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Defence slapped down by judge for implying cyclist should not have been there

A driver who ran a red light and killed a cyclist who was riding on a pedestrian crossing has escaped jail after being found guilty of causing death by careless driving.

Rouguiatou Fofana was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years at Coventry Crown Court on Friday for causing the death of Craig Mulligan.

According to the Coventry Telegraph’s Daniel Smith and Sam Dimmer, Fofana, 34, was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving after hitting 34-year-old Mr Mulligan on November 1, 2012.

The court heard that she was travelling at 32-38mph in a 30mph zone and made no attempt to slow down when the lights on the crossing turned red.

Mr Mulligan was hospitalised with severe injuries and died five days later.

Fofana maintained that the lights were green when she drove into Mr Mulligan and has never fomally apolgised.

Ian Crooks, of West Midlands CPS, said: “A prudent and careful driver would have had time to see the victim crossing the road and they would have stopped or swerved in order to avoid colliding with him.

“From police investigation as well as witness statements, it became apparent that Fofana was travelling above the speed limit and when the cyclist came into her vision.

“This situation arose due to the fact that Fofana did not have her full attention on the road at those few seconds before the collision.”

Ben Williams, defending, said: “It’s a fact of the rules of the road that a cyclist should not be using a pedestrian crossing.”

But Judge Phillip Gregory was having none of it. “So what?” he said. “It might have been a child using the crossing and been wiped out by your client.

“I have never seen an expression of regret from her.”

Mr Williams said: “She may not have expressed remorse during the trial but to people known to her and a third party she has expressed remorse.

“She has suffered sleepless nights and cannot get the moment of the collision out of her mind.

“Both the offender and her husband have prayed for the victim and his family.

“She would like to say sorry and seek their forgiveness. She knows an apology would not make up for what happened.”

Handing Fofana a suspended prison sentence, Judge Gregory said the court was not there to “take revenge” on her.

He said: “The court can not do anything to make up for the evil of that night by sentencing you.

“What I am required to do is impart justice for the victim, his family, to you and to society at large.

“On balance I can properly deal with you in the way recommended by the probation service.

“I’m satisfied you feel remorse. By your nature you are a caring and responsible person.”

The court also ordered Fofana to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and meted out a three-year driving ban, plus £2,000 costs.

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.

42 comments

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gixernick [13 posts] 2 years ago
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Disgusting, should've been a custodial just for truing to blame a cyclist for using the crossing!

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userfriendly [578 posts] 2 years ago
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“What I am required to do is impart justice for the victim, his family, to you and to society at large."

Yeah, would you please do just that, impart justice? That "sentence" is utterly ridiculous.

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thereverent [420 posts] 2 years ago
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Ben Williams, defending, said: “It’s a fact of the rules of the road that a cyclist should not be using a pedestrian crossing.”
But Judge Phillip Gregory was having none of it. “So what?” he said. “It might have been a child using the crossing and been wiped out by your client.

Well said by that Judge.  41

Mr Williams said: “She may not have expressed remorse during the trial but to people known to her and a third party she has expressed remorse.

So why not do it at the trial? Sounds like she is just callous.

This should have been a life ban from driving.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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Speeding, running a red light, and killing someone at the crossing? All at the same time?

Whenever these awful cases happen, we should all be asking ourselves if the accident would have still been just as likely to occur if a mandatory lifetime driving ban existed.

My gut feeling is that most people would drive more carefully.

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Grizzerly [321 posts] 2 years ago
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She and her husband have prayed for the victim and his family.

So that's all right then, isn't it?

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Mrs Fofana has fatally demonstrated that she is not capable of safely operating a car - so why should she ever be allowed to drive again??

I don't think a short custodial sentence would do much to protect the public - but a lifetime driving ban certainly would.

Why are these not mandatory in all "death by careless driving" cases? If the driver is "careless" enough to kill someone then they shouldn't be driving!

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adriank999 [77 posts] 2 years ago
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Was it a Toucan?
How many motorists can tell the difference between the different type of crossing when they are approaching them? All they see are Red Amber and Green,

TOUCAN crossings are designed for both pedestrians and cyclists and are typically used adjacent to a cycle-path (Cyclists are not allowed to cross the road using Zebra, Pelican or Puffin crossings).

-not allowed to ride surely they can push bikes across

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mrfree [76 posts] 2 years ago
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'Careless' is when you forget to tie your shoelace. 'Dangerous' is going through a red light.

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Argos74 [408 posts] 2 years ago
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So many disappoints.

Da Laywer wrote:

She would like to say sorry and seek their forgiveness. She knows an apology would not make up for what happened.

That's okay. Say it with scissors. Scissors in one hand, driving licence in the other. If we have trouble understanding, cut it into smaller pieces.

Da Judge wrote:

The court can not do anything to make up for the evil of that night by sentencing you.
What I am required to do is impart justice for the victim, his family, to you and to society at large.

Why you get my hopes up, and then smash them to bits by giving three year ban then? I'm not saying let her rot in prison for life. Just that she not be allowed to kill again the same way.

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oldstrath [644 posts] 2 years ago
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adriank999 wrote:

Was it a Toucan?
How many motorists can tell the difference between the different type of crossing when they are approaching them? All they see are Red Amber and Green,

TOUCAN crossings are designed for both pedestrians and cyclists and are typically used adjacent to a cycle-path (Cyclists are not allowed to cross the road using Zebra, Pelican or Puffin crossings).

-not allowed to ride surely they can push bikes across

Why does it matter? Are you really saying it's fine to kill someone if they were breaking the rules at the time. If so, is it fine for me to shoot the next motorist who breaks the speed limit near me? If not, what's the difference?

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Why are you still shocked by this?

Didn't you know a motorist can never be expected to go to prison and is completely blameless.

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oldstrath [644 posts] 2 years ago
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This one has to take some sort of prize

"By your nature you are a caring and responsible person.”

Except that she's not quite caring enough to avoid killing people when she's in a hurry. I hope I never meet anyone this judge thinks is uncaring.

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pakennedy [154 posts] 2 years ago
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I just did a streetview wander. All I could find were pedestrian crossings no sign of any bike type crossings. Not that it matters since she ran a red light anyway.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1240 posts] 2 years ago
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The thing about the victim's rule-breaking is that it seems to have had no bearing on the event - I see no reason to think the result would have been different had they been jogging across, say. If a victim's rule-breaking was a significant contributor to the out-come then it would be relevant to bring it up, but not otherwise.

Something that infuriates me about it is that both the speeding and the failure to stop at red are quite commonplace driver behaviour. That might be why it doesn't seem to get the penalty it merits when it results in tragedy. Because "everyone does it".
Maybe if the law on those things was better enforced we wouldn't get to this point in the first place?

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levermonkey [669 posts] 2 years ago
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Is that all a human life is worth?

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Pete B [23 posts] 2 years ago
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Ben Williams, defending, said: “It’s a fact of the rules of the road that a cyclist should not be using a pedestrian crossing.”

He of course failed to mention, it is also a fact of the rules of the road his client should not have been exceeding the speed limit and should have stopped at a red light. A cyclist using a crossing when it indicates it is safe to cross shouldn't have a fatal consequence, like the two rules of the road broken by his client did!

Unfortunately “google street view” doesn’t work on this computer, but from looking at the satellite view it does appear there are cycle paths either side of the crossing, also the “tactile surfaces” at the crossing suggest it is a Toucan not a Pelican (Pedestrian) crossing.

Just to add to the point on zebra crossings, the highway code does indeed say cyclists shouldn’t cycle across them, but it isn’t a “Must Not” in bold type. So it isn’t illegal to cycle across one and as people have no doubt noticed they are used as crossings where there is a shared-use path either side of the road. There are two such zebra crossings that I use almost every day; I always cycle across them and drivers stop to let me cycle across the same as they would a pedestrian walking across.

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OldRidgeback [2632 posts] 2 years ago
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The sentence does seem rather light. That the offender and her husband have prayed for the person who was killed by such dangerous driving neither seems here nor there. A tougher sentence wouldn't bring back the victim, but a light one like this does seem rather an insult to his family and friends.

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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100 hours community service and a three year driving ban is a pathetic sentence.

'Careless' to me means causing an incident without breaking any traffic laws.

'Dangerous' is causing an incident by breaking traffic laws, in this case speeding and not stopping at a red light.

Another example of the poor handling of these types of cases by the judicial system. Firstly dumbing down the offence and then watering down the punishment.

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TheSpaniard [100 posts] 2 years ago
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As usual, write to whichever body you have to write to to appeal an overly lenient sentence...

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ironmancole [322 posts] 2 years ago
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Another sickening example of how its ok to kill as long as you do it 'accidentally' with the wonder machine.

Time and time again we see one group slaughtering a more vulnerable group and equally we see defence teams scraping the moral bucket looking for any reason, however offensive, to absolve those from any responsibility.

No lifetime ban, yet download a dodgy picture of a child and if she was a teacher she'd be banned from her profession in an instant, no questions asked.

No excuses accepted about hardship or any other life difficulties the perpetrator may face and in that example no-one has even been killed or maimed.

To all MP's - What the hell has to happen to get any of you to get off your laurels and do something?

Suppose I can sign yet another petition for you to smile at and ignore?

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paulfg42 [392 posts] 2 years ago
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Are we supposed to feel sorry for her having sleepless nights? The cynic in me says her sleeplessness would be linked to her fear of punishment rather than the offence, which is murder in this layman's opinion.

Punishment should fit the severity of the offence. Lives (of pedestrian and cyclists) taken away by a motor vehicle are not valued by our justice system.

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Ush [723 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:

Mrs Fofana has fatally demonstrated that she is not capable of safely operating a car - so why should she ever be allowed to drive again??

I don't think a short custodial sentence would do much to protect the public - but a lifetime driving ban certainly would.

Why are these not mandatory in all "death by careless driving" cases? If the driver is "careless" enough to kill someone then they shouldn't be driving!

Sadly got to agree. I really, really don't understand why someone like this should ever be allowed to drive any motorized vehicle again. I suspsect that she probably should not be allowed to use a bicycle either.

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Ush [723 posts] 2 years ago
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oldstrath wrote:

is it fine for me to shoot the next motorist who breaks the speed limit near me?

I'm starting to believe that this might be the case.

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pz1800 [24 posts] 2 years ago
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Please, if you kill someone while driving and it is your fault, you should never drive again. Then let's discuss custodial sentences.

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oldstrath [644 posts] 2 years ago
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pz1800 wrote:

Please, if you kill someone while driving and it is your fault, you should never drive again. Then let's discuss custodial sentences.

Exactly. And anyone feeling genuine remorse would surely never want to drive again.

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oldstrath [644 posts] 2 years ago
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TheSpaniard wrote:

As usual, write to whichever body you have to write to to appeal an overly lenient sentence...

I've written to my MP in the past. Reply was the understandable refusal to comment on individual cases, plus the bllx about a 'general review of sentencing', to be completed on the 15th of Never. Rough translation - we won't upset the cager vote.

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adriank999 [77 posts] 2 years ago
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Trying to put words in my mouth! Read the post before jumping to aggressive ignorant criticism, the defense were trying to say the cyclist shouldn’t be on the crossing, Toucans are specifically for cyclist to ride across!

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adriank999 [77 posts] 2 years ago
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Trying to put words in my mouth! Read the post before jumping to aggressive ignorant criticism, the defense were trying to say the cyclist shouldn’t be on the crossing, Toucans are specifically for cyclist to ride across!

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antonio [1126 posts] 2 years ago
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'Jail the Judge'

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oozaveared [941 posts] 2 years ago
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antonio wrote:

'Jail the Judge'

Ok facts of life for you and several others here. The judge does not make up the sentence. He/she applies a set of guidelines on sentence to the person convicted. There is a maximum sentence, there is also a starting point for sentencing usually about half way between maximum and minimum. The judge then looks at the aggravating and mitigating factors.

So if the judge goes outside these guidelines the sentence can be appealed.

I get the anger about sentencing. I am annoyed that sentences for this kind of thing are so lenient. BUT the issue is not so much the judge being lenient it is the fact that the sentences that they can apply and the guidelines used are so lenient. And the whole thing is muddied by the CPS not prosecuting properly on the bigger charge and bringing a more minor charge to assure a conviction. What that means is that all to often dangerous drivers get careless driving convictions. The sentences are quite different. The judge can only sentence you for the crime you are convicted of.

What's my point. Stop blaming the police and the judges. Start getting the law changed and the sentences increased. (and you may find the police and the judges actually support that).

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