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Judge tells Andrzej Wojcicki that victim Owain Richard James “didn’t stand a chance”

A minibus driver has been sent to prison for five years and handed a 10-year ban from driving for killing a cyclist while looking at pictures on his mobile phone.

Andrzej Wojcicki, aged 45, had been looking at pictures of vintage sports cars on his phone as he drove at 50 miles an hour on the A472 near Newbridge, Gwent, when he struck cyclist Owain James on Sunday 21 July 2013.

Mr James died later in hospital as a result of the severe injuries he sustained in the crash.

BBC News South East Wales reports that a jury at Cardiff Crown Court took seven hours to convict Wojcicki, who had been driving home from a Jehovah’s Witness conference with his wife and children, of causing death by dangerous driving.

Sentencing Wojcicki, who had denied that he had been taking pictures and viewing them at the wheel, Judge David Wyn Morgan told him that "Mr James didn't stand a chance."

Lord Harley, defending Wojcicki, claimed there was no evidence of the phone being used at or prior to the time of the collision, which resulted in the victim being thrown into the air and hitting the bonnet and windscreen of the minibus.

He also claimed that Wojcicki, was a "diligent driver" and that the cyclist had swerved into the path of the vehicle, saying, "For him to come into the path of my client took less than a second. It was all over in a second."

Witnesses however described how the minibus was being driven erratically as though the driver seemed distracted, and one said that after the collision, Wojcicki took pictures of the fatally injured rider.

Nicholas Jones, prosecuting, said: "The driver never saw the cyclist because he was distracted until after he collided with him.

"Because Wojcicki was driving dangerously, he caused the death of Mr James. It is as simple as that.

"You do not take pictures while you are driving along and then look at them."

Judge David Wyn Morgan told Wojcicki: "You were paying little if any attention to the road in front of you.

"The visibility was excellent and the traffic was minimal - if you had been looking you couldn't have failed to be aware of the cyclist.

"The distraction which caused this was your use of the mobile telephone for taking pictures of cars.

"The use of a mobile telephone to examine images while driving is every bit as dangerous as texting.

"You were driving a three-tonne minibus - Mr James didn't stand a chance," he added.

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.

19 comments

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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Hopefully with more sentencing like this drivers might think twice about messing with their phones, doubt it though.

RIP Mr James.

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Duncann [778 posts] 2 years ago
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Better than some sentences but still not enough - this wasn't an accident.

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themartincox [532 posts] 2 years ago
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The fact he was a JW probably didn't help him, separated him from the jury.

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Simmo72 [617 posts] 2 years ago
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Using a mobile as a MP3 is also bad. Touch screen technology is partly to blame. the trouble is how can it be stopped?

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IHphoto [117 posts] 2 years ago
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Driver was sentenced to 5 years of which half has to be in prison.

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PantanAYEMAN [8 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

He also claimed that Wojcicki, was a "diligent driver" and that the cyclist had swerved into the path of the vehicle, saying, "For him to come into the path of my client took less than a second. It was all over in a second."

Surely, even if true, this could not be accepted as an excuse? You should be giving enough space and attention to cyclists to account for this.

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Binky [116 posts] 2 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

The fact he was a JW probably didn't help him, separated him from the jury.

Sorry. I don't understand what you mean.

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steviewevie [30 posts] 2 years ago
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The judge apparently wasn't too impressed with the defending lawyer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-28979459

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 2 years ago
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JW = Jehovah's Witness; Martin is suggesting that a jury identifying a defendant as part of some minority outgroup would not help them to relate to him. Pretty much the reverse of the driver being the stereotypical 'hard-working family man' that the jury relates to, just prior to deciding "that could be me" and letting them walk.

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vanmildert [50 posts] 2 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

The fact he was a JW probably didn't help him, separated him from the jury.

I do hope that wasn't a factor - JW, Christian....or whatever delusions he suffers from has nothing to do with the fact that he is a dangerous moron to drive like he did.

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truffy [653 posts] 2 years ago
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Only 5 years for a life?  14

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zanf [869 posts] 2 years ago
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steviewevie wrote:

The judge apparently wasn't too impressed with the defending lawyer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-28979459

Just saw the same story in the Graniaud

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truffy [653 posts] 2 years ago
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zanf wrote:
steviewevie wrote:

The judge apparently wasn't too impressed with the defending lawyer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-28979459

Just saw the same story in the Graniaud

And if you follow the link to Dr The Right Honourable The Lord Harley of Counsel of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem's LinkedIn profile, he appears to claim patents from the 1940s awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart Blacker. It's all very odd, Harry Potter seems almost normal in comparison.

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Binky [116 posts] 2 years ago
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Than you for explaining  1

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 2 years ago
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steviewevie wrote:

The judge apparently wasn't too impressed with the defending lawyer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-28979459

How very very bizarre.

If you were the defendant, and the case started with your brief getting a b0ll0cking like that, you wouldn't fancy your chances much, would you?!

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Flying Scot [921 posts] 2 years ago
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Expect an appeal on the basis that he instructed a loony instead of a solicitor.

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Housecathst [537 posts] 2 years ago
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truffy wrote:

Only 5 years for a life?  14

Your right, it's a sorry state of affairs that read the story I was thinking at least he got 5 years.

Let's hope that it's its 5 (well, more likely 2) very uncomfortable years for him.

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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Only a 10 year ban?

Needs to be life as the default for dangerous driving leading to KSI.

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ronin [280 posts] 2 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

The fact he was a JW probably didn't help him, separated him from the jury.

Well perhaps he isn't a very good one if he didn't know using a phone and driving is dangerous.