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Cycling UK repeats call for new offence to be created with stronger penalties for offenders

A Leicester taxi driver has lost an appeal against his conviction earlier this year of allowing his passenger to open the door of the cab, causing the death of cyclist Sam Boulton who was knocked from his bike into the path of a van.

Farook Yusuf Bhikhu had pleaded not guilty at his original trial in June at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court in June of the offence of opening a car door, or causing or permitting it to be opened, so as to cause injury.

Upon conviction, he was fined £300 plus a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs. After the rejection of his appeal today, he has been ordered to pay additional costs of £300.

Bhikhu was parked on a double yellow line outside Leicester railway station when his passenger, Mandy Chapple, opened the door as Mr Boulton, a schoolteacher who turned 26 that day, approached.

In March, Chapple was fined £80 after entering a guilty plea to the same offence that Bhikhu was later convicted of.

The driver of the van, Nigel Ingram, stood trial the same month and pleaded guilty to failure to stop and driving while over the legal limit for alcohol.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and conditional on attending a 12-week course for treatment for his alcohol addiction.

Ingram was also banned from driving for 28 months.

After Bhikhu lost his appeal today, the victim’s father, Jeff Boulton, said: “I’m relieved to hear the court uphold the decision from June earlier this year.

“In July 2016 our family received a lifelong sentence, because Bhikhu parked irresponsibly to save a couple of minutes and took no responsibility for his passenger’s actions.

“Despite Bhikhu’s major role in the events leading to the death of my son, his refusal to see how his action resulted in the death of a wonderful and talented young man, is almost as upsetting as the way the law trivialises car-dooring.”

Mr Boulton and the charity Cycling UK are campaigning for the government to introduce a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car-dooring with higher penalties than the maximum £1,000 fine currently in force.

Duncan Dollimore, head of advocacy and campaigns at Cycling UK, commented: “This tragic case should act as a reminder for all drivers about their responsibility to ensure passengers do not cause injury or death when exiting a vehicle.

“Sam’s needless death also highlights the need for urgent action from the government to change the law on car-dooring offences.

“A maximum £1,000 fine is inadequate for entirely avoidable behaviour which can kill.

“This is why Cycling UK and the families of those affected by dooring have asked government to introduce a new offence of causing or permitting serious injury or death by car dooring, with tougher penalties.”

He added: “Driver education must be improved. In early September, Cycling UK wrote to Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, about the potential to educate UK drivers and their passengers about the “Dutch Reach”, a technique which can help reduce the risk of car-dooring.

“We are still waiting for his response.”

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.

13 comments

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ChrisB200SX [563 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Seems like a miscarriage of justice here. The non-innocent van driver is paying the price for the taxi driver and passenger's mistakes, while they both get-off pretty leniently. Although, obviously the cyclist paid the real price.
So, he's he didn't stop and was over the drink-drive limit, he deserves his punishment and arguably more. But, all else being equal and had he been sober and stopped, would the result basically be the same for the cyclist... and would the taxi driver still have got such a light punishment for causing someone's death?
You can't necessarily entirely blame the passenger, ie, if they are a child or don't have a driving licence, not aware of the rules of the road, or whatever, it's definitely the taxi driver's responsibility to ensure this sort of thing does not happen.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Taxis should have a differential door lock operated by the driver that allows only the kerb side door to open, save for emergency override.

The van driver should never be allowed to drive again, simple.  Drink driving = c*nt = lifetime loss of right to drive.

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Housecathst [607 posts] 1 month ago
16 likes

Pissed and in a 2 ton killing machine, suspended sentence. bike with out a front brake, 18 months in prison. You’ve got to love your “justice” system  haven’t you. 

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Supers79 [12 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Seeing taxi drivers behaviour outside schools in Leicester , parking on yellow lines and zig-zags , I'd hope this outcome will be a game changer, I doubt it though. 

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peted76 [790 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

This just confuses me so much, taxi drivers should be the most responsible people on the road, if only they'd thrown the book at this bastard... £300 plus a £30 victim surcharge - WTH is a victim surcharge, this makes me feel sick.

 

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StraelGuy [1094 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
peted76 wrote:

This just confuses me so much, taxi drivers should be the most responsible people on the road, if only they'd thrown the book at this bastard... £300 plus a £30 victim surcharge - WTH is a victim surcharge, this makes me feel sick.

 

 

I agree Pete but I find taxi drivers, especially minicabs, are some of the most appalling drivers I encounter. If you think about the qualifications needed, a driving license, it's no wonder some of them are idiots. Too extensive a criminal record to get a 'proper' job? Too stupid to do anything else? You get the picture .

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LastBoyScout [328 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Enough about the taxi driver - what about the measly £80 fine for the passenger?

Seems ludicrously low, given she was the one that actually opened the door.

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schlepcycling [84 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Why was the van drive not charged with involuntary manslaughter, the being over the drink drive limit surely meets the 'recklessness' or 'criminal negligence' required to sustain such a charge.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
schlepcycling wrote:

Why was the van drive not charged with involuntary manslaughter, the being over the drink drive limit surely meets the 'recklessness' or 'criminal negligence' required to sustain such a charge.

Probably bacause one of the 4 elements that must be made out is that it has to cause the death, and there is authority that the act must be directed at the victim, though of course it's not that clear cut.  In this case, it was argued that the action of opening the door was the actual CAUSE of the death, albeit that the MECHANISM was the van; the law distinguishes, in certain circumstances, between the two, and it's not a settled area.

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kie7077 [932 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I've chastised a taxi driver for allowing passengers out without checking, he was completely clueless about the law. Cabs right hand side doors should just stay locked until the cabbie releases it like a child-lock.

Here's an idea, a short mandatory test for everyone with a license with questions covering some stuff that drivers are clueless about such as what is an acceptable passing distance, who has priority at side-roads (ie crossing pedestrians have priority ), is filtering legal? Is it a criminal or civil offense to allow a door to be opened without checking. Etcetera.

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kie7077 [932 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
LastBoyScout wrote:

Enough about the taxi driver - what about the measly £80 fine for the passenger?

Seems ludicrously low, given she was the one that actually opened the door.

Judges are completely out of touch with regards to money, if somebody can happy frittering away money on taxi's then £80 is a joke - killing somebody gets them same as a parking ticket!!

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davel [1955 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

"In early September, Cycling UK wrote to Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, about the potential to educate UK drivers and their passengers about the “Dutch Reach”, a technique which can help reduce the risk of car-dooring.

“We are still waiting for his response.”

Norman doesn't respond to communication like that. The best way to get Norman to respond is to accuse the headline-grabbing hypocrite of being a headline-grabbing hypocrite, preferably in a headline.

Or maybe get a mother to walk into your brakeless fixie. He'll be on that like white on rice.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
kie7077 wrote:

 killing somebody gets them same as a parking ticket!!

That's total balls. Unless you live somewhere especially cheap - it's £120 where I live.