Lorry driver escapes jail for causing death of London cyclist by dangerous driving

Lorry driver who crushed 60 year old cyclist under his wheels as he turned left escapes with 18 month ban and community work

by Sarah Barth   March 8, 2014  


A lorry driver who killed a 60-year-old cyclist has escaped jail, instead being handed down an 18 month driving ban and 250 hours of unpaid work.

Paul O’Callaghan, 35, crushed cyclist Tarsem Dari to death beneath the wheels of his four-axle tipper lorry as he performed a left turn in Southall, west London, on July 5 last year.

Isleworth Crown Court heard Mr Dari was pronounced dead at the scene, according to London 24.

O’Callaghan pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving - a relatively difficult crime to prosecute and attracting higher sentences than the lesser charge of death by careless driving - and was given a nine-month sentence, suspended for two years.

Last year the national cyclists' organisation, the CTC, launched its Road Justice Campaign which aims to get the justice system to take a more rigorous approach to investigating, prosecuting, and sentencing incidents of bad driving on Britain's roads.

In a statement on its home page at www.roadjustice.org.uk the campaign sets out what it is seeking to change:

"Road casualties can and should be prevented, yet the justice system is failing to ensure safety on our roads by not taking road crime seriously. The police and coroners do not investigate road collisions thoroughly enough; the prosecution services make weak charging and prosecution decisions, and the courts issue sentences that do not adequately reflect the severity of crimes committed by bad drivers."

The new campaign builds on the work of CTC's Stop SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You) campaign and their recent efforts to get newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners to make road safety a priority. You can report you own examples of bad driving to the site - including video footage - by logging on to the site you can also support  through donations and by signing up for campaign updates.

Last year we reported that a review of current sentencing guidelines, which will be accompanied by a consultation, will be carried out by the Sentencing Council, which is an independent non- departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice, and will cover the offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving. Proposals will be subject to a formal consultation.

15 user comments

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Can't understand why the bans handed out are so short. Or even why they have to be temporary at all.

posted by bambergbike [88 posts]
8th March 2014 - 12:15


If you kill somebody with a knife you will defintely get a long sentence, even if it is accidental. But kill somebody with a car and you are just as likely to walk free, even if you admit it was your fault.
(see http://cars.aol.co.uk/2014/03/07/cannabis-smoking-killer-driver-walks-fr..., for instance!)
This makes a complete mockery of the law. It has to be changed to reflect the results of even Careless Driving, which is the equivalence of Manslaughter, surely, when a death is caused.

posted by BarefootBrian [16 posts]
8th March 2014 - 12:38


...Aaaaand, another one gets off. Do we have more details of the procedures? Why did the judge arrive to this lame sentence?

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
8th March 2014 - 12:43


The message is, if you're on a bike, your life is worth nothing...

posted by congokid [192 posts]
8th March 2014 - 13:53


So he even pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, and still walks free. FML. Angry

posted by kie7077 [620 posts]
8th March 2014 - 14:34


I feel sorry for the family of the victim. They've lost their family member and now have been insulted in this way. It isn't right.


posted by OldRidgeback [2428 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:21


Angry At Wits End Sick


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [627 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:36


'Sooner or later, we're going to wake up and send a loud and clear message to the police and the courts.
"Either you enforce the law, or we will do it for you"'

I hate to say it... but I told you so...

'Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons' (Douglas MacArthur)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [350 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:46


congokid wrote:
The message is, if you're on a bike, your life is worth nothing...

Not quite, the message, driving is a right and nothing you do can possibly be bad enough to have it removed

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1595 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:48


mrmo wrote:
congokid wrote:
The message is, if you're on a bike, your life is worth nothing...

Not quite, the message, driving is a right and nothing you do can possibly be bad enough to have it removed

Well, the message is 'driving is a right that outweighs risking the right to life of those outside your vehicle'. So its kind-of both.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [837 posts]
8th March 2014 - 17:09


He pleaded guilty to killing someone by driving dangerously and didn't go to jail ? Is there any other situation where you can admit to behaving dangerously and subsequently killing someone and not go to jail ? How the fck can this keep happening ?

Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [190 posts]
8th March 2014 - 18:29


There's something in this report that doesn't add up.

Causing death by dangerous driving carries a mandatory minimum two year driving ban, yet this report says he will only be banned for 18 months. The court cannot pass such a lenient sentence for that offence.

posted by bikebot [983 posts]
8th March 2014 - 18:31


bikebot wrote:
Causing death by dangerous driving carries a mandatory minimum two year driving ban
You're right. He was allowed to admit to a charge of causing death by *careless* driving, hence the shorter ban. Still can't see why it's not a life ban though.

Evening Standard article, paras 3 & 5

posted by Argos74 [320 posts]
8th March 2014 - 19:04


Well because I wasn't at the court to see the circumstances of this case you will have to take what I say next with a pinch of salt. Because like many of the commentators here I don't know the full facts or even the delicate fine detail of the law.

Many that ride bicycles are witness sometimes on a daily basis to the bad driving and lets face it aggression of others just because we are riding a bicycle. Many of us that ride a bike have experienced the crazy over taking of motor vehicle drivers and the immediate left turn manoeuvre !

There is just no getting away with it some humans should not be driving vehicles. They just don't have the skills or the temperament to be able to drive a vehicle in a safe way. We can all make mistakes when driving, show me a person that hasn't been involved in a car crash no matter how small and I will show you a person that has just been very lucky.

But when a driver admits to causing death by dangerous driving as in this case, this I will presume means that in the eyes of the law this wasn't actually premeditated murder. So although the driver admits to causing death by dangerous driving it was not his/her intent to kill. In actual fact you could say that it is a terrible thing to have to go through and live with for the rest of your life, that you killed someone because you unwittingly (for want of a better term) were driving dangerously.

This though doesn't excuse the fact that someone died !

We all know what a dangerous driving manoeuvre is (well most of us do) and if we made such a manoeuvre where someone was killed we'd expect the law to throw the book at us, with the use of harsh punishment to give the victims a sense of pay back and justice done, but also to warn others to never make the same illegal and dangerous actions hopefully making sure these action weren't repeated by others. That is to say the punishment laid down in this individual case, we'd expect the law to send out a message that society will not allow or condone dangerous driving especially where vulnerable road users are concerned like cyclists.

To suspend the already weak punishment of only 9 months for dangerous driving is one thing as judges have to take in many facts on a case before they pass judgement, it is not always the sensible thing to lock people up and throw away the key, but to then only be give an 18 month ban and 250 hours unpaid work is .............. well in my book that is extremely close to getting away with murder. My sympathy goes out to the family of the victim who must feel that their dead relatives life meant nothing to the judge to give such a weak punishment.
We all need to get behind the CTC's campaign and push for awareness and proper punishment of drivers who think because they are in a metal box they have the right to intimidate and drive in an aggressive way in the vicinity vulnerable road users.

Rupert's picture

posted by Rupert [138 posts]
9th March 2014 - 7:22


I thought truck drivers only killed prostitutes? Has there been a change in equality laws to encourage them to kill anyone now?

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
24th March 2014 - 10:59