety as a reason for not cycling. The activity I would contend is personal transport from A to B. Where the line is drawn as far as recognised safety equiment is purely subjective since there is no legal requirement for the cyclist to wear a helmet.
I've no problem with the court discussing whether or not the cyclist was unwise to wear a helmet but the judge has ruled contributory negligence for a cyclist involved in an accident not wearing a helmet. I cannot see how that's possibly relevant - anymore than choosing to drive rather than cycle.
 

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