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Victim's widow describes sentence as "disgusting" and says " this is not justice"...

A driver who killed a cyclist as she chased her boyfriend’s car through a Sheffield suburb at 69 miles an hour and while over the drink-drive limit has been jailed for four years – a sentence that the victim’s widow described as “disgusting,” adding, "this is not justice."

Beauty therapist Emma Egan, aged 26 and from Dewsbury, pleaded guilty at Sheffield Crown Court to causing the death by dangerous driving of 55-year-old father-of-two Eric Codling in November last year, reports Gazzettelive.co.uk. She was also banned from driving for six years.

Despite having been drinking after boyfriend Liam Dent terminated their relationship, Egan, from Dewsbury, decided to chase after him in her Vauxhall Astra.

As she drove immediately behind his vehicle, she lost control of her car on Whirlowdale Road, Whirlow, hitting Mr Codling head-on. He died instantly.

After stopping, Egan then left the scene but did not report the crash and police later found her at Mr Dent’s home, where she was described as “wailing incoherently, rocking in her seat and physically shaking before falling to the floor and vomiting.”

She told police: “Oh God, what have I done? I’m so sorry”.

Alan Taylor, representing Egan, said his client was “profoundly sorry for her actions leading to the tragedy” and that she had been undergoing “emotional turmoil” when the crash happened.

He added: “She must bear the heavy burden of guilt for the rest of her life. Not a day will go by when she will not remember the pain and anguish she has caused.”

Sentencing Egan, Judge Julian Goose said: “No order or sentence will bring back the life of the deceased.

“Death by dangerous driving is aggravated in your case by the fact that at the time you were over the limit and were in pursuit of another vehicle while travelling at excessive speed.”

Mr Codling’s widow, Karen, was in court to see Egan, who is likely to serve only half the four-year jail term, sentenced. She said: “This is not justice - is Eric’s life only worth four years?

“I know nothing will bring Eric back, but four years is disgusting. To only serve two years for killing somebody just doesn’t make sense. Why is what she did any different to murder?

“We don’t feel there has been any justice.”

During the trial it emerged that Egan’s own sister had been killed by a drunk-driver eight years ago, which Mrs Codling said “added insult to injury.”

She added: “Egan’s own mum at the time said a four-year sentence for the driver who killed her daughter was an outrage, and she is right - it is.”

Victim impact statement from Mr Codling’s family were read out to the court.

His daughter Grace, aged 13, said: “I miss him being here, I miss everything about him. I feel angry. I think it’s horrible someone could do it.”

She said that her younger sister Eve, aged nine, “does not talk to anyone,” and said of the day she learnt her father had died that “it felt like something just stopped.”

Her mother said: “I lost my soulmate, my lover, my everything. My girls lost their cuddles and hugs. We are all bereft.”

The sentence handed down to Egan contrasts to one imposed earlier this month on drunk driver Alison Bowen, aged 61, who killed a cyclist in Sussex and continued to drive for five miles in her damaged car.

Organisations including RoadPeace, CTC and British Cycling have been lobbying the government to ensure the more thorough investigation and prosecution of motorists in cases where vulnerable road users such as cyclists are the victim, as well as harsher penalties for drivers who kill.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

26 comments

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Ramuz [178 posts] 2 years ago
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As long as you're "sorry" or you "deeply regret" your actions or "have to live with the feeling for the rest of your life" then that's fine, then, right?

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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Ramuz wrote:

As long as you're "sorry" or you "deeply regret" your actions or "have to live with the feeling for the rest of your life" then that's fine, then, right?

Genuine remorse should be a mitigating factor in sentencing (emphasis on genuine). That doesn't change the fact that the sentencing guidelines are far too lenient for these crimes.

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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So, aggravating circumstances (drinking) and leaving the scene of a crash as well.

Still only less than 1/3rd of the max time for dangerous driving?

What does it take t get 15 years?

Mowing down a group of nuns guiding blind schoolchildren who just adopted all the kittens while drinking, firing a gun out the window and shouting "come and get me you pigs"?

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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This morning when I woke up I heard a brief mention on the radio of another car/bicycle collision extremely local to me in SW London. The cyclist was taken to hospital and the driver was arrested at the scene.

When an incident is that close, and the victim hasn't been named, you do find yourself concerned as to whether it is someone you might know, or part of your extended circle. It's happened to me before, the number of people killed or seriously injured on the road is so high that we nearly all experience such news at some time.

I mention this as the story has just been updated. I know road.cc will undoutably be covering this and that I probably shouldn't be commenting. I also still hope it wasn't someone I knew, my sympathies to the Codling family.

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vbvb [620 posts] 2 years ago
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bikebot wrote:

Genuine remorse should be a mitigating factor

Not in my death, it shouldn't be. A gushy, empathetic killer is not better than anintroverted, undemonstrative killer.

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severs1966 [367 posts] 2 years ago
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If she had been drunk and killed an innocent passer-by by any other means that were entirely of her own making, she would probably have been put away for at least manslaughter, with an accompanying heavier sentence.

But because she did it with her car, that's OK and just a desultory couple of years of incarceration will do.

Once again the message is strongly broadcast by the legal system: If you want to do something that might lead to your killing someone, use a car; you are likely to get away with it, and if you don't, you are likely to receive, in punishment, a mild slap on the wrist at most.

It OUGHT to be that operating a car obliges the driver to take MORE care than if they are not operating a car. Instead, we are repeatedly shown that the standard of behaviour that a person is held to is LOWER when driving a car than at all other times.

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Al__S [1083 posts] 2 years ago
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not so concerned about the custodial sentence. But really, why should she ever be allowed to drive ever again?

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steven miles [24 posts] 2 years ago
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@Al_s , i totally agree. i have always failed to understand how a driver who causes a death with their car doesn't have the right to drive a car removed permanently.

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Simon E [2855 posts] 2 years ago
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Ramuz wrote:

As long as you're "sorry" or you "deeply regret" your actions or "have to live with the feeling for the rest of your life" then that's fine, then, right?

Who said it was fine? Would you prefer it that she was unrepentant?

jacknorell wrote:

What does it take t get 15 years?

And exactly who is served by this young woman spending 15 years in prison? Who will be better off? Not the victim's family, not the offender nor the taxpayers and the general public. Spiteful vengeance is not justice. I can understand it in a grieving family but not in abusive strangers.

Surely any prison sentence is horrible enough for the average person. And the fun doesn't end on release - it's no easy task renting a house or getting a job afterwards (and no, she will not have been thinking about that beforehand).

This young woman did some very irresponsible things with horrendous consequences but we all make mistakes. Surely it is more important that she and others learn from this and that, while she gets a chance to live and learn, she shouldn't get her licence back for a very long time.

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Whitters1986 [6 posts] 2 years ago
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I often flick through the comments on these types of stories (of which there are far too many) and it's fair to say that everyone is outraged by the sentences given and with the fact that drivers who kill are able to get their licences back after a few short years.

BUT how much good does a comment on the forum of a cycling make? If we all get in touch with the people who make the sentencing guidelines and our MPs then maybe there might be some change.

The Sentencing Guidelines Council can be contacted via an email address on this page: http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/get-involved/consultations.htm

Let's try to make a difference!

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Ramuz [178 posts] 2 years ago
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Lots of people for various reasons (too short, poor vision, amputee, hard off, petrified of driving tests...) are not able to drive a car for the duration of their life. If this woman were to be banned for life, she would be at the bottom of this category in terms of any sympathy owed.

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gmac101 [150 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

And exactly who is served by this young woman spending 15 years in prison? Who will be better off? Not the victim's family, not the offender nor the taxpayers and the general public.

Speaking as a member of a family who lost a member of our family as a result of collision caused by another persons carelessness I think that a significant custodial sentence does help:

The sentence reflects in some way the value society places on the life of your loved one.

The sentence sends a message to whoever may consider similar actions that they should reconsider, stopping what is happening to you happening to others becomes important in the aftermath.

Depriving the criminal of their liberty is a rather poor reflection of life they have deprived your loved one of and the longer it is it is mark of that loss.

As my uncle lay on the road after he was knocked from his motorbike he may well have known that he was dying and would never see his family again (he was a firemen who had attended many crashes) - To know that the criminal experienced, however diluted, that sense of loss would have been some comfort.

In our case the criminal was fined a nominal sum, no ban, no jail sentence. The judge felt that as he would loose his business if he was banned that would punish his family too much and the judge felt that nothing was to gained by putting his family through the sufferings of poverty. He may have been right but it felt like my uncles life was of no consequence.

I hope you find these insights useful and some understanding that significant, appropriate punishments do help the grieving family

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

...we all make mistakes...

Sure. But if we make 'mistakes' with something that is easily a lethal weapon, that should have very severe consequences.

As been said before, if she'd used anything but a car to 'accidentally' (no such thing as a road 'accident', these things are utterly predictable consequences of idiots' actions) kill some innocent person, she'd have gotten plenty more time.

Hell, if she'd embezzled a few thousand pounds from a bank, she'd have gotten more time than this.

Her specifically being in jail benefits us by showing that behaviour like this is not tolerated, and is sanctioned by removing the perpetrator from society for a *meaningful* period of time.

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Simon E [2855 posts] 2 years ago
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gmac101 wrote:

Speaking as a member of a family who lost a member of our family as a result of collision caused by another persons carelessness I think that a significant custodial sentence does help:

The sentence reflects in some way the value society places on the life of your loved one.

The sentence sends a message to whoever may consider similar actions that they should reconsider, stopping what is happening to you happening to others becomes important in the aftermath.

Is 4 years not a significant sentence? It is for most people!

If longer sentences were a useful deterrent then we would have far less violent crime. However, that is not the case. The death sentence is still used regularly in the USA but it has not made any positive impact on the crime rate.

I don't understand how depriving this person of 15 years of liberty instead of 4 will punish/teach them more effectively. How do you know that 15 years would really make you feel so much better? And is that alone a good reason for such a long sentence?

Would 15 years deter other drivers? No. We know that drivers do not view their behaviour logically or comprehend the risk they pose to others, while deliberate law-breakers do not think they will get caught. Otherwise speeding drunk-drivers, texting twats, young men stealing cars and being chased by the cops (as happened recently near home last month) and the rest would not feature in the news so frequently.

jacknorell wrote:

Her specifically being in jail benefits us by showing that behaviour like this is not tolerated, and is sanctioned by removing the perpetrator from society for a *meaningful* period of time.

If you hadn't read about this incident on road.cc, how would the length of the sentence 'benefit' you? How does it benefit the other 60 million people in the UK who didn't read this article?

Vengeance doesn't work. As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Looking at it in financial terms, could the government instead spend money on something more useful? Supporting positive action like RoadPeace, the RDRF and campaigns like See Me Save Me and the CTC's Road Justice is more likely to bring about real change than locking them all in prison for decades.

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jasecd [417 posts] 2 years ago
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gmac101 wrote:
Simon E wrote:

And exactly who is served by this young woman spending 15 years in prison? Who will be better off? Not the victim's family, not the offender nor the taxpayers and the general public.

Speaking as a member of a family who lost a member of our family as a result of collision caused by another persons carelessness I think that a significant custodial sentence does help:

The sentence reflects in some way the value society places on the life of your loved one.

The sentence sends a message to whoever may consider similar actions that they should reconsider, stopping what is happening to you happening to others becomes important in the aftermath.

This was going to be my point to Simon but you made it far more eloquently and with greater authority than I could.

Letting someone off with such a light sentence merely reinforces the widely accepted view that those who kill with their cars are somehow less culpable than those who kill by other methods. This has to change and proper tough sentencing is an integral part of this.

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

If you hadn't read about this incident on road.cc, how would the length of the sentence 'benefit' you? How does it benefit the other 60 million people in the UK who didn't read this article?

Again, by making it clear that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable, and hopefully punished more severely than property crime (heh, that'll be the day...), those who habitually think "they'll get away with it" know they may very well not.

I've said this before: Stricter laws for bad driving, more enforcement, and we may see improvements.

Slapping wrists isn't working, that's utterly clear.

And as far as benefitting me: First, one less sociopathic driver going around being a danger to everyone else. Second, the knowledge that should someone kill me, at least they'll get punished for it.

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antonio [1134 posts] 2 years ago
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Judges guidelines ????

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FluffyKittenofT... [1357 posts] 2 years ago
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@Simon E

I think arguing about the efficacy of prison per se is missing the point. The point is the message sent by the relative length of sentences. If killing a white guy officially carried a sentence double that of killing a black guy, that would be a problem, _regardless of how one felt about the concept of punitive sentences themselves_. Crimes committed with cars get lesser sentences because the whole system has a pro-motorist bias.

I tend to regard as a benchmark the 6 months received by the stupid kid who stole a £3 bottle of water from Lidl during the riots. On that basis, a four-year sentence is 8 bottles of water, or £24, which seems a bit insulting.

If you want prison reform, why not start with the non-violent offences that don't involve abuses of power differentials? There are definitely people in prison who don't need to be there.

Sentences for violent acts (hitting someone with a car is violence) which already get relatively lenient sentences should be at the back of the queue.

Personally, I think the most important issue is incapacitation. While in prison, a dangerous person is no longer a danger to the public. If non-prison sentences like community punishments could reliably stop someone offending I'd be OK with them, but as they are at the moment they aren't (people on probation or out on licence still commit violent crimes, and banned drivers still drive).

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oldstrath [691 posts] 2 years ago
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 22

bikebot wrote:
Ramuz wrote:

As long as you're "sorry" or you "deeply regret" your actions or "have to live with the feeling for the rest of your life" then that's fine, then, right?

Genuine remorse should be a mitigating factor in sentencing (emphasis on genuine). That doesn't change the fact that the sentencing guidelines are far too lenient for these crimes.

Why on earth should remorse, real or pretended, have anything to do with sentencing. Even if this woman's remorse is real, it does nothing to deter others, and unless it is stromg enough to lead her to forego both drinking and driving ever again is unlikely to significantly reduce the risk she poses to others.

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Argos74 [416 posts] 2 years ago
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Eternally the optimist...

To: info [at] sentencingcouncil.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Sirs

In instances where road users cause death or life changing injuries through negligence, greater consideration should be given to much longer driving bans. Lifetime bans where aggravated by other offences - driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, using a mobile phone at the time of the incident, driving whilst disqualified, racing other drivers - and 10-15 years or more as a starting point in other cases.

Driving should not be treated as a given right. It should be treated as a privilege, and subject to withdrawal if criminally negligent driving results in destroying an individual's life. Or their families. There will be those who say that modern life is unsurvivable without using a motor vehicle, and that long term removal of that privilege would cause hardship and undue distress to them and their families.

So does killing or maiming someone through careless or dangerous driving.

Harsher custodial sentencing is an easy, knee-jerk reaction. But would fail to adequately serve the greater interests of justice - prevention, rehabilitation, specific and general deterrence - and does so at great cost to the taxpayer. Long term driving bans prevent and specifically deter an offender from repeating the offence, and generally deter drivers from killing and maiming people. There is also the side benefit or less people dying and getting maimed.

The short version: Killing and maiming people with bad driving is a bad thing. If someone does it, they should lose the privilege of having another try.

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WolfieSmith [1327 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd 2nd you Argos74 and the others calling for total bans.

You should never be able to return to a normal existence and forget you took a life.

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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oldstrath wrote:

 22

bikebot wrote:
Ramuz wrote:

As long as you're "sorry" or you "deeply regret" your actions or "have to live with the feeling for the rest of your life" then that's fine, then, right?

Genuine remorse should be a mitigating factor in sentencing (emphasis on genuine). That doesn't change the fact that the sentencing guidelines are far too lenient for these crimes.

Why on earth should remorse, real or pretended, have anything to do with sentencing. Even if this woman's remorse is real, it does nothing to deter others, and unless it is stromg enough to lead her to forego both drinking and driving ever again is unlikely to significantly reduce the risk she poses to others.

Agree with remorse not being a real factor in how sentencing should be carried out.

On the other hand, the likelihood of re-offending should be a strong factor. Today it does not seem to be. Ditto with truly diminished responsibility, regardless of unpalateable it may be, people do have breakdowns and while their actions may end up having terrible consequences, that really is a mitigating factor.

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

This young woman did some very irresponsible things with horrendous consequences but we all make mistakes. Surely it is more important that she and others learn from this and that, while she gets a chance to live and learn, she shouldn't get her licence back for a very long time.

Help me out. Exactly what was her "mistake"?

Getting pissed?
Getting in the car?
Using the car to chase another car ?
Breaking the speed limit?
Losing control of the car?
Hitting a cyclist head-on?
Killing them?
Fleeing the scene?

all of which sound like a series of choices to me, not accidental mistakes.

She'll be out in two, will be driving again shortly thereafter, will put it behind her, like thousands of others have done, and will get on with her life. Just a mistake.

That mindset strikes me as effed up from a cyclist. But then the driver mindset prevails in our culture which is why such pitiful sentences get handed down.

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Redvee [268 posts] 2 years ago
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What I'd like to see happen in cases like this when a custodial sentence and driving ban is given is the driving ban to start on release from prison so in this case the driver should be off the roads for over 6 years. Currently the driving ban starts straight away.

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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Redvee wrote:

What I'd like to see happen in cases like this when a custodial sentence and driving ban is given is the driving ban to start on release from prison so in this case the driver should be off the roads for over 6 years. Currently the driving ban starts straight away.

The ban now starts on release, changed a few years ago. Sorry for linking to Faily Dail, but writeup is here.

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Simon E [2855 posts] 2 years ago
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workhard wrote:

She'll be out in two, will be driving again shortly thereafter, will put it behind her, like thousands of others have done, and will get on with her life. Just a mistake.

That mindset strikes me as effed up from a cyclist. But then the driver mindset prevails in our culture which is why such pitiful sentences get handed down.

gmac101's experience is an example of sentencing for road crime that is too lenient. I agree. I never said that dangerous drivers should have an easy ride.

You and some of the other knee-jerk reactionaries just repeat this mistaken belief that long prison sentences are effective, both as punishment and a deterrent, for all types of crimes. The evidence shows they are not.

Your "lock 'em up for life" rant may briefly help you feel a little bit better but in the real world it changes nothing. Why not remove the blinkers and read a basic textbook on Crime & Punishment or the work of campaigners involved in this area?