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20-year-old was convicted of causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving after death of pedestrian Kim Briggs

Charlie Alliston, the cyclist convicted last month of causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving in conneection with the death of pedestrian Kim Briggs, has been sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment in a young offenders institution.

The 20-year-old from Bermondsey was cleared at his trial at the Old Bailey last month of manslaughter, but the jury found him guilty on the second charge, which has a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment.

Mrs Briggs, aged 44, died in hospital from head injuries sustained when she and Alliston were involved in a collision as she crossed London's Old Street in February last year.

Alliston had been riding a fixed wheel bike with no front brake, meaning it was not legal for use on the road.

Sentencing him today, Judge Wendy Jospeph QC told Alliston that she believed he rode the bike for a "thrill," reports the London Evening Standard.

She said: "I am satisfied in some part it was this so-called thrill that motivated you to ride without a front brake shouting and swearing at pedestrians to get out of the way.

"I've heard your evidence and I have no doubt that even now you remain obstinately sure of yourself and your own abilities.

"I have no doubt you are wrong in this. You were an accident waiting to happen.

"The victim could have been any pedestrian. It was in fact Mrs Kim Briggs."

​She continued: "If your bicycle had a front wheel brake you could have stopped but on this illegal bike you could not and on your evidence, by this stage, you were not even trying to slow or stop.

"You expected her to get out of the way," the judge added.

​Speaking in mitigation on behalf of Alliston, Mark Wyeth QC said: "What we do not have is a callous young man who doesn't give a damn about anything."

He added: "There is within him, I respectfully submit, a lot of internal sense of emotional turmoil but keeps this hidden as a coping strategy."

The court heard Alliston was depressed, had broken up with his girlfriend and lost his job.

After Alliston was sentenced Mrs Briggs’ husband Matthew, who has called for careless or dangerous cyclists to be subject to the same laws as motorists,  said: “I would like to thank the judge Wendy Joseph for her comments this morning.

“This case has clearly demonstrated that there is a gap in the law when it comes to dealing with causing death or serious injury by dangerous cycling. 

“To have to rely on either manslaughter at one end, or a Victorian law that doesn’t even mention causing death at the other end tells us that there is a gap. The fact that what happened to Kim is rare is not a reason for there to be no remedy.”

He continued: “I am pleased to say that we have made very good progress towards updating the law and I would like to thank the media, the public, my MP Heidi Alexander and also the transport minister for their support and commitment to resolving this matter.

“I would also like to use this opportunity to call on bike retailers and courier companies to help me get fixed wheeled and velodrome bikes without front brakes off the road. 

“Whilst I would commend the five major retailers who have withdrawn products or altered their websites in response to my calls, I am still seeing too many retailers irresponsibly advertising these bikes.”

“The vast majority of people I see riding these bikes are couriers. I would call on these companies to help me get these bikes off the road."

He added: “They are illegal and as we have seen with Kim’s death, they are potentially lethal.”

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.

130 comments

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hawkinspeter [1131 posts] 2 months ago
15 likes

That's harsh. I would've expected a suspended sentence would be sufficient.

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ChrisB200SX [565 posts] 2 months ago
21 likes

That does seem very harsh for riding without a front brake.

Still, in other news, Wayne Rooney has to pay a £170 fine for driving while 3 times voer the drink-drive limit.
Justice?

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Grumpy17 [86 posts] 2 months ago
7 likes

People get less time than that for burglary, or even robbery.

Something wrong with this country.

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gbadman [6 posts] 2 months ago
20 likes

Would have got less if he'd killed her with a car...

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bendertherobot [1481 posts] 2 months ago
7 likes
Grumpy17 wrote:

People get less time than that for burglary, or even robbery.

Something wrong with this country.

Some people get more. That's how sentencing works. You set the levels then sentence within each. Now, this offence carries with it a sentence of up to 2 years. The judge will balance aggravating and mitigating factors and come up with what is correct. She won't be bound by the existing cases, but others have also gone to prison. Finally, that judge will remember that the harm in this case was a death.

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the nutcracker [20 posts] 2 months ago
22 likes

It would be nice if sh*t drivers were given sentences like this more often

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Jimmy Ray Will [817 posts] 2 months ago
10 likes

Sends a clear message out to all cyclists... FFS get a front brake on your bike. 

The chap has my sincerest sympathies. His life is now done for an error in judgement (the brake), driven by ignorance of the law. 

Oh, and lets forget, for making a few comments post accident (but before the woman died) that on reflection can now be portrayed as remorseless. 

Sadly I fear this is not a great day for justice in this country.  Social media posts should not dictate prison sentences.

I am siding with Mr Briggs, the law needs urgent reform to bring cycling laws closer in line with those used in motoring. 

 

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Applecart [78 posts] 2 months ago
6 likes

Serves the arrogant little f**ker right. Same rules apply to everyone: I don't buy for a millisecond that a cyclist can't be found guilty of dangerous driving on an illegal machine as this dickhead was. (going by the general comments on this site, wherein a cyclist can never do any wrong and all motorists are crazed maniacs who get off scott-free, etc) There is an imbalance in favour of motorists, agreed, but it goes both ways. My first words were "fucking yes" when I read the headline, quite frankly as I can't stand kids on track bikes - they give the rest of us a bad name.

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Applecart [78 posts] 2 months ago
7 likes

You do actually realise that this woman is dead, right?

ChrisB200SX wrote:

That does seem very harsh for riding without a front brake.

Still, in other news, Wayne Rooney has to pay a £170 fine for driving while 3 times voer the drink-drive limit.
Justice?

Avatar
Applecart [78 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Couldn't agree with you more.

the nutcracker wrote:

It would be nice if sh*t drivers were given sentences like this more often

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Applecart [78 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

Death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. In this case the maximum was 2. I'd say it's imbalanced in favour of cyclists in this case, wouldn't you? Personally I feel the same rules should apply to all road users in terms of faulty equipment and dangerous driving. Obviously you have to protect the weaker party to a great extent, ie. cyclists so there are special provisions, ie. cyclists are treated by law as equal road users with equal right of way (much to the chagrin of motorists..) Equal right of way means equal liability, ufortunately.

gbadman wrote:

Would have got less if he'd killed her with a car...

Avatar
wilkij1975 [29 posts] 2 months ago
7 likes
Applecart wrote:

Serves the arrogant little f**ker right. Same rules apply to everyone: I don't buy for a millisecond that a cyclist can't be found guilty of dangerous driving on an illegal machine as this dickhead was. (going by the general comments on this site, wherein a cyclist can never do any wrong and all motorists are crazed maniacs who get off scott-free, etc) There is an imbalance in favour of motorists, agreed, but it goes both ways. My first words were "fucking yes" when I read the headline, quite frankly as I can't stand kids on track bikes - they give the rest of us a bad name.

 

Well said that man!

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grahamTDF [49 posts] 2 months ago
9 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

Still, in other news, Wayne Rooney has to pay a £170 fine for driving while 3 times voer the drink-drive limit.
Justice?

I think you may have drifted over the line from cherry picking facts to outright lies here.

Standard £85 costs and £85 victim surcharge.

The punishment was the ban, community service and community order.

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wellsprop [506 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

He more or less deserves it for being a total pile of.

Let's hope tough prosecutions are the norm for ALL road users who cause KSI's due to breaking road traffic laws.

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grahamTDF [49 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes
Applecart wrote:

Death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. In this case the maximum was 2. I'd say it's imbalanced in favour of cyclists in this case, wouldn't you? Personally I feel the same rules should apply to all road users in terms of faulty equipment and dangerous driving. Obviously you have to protect the weaker party to a great extent, ie. cyclists so there are special provisions, ie. cyclists are treated by law as equal road users with equal right of way (much to the chagrin of motorists..) Equal right of way means equal liability, ufortunately.

The equivalent of Death by dangerous driving would be the manslaughter charge that the jury cleared him of.

The law seems perfectly able to punish cyclists the same as drivers at the mo, just needs to be done in a roundabout way.  The law might be tidied in a bid by the government to please Daily Mail readers, but sentancing options for judges unlikely to change.

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essexian [10 posts] 2 months ago
11 likes
wilkij1975 wrote:
Applecart wrote:

Serves the arrogant little f**ker right. Same rules apply to everyone: I don't buy for a millisecond that a cyclist can't be found guilty of dangerous driving on an illegal machine as this dickhead was. (going by the general comments on this site, wherein a cyclist can never do any wrong and all motorists are crazed maniacs who get off scott-free, etc) There is an imbalance in favour of motorists, agreed, but it goes both ways. My first words were "fucking yes" when I read the headline, quite frankly as I can't stand kids on track bikes - they give the rest of us a bad name.

 

Well said that man!

 

So, you should be sent to jail for being a dickhead then... if that's the case, we are going to need a lot more prisons.  18 months for this is just playing to the crowd: something the law should never do. 

 

 

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pockstone [137 posts] 2 months ago
19 likes

It would appear that , according to the Judge's  comments, warning pedestrians verbally of your approach is now an aggravating factor  in the case of an accident. 

 

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brooksby [2703 posts] 2 months ago
15 likes

Says the judge, "... shouting and swearing at pedestrians to get out of the way."  Erm, wasn't that him trying to get the pedestrian-who'd-walked-out-into-the-road-without-noticing-him out of the way?  Would it have been better, then, if he'd stayed silent whilst attempting to avoid them?    Custodial sentence seems a bit harsh IMO, and way worse than any motorist would have received...

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Zjtm231 [93 posts] 2 months ago
15 likes

How on earth can Briggs continue to claim there is some kind of gap in the law when the accused has been not only found guilty but given 18 month custodial sentance?

 

Especially considering the vast majority of drivers who kill receive nothing like that:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/delivery-driver-who-m...

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9750785/Driver-who-killed-pedestrian-aft...

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essexian [10 posts] 2 months ago
13 likes
wellsprop wrote:

He more or less deserves it for being a total pile of.

Let's hope tough prosecutions are the norm for ALL road users who cause KSI's due to breaking road traffic laws.

 

While I agree with you on your second point, with juries being made up of car drivers who are reluctant to convict one of their own, and by Judges who seem to follow the bile which pollutes the press, then this seems extremely unlikely. 

 

And with regards to your first point: being a pile of whatever is not a criminal offence: I have checked in the copy of Anthony and Berryman's Magistrates Court Guide which lives on my desk and nope, its not in the 1050 pages which make up this book. 

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Scoob_84 [435 posts] 2 months ago
20 likes

I don;t nwish to appear insensitive, but since being found guilty, all news reports seem to miss out the bit that Mrs Briggs was not crossing at a pedestrian crossing and seem to absolve her of any responsibility to crossing the road and not appearing to be looking out for the traffic. 

 

18 months for no front brake seems harsh.

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the little onion [173 posts] 2 months ago
13 likes

For comparison

From road peace (here)

 

176 convictions for careless driving during the period of the report:

46 drivers were given immediate custody and 55 were given a suspended sentence.

The proportion of shorter custodial sentences (12 months and under) has declined from 80% to 54% since 2014; while those getting a longer custodial sentence has risen correspondingly.

Average length of custodial sentence has increased to 14 months, from 10.4 months in 2014.

66 guilty drivers (39%) were given a community sentence, up in absolute and percentage terms from 2014.

Relative to 2010, prison sentences (immediate and suspended) have increased, while community sentences have declined.

 

So, he would almost certainly have got a lower sentence if he was a driver.

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Mungecrundle [866 posts] 2 months ago
9 likes

Hopefully this new found ability to find prison vacancies for road users who kill and maim others through their reckless behaviour will extend to operators of all vehicles and also to pedestrians who put others at risk by their negligent actions.

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Simon E [3154 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes
essexian wrote:

18 months for this is just playing to the crowd: something the law should never do.

+1.

18 months in prison rolls off the tongue/keyboard so easily but most people don't stop to think whether this is an appropriate punishment.

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Legin [139 posts] 2 months ago
17 likes
Scoob_84 wrote:

I don;t nwish to appear insensitive, but since being found guilty, all news reports seem to miss out the bit that Mrs Briggs was not crossing at a pedestrian crossing and seem to absolve her of any responsibility to crossing the road and not appearing to be looking out for the traffic. 

 

18 months for no front brake seems harsh.

You are not being insensitive. To me this seems like a very harsh sentence where he is being jailed for the consequences of the crime not the crime itself. As we all know, from these pages, killers of cyclists are rarely jailed because the Courts are obliged to look at the crime, not the effect of the crime.

I cycle in Central London most days; there are a minority of motorists and cyclists who break the law. However from my perspective the biggest risk to my safety is pedestrians who ignore Peilican Crossings and cross roads without looking; apart from at their phone of course.

If this Lady crossed the road without looking then she paid the ultimate price for her mistake. That doesn't absolve the cyclist from not having a front brake. However the sham science used to prove that he would have stopped if he had a front brake was outrageous and should have been thrown out. I hope he appeals this.

 

Avatar
Zjtm231 [93 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
the little onion wrote:

For comparison

From road peace (here)

 

176 convictions for careless driving during the period of the report:

46 drivers were given immediate custody and 55 were given a suspended sentence.

The proportion of shorter custodial sentences (12 months and under) has declined from 80% to 54% since 2014; while those getting a longer custodial sentence has risen correspondingly.

Average length of custodial sentence has increased to 14 months, from 10.4 months in 2014.

66 guilty drivers (39%) were given a community sentence, up in absolute and percentage terms from 2014.

Relative to 2010, prison sentences (immediate and suspended) have increased, while community sentences have declined.

 

So, he would almost certainly have got a lower sentence if he was a driver.

well researched!

 

Avatar
pockstone [137 posts] 2 months ago
10 likes

Mrs. Briggs' death was  a tragedy,  and as I've said in a previous post, as tragic as all unnecessary road deaths. However the Law's response seems to have been different to that which we are used to seeing in Driving cases.

I am perplexed by the background to the charging of Alliston. He couldn't be charged for Causing death by dangerous cycling, as that offence does not exist. He was charged with Manslaughter instead. Why then was he also charged with causing bodily harm (in this case, death) by wanton and furious cycling ?

Is it common for drivers charged with, for example Dangerous driving, to be also charged at the same time with a lesser offence of Careless driving? And is it common for drivers charged with Causing death by dangerous/careless driving to be also charged with Manslaughter

He could have been charged with dangerous cycling, the definition of which seems to fit with his lack of a front brake, but wasn't.

He could have been charged under Construction and Use legislation, but wasn't.

As for sentencing, the guidelines for Dangerous driving allow for mitigation where the actions of the victim are in some way contributory, yet the Judge makes no reference to this in her comments on sentencing. Presumably this means that it wasn't taken into account. Why not?

Avatar
don simon [1548 posts] 2 months ago
11 likes
Applecart wrote:

Serves the arrogant little f**ker right. Same rules apply to everyone: I don't buy for a millisecond that a cyclist can't be found guilty of dangerous driving on an illegal machine as this dickhead was. (going by the general comments on this site, wherein a cyclist can never do any wrong and all motorists are crazed maniacs who get off scott-free, etc) There is an imbalance in favour of motorists, agreed, but it goes both ways. My first words were "fucking yes" when I read the headline, quite frankly as I can't stand kids on track bikes - they give the rest of us a bad name.

I'd take a few minutes to have a think about that generalisation, and then work out whether I can take anything else you've said seriously.

Daily Mail will be loving this though.

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Bluebug [227 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

That's harsh. I would've expected a suspended sentence would be sufficient.

The sentence is harsh because he didn't show remorse.

If you want a lighter sentence when you are at court both you and your lawyers have to grovel. Shredding a few tears and saying sorry  to the family also helps.

Avatar
gbadman [6 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes
Applecart wrote:

Death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. In this case the maximum was 2. I'd say it's imbalanced in favour of cyclists in this case, wouldn't you? Personally I feel the same rules should apply to all road users in terms of faulty equipment and dangerous driving. Obviously you have to protect the weaker party to a great extent, ie. cyclists so there are special provisions, ie. cyclists are treated by law as equal road users with equal right of way (much to the chagrin of motorists..) Equal right of way means equal liability, ufortunately.

gbadman wrote:

Would have got less if he'd killed her with a car...

 

I'm not commenting on if what he got was appropriate or not. He shouldn't have been riding a bike that wasn't road legal on the road in my opinion. But then I wonder how much time is spent checking cars are in road legal condition after accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians.

I was just commenting that it is likely he would have got a shorter sentence if he'd killed her with a car. We've seen this time and time again recently with cyclists killed by drivers.

Personally, I'd also like to see this offence and death by careless/dangerous driving all completely scrapped. And then everything just done as murder or manslaughter if someone died as a result of the accident, depending on whether there was intent or not. I think that would clear things up much more.

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