Causing Death by Dangerous Driving: A Case Study
We concluded a case earlier this year where we had been working with the client for almost two years.
In the Autumn of 2014 we received a call from a man who simply could not comprehend the situation he was in. Carl had been involved in a Road Traffic Collision on a busy motorway in the North West which had very sadly resulted in the death of another motorist, and a scene of utter carnage on the roads that closed the motorway for more than six hours during a Monday morning rush hour.
Carl was driving to meet with a client and was thinking about the day ahead. He received a call on his mobile from the office via the built in Bluetooth facility in his car, he pressed a button on the steering wheel and answered the call. It lasted less than two minutes.
He was in no hurry, traffic was heavy but flowing, and he was not speeding.
A few minutes later he received another call from his office and again answered and took the call via the built in Bluetooth. The call ended within 90 seconds and he continued his journey.
Nothing wrong here, you might think? His phone was properly connected and he didn’t take his eyes off the road whilst engaging in the conversations. He hadn’t even touched his phone so no offence committed.
You might think, that this could be any businessman on any motorway on any Monday morning. It could be you, right?
What happened next changed the lives of so many people forever.
Carl was driving along in the outside lane, overtaking a vehicle to his left. He heard his tyres cross the rumble strip on the edge of the central reservation and steered slightly to the left to correct it. However, he over corrected and at that speed it sent him into a spin which he could not recover from. He hit the car to his left which also spun off the road, causing a domino effect which lasted less than 4 seconds but resulted in a pile up involving 7 vehicles in total.
And one person was killed. An innocent motorist; a woman on her way to visit her daughter, lost her life because of the collision.
What do you think then? Accident? Carl wasn’t on the phone, he wasn’t speeding, there was no reason he should have spun out of control but he did – an unfortunate, sorry, awful, indescribable accident, right?
Wrong. Carl was convicted of causing Death by Dangerous Driving and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
What? Why?? How can a regular, good person be convicted of causing death by dangerous driving?
Because when the Police investigated, they discovered that Carl had received two phone calls in the minutes leading up to the collision. Records proved that he wasn’t on the phone at the time of the impact but the Prosecution suggested – and the Jury agreed – that people don’t just lose control of their cars for no reason. In the absence of a mechanical defect, medical or other emergency, or any explanation for the loss of concentration, then the Jury were left to make an inference about what he was doing at the precise moment he lost control of the car. The inference they made was that it was reasonable to think that as he had been engaged in phone calls leading up to the collision, he could have been in the process of making or receiving another call causing him to lose control.
He was in the outside lane of a busy Motorway during rush hour, they said, he should have been concentrating.
He was found guilty of causing Death by Dangerous Driving by a unanimous verdict in 27 minutes by a Jury who were unequivocal in their decision.
He should have been concentrating, and he wasn’t (for whatever reason) and that is Dangerous Driving. Not Careless Driving, but Dangerous Driving – a standard of driving that falls FAR below the standard expected and carries a maximum custodial sentence of 14 years.
Carl is now in prison, 120 miles away from his pregnant wife and 3 year old daughter.
A wife, mother and devoted Grandmother is dead because of his actions.
Two families destroyed.
And countless other drivers that morning who were involved in or saw what happened and will live with those memories forever.
Carl is a 41 year old successful businessman, top salesman in his company for the past 8 years very highly thought of. He holds a pilot licence, he runs marathons for charity, he is respected and loved by many people.
But he is in prison now.
Carl spent more than 18 months on police bail while this was investigated. He always accepted the part he played in the incident and accepts he must be punished. He was determined to plead not guilty for the sake of his family; if he could somehow avoid going to prison and missing years of his children’s lives, he had to try. He knew the odds were not in his favour, but he also knew we would fight as hard as anyone could for him. He suffered physical, psychological and emotional injuries and had to take two months off work with PTSD.
We were there for Carl from Day 1, we literally held his hand and supported his whole family through this. We all knew it was very likely he would have to serve a custodial sentence, and he told us after the sentencing that he could not have got through the whole thing without us, and even in his darkest moments he felt safe in the knowledge that his dedicated legal team were right behind him, every step of the way.
Carl was a reminder to us all how quickly lives can change. Carl didn’t stop being a good man on that fateful day, and it was our pleasure to work with him and support him through this case.
If you are being charged with causing death by dangerous driving and need a legal team who will treat you with understanding and not judgement, call our dedicated team now on 01623 397200.