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Cycling UK has called for increased penalties where drivers flee the scene of a collision knowing that someone may have been seriously injured

Hull’s most senior judge says he will write to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Lord Chancellor to invite reconsideration of the maximum penalties open to a court in cases where serious injury has been caused due to seriously deficient driving and several aggravating features are present.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC was speaking after jailing businessman Owen Finn for three years for causing catastrophic and life-changing injuries to 16-year-old cyclist Kiernan Roberts in a drink-driving incident.

Finn was also banned from driving for 11-and-a-half years, and must pass an extended test before he can drive again.

The Hull Daily Mail reports that Roberts was riding home from his part-time job at around 11.15pm on October 7 last year when Finn "ploughed" into him from behind in his Mercedes on Brantingham Road, Elloughton.

Rather than stop, Finn drove to his ex-wife's, changed his clothes, and then fled to Birmingham with a broken windscreen.

The president of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce was returning from a chamber function near South Cave and had drunk so much alcohol that witnesses said he could barely stand up.

Roberts, who was riding with lights, was left lying in the road with a broken neck, a fractured skull, a fractured spine and other serious injuries. He was found by a passing motorist and having undergone life-saving surgery now requires round-the-clock care.

Finn admitted four offences, including causing serious injury by dangerous driving, for which the maximum sentence is five years.

Judge Richardson said: "I echo the views of the Court of Appeal in the case of Jenkins [2015] where a level of criticism was directed at the maximum sentence of five years for crimes of this kind.

"I respectfully agree with those observations, and it has to be said that a case of this kind, with so many exceptionally serious features, would have warranted a higher level of sentencing had it been open to the court.

"There is simply not enough room for manoeuvre within the bracket currently open to the court to tailor the sentence in a sufficiently punitive way in a case of exceptional seriousness. Such a facility obtains when death has occurred, but not where, as here in this case, life-shattering injuries have been caused as a result of a level of utterly deplorable dangerous driving with many aggravating features.

"In consequence, I shall send these sentencing remarks to the Secretary of State for Transport, and the Lord Chancellor. I simply, and respectfully, invite reconsideration of the maximum penalties open to the court in cases where serious injury has been caused due to seriously deficient driving, and several aggravating features are present. Ultimately, this is a matter for Parliament."

Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety Officer, Duncan Dollimore, commented:

"This appalling incident is another clear reason why we need an urgent review of the law around road traffic offences and sentencing, first promised by the coalition government back in May 2014.

"Despite launching a consultation last December, there was still no mention of new legislation in the Queen's speech, which laid out the future legislation for this Parliament. Cycling UK wrote to the new Justice Secretary David Lidington in June urging him to progress this, and therefore very much welcome Judge Richardson's comments and indication that he intends to contact Government too.

"Cycling UK's consultation response included a specific call for increased penalties in case where drivers flee the scene of a collision knowing that someone has been or may have been seriously injured: exactly what Owen Finn did.

"Hopefully pressure from the Judiciary will remind the government that they need to listen to the voices of the thousands of victims, charities and road safety campaigners who have repeatedly called for legislative change to ensure that bad driving offences can be appropriately dealt with by the courts, and dangerous drivers removed from our roads."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

10 comments

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Grahamd [528 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

Respect to the judge for trying. Unfortunately Brexit will dominate Westminster for the next 2 years, so unlikely anything will change soon.

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Ramuz [277 posts] 1 week ago
9 likes

People like Owen Finn are why I consider vigilante action.

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Yorkshire wallet [1183 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes
Ramuz wrote:

People like Owen Finn are why I consider vigilante action.

We can only hope he gets used as a glory hole in prison and requires round-the-clock assistance to sit down for the rest of his life. 

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lolol [213 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

If the maximum sentence is five years, and the Judge wanted to be able to give more, then why was the sentence only three years?

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oldstrath [775 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
lolol wrote:

If the maximum sentence is five years, and the Judge wanted to be able to give more, then why was the sentence only three years?

Presumably the usual nonsense about compulsory reduction for pleading guilty. Sounds as though Finn also needs help for alcohol abuse, and ideally shouldn't ever be allowed to drive again.

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SteppenHerring [338 posts] 1 week ago
6 likes

I have no idea why motor vehicles are treated differently from other objects. If you toss a fire extinguisher off a building (even if it injures nobody) then it's prison. If you, through reckless usage, kill someone with a shotgun or a felling axe, then it's manslaughter. For no reason at all, motor vehicles are treated differently.

Also cyclists, as victims, are treated differently. Recently we've seen an viscount sent down for encouraging people to run over a woman. Read the comments section on the Daily Mail or any local newspaper site under any cycling story. I know people who have been riding in groups and someone has deliberately driven a vehicle into them. Police/CPS not interested. But then it happens to a group of people in London and now it's terrorism.

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Morgoth985 [35 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
SteppenHerring wrote:

 

Also cyclists, as victims, are treated differently.

 

Out-group.

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racyrich [287 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Three other offences the judge could have set consecutive sentences for though. But didn't.

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BehindTheBikesheds [443 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

If witnesses stated he could barely stand, presumably this would have being BEFORE he got in the car why, so why the hell did they not stop him from getting behind the wheel!

As a Hull born lad myself the driving std there is appalling and the roads in the East riding whilst not as busy as some present just as many wankers as other places.

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kitsunegari [208 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
lolol wrote:

If the maximum sentence is five years, and the Judge wanted to be able to give more, then why was the sentence only three years?

Tariff reductions for pleading guilty are part of sentencing, and any half-competent lawyer would have exploited this.