Drunk driver who broke cyclist’s leg escapes jail

Suspended sentence for "remorseful" driver

by John Stevenson   February 13, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A driver who hit a cyclist and broke his leg while over three times the alcohol limit has been handed a suspended sentence and banned for four years.

According to The Cornish Guardian, Anthony Cavell, 58, was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail, suspended for a year at Bodmin Magistrates' Court. Handing down the penalty, chairman of the bench Dr Judy Hultgren said that that despite a very high reading,  and a similar conviction in 2011, they were not jailing him because he had shown remorse and a commitment to addressing his alcohol problems.

The court also took into account Cavell’s role in caring for his adult daughter, who has learning difficulties.

Cavell had admitted drink-driving and was ordered to undergo six months' alcohol treatment, and pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge. As a high-risk offender he was told he would also have to satisfy the DVLA of his fitness to drive before his licence would be returned.

Anita Kennett, prosecuting, said Cavell was found to have 123 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath after he knocked down the cyclist on January 7. The limit is 35mcg.

John Fletcher, mitigating, said Cavell was very ashamed about the accident and thought about the cyclist every day. He had wanted to contact him but had been advised by the police not to do so due to the court case.

Following his retirement two years ago due to diabetes he had suffered with depression and had been "self-medicating" with alcohol. Since the accident, however, he had not touched alcohol and had attended appointments with Addaction.

29 user comments

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Sorry b******s has he shown any remorse, and b*******s is he going to do anything about his drink problem.

Say the right thing, a few sob stories a realisation that he might go to gaol. Poor driver it really wasn't his fault he had a few drinks didn't realise he was over the limit, the cyclist jumped out of nowhere, there was nothing he could do etc. Sorry it is all b******s.

As said he ahs previous, so why should we believe a word of his that this won't happen again.

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posted by mrmo [1075 posts]
13th February 2014 - 14:30

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Question 1
Complete the sequence

1 - 3 - 5 - 7 - 9 - ?

Question 2
Complete the sequence

a Banned in 2011 for drink driving. Given his licence back.

b Ran someone over in 2013 and broke their leg whilst Drink Driving. Given his licence back.

c ?

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

posted by oozaveared [574 posts]
13th February 2014 - 14:44

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Complete joke, he's self medicating depression by drinking alcohol FFS how's that going to fix you Angry Angry

Also. more importantly, how the hell does he care for his daughter, who has sadly got learning difficulties, when he is pissed !!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2714 posts]
13th February 2014 - 14:57

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We may not like it but the sentence is just about spot on. It is custody, reflecting the seriousness of the offences, but suspended with with an Alcohol treatment condition, reflecting his personal circumstances and his drink problem. These are quite onerous and breach will often lead to the sentence being activated. Disqualified from driving for 4 years and he has to reapply for his licence from dvla and satisfy them regarding his fitness. So he is off the roads. For quite a long time. All in all, probably the right balance of punishment and rehabilitation.

bobinski

posted by bobinski [114 posts]
13th February 2014 - 14:59

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stumps wrote:
Complete joke, he's self medicating depression by drinking alcohol FFS how's that going to fix you Angry Angry

"self medicating" is in quotes for a reason.

stumps wrote:

Also. more importantly, how the hell does he care for his daughter, who has sadly got learning difficulties, when he is pissed !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lots of alcoholics function reasonably well in large parts of their life.

If this guy is an alcoholic with depression then locking him up isn't going to cure him and it's going to eff up his daughter if he's looking after her.

Obviously he has serious problems which are unlikely to disappear and a high chance of re-offending. Should be a life ban with the occasional visit from the local constabulary to make sure that he has nothing but a bicycle at the house. But none of the above is going to happen so it's easier to paint him as a demon.

posted by Ush [390 posts]
13th February 2014 - 15:00

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"they were not jailing him because he had shown remorse and a commitment to addressing his alcohol problems".

Oh dear I'm really sorry I ran over that cyclist whilst I was pissed up and 365% over the legal limit. I knew I was drunk driving but I'm a carer for my poor daughter oh and I lost my job 18 months ago, and my wfie left me, my dog died too 5 years ago, then my son decided he was going to have gender reassignment which upset me, My mum left me on a doorstep as a child and my father abused me and on top of all then I got to pay the bedroom tax.
Honesty doesn't pay...

posted by Guyz2010 [284 posts]
13th February 2014 - 15:11

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Injure or kill a cyclist and the law slaps your hand, they wonder why people fear of cycling on UK roads, if I was killed by a similar driver where is my wifes justice?

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posted by Leodis [196 posts]
13th February 2014 - 15:38

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Ush mate, sorry but i disagree. I've had depression, its not pleasant and anyone who does get it has my sympathies but drinking more alcohol isn't the way to go about it.

There are loads of places where you can go for help and any GP will say drinking wont help.

He blew 123 on the camic. I have only ever seen once person higher than that and they blew 138, they could hardly walk or talk.

Your right about alcoholics being able to function normally, but, daft as it seems, very few get drunk - they stay in a state whereby each day they just top up whats in their system.

I try my best to back up the courts etc because a lot of people dont know what goes on but this is daft. Imagine he has his daughter in the car with him and she died or the cyclist died from the collision people on here would be shouting out for a custodial sentence and rightly so and as with other articles on the forum - is this dangerous or careless ?

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2714 posts]
13th February 2014 - 15:44

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bobinski wrote:
We may not like it but the sentence is just about spot on. It is custody, reflecting the seriousness of the offences, but suspended with with an Alcohol treatment condition, reflecting his personal circumstances and his drink problem. These are quite onerous and breach will often lead to the sentence being activated. Disqualified from driving for 4 years and he has to reapply for his licence from dvla and satisfy them regarding his fitness. So he is off the roads. For quite a long time. All in all, probably the right balance of punishment and rehabilitation.

This seems dangerously rational and civilised. I hope didn't think about this before you wrote it. That's just not what we do on the internet you know.

Now, away with your book-learning, this wicker man won't build itself.

posted by sponican [64 posts]
13th February 2014 - 15:49

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sponican wrote:
bobinski wrote:
We may not like it but the sentence is just about spot on. It is custody, reflecting the seriousness of the offences, but suspended with with an Alcohol treatment condition, reflecting his personal circumstances and his drink problem. These are quite onerous and breach will often lead to the sentence being activated. Disqualified from driving for 4 years and he has to reapply for his licence from dvla and satisfy them regarding his fitness. So he is off the roads. For quite a long time. All in all, probably the right balance of punishment and rehabilitation.

This seems dangerously rational and civilised. I hope didn't think about this before you wrote it. That's just not what we do on the internet you know.

Now, away with your book-learning, this wicker man won't build itself.

Nope. Really don't agree. This is not a case of an irrational internet lynch mob. Even with the most extenuating personal circumstances in the world, the message with this verdict is that drink driving and causing serious injury is not a serious crime so expect lenient punishment.

The need for proper punishment and justice for the victim - and for justice to be seen to happen - is greater than the considerations that could be made to the individual's personal circumstances.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
13th February 2014 - 16:30

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Curious side note: The victim was a walking, a pedestrian, at the time of the incident. Still gets labelled as a cyclist, though. Not quite sure what to make of it, but there you go.

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:04

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I hope the cyclist takes a civil case against the driver and gets awarded a substantial wodge of compensation. Which would ideally be paid out promptly by the driver's insurance, who would then try to recover some of the money from the motorist on the basis that his insurance doesn't absolve him from all liability for his actions - they weren't insuring him to drive drunk. That, I think, is what would probably happen here in Germany, anyway - I'd be interested to know more about how this works in the UK (insurance companies chasing their customers for money when the customers have acted even more negliently than their insurance covers them for.)

I could see some merit in custodial sentences in cases like this one, but in a way I think the deterrent effect from seeing drunk drivers financially ruined (and/or off the road for a very long time) might be greater than the deterrent effect from custodial sentences. When people see other people going to jail, they tend to think of them as criminals who deserve their punishment. They don't identify with them and wonder if they have ever been equally stupid or negligent themselves. Seeing somebody being ruined financially as a result of breathtaking levels of carelessness or stupidity might be more likely to make others question their own behaviour.

There has to be a half-way point between spending a fortune on locking people up and letting them away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

posted by bambergbike [84 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:05

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What's wrong with this, and so many other sentences, is the message it sends out to the public. Anyone reading a crop of court reports, and concentrating on the headlines, would assume that a cyclist or pedestrian must be a lower form of life, worth less than the convenience and comfort of the guilty driver. The fact that most magistrates, judges and jurors are also motorists probably colours their thinking. After all, it could happen to any one them too, couldn't it?
The same indulgent attitude allows drivers with 40+ points on their licence to continue behind the wheel, despite the overwhelming evidence of their incompetence.

But we should not be surprised by all of this. Society as a whole has drifted towards an overblown sense of entitlement coupled with a growing reluctance to assume responsibility for anything we do. It's rapidly becoming the state's job to fix our every problem and to provide a comfortable life for all. I guess it will get worse before it gets better.

Mike

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posted by mike the bike [128 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:07

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bobinski wrote:
We may not like it but the sentence is just about spot on. It is custody, reflecting the seriousness of the offences, but suspended with with an Alcohol treatment condition, reflecting his personal circumstances and his drink problem. These are quite onerous and breach will often lead to the sentence being activated. Disqualified from driving for 4 years and he has to reapply for his licence from dvla and satisfy them regarding his fitness. So he is off the roads. For quite a long time. All in all, probably the right balance of punishment and rehabilitation.

Leaving aside my immediate reaction (general lines of handing him vital parts on a plate) I suppose you are right about not immediately locking him up. I'm not sure leaving his daughter with him seems clever, but I suppose someone is looking at this. Have to say I hope he gets sued for any pennies he may have left , but mainly I cannot understand how any other than a life ban from driving can be sensible. He has proved, twice, that he cannot be trusted not to drive drunk - cannot see why he should ever be trusted to do so.

posted by oldstrath [146 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:15

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stumps wrote:
Ush mate, sorry but i disagree. I've had depression, its not pleasant and anyone who does get it has my sympathies but drinking more alcohol isn't the way to go about it.

I agree. As I read it the use of quotes around the phrase "self medicating" is a way of calling its underlying premise (that it's a medication for anything) into question.

And yes, he should go and get some mix of counselling, controlled medication.

Ideally though he should be off the road. It's very probable he will re-offend. He's got serious problems that are difficult to overcome... but can be done with support.

Locking him up will literally remove him from the roads, but as noted before if he is a care-giver to his daughter then what happens to her? Shoved into some institution, missing her father. God knows.

Or it could all be sob-story b******s as some are hypothesizing.

posted by Ush [390 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:21

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stumps wrote:
He blew 123 on the camic. I have only ever seen once person higher than that and they blew 138, they could hardly walk or talk.

I'd love to go on the piss with a breathalyser in tow, just so I could see what the effects were as the day/night wore on and at what point you went over the limit.

posted by farrell [1407 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:21

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Yet another miserable judgement from our friends in the motoring judiciary, sending him to prison would have been useless, a lifetime ban and substantial financial compensation would have been more appropriate, now sue him!

posted by pgwsheffield [5 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:32

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farrell wrote:
stumps wrote:
He blew 123 on the camic. I have only ever seen once person higher than that and they blew 138, they could hardly walk or talk.

I'd love to go on the piss with a breathalyser in tow, just so I could see what the effects were as the day/night wore on and at what point you went over the limit.

Mate, you can buy one at the chemists, they are not very reliable and wont stand up in a court but they are good fun to try.

Its usually when you cant blow into it and nearly throw up due to trying that your around the 100 mark Rolling On The Floor

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2714 posts]
13th February 2014 - 18:10

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It must be difficult for any judge to impose the right sentence, after weighing up all the mitigating factors but, with around 10,000 casualties involving drink driving each year, the existing penalties clearly aren't stiff enough.

Personally, I'd like to see a four year ban for the first offence, and a lifetime ban for the second offence. I'd back that up with a sentence of one day's unpaid work for each microgramme above the 35 limit per 100 millilitres of breath for the first offence, and an automatic day's prison per microgramme for the second offence.

I would feel sorry for the daughter if her dad went to jail, but 10,000 casualties a year is 10,000 too many.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
13th February 2014 - 18:40

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This driver clearly wasn't thinking about his daughter when he got behind the wheel pissed for the second time (that he was caught)

Given his clearly problems and his total disregard for the lives over other road users not once but twice, Is it unreasonable to suggest that his daughter might be better off without him.

I know the rest of us would be better off without him on the roads forever

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posted by Housecathst [51 posts]
13th February 2014 - 19:31

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The courts have to consider mitigating circumstances, its a solid part of the British Justice System but the balance has been completely and utterly lost. These bright, intelligent people who make up our Benches up and down the country in the magistrates court lose complete sight of what should be considered, and do not see that the person in front of them, freshly groomed and in a new suit and looking all forlorn is actually a dirty great scumbag of society trying to dupe them, and successfully in most cases.

This is another example where the main emphasis falls on the impact the crime has had on the offender. This guy is second time in the dock for the same thing, only this time he caused a serious injury and could have killed someone.

Diabete's, depression, caring for sick/disabled daughter (which I question suspiciously as this kind of thing is amplified ridiculously by scum to lessen the sentence) has no bearing on this case and should not have affected any final sentence. Thats not mitigation. If he had needed to take his sick daughter to hospital in an emergency after necking a few beers and there was no other way to get her there in time in his perception then that *could* form some basis for mitigation.

The lay magistrates of our land really do need to wake up and smell the damn coffee because a lot of them, with all due respect, and fucking useless, scuse my French. Give me a stipendiary magistrate any day.

This guy should have been banned for 5 years and sent to prison for the full 6 months. He'd be out in less than 3 months. Oh and 5 grand compensation to the victim too. You know its called giving victims proper closure.

posted by Critchio [106 posts]
13th February 2014 - 22:03

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Sure, I "self-medicate" with alcohol most weekends.
Angry

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posted by djcritchley [146 posts]
14th February 2014 - 8:25

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Personally, I don't feel particularly vengeful towards this guy, as far as sending him to jail goes.

It sounds like he has problems. The thing is though, while I don't hold his drinking against him - OK he's had a difficult time and has turned to drink, it happens - the more important question is why was he _driving_? Its not the drinking that's the problem for others, its the driving! We get a lot in his defence as to why he was drinking, but not as to why he was still using a car.

Maybe drivers should have to renew their licences regularly and to do so they should present some evidence that they haven't developed such a disqualifying condition?

If you have a drink problem you have no business having a driving licence and should never be allowed behind a wheel.

Brits roll their eyes at the ubiquity of guns in the US, but why is it just accepted that totally inappropriate people have access to motorised vehicles?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [668 posts]
14th February 2014 - 10:25

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Quote:
Dr Judy Hultgren said that that despite a very high reading, and a similar conviction in 2011, they were not jailing him because he had shown remorse and a commitment to addressing his alcohol problems.

Anyone lay me odds on him having "shown remorse and a commitment to addressing his alcohol problems" after the 2011 conviction too?

posted by dp24 [187 posts]
14th February 2014 - 10:37

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of course he got away with it ....

posted by Karbon Kev [671 posts]
14th February 2014 - 15:03

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Why is the justice system so toothless in the face of dangerous drivers? It seems to be excessively concerned with giving offenders a second chance, and fairly hopeless at keeping dangerous drivers off the roads. I think it should be more draconian. You might then, for example, be unfair to some drivers by handing them lifetime bans where they didn't really deserve it, but the upside would be that dangerous drivers were kept off the roads. Driving is treated as a right, when it should be a privilege. Other means of transport or ways of making a living exist!

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1339 posts]
14th February 2014 - 15:21

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
the more important question is why was he _driving_? Its not the drinking that's the problem for others, its the driving! We get a lot in his defence as to why he was drinking, but not as to why he was still using a car.

Nail on the head. Car use should be abnormal, a privilege reserved especially for those with professional needs or those with serious physical impediments to walking, biking or getting on a bus or train.

Even if we got this guy off the road, then there are X million drivers, all of whom have momentary lapses of attention causing them to contribute to the tens of thousands of deaths per year already mentioned.

posted by Ush [390 posts]
14th February 2014 - 15:31

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Leodis wrote:
Injure or kill a cyclist and the law slaps your hand, they wonder why people fear of cycling on UK roads, if I was killed by a similar driver where is my wifes justice?

That's the worst reason I've heard for not cycling - feared to cycle because of a lack of justice after death?
The cycling here is almost irrelevant really, he was going to hit something be it a postbox, pedestrian or cyclist driving that drunk.

http://matmitchellcycling.wordpress.com
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

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posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
14th February 2014 - 15:59

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i dont give a f**k about the daughter, her dad is drink driving scum who is going to kill one day. what would we prefer, a daughter whos dad is being punished for bad behaviour on the roads, or dead people?

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [117 posts]
14th February 2014 - 18:17

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