Just when I thought sentencing might be improving some stupid arsehole of a judge comes along and hands out a pathetic sentence.
Imagine for a moment you are driving along an A road, there are signs up, which you see, warning you of a cycling event on the road, it’s a fairly straight road, you have at least 9 seconds of visibility, but instead you decide to rubberneck at a wagon on the opposite carriageway, as you do so, you hit a bird, was it a bird? Oh no, maybe it was a cyclist wearing hi-viz and flashing lights who’s just gone right over the roof of your car. So you stop and see if he’s alright, whoops, no you’ve killed him instantly, now you’re for it!
It’s a fair cop ‘guv I’ll plead guilty to the Death by Dangerous driving charge, let’s hope the old beak got some last night and is in a good mood.
Fear not, Judge Peter Bowers comes to the rescue, you don’t have to sweat any longer at the thought of spending the next few years of nights in the loving embrace of Big Arthur, you’re not going down, fuck it, we’ll barely even stop you driving. 5 months suspended and an 18 month ban, how’s that for killing a man. Maybe Mr Barraclough is the thoroughly charming felow he’s made out to be, I hope he is, but what’s the message to all the scumbags out there who deliberately harass and intimidate cyclists? Carry on, just provide a good sob story and it won’t be a problem when you take it too far.
Why the fuck don’t we just make it legal to kill cyclists and save all the expense and court time? Because after all, driving into the back of hi-viz wearing, light flashing cyclists who have been in view for 9 seconds “could happen to anybody”
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse I find a new report
Mr West said it was a horrific accident and a case of “there but for the grace of God go I”, adding: “It’s the sort of accident that could happen to anybody.
The second part of the quote is what was reported earlier but it is the first part that really sickens me. “There but for the grace of God, go I” is a phrase I have used a couple of times in the past to try and understand the motivation of judges and jurors when faced with a killer driver in the dock, but I have always used it in terms of what must be going through their minds. The judges and jurors will mostly be drivers, few of them will be regular cyclists, they are faced with a driver stood before them and a dead cyclist who can’t be in the room, who are they going to sympathise with in their minds? The person in the room with them and with whom they share an understanding, or the cyclist not in the room who belongs to an ‘outgroup’?
Never though have I actually seen this phrase used in a courtroom, but here we have a defence barrister actually using it as a tool with which to manipulate a judge to gain a favourable outcome and it appears to have worked. I find Mr West’s comments utterly appalling, to recap, there were signs warning of a cycling event, the victim was wearing hi-viz and had lights on his bike, the driver had 9 seconds of potential visibility of the cyclist but instead chose to rubberneck at a vehicle on the other side of the road, and was so distracted by it that when he hit Leonard Grayson and sent him flying over the top of the car he thought he must have hit a bird. This is not the sort of “accident” that can happen to anybody, it didn’t even ‘happen’ to him as if it were some sort of external force he had no control over. He wasn’t driving along when somebody forced him to stop looking where he was going and a cyclist threw himself under the car. He ‘happened’ to Mr Grayson, his inattention ‘happened’ to Mr Grayson, his disregard ‘happened’ to Mr Grayson.
It is dangerous driving by a person who opted not to pay attention, and if it were the sort of thing that can ‘happen’ to anybody then we ought to be removing a lot of driving licences so that not just ‘anybody’ can have one but only drivers who can prove they are capable of not letting this sort of thing ‘happen’ to them. If killing vulnerable road users is, you know, just one of those things that happens, soz mate, then the system is broken.
Perhaps, if Mr West thinks this is the sort of accident that can happen to anyone [him] he should be seriously considering handing in his own licence because he’s just admitted in court that he can be as careless as the man who has just been banned for 18 months.