Suspended sentence and 12 month ban for driver who killed Suffolk cyclist

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

by John Stevenson   January 10, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

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."

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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?

posted by earth [68 posts]
10th January 2014 - 17:26

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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.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [370 posts]
10th January 2014 - 17:32

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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.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
10th January 2014 - 17:43

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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

posted by Guyz2010 [281 posts]
10th January 2014 - 17:54

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WTF!!!!!

antonio

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posted by antonio [937 posts]
10th January 2014 - 19:19

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Bez wrote:
"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.


TBF, we don't know that she killed the victim unintentionally. She has offered no explaination.

posted by Sara_H [53 posts]
10th January 2014 - 19:59

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we should not condemn the attempts of her legal team to mitigate her case. that is their job. there is a saying amongst barristers:

There's no such thing as justice, there's just us.

What an appallingly lenient sentence, sending all the wrong messages. petrol heads will no doubt rejoice in glee.

posted by philtregear [72 posts]
10th January 2014 - 22:13

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Oozaveared: interesting thoughts; I like the cut of your jib.

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posted by Bez [370 posts]
10th January 2014 - 22:14

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"Prosecutor Robert Sadd said that she should have seen Mr Evans who was cycling on a straight stretch of road on a dry, sunny day with clear visibility.

“Anyone could and should have seen the cyclist. There is no explanation other than it was driving in such a way that led to his death.”

After the impact which shattered the windscreen of the car Lumley-Holmes did not stop for another 90 metres and no explanation had been given as to why, said Mr Sadd."

http://www.buryfreepress.co.uk/news/local/latest-news/woman-receives-sus...

I don't know this lady and I wasn't in court so I have no basis to doubt that the accident was unintentional but she should not be allowed to drive ever again until there is a satisfactory explanation of the part she played in this tragic accident.

To the family and friends of Mr Evans, my thoughts are with you today. This outcome must be very hard to bear.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
10th January 2014 - 22:35

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"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."

WTF... Surprise

NO MITIGATION... Those items have absolutelu NOTHING to do with the incident...

posted by Paul_C [157 posts]
10th January 2014 - 22:50

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Possibly a re-test, is it, CTC? I think you are too mild for your role, pehaps a bit too comfortable in it to be rocking the boat?

If I were a CTC member, I'd be diverting my cash to the likes of the Stop The Killing campaign with their excellent "subvertising".

posted by vbvb [225 posts]
11th January 2014 - 0:05

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Travelled 90 metres with the windscreen smashed by the impact of the victim - 90 metres FFS.

How many emergency stops from 30mph is that? Well its almost 4 emergency stops from 30mph (23m) and nearly 3 from 40mph (36m). Did she have a big problem deciding which pedal to press? Or was it havering on a decision of whether to step on the gas and do a runner? Or did she realise that someone had seen the crash and so had better stop? Quite clearly we will only get one view on this.

A 1 year ban is ridiculous, if someone with such mental issues slipped through the net and shot their victim with a firearm - even without the intent of harming their victim, you can be damn sure that that person would not get another firearms licence, and there would be questions about how that person got the licence in the first place.

Perhaps it is the time, when the driving test is being reviewed, that, just as a motorcycle licence has a compulsory element of basic training in motorcycle handling, the driving test should require candidates to have taken and passed Bikeability Level 3, which for many younger candidates could have been taken at school with 4 or more years cycling experience, and practical appreciation of road signs, traffic law etc, before they get behind the wheel of a car - far more relevant and effective than a multiple choice theory test, which can often be passed by intensive rote learning.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [471 posts]
11th January 2014 - 4:14

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cqexbesd wrote:
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).

Yeah, I make it 15 seconds. But it also surely depends on the speed of the victim, and hence the _relative_ speed, as she hit him from behind. Was he stationary at the time?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [644 posts]
11th January 2014 - 8:49

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I can't figure out exactly what I feel about these cases. Because I don't want to be vengeful and demand very long sentences for perpetrators.

But the alternative (which is what we actually have) is that its just taken as an unfortunate 'given' that cyclists, like this poor man, can at any time be violently killed through no fault of their own, and its just 'one of those things' and no strong culpability can be attached to those responsible.

I think the problem is that these tragedies don't just occur because of the mistakes of the drivers, they are socially and politically caused, and the responsibility lies with those who design awful roads, and a society that has contrived to make driving almost compulsory and hence made it into a 'right' rather than the privilege it really should be.

At the very least, however, the courts need to be much more ruthless about imposing driving bans, regardless of people's claims about how much they 'need' to drive. You kill someone through your error, you never drive again.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [644 posts]
11th January 2014 - 9:00

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I volunteer in my local community, I've raised money for charity. Am I allowed a stay out of jail free card if I find myself stamping on a few kittens or worse. I promise to say I don't remember doing it & I'm very sorry.

posted by Shouldbeinbed [27 posts]
11th January 2014 - 11:35

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I just did the math on the stop as well, it takes 6.71 seconds to go 90meters at 30mph it would take longer with stopping taken in to account, unless she was driving crazy fast.

Why can't she account for not seeing him for 14.91 seconds and why did she not stop with a shattered windscreen for 7+ seconds.

She should be in prison, I'm thinking from the science and the lack of forthcoming that she may have done this WITH intent. Did this case even have anyone acting as prosecution - what were they doing?

Next time your driving, think about how scary it would be to not look at the road ahead for 5 seconds, let alone 15seconds.

Does anyone know the stretch of road in question? If I were the victims family then I would probably be appealing this sentence.

posted by kie7077 [435 posts]
11th January 2014 - 12:15

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kie7077 wrote:
I just did the math....

THE MATHS

posted by dreamlx10 [136 posts]
11th January 2014 - 12:24

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Shouldbeinbed wrote:
I volunteer in my local community, I've raised money for charity. Am I allowed a stay out of jail free card if I find myself stamping on a few kittens or worse. I promise to say I don't remember doing it & I'm very sorry.

Go murder someone, you've earned it.

posted by kie7077 [435 posts]
11th January 2014 - 12:25

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Here's the CPS sentencing guidelines... http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/causing_death_by_ca...

There have not been applied in several regards. E.g. the mimimum mandatory disqualification is 12 months. The community order is appropriate only for cases arising from momentary inattention, which is clearly not the case here as the court heard.

As pointed out above, the aggravating factor of driving other than in accordance with the terms of a valid driving licence, specifically with an undeclared personality disorder, has been successfully presented as a mitigating factor.

The sentence is clearly unduly lenient, and can and should be appealed within 28 days as detailed here... http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/unduly_lenient_sentences/#a01

posted by Malaconotus [39 posts]
11th January 2014 - 13:38

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She was obviously not "driving" at the time or the cyclist would have been seen.

Another justice fail.

Should be a lifetime ban. At Wits End

TDL

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posted by tourdelound [80 posts]
11th January 2014 - 13:56

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I bet this guy wishes he'd done a bit more charity work now.

http://road.cc/content/news/103569-12-months-jail-red-light-jumping-cycl...

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posted by Housecathst [46 posts]
11th January 2014 - 17:06

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Just occurred to me, to wonder how this would have gone if the _victim_ had been the one with a psychological issue? What's the betting that _also_ would be regarded as a mitigating factor for the driver?

"Well, he shouldn't have been cycling on the road if he wasn't in perfect mental health"

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [644 posts]
11th January 2014 - 18:30

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Bez wrote:
"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.

Personally, from the point-of-view of morality if not existing law, I don't think intent is necessarily very important at all in every case. For example, I'm one who doesn't think "I didn't mean to cause offense" is necessarily a valid defence when someone has said something racist, say.

Being casually reckless can be no better than doing something deliberately, as far as I'm concerned. There comes a point where you damn well _should_ know better.

The difficulty occurs when that casual recklessness is characteristic of a large group and is socially regarded as normal. As, for example, drunk-driving once was.

In those cases, members of that group will think the distinction over intent is important, while those NOT part of that group will see it as besides the point, because the group as a whole have collectively _decided_ not to be more careful.
(That's what often happens with the "didn't mean to cause offense" thing with regard to many groups).

I believe drivers, as a group, have normalised not being careful with the lives of others. But I don't see that non-drivers have to accept that as an excuse.

Your example could be one of those cases, if the candle-tipper was a member of a group who were regularly prone to be careless with the lives of members of the group who formed the victims.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [644 posts]
11th January 2014 - 18:51

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The courts are a fucking joke. Yet another stupidly lenient sentence from an idiot judge. The slaughter continues.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [223 posts]
12th January 2014 - 12:11

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Nearly 7000 individuals lobbied for Mc Court retrial (Audrey Fyfe), so anyone care to put up a petition for this one?

Just wondering

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [471 posts]
12th January 2014 - 12:53

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Reply to kie7077
You can learn a lot about the road where this collision took place simply by opening either Google Maps or Google Earth, and then opening Streetview to give you ground level pictures which you can rotate around. Useful info will include the typical visibility (500 metres +), the location of the side roads from Cavenham and Burthorpe, Gowing Auto Salvage, the extent of the 70 MPH speed limit and the following 40 MPH limit, the weigh scales, the four trees in a row and other useful landmarks.

Regarding the 30 MPH figure was this used to suggest a possible visibility time, or was it a red herring to dupe the court (and yourself) in to thinking the speed was only 30 MPH ? I could not find where it actually stated that the speed of the car was only 30 MPH. We should all remember that the press only reports a fraction of the court proceedings. A review of the accident reports of any of these fatalities and the court proceedings I am sure would be very revealing.

posted by Denis B [8 posts]
12th January 2014 - 19:12

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A is an accident, B is a deliberate act.

What about C, negligence?

posted by FourMinuteSmiler [3 posts]
13th January 2014 - 0:34

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I guess that's here:
http://goo.gl/maps/b1ofH

She could have easily been doing 50mph down that road, which would change the times in seconds moving to about 40% less... She would have had 9 seconds at that speed to see him. She wouldn't have stopped for 4 seconds instead of 7 seconds.

posted by kie7077 [435 posts]
13th January 2014 - 2:00

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she should have got a much longer ban, maybe even lifelong ban, if not lifelong ban then at least a training course or re-test (reapply for license)

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [116 posts]
14th January 2014 - 14:07

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so sorry

posted by coolzy [1 posts]
15th January 2014 - 21:05

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