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"Exemplary citizen" unable to explain how she failed to see rider on clear sunny day...

A driver who hit and killed a cyclist in Suffolk last year has been handed a six-month suspended sentence and banned for 12 months after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Deborah Lumley-Holmes, 53, drove into the back of 51-year-old Julian Evans on Newmarket Road, Risby, on October 7, 2012. Mr Evans suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital the next day.

According to reports from Ipswich Star and Bury Free Press, Judge John Holt said the case was an “absolute tragedy”. He said he had read four victim impact statements and it was inadequate to describe Mr Evans’ family as “devastated”.

Prosecutor Robert Sadd said that Lumley-Holmes should have seen Mr Evans who was riding on a straight stretch of road on a dry, sunny day with clear visibility.

Mr Sadd said police accident investigators estimated Lumley-Holmes would have been able to see Mr Evans for 200m. If she was travelling at 30mph she would have had 11 seconds to see him. “This was not momentary inattention,” said Mr Sadd.

Mitigating, Michael Proctor said that Lumley-Holmes had no recollection of seeing Mr Evans before the accident. She was a vulnerable defendant who had suffered an abusive childhood, her teenage years in care and been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

As a result of the collision Lumley-Holmes had been “devastated and horrified” and suffered a form of post traumatic stress disorder.

He said she was an “exemplary citizen” who had raised £18,000 for charity and had volunteered at a local hospice.

Passing sentence, Judge Holt said: “You can’t explain what happened and I accept that, so precisely why you didn’t see Mr Evans will remain a mystery.”

He said that even accepting the view of her own expert Lumley-Holmes would have had a clear view of Mr Evans for 60m which meant that if she was driving at 30mph he would have been in her view for four-and-a half seconds. If she was driving at 40mph he would have been in her view for three-and-a half seconds.

Mr Evans’ family declined to comment on the sentence, but Lumley-Holmes said: “I would like to say how very sorry and devastated I am for the accident and tragic loss of Julian Evans and to say how sorry I am for the loss, hurt and suffering this has caused the family and those dear to him.

“I pray and hope that in the future the family can forgive me for their tragic loss.”

Lumley-Holmes was also ordered to do 200 hours community service and to attend a women’s emotional wellbeing course.

CTC Road Justice comment

Cycle campaign charity CTC said that this was another example of a court putting the impact on the perpetrator before that on the victim's family and handing down far too short a ban.

CTC campaigner Rhia Weston said: "Again we see far more emphasis in court on the impact of a fatal collision on the perpetrator of the collision than on the victims (i.e. the bereaved’s family).

"It doesn’t matter how charitable a person is, this does not affect their form of driving, therefore, although a suspended sentence is appropriate in this case, it should have been accompanied by a much longer driving ban and possibly a re-test."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

54 comments

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Oscarzero [24 posts] 2 years ago
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FFS! Totally lost for words.  102

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arfa [802 posts] 2 years ago
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Astounded. What on earth has a tough childhood got to do with ability to drive a vehicle safely ? She was unable to explain herself and it wasn't momentary inattention ?
At what point will the justice system send out a message to atrocious drivers ?

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lolol [202 posts] 2 years ago
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"I dont remember what happened"
"OK, fair enough, so lets just say dont do it again and thats that"

Our courts make me want to......

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Aidan [55 posts] 2 years ago
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Appaling sentence

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McDuff73 [78 posts] 2 years ago
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how about several years confined to a small room to think about what happened, instead of a slap on the wrist! utterly appalling.

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oozaveared [945 posts] 2 years ago
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"She was a vulnerable defendant who had suffered an abusive childhood, her teenage years in care and been diagnosed with a "personality disorder."

On her driving licence she would have had to have declared she was fit to drive and had no medical conditions that impaired her driving. One of these is specifically "personality disorder"

https://www.gov.uk/personality-disorder-and-driving

You must tell DVLA if you suffer from a personality disorder and it affects your driving.

So far from being some kind of mitigating factor in all this it is in fact an aggravating factor.

I assume that after the ban she will get her licence back. At that point a person with a personality disorder that means she can't be fully responsible for killing people by running them over and will now also have the added mental trauma of having killed someone whils driving will be free to drive again.

If she used the personality disorder in her defence then surely she should not be allowed to drive again until a doctor diagnoses her to be free of any disorder.

In my view she should have received a higher sentence for knowingly driving whilst impaired and for not disclosing that on her licence application.

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Ush [750 posts] 2 years ago
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The sooner we get google robot cars the better. Humans just are not very well suited to the task of piloting several thousand kilograms at high speeds without hitting into other humans.

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
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inattentional blindness. A recognised human failing. See also The Invisible Gorilla.

But what really nips my sack is the situation so perfectly summed up by the CTC rep

"Again we see far more emphasis in court on the impact of a fatal collision on the perpetrator of the collision than on the victims (i.e. the bereaved’s family)."

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Belaroo [44 posts] 2 years ago
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So in a year or so, she's back to driving. Thanks Justice System.

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Cyclic [38 posts] 2 years ago
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This all smacks of taking responsibility for your actions. If you have a licence but aren't fit to drive, then don't drive. To carry on when you know that you are unfit is criminal. To rake up her broken childhood is ridiculous. If she does it again, will the same excuse be used?

My condolences to the family of the cyclist. My utter disgust to the perpetrator of the collision who is seeking forgiveness for a CRIME that could have been avoided.

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Cyclic [38 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 Tom

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Chuck [566 posts] 2 years ago
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I think it's debatable whether or not jail is always appropriate in cases like this, but back behind the wheel in 12 months time?

That is appalling. Why are the courts so reluctant to take people's licences away from them?

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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Surely we should protect her from her own incompetence and not let her suffer any further post traumatic stress disorder in the future? A lifetime driving ban would be appropriate.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 2 years ago
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PS an acquaintance was banned from driving for a year for speeding. His lowest recent insurance quote was 8 grand. He cannot afford to drive now. Hopefully that will be the case with the woman above.

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cqexbesd [82 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Lumley-Holmes would have been able to see Mr Evans for 200m. If she was travelling at 30mph she would have had 11 seconds to see him.

Is it just my poor maths skills again or does that not add up? At 30mph (48km/h) it should take 15 seconds to cross the 200m distance - and during that time the cyclist will have moved forward another, say, 60 metres, so really we are talking 20 seconds or so.

I wonder how much sleep she had had (or if my maths is wrong how much I have had).

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Bez [602 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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Tom Amos wrote:

PS an acquaintance was banned from driving for a year for speeding. His lowest recent insurance quote was 8 grand. He cannot afford to drive now. Hopefully that will be the case with the woman above.

Which may well be the case, and I wonder if, being truly devastated, she would want to drive again? I don't believe a gaol sentence would really achieve anything, there simply is no intent.

However the courts have to man up and show that substandard driving is not acceptable, and that means life bans. No ifs, no buts, not 12 points and claiming hardship. If you break the rules, you are banned, no ifs no buts. If you want people to cycle and walk more you have to make people feel it is safe to do so. One way is to ensure that all road users look out for the more vulnerable users, and one way to do that is to properly punish transgressions.

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sfichele [141 posts] 2 years ago
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15-20 seconds and you didnt see the cyclist on a straight road in daylight, and you cant explain that, but the judge accepts it, and takes sympathy with the *killer*.
FFS once again our justice system is shown to be a joke.

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kie7077 [884 posts] 2 years ago
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Can't explain what happened? Ban her from driving until she can.

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andyspaceman [249 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the suspended sentence is fine - this clearly isn't a menace to society who intentionally or recklessly endangers people's lives.

However, I agree with the comments above around permanent bans. If there are people driving who are prone to not seeing clearly visible cyclists, pedestrians or other road users, and there are no known explanations for that, then they should not be allowed to have a driving license. Someone would not pass a driving test if they displayed that trait in front of an examiner as they are not able to ensure they can safely operate a vehicle.

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Bez [602 posts] 2 years ago
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CTC arguing for "a much longer driving ban and possibly a re-test"?

Baws.

You get found guilty of killing someone, you lose your licence and you don't get it back.

Why demand anything less? It's only a driving licence, it's not like you're demanding they have their legs taken away.

If someone's proven they can't drive without causing someone's death, they shouldn't be driving. If we could determine whether this was the case at the point of the driving test, we'd never give them a licence in the first place. So once we do find that it is the case, why do we just hand it back to then?

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anarchy [100 posts] 2 years ago
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No intent is irrelevant. This is death by careless/dangerous driving. She should be in jail. Reading about incidents like this makes me scared to ride a bike on the roads

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Bez [602 posts] 2 years ago
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"No intent is irrelevant."

Of course it's relevant.

Example A: Someone gets up from their chair in the lounge to go to the downstairs toilet and, whilst getting up, knocks over a candle onto the floor without noticing. By the time they return, the lounge and stairs are ablaze but they escape safely. Four people are trapped in the rooms upstairs and die.

Example B: Someone gets up from their chair in the lounge, leaves by the front door, lights a candle and drops it through the window onto the lounge floor before walking off. Four people are trapped in the rooms upstairs and die.

If intent is irrelevant, you must sentence those people equally.

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earth [311 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

He said she was an “exemplary citizen” who had raised £18,000 for charity and had volunteered at a local hospice.

Why should raising money for charity enable a person to get let off committing crime - accidental or purposeful?

Isn't that how Saville got away with it for so long?

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anarchy [100 posts] 2 years ago
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Bez, I'm not talking about a hypothetical situation, I'm talking about whether she should be in jail or not for her actions, and on that issue, intent is irrelevant

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earth [311 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Of course it's relevant.

Example A: Someone gets up from their chair in the lounge to go to the downstairs toilet and, whilst getting up, knocks over a candle onto the floor without noticing. By the time they return, the lounge and stairs are ablaze but they escape safely. Four people are trapped in the rooms upstairs and die.

Example B: Someone gets up from their chair in the lounge, leaves by the front door, lights a candle and drops it through the window onto the lounge floor before walking off. Four people are trapped in the rooms upstairs and die.

If intent is irrelevant, you must sentence those people equally.

Agreed, intent is relevant. The intentional arsonist is predisposed to doing it again.

In the case of the unintentional you have to ask 'Was the accident something they could have reasonably avoided if they changed some aspect of behavior'

In this case is there something fundamentally wrong with their ability at driving?

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Bez [602 posts] 2 years ago
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"Bez, I'm not talking about a hypothetical situation, I'm talking about whether she should be in jail or not for her actions, and on that issue, intent is irrelevant"

If your opinion is that she should be jailed for this non-intentional act then that's absolutely fine and coherent, there's nothing untenable about that view whatsoever.

But that's absolutely not the same thing as saying that intent is not relevant.

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oozaveared [945 posts] 2 years ago
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Bez wrote:

CTC arguing for "a much longer driving ban and possibly a re-test"?

Baws.

You get found guilty of killing someone, you lose your licence and you don't get it back.

Why demand anything less? It's only a driving licence, it's not like you're demanding they have their legs taken away.

If someone's proven they can't drive without causing someone's death, they shouldn't be driving. If we could determine whether this was the case at the point of the driving test, we'd never give them a licence in the first place. So once we do find that it is the case, why do we just hand it back to then?

I am posting above that she shouldn't get a licence back until this "personality disorder" she used as mitigation as to why she can't be held responsible is dealt with. That maybe never in her case.

and in general I think that a year is way too low for killing by careless or dangerous driving. I am thinking 5 - 10. Plus some other testing and training and with big hurdles.

There are some cases where a lifetime ban and maybe life imprisonment may be appropriate. And dangerous driving is one thing and careless driving another. But say a 21 year old kills someone while careless driving, I don't think it appropriate to have him/her banned for life. When they are 30 and after this they may be the safest most careful and considerate driver on the road ever.

I actually think it should be a long ban 5+ years (careless) or 10+ years (dangerous) but I also think that after that, the hurdles to getting a licence back need to be quite high. eg a permanent imposition of the terms that new drivers face of a 6 point maximum for 2 years after passing. I'd have that as a permanent imposition for drivers who have been convicted of killing either by careless or dangeous driving. So basically speed twice in 4 years and that's it. Or anything attracting 6 points. 1 instance of speeding a lot or due care. And that wo9uld be a one time deal.

Losing your licence once is bad. Twice and it's permanent.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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So the cyclist who jumped a red light and accidently GBH'd a young girl got a 12 month custodial sentence a few weeks back
http://road.cc/content/news/103569-12-months-jail-red-light-jumping-cycl...
And a motorist kills a cyclist get next to bugger all. AND what the hell has this to do with it.
"She was a vulnerable defendant who had suffered an abusive childhood, her teenage years in care and been diagnosed with a personality disorder".
Didn't stop her driving didn it.
Lost for words ....nearly

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antonio [1134 posts] 2 years ago
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WTF!!!!!

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