Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving.
Section 143 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 created an offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving by amending the RTA 1988 and inserting a new section 1A. This amendment came into force on 3 December 2012.
The offence is committed when the manner of the defendant’s driving is dangerous and results in another person suffering a serious physical injury.
Euan was under investigation for this offence following a car collision with a friend he’d had an argument with. Euan was arrested the night of the incident and released on bail pending the police’s investigations. Euan knew that the charge was serious and that he needed legal representation, so he called Forrest Williams.
Once Euan was formally charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving, we were able to review the prosecution paperwork. Whilst Euan did admit he was driving the vehicle which ultimately led to a head on collision, his version of events differed dramatically. We believed that although he was guilty, the version of events Euan presented would make a dramatic difference to the level of sentence that would be imposed.
Causing serious injury by dangerous driving can be heard in either the Magistrates court or the Crown Court. In the Magistrates, Euan would be looking at a fine and a custodial sentence of up to 6 months. In the Crown, he would be looking at up to 5 years’ imprisonment. Both courts impose a disqualification from driving for a minimum of 2 years.
As you can see from the above, the sentence does vary greatly and if Euan was to accept the case that the prosecution put forward he would most certainly be looking at 5 years’ imprisonment.
We worked tirelessly with Euan to present a basis of plea (Euan’s version of events) to the court. The Magistrates sent Euan’s case up to the Crown Court due to the severity of the incident – it involved a head on collision with another car which led to the other members of the vehicle being seriously injured: the passenger had concussion, and the driver of the other vehicle had suffered a broken hip as a result of the incident.
Euan accepted full responsibility and showed genuine remorse for his actions: he expected to be punished, but wanted the victims and the court to see how this had affected him and how a lengthy custodial sentence would not only affect him but his young family of a fiancée and small child.
Fortunately, the prosecution accepted the basis of plea and Euan’s hearing was adjourned for sentencing. We were fully expecting Euan to go to prison, but were fighting for this sentence to be as low as possible to minimise his separation from his young child.
Euan and his fiancée arrived at the court for sentencing, with the same experienced barrister who had represented him at his previous two hearings. Whilst he was understandably nervous, he expressed how much easier it was with the support and consistency of his barrister, and caseworker Kirsty Day fighting his corner.
When we arrived at court, imagine our surprise when the judge overrode the previous decision to accept the basis of plea! The basis was withdrawn in its entirety and we were “back to square one”.
Euan, his fiancée, and us were all heartbroken. Thankfully Forrest Williams are prepared for everything and the barrister was already ready to present full mitigation to advocate for the most lenient sentence.
Euan’s barrister presented the strongest mitigation and the judge advised:
“You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. You drove your car dangerously causing serious injury. This plea was entered on a basis which you no longer rely on. I now sentence you on the full facts of this case. You are entitled to full credit for your plea. I have seen a number of references referring to your character, employment, relationships and your family. You had made significant progress in obtaining good work and had a future. This offence is plainly so serious that only immediate custody is appropriate. But for the mitigation and your plea of guilty the offence itself I would be starting in the region of 4 years. However, the mitigation put forward enables me to reduce my starting point before credit to 3 years for which you receive a full credit.”
Euan was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. His barrister met with Euan after the hearing where he advised he was thrilled with the outcome given the circumstances.
If you are facing a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, call Forrest Williams now on 01623 397200.