In September 2012, 27 year old Timothy Osborn was riding home from work at a supermarket. It was just after 9pm and he was five minutes from home when he was knocked down by the driver of a car who failed to stop and left Timothy to die in a ditch at the side of the road.
By midnight Timothy’s mother was so concerned that she left the house to go looking for him with his younger brother. A few minutes later they found his lifeless body in the ditch. His mother, Lynne, later said
We were walking along. I can see the dark shape in the ditch and I know it’s Tim. He’s just lying there and he’s not responding. I can’t understand why the driver didn’t stop and left him like an animal. We came out looking for him expecting him to tell us off for fussing and worrying about him for no reason. Nobody should ever have to find their child like that. No brother should have to see his big brother like that in a ditch.”
There was a police appeal and his family made a very emotional appeal on TV for information. Shortly afterwards a man was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and failing to report an accident.
In June 2013, 9 months after the crash the same man was charged with those offences, causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and failing to report an accident. The magistrates sent the case to Crown Court, no plea was entered at this time.
In October 2013 at Crown Court, the defendant pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and a trial was scheduled for February 2014.
On 10th February the defendant arrived at court and pleaded guilty to causing the death of Timothy Osborn by careless driving while unfit to drive through drink. Interesting because drink wasn’t mentioned earlier and the driver wasn’t found until sometime after the incident so it may have been difficult to prove he was drunk at the time, unless he admitted it and agreed to plead that charge rather than dangerous driving. This carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and a minimum two year driving ban. The judge has also decided to use their discretion to impose an interim driving ban until sentencing, as raised in parliament last week.
Due to the guilty plea a reduction in sentence will occur…
The level of reduction is at the discretion of the court, although sentencing guidelines require that the usual reduction will be one third where the guilty plea was entered at the first reasonable opportunity. A reduced discount of one quarter is suggested where the plea was only entered once a trial date had been set, and one tenth where the plea was entered “at the door of the court” or after the trial had begun.
Judging by this a reduction of only 10% is appropriate.
Whilst the charge is capable of providing a sentence of a reasonable length I still have to wonder why that particular charge. What message does a careless charge send out in the case of a person who drinks, drives, knocks someone down and drives away? In such circumstance one would think a manslaughter charge would stick like glue and reflect the seriousness of the offence. Sentencing will occur next month, cyclists know we can’t rely in the CPS to bring effective charges, juries are even worse at convicting, it remains up to judges, in their wisdom, to display how seriously the justice system takes the death of vulnerable road users.