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Sentence & five-year ban was maximum magistrates could impose

A Nottingham lorry driver who failed to stop after hitting a cyclist and causing massive life-threatening injuries has been jailed for 16 weeks and banned for five years.

The Nottingham Post reports that Wayne Salmon, 52, carried on with his deliveries after hitting Gus French, 56 on February 1.

Salmon said he had been blinded by the sun and thought his 7.5-tonne lorry had clipped a kerb or wall.

Prosecutor Jennifer Fitzgerald told High Peak Magistrates’ Court, in Buxton, that when witnesses spoke to him a short time later and told him he had collided with a cyclist, he shrugged his shoulders.

French sustained a serious brain injury, and neck and spinal fractures. The force of the impact was so severe it detached his ribs from his spine. He was airlifted to hospital and has not yet recovered.

Maximum sentence

Salmon admitted failing to stop and driving without due care and attention.

The sentence of 16 weeks imprisonment was the maximum magistrates could impose. They said this was the worst traffic offence they had ever heard in court.

Presiding JP Mr Hickman told Salmon: “You were in charge of a 7.5 tonne vehicle. By your own admission, you were blinded by the sun but did nothing to alter your driving and in addition your windscreen was dirty, further reducing visibility.

“You were aware you had collided with something but you know not what and didn’t stop but slowed momentarily and then accelerated.

“Later, witnesses told you about knocking someone down and the witnesses say you seemed disinterested and shrugged your shoulders in clear disregard for what you had done.

“You left life-changing and life-threatening injuries to Mr French.”

“Lives changed forever”

French’s wife Tracy told the court she had been warned he could be left in a persistent vegetative state if he survived.

“Gus and us, as a family, are left with a life sentence. From that day our lives changed forever,” said Mrs French.

“We can’t forgive the driver for leaving Gus at the scene.”

Saul Comish, mitigating, said: “[Salmon] said he was dazzled by the sun light coming from between the hill to the extent that he could not see clearly and was following the centre of the road.

“A car has come toward him and he has moved toward the nearside. He accepts he should have seen and should have avoided Mr French.”

Mr Comish said Salmon accepted the consequences were devastating for Mr French and his family.

“He deeply regrets that pain and suffering he has caused,” he said.

Road Justice

Many will see this latest case as another example of an overly-lenient sentence handed down to a driver whose carelessness maimed a vulnerable road user.

The CTC, through its Road Justice campaign, and British Cycling have long campaigned for tougher sentences in more serious cases and especially for longer bans for drivers who have demonstrated they are not fit to be in charge of a motor vehicle.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling recently announced a full review of all driving offences and penalties, along with tougher penalties for disqualified drivers who kill or injure other road users. He said: “I want to make our roads safer and ensure people who cause harm face tough penalties.”

CTC’s Road Justice coordinator Rhia Weston welcomed the plan to review all driving penalties and offences. She added: “CTC’s Road Justice campaign also wants to see much greater use of driving bans for those who commit driving offences without wilful risk taking and wider use of non-custodial options such as vehicle confiscation.”

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.

23 comments

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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"shrugged his shoulders" - 16 weeks isn't enough.

Hope the rider makes a full recovery, thoughts to him and his family  2

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fatbeggaronabike [807 posts] 2 years ago
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Firstly condolences to Gus French his family and friends.

"blinded by sun" but carried on regardless surely that constitutes dangerous driving not driving with undue? Come on CPS grow a set and start telling drivers they will not get away with shoddy driving standards

I hope some legal eagles will help you with a private prosecution and proper compensation.

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SB76 [102 posts] 2 years ago
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Maybe he was blinded by the sun and maybe he honestly thought he'd hit a curb but when you're in truck, surely you stop to check ,surely??

The most disturbing thing is his apparent lack of care when he was informed later. His sentence should be longer.

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dp24 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

“He deeply regrets that pain and suffering he has caused,”

Really? I don't see any evidence of that.

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sfichele [141 posts] 2 years ago
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16 weeks is not long enough for leaving a guy in a serious state dying in the road. I dont believe he didnt know what he'd hit even after slowing down. Garbage, if the sun was in eyes looking forwards then it would NOT be in his eyes looking back, his rear facing view would be clear.

Also, he could see the incoming car but couldnt see the cyclist, hmmmm

"I cant see the cyclist" was filmed on this very stretch of road in exceptionally low winter sun light, which was bright and glaring off a wet road. I had no problem seeing any cyclist that day...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8pX52v_yNA#t=3m05s

The Hayfield road is very narrow and from past experience drivers need to slow down to overtake properly, but in reality they *dont want* to so you get close passes on that road.

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mrmo [2070 posts] 2 years ago
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I refer you to the thread about cyclists hitting drivers, it is clear the courts don't give a ****

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SB76 [102 posts] 2 years ago
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sfichele wrote:

16 weeks is not long enough for leaving a guy in a serious state dying in the road. I dont believe he didnt know what he'd hit even after slowing down. Garbage, if the sun was in eyes looking forwards then it would NOT be in his eyes looking back, his rear facing view would be clear.

Also, he could see the incoming car but couldnt see the cyclist, hmmmm

"I cant see the cyclist" was filmed on this very stretch of road in exceptionally low winter sun light, which was bright and glaring off a wet road. I had no problem seeing any cyclist that day...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8pX52v_yNA#t=3m05s

The Hayfield road is very narrow and from past experience drivers need to slow down to overtake properly, but in reality they *dont want* to so you get close passes on that road.

Good film but i think some people do miss cyclists at times, the glare of the sun is an excuse and the real reason is their own care and attention. Sadly, people rarely realise they're the problem.

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Wolfshade [187 posts] 2 years ago
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It is a worrying state of affairs that this is "the norm". If we look at the comments there will be outrage and it is precisely this reason why stories like these need to be keep being reported. Each time we see such injustice it should be pointed out and there should be outrage. It is only by this can we hope to change the system, otherwise we may as well roll over and just accept that justice is not for the cyclist.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 2 years ago
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Two year prison sentence for vandalising a painting:

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/dec/13/mark-rothko-vandal-jailed

I would have thought that the offence Wayne Salmon committed should incur imprisonment for at least as long as this.

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sfichele [141 posts] 2 years ago
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SB76 wrote:

Good film but i think some people do miss cyclists at times, the glare of the sun is an excuse and the real reason is their own care and attention. Sadly, people rarely realise they're the problem.

That was exactly the reason for the film, it shows, and proved to myself that if you are paying attention, even in tough light conditions, there is usually ample amounts of time to react and spot cyclists.

I've ridden this road a number of times, and I always get bad passes on it. I strongly believe it has nothing to do with people not seeing you, they simply assume they can bat past, not realising how narrow it is...and dont wanna slow down

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cyclingDMlondon [483 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

I refer you to the thread about cyclists hitting drivers, it is clear the courts don't give a ****

My thoughts exactly.

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spence129 [21 posts] 2 years ago
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Ironic that the more time I spend on Road.cc the less time I want to spend cycling. Genuinely. I started using this site about 4 months ago, before that I just cycled and got on with it, but with all the stories and a young family, I seriously consider whether I should be cycling as much.

Especially when you see the opinions of non cyclists, the facebook comments on the story from a couple of days ago where a 206 swerved at a cyclist in Wiltshire are barbaric, If someone swerved like that at a pedestrian, even walking on a road, I would say 99% if not more would be in uproar, but put that person on a bike, and it seems to be about 50/50.

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cyclingDMlondon [483 posts] 2 years ago
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dp24 wrote:
Quote:

“He deeply regrets that pain and suffering he has caused,”

Really? I don't see any evidence of that.

'He deeply regrets that he got caught...'

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cyclingDMlondon [483 posts] 2 years ago
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spence129 wrote:

Ironic that the more time I spend on Road.cc the less time I want to spend cycling. Genuinely. I started using this site about 4 months ago, before that I just cycled and got on with it, but with all the stories and a young family, I seriously consider whether I should be cycling as much.

Especially when you see the opinions of non cyclists, the facebook comments on the story from a couple of days ago where a 206 swerved at a cyclist in Wiltshire are barbaric, If someone swerved like that at a pedestrian, even walking on a road, I would say 99% if not more would be in uproar, but put that person on a bike, and it seems to be about 50/50.

I know what you mean. I've been on a train in to and back from work for the past two weeks.

The daily, naked and shameless aggression to which cyclists are subjected, drags me down.

Perhaps I flatter myself that I'm a very competent cyclist, so there really isn't fear that I'm going to get killed or seriously injured. But it's like being in a room for two hours a day where you know that every other person there wants you dead.

There is also the sobering reality, that if I am assaulted for whatever reason, and I defend myself, then the law will prosecute me and let my aggressor off.

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levermonkey [663 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote 1
"...when witnesses spoke to him a short time later and told him he had collided with a cyclist, he shrugged his shoulders."

Quote 2
"Mr Comish said Salmon accepted the consequences were devastating for Mr French and his family. “He deeply regrets that pain and suffering he has caused,” he said."

Bollocks! Salmon didn't care then, doesn't care now and won't care when he's served his sentence and ban. His life will go on as if nothing has happened. Mr French and his wife? Their lives are destroyed!

There should be no grounds for mitigation in cases like this, and certainly no place for a lawyers weasel words.

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vbvb [587 posts] 2 years ago
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I agree that these stories are depressing. These days I find the compulsory 2 or 3 paragraphs at the end a bit irksome too, the framing of the story with the CTC campaign stance. Sometimes there's a bespoke CTC reaction even.

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Bez [592 posts] 2 years ago
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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:

"blinded by sun" but carried on regardless surely that constitutes dangerous driving not driving with undue?

Nah.

If he hadn't behaved like a remorseless twunt afterwards, he'd have probably got off, like many before:
https://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/at-the-going-down-of-the-...

Show some remorse and these are the lengths the court will go to in order to help you get off - even if, as in both cases, you claim somewhat suspiciously you thought you hit another object (whether it be "a wall or a kerb", neither of which would give a similar response at the wheel, or a bus stop on a familiar road with no bus stops):
http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/futility/

What a silly man Mr Salmon is. Never act indifferent. Feign the tiniest monkey's toss about other people's lives, and then you'll be free to go, free once more to ignore basic weather conditions from the moment you leave court. I bet he feels such a fool now.

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

I refer you to the thread about cyclists hitting drivers, it is clear the courts don't give a ****

But the courts did give a ****. The problem isn't the courts particularly. This chap was given the maximum sentence that the court could apply. Reading the quote from the presiding magistrate it's clear his frustration that thios was the maximum he could hand down.

The problem is that the law and its precedents is long due for overhaul. It was framed initially in an era of road use and personal ethics quite different from the one that exists now.

It's only luck that this cyclist wasn't killed. No more than luck. The driver could have acted in the same way exactly the same way and had the cyclust died the whole legal would be completely changed. Whether the CPS charged for causing death by DD or CD either way the driver would be in prison for a longer or a shorter period.

It's the actions of offending drivers that need to be dealt with not just the outcomes often the outcome from a near miss through serious injury to death is just a matter of fluke.

The law and sentencing needs to reflect that.

Currently there is a distinction between say murder and attempted murder. Yes there is relevance given to the outcome but attempted murder reflects the fact that the outcome was a matter of chance and that the actions were similar or the same.

I think the laws should reflect that even in cases where someone is injured but not killed by DD then the crime ought to be on a par with CD by DD and it was just luck that it wasn't.

Off the road for 5 years. And an insurance company looking at a very big payout that won't make for affordable insurance personally or as a company driver for him in future. I hope that sees him off the road for good. I fear not.

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Housecathst [456 posts] 2 years ago
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16 weeks isn't enough, and when it's all said and done, I bet he serves less than 8 weeks.

I just hope there 8 very painful weeks for him and that this period in prison is as life changing for him as his in attention has been for his victim.

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Annabella [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Hope the cyclist makes a full recovery lorry driver blinded by the sun good excuse!!

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Argos74 [390 posts] 2 years ago
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spence129 wrote:

...the less time I want to spend cycling.

Let's get this in perspective. The vast majority of drivers are fair to middling. There's a very decent number of good, considerate drivers. I see these every day. Sadly, there's a small number of basically incompetent drivers, and a smaller number of out and out bampots and borderline candidates for white dinner jackets with buckles in all the wrong places.

It's the latter two groups who do most of the damage, not just to cyclists, also to pedestrians, other drivers, their own passengers. And wider networks of family and friends get the fallout as well. It's not just cyclists. It's really not - we're just more organised and vocal.

Sadly, the wider transport environment - legislative, political, physical - nigh on legitimises bampottery. It's a big job, but hey it's something to do. Civilised countries - cough dutchworldproblems cough - have proven that it can be done. And in the meantime, as they say, not until the handlebars are pried from my cold dead hands. Given the health benefits of cycling, that could be a while.

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Sidi 700c [42 posts] 1 year ago
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With only facing 16 weeks in jail why should the driver of the lorry even give a shit?

You will do more time in a physical assault than killing somebody on the bike! Fucking stupid run this country and are unwilling to change the penalties.

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Cyclist [295 posts] 1 year ago
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8 weeks in prison & 8 weeks on licence.