Jail for South Wales driver "blinded by sun" who killed cyclist

Michael Bisi admitted causing death of Paul Jones by careless driving - court hears of previous convictions

by John Stevenson   February 6, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A South Wales man who claimed he had been blinded by the sun has been jailed for a year for causing the death of a cyclist through careless driving in August last year, with the judge who sentenced him saying he had failed "to adjust to a natural, not uncommon, hazard."

Michael Bisi, aged 60 and a fitter from Ebbw Vale, was driving to work on the morning of 12 August 2013 when he knocked Paul Jones, also aged 60 and travelling to work, from his mountain bike.

Mr Jones, a grandfather of two from Markham, was run over by a Honda Civic that was following Bisi's vehicle and died of "blunt force injuries," reports the South Wales Argus.

The fatal incident happened on an uphill stretch of the A472 Hafodyrynys Road near Crumlin at 7.20 in the morning.

Cardiff Crown Court heard this week that both drivers stopped at the scene, but after 15 minutes Bisi, who according to a witness said at the scene, "I think I clipped him," resumed his journey to work.

He left a piece of paper on which he had written his name and telephone number - the former mis-spelt, the latter with a digit missing.

South Wales Police managed to trace Bisi but when they spoke to him that evening, he claimed he did not believe his vehicle had struck the cyclist, although he subsequently said he might have done due to marks on his car.

The prosecution said that defects to its lights and tyres meant that Bisi's car would not have passed an MOT.

Bisi pleaded guilty but in mitigation, Jeffrey Jones said that his client had been blinded by the sun for approximately 10 seconds and did not see Mr Jones.

It was an argument that Recorder Eleri Rees referred to when handing down his sentence to Bisi, and it was also disclosed that the motorist had five previous convictions for driving while disqualified and uninsured.

He had also been fined for illegally using a handheld mobile phone while driving, as well as for driving with defective tyres.

Judge Rees said: “Your decision to leave the scene is hard to understand. Regrettably, the impression given to the deceased’s family is that you were fleeing the scene and showed callous disregard for his welfare.

“You made no attempt to contact the police yourself.

“The family have been devastated by the death. No sentence will serve to reconcile them to this loss or adequately reflect their grief and anger.

“This was a serious failure to adjust to a natural, not uncommon, hazard of low sun. Given the width of the road, it is hard to understand why you failed to give Mr Jones a wide berth.

“You did stop, but then left without giving adequate details of your identity.

“Previous convictions for driving offences all point to a general disregard for road safety.”

Besides the 12-month prison sentence, Bisi was also banned from driving for two years and has to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

Causing death by careless driving carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, compared to 14 years for the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

The imposition of a custodial sentence on Bisi for that lesser offence of causing death by careless driving in a case in which a cyclist is the victim is relatively uncommon in the light of other cases we have reported on.

British Cycling and CTC, among other organisations, have been lobbying for the legal system to be more vigorous in investigating and prosecuting such cases, as well as in sentencing the guilty.

Road safety charity Brake has urged the government to abolish careless driving offences and instead bring them within a redefined heading of dangerous driving, a call echoed last week at a House of Commons debate by Leeds North West MP, Greg Mulholland.

 

30 user comments

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The sentence isn't strong enough. He has previous for driving whilst disqualified, no insurance etc. He fled the scene of an accident and tried to hide his identity by leaving incomplete details. He should be banned from driving for life and given the maximum prison sentence under the crime of of causing death by dangerous driving.

How many more innocent people have to die before we get real justice in our country?

To the family of Paul Jones, my thoughts and best wishes to you in this sad moment in your lives.

To the scumbag driver, I hope you rot in the deepest recesses of hell.

MikeOnABike's picture

posted by MikeOnABike [26 posts]
6th February 2014 - 0:53

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The sun again, eh? The poor gas ball is getting an awful lot of blame.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [273 posts]
6th February 2014 - 1:48

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At last someone on the bench has had enough of the excuse that basically says I could not be bothered to adjust my driving to accommodate the hazardous conditions.

It still lacks any detail on the charges which should have been laid against the following driver who must have been travelling far to closely behind, in order to fail to stop before inflicting the fatal injuries.

But let's forget any fiddling around with the causing death by (XX) categories. Bring the killing with a motor vehicle in line with killing with any other tool, be it a killing machine like a gun, or a dangerous item like a chain saw. Two categories - with intent - its murder, and involuntary - manslaughter. This would greatly simplify the position and avoid the harrowing position for the victim's family as CPS miss the mark in opting for the lesser charges of careless against dangerous driving

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

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
6th February 2014 - 2:39

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Blinded by the sun???????
Dont you mean blinded by the truth, you oxygen thief!!

posted by Rouboy [63 posts]
6th February 2014 - 6:30

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Maybe if there had been proper sanction for the previous offences...

posted by levermonkey [356 posts]
6th February 2014 - 7:31

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From his previous convictions it showed his complete disregard for road regulations and other users.

Getting one year sentence, probably out in less than six months makes a mockery of the death.

A ban for two years when showing he's happy to drive while disqualified is pointless, and a £120 would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

posted by Nevans [12 posts]
6th February 2014 - 9:22

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Sorry I have to ask WTF was he still in possession of a licence at all!

5 previous convictions for driving no licence or insurance. Sorry he should have been gaoled long ago for those. Why has someone had to die to see him goto gaol?

And to top it off a 2 year ban from driving! should have been stripped of his licence with no opportunity to get it back. He has shown no regard for the rules of the road.

As for the sentence, what does it matter, someone is dead. I will agree that a 1 year sentence is not much of a punishment for killing someone, and leaving the scene, and leaving false details... but as I said it doesn't bring back the victim.

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posted by mrmo [1064 posts]
6th February 2014 - 9:45

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Why should he ever be allowed to drive again? He has clearly shown he is not responsible enough to be in charge of a vehicle.

posted by kitkat [197 posts]
6th February 2014 - 10:02

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A V Lowe wrote:
At last someone on the bench has had enough of the excuse that basically says I could not be bothered to adjust my driving to accommodate the hazardous conditions.

While of course there are exceptions which prove every rule, I doubt that presiding judges commonly have much patience with the "sun in my eyes" excuse. What they perhaps lack is the willingness to be forthright in guiding the jury to treat that as the bullshit it is, that they should have adapted to the conditions. That in turn may be because they fear that they may thus create grounds for appeal in over-directing the jury. Of course it might be better for justice if they took the chance that some of their cases were subsequently acquitted on appeal but no doubt the bean-counters would be giving them a hard time about the cost of that.

The real problem is that, whatever they might say, the jurors, as probably mainly drivers themselves, know in their hearts that they could easily commit the same offence and indeed probably have nearly done so many times but so far, luckily, not quite. They cringe from confronting their own demons and convince themselves that this is not a crime, after all the defendant is of good character and has not previously re-offended and volunteers to drive the minibus for the scouts or the disabled yada yada yada .

Bisi, had he not pleaded guilty and assuming that his pattern of behaviour was admissible in evidence (is it?) would have been easier to convict because most jurors don't actually have a string of convictions for driving without insurance or with defective tyres etc so they can't relate to him personally, any more than they likely could to a crack dealer.

posted by Paul M [307 posts]
6th February 2014 - 10:26

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It shows how low my expectations have fallen with our legal system that I actually think this is a decent result. I think it's the first time I've heard "the sun" rebuked as a valid reason for killing someone.

I'm sure on reflection I'll consider the sentence too short etc, but I'm still a little stunned that a judge has actually seen through the defence and sent someone to jail !

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
6th February 2014 - 10:27

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Wow. A year. Which in fact means 6 months, in an open prison and he will most likely get home leave on weekends as well. This is how we punish manslaughter in this country?. Oh no I forgot, it's not a violent crime if you use a van.

posted by MKultra [208 posts]
6th February 2014 - 10:28

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I hope the victim's family can get some closure now.

Seeing the long catalogue of road offences, 2 years off the road is NOWHERE NEAR long enough for a persistent offender who has "a general disregard for road safety". If I lived in the same area as him I'd want it to be a great deal longer.

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posted by Simon E [1940 posts]
6th February 2014 - 10:30

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"A general disregard for road safety?"

From the courts, yeah. Don't worry, I'm sure he'll be safe after two years.

posted by nuclear coffee [139 posts]
6th February 2014 - 11:11

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Yet again absolutely shocking sentence. What more can one say.

And this; "...No sentence will serve to reconcile them to this loss or adequately reflect their grief and anger...." really pisses me off. I am sick of reading it. Judges say it on auto-pilot but its wrong.

Victims need some closure that is fair and just. While sentencing the guy to 10 years (what he should have got in my opinion for Death by Dangerous Driving) will never ever bring their loved one back it would act as a catalyst to the healing process. Its when the sentence is a joke that the catalyst doesn't often start the process.

An while I'm on me soap box, if you get 10 years for a crime you serve 10 years and not a day less. You get out *on time* for good behaviour and you dont have your sentence reduced by 60% for early guilty pleas and good behaviour. The British Justice System is a fucking joke.

This guy will serve about 4 - 5 months before he is eligible for release on licence.

posted by Critchio [106 posts]
6th February 2014 - 11:39

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Most struck by the meagre 2 year ban, myself. I don't fancy sharing this guy's commute route at all.

posted by vbvb [231 posts]
6th February 2014 - 12:02

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MikeOnABike wrote:
The sentence isn't strong enough. He has previous for driving whilst disqualified, no insurance etc. He fled the scene of an accident and tried to hide his identity by leaving incomplete details. He should be banned from driving for life and given the maximum prison sentence under the crime of of causing death by dangerous driving.

How many more innocent people have to die before we get real justice in our country?

To the family of Paul Jones, my thoughts and best wishes to you in this sad moment in your lives.

To the scumbag driver, I hope you rot in the deepest recesses of hell.

Actually with his record it is hard to understand why he had a driving licence ever returned. I am not being a Nazi about this either. Causing death by careless or dangerous driving ought to have you off the roads for 5 - 10 years on a first offence. But if like this fellah you have simply been driving round uninsured in an unsafe vehicle and have multiple priors I don't think you should ever get you licence back. I'll caveat that. It should be 20 or more years. It may be that some 20 something can be reformed but why the hell just 2 years for a 60 year old. It's not like he's going to get any better as a driver or a person.

Ok so this Magistrate has done better than most within the rules. He has rules and if he goes too far within them then he leaves grounds for appeal. But the rules need changing.

A few nights ago saw a TV car chase on something called interceptors which my 16 year old was watching. Guy in a white van doing 80 through residential areas wrong side of the road on the pavement up foot paths I mean seriously dangerous. Eventually clips another vehicle which spins round and rolls over. The van ploughs over the pavement through a hedge and ends up in someones's garden after hitting another car.

Penalty was a few hundred pounds and a 15 month ban, The van was stolen, so no insurance.

for crying out loud.

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

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
6th February 2014 - 12:36

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Critchio wrote:
An while I'm on me soap box, if you get 10 years for a crime you serve 10 years and not a day less. You get out *on time* for good behaviour
Shaky soapbox, I think. The court is well aware of how the license release thing works and if they wanted him to serve 10 years inside, he'd get given an 18 or 20 year term. The license part of the term has value too. People do get sent back inside. If you would argue for longer terms, that's a different point.

posted by vbvb [231 posts]
6th February 2014 - 12:38

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At least it's an actual conviction.

Though, with all those aggravating circumstances and a long history of documented highly dangerous driving, the sentencing is far too lax.

And that £120 fine is simply ridiculous, how could that ever be seen as any sort of deterrent?

posted by jacknorell [336 posts]
6th February 2014 - 12:43

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Critchio wrote:
Yet again absolutely shocking sentence. What more can one say.

And this; "...No sentence will serve to reconcile them to this loss or adequately reflect their grief and anger...." really pisses me off. I am sick of reading it. Judges say it on auto-pilot but its wrong.

Victims need some closure that is fair and just. While sentencing the guy to 10 years (what he should have got in my opinion for Death by Dangerous Driving) will never ever bring their loved one back it would act as a catalyst to the healing process. Its when the sentence is a joke that the catalyst doesn't often start the process.

An while I'm on me soap box, if you get 10 years for a crime you serve 10 years and not a day less. You get out *on time* for good behaviour and you dont have your sentence reduced by 60% for early guilty pleas and good behaviour. The British Justice System is a fucking joke.

This guy will serve about 4 - 5 months before he is eligible for release on licence.

The magistrates and judges sometimes are the culprits but insofar as sentencing is concerned they can't just dio what they want. There are sentencing guidelines for eash offence and they are quite detailed. Thay have a starting point for the offence and then you mive up or down the scale of options depending on mitigating or aggravating factors. They have some wiggle room within that but they have to be able to explain their judgement in reference to the facts of the case and the sentencing guidelines.

If the guidlines said that the starting point for causing death by Dangerous Driving was a 5 year ban plus a band 5 fine. Then in this case you'd have seen it going upwards from there because of all the aggravating factors. Leaving the scene, leaving poor info, attempt to deny, prior convictions and bans.

It is the sentencing guidelines that need our attention.

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

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
6th February 2014 - 12:44

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jacknorell wrote:
At least it's an actual conviction.

And that £120 fine is simply ridiculous, how could that ever be seen as any sort of deterrent?

Yes indeed. He saved £120 on not getting new tyres.

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

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
6th February 2014 - 12:46

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The driver was held accountable for not adjusting to the conditions - makes a change from the norm.
One year jail - better than most cases, but not long enough.
Two years driving ban with that previous record - absolutely ridiculous.
I can hardly imagine the pain the family are going through. To hear the callous attitude of that driver and his previous history of driving offences after losing a loved one...

posted by BikeBud [99 posts]
6th February 2014 - 13:16

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Whats the difference between this guys behaviour and the coach drivers who was found not guilty of the same last week?

posted by McDuff73 [46 posts]
6th February 2014 - 13:38

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The problem is that he most likely just lied about being blinded by the sun. Seemingly that ten seconds of blindness just happened to coincide with him running a man down. If I were the chaps family I would ask someone to check the scene out, find the exact spot where he was struck and figure out where the sun should have been in the sky at that exact day and time in clear weather conditions as I bet a pound to a penny the guy just made that bit up.

posted by MKultra [208 posts]
6th February 2014 - 13:56

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MKultra wrote:
The problem is that he most likely just lied about being blinded by the sun. Seemingly that ten seconds of blindness just happened to coincide with him running a man down. If I were the chaps family I would ask someone to check the scene out, find the exact spot where he was struck and figure out where the sun should have been in the sky at that exact day and time in clear weather conditions as I bet a pound to a penny the guy just made that bit up.

[[[[[ MKultra--- Methinks you keep your quid and win the penny! Surely impossible to "drive blind for 10 seconds". Unless, of course, blind drunk or blind texting....a scandalous outcome to the case.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [276 posts]
6th February 2014 - 16:35

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mrmo wrote:
Sorry I have to ask WTF was he still in possession of a licence at all!

5 previous convictions for driving no licence or insurance. Sorry he should have been gaoled long ago for those. Why has someone had to die to see him goto gaol?

And to top it off a 2 year ban from driving! should have been stripped of his licence with no opportunity to get it back. He has shown no regard for the rules of the road.

As for the sentence, what does it matter, someone is dead. I will agree that a 1 year sentence is not much of a punishment for killing someone, and leaving the scene, and leaving false details... but as I said it doesn't bring back the victim.

But who is he going to kill next when he is back driving again?

1. I don't see why it is socially acceptable to kill someone with a car and it not be seen as manslaughter or murder.
2. Drivers licenses should last for a length of time, five years for instance, before the license has to be renewed and a test taken again.

posted by earth [71 posts]
6th February 2014 - 18:07

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McDuff73 wrote:
Whats the difference between this guys behaviour and the coach drivers who was found not guilty of the same last week?

The only difference I can see, is the mini-bus driver found not guilty last week pleaded “not guilty”, so it was a jury that decided driving whilst not able to see where you are going is an excuse for killing some one.

In this case the driver pleaded guilty and tried to use the “blinded by the sun” in mitigation and the judge was sensible in regarding it as not a valid excuse.

As someone has already mentioned, I think in cases where a driver that pleads not guilty the judge should direct the jury on that “Sun in eyes” shouldn’t be regarded as a defence. Even more, the prosecuting Barrister should spell it out very clearly to a jury that “Sun in eyes” means driving without seeing where you are going, so is reckless (not even “just” careless) .

posted by Pete B [11 posts]
6th February 2014 - 19:01

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McDuff73 wrote:
Whats the difference between this guys behaviour and the coach drivers who was found not guilty of the same last week?

None, except this killer lacked the barefaced cheek of the other killer, so got a naughty boy slapped wrist and has to wait two years before he can put peoples' lives at risk again (assuming he doesn't just ignore the ban, like most of them).

posted by oldstrath [143 posts]
6th February 2014 - 19:10

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" Lawyer said that his client had been blinded by the sun for approximately 10 seconds "! Of yeah ?

NOT AGAIN ? SSDD ! How many of the Judiciary are being TAKEN IN by this poor excuse ? Suits them to continue thinking of themselves , driving in a dozy manner ?

Take a " LIKE " to :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vision-ZERO-Worldwide/540123632761709

Another variation on the " Coward Pass " ! Leave the scene hoping that someone will not notice that you have written incorrect details ! Oops , i made a nervous mistake ? Not quite myself , at moment !

Seems like 1 year is a TRAVERSTY and should be APPEALED ! CPS can take the easy option and say " Not in Public Interest ", forgetting that CYCLISTS are Public !

My POV , find a desert island and leave him with bread & water , for long enough to grow some potatoes , seems fair,since he abandoned the CYCLIST , Paul Jones' body in the road ?

"COWARD PASS ( hit & run )" seems to be increasingly encouraged by the Judiciary with these pitiful custodial sentences ! All it would have needed , was a complacent Cop and " bisi " would have got off " scot free "?

Cameron does " photo ops " with a helmet dangling from the handlebars , to show he is a Man of the People . No doubt he is a busy man , bUT , if it was HIS Family , you can bet on nO LACK of influence ! Goes for ALL those OTHER MPs who backed " Cities fit for Cycling " , back in the Day ! Mouthing off , but , how many on Saturday , will be at ‘Cycling Planning Disasters’ tour run by https://www.facebook.com/groups/stopkillingcyclists/1406052489645659/

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [383 posts]
7th February 2014 - 9:40

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The length of the custodial sentence I can live with. It's too short but then it costs all of us a fortune to keep knobbers like this at her Maj's pleasure.

Length of the ban is a complete joke though. Anyone who has shown such disregard for the rules of the road and the lives of other road users on repeated occasions should not be allowed to drive ever again. Problem is that in this country driving is seen as a right, rather than a privilege. It is going to take a long time to change that cultural mindset.

posted by Bhachgen [86 posts]
7th February 2014 - 17:38

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How many more cyclists are going to be killed by motorists who do not take take enough care and attention whilst driving??

I know there are some cyclists who don't abide by the rules of the road but there are so many more careless drivers who have an unnecessary hatred for cyclists...

I was knocked off my bike a few months ago when going round a roundabout. I was in the right lane indicating correctly, other motorists stopped at the roundabout while i was making my way around it, but one motorist obviously didn't see me and drove out onto the roundabout at speed and knocked me off.

Its just careless driving by motorists and will end in more and more cyclists being harmed or even killed.

Personally, there should be strict fines/sentences for these types of incidents as numbers of cyclists being knocked off are not likely to decrease until motorists acknowledge how serious it is.

posted by mikefreer [17 posts]
7th February 2014 - 23:17

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