Seven years in jail and lifetime ban for lorry driver who killed Catriona Patel

Sentence follows CPS decision to press for trial on more serious charges

by Simon_MacMichael   November 18, 2010  

Gavel

A lorry driver who killed a cyclist near Oval tube station last June has been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and has been banned from driving for life.

Catriona Patel, a 39-year-old public relations executive, was in training to ride L’Etape du Tour with her husband Asish when she was killed after a lorry driven by Dennis Putz, 51, from Monkton Hadley, Hertfordshire, turned left across her path on Kennington Park Road, near Oval Tube Station.

Earlier this year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) rejected a guilty plea from Putz to the charge of causing death by careless driving, insisting that he instead be tried for the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving due to suspicions that he had been drinking and was using a mobile phone at the time of the fatal crash.

That decision appears to have been vindicated by today’s sentence, confirmed to road.cc by an official at Inner London Crown Court where the trial was held, although it should be pointed out that it is only half the maximum 14 years’ sentence provided by law for that offence.

The Streatham Guardian reported that during the trial it was disclosed that Putz had previously been disqualified 20 times as well as three convictions for drink driving and three convictions for reckless driving  - extraordinary figures, and ones which we'll be seking clarification on regarding why he was still allowed to drive at the time Mrs Patel was killed.

Detective Constable Tony Tobin, the senior investigating officer, commented: "Our thoughts are with Catriona's husband and the rest of her family as they have to deal with her loss every day.

"Dennis Putz started driving a large tipper truck that day still 1.5 times the legal drink drive limit. He was also using a mobile telephone as he hit Catriona.

"The combination of the size of vehicle, drink and phone came together to produce such tragic consequences."

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Chalmers of the Road Death Investigation Unit, added: "Dennis Putz ignored the duty of care he had to other road users, which resulted in the tragic death of this young woman.

"The Met takes this sort of crime seriously and the Traffic department now has some of London's most experienced detectives investigating fatal road collisions.

"If someone dies on one of the capital's roads as a result of dangerous driving the investigation will be thorough, professional and relentless."

 

26 user comments

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half the maximum sentence but still a hefty stint - movement in the right direction compared to what we have seen.

TwiggyHo's picture

posted by TwiggyHo [60 posts]
18th November 2010 - 17:11

3 Likes

It sounds like the driver received a suitable sentence, for once. My sympathies are with Ms Patel's family.

I wonder though if the CPS will re-investigate some of the other cyclist fatalities caused by large trucks in London in the last few years? There have been a few others that have been publicised in which the driver has escaped serious charge when there have been questions over the incident to say the least.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2239 posts]
18th November 2010 - 17:11

4 Likes

For me with circumstances he should have got the full maximum sentence available.

I hope this gets put in some red tab papers tomorrow so other drivers take note.

posted by gazzaputt [183 posts]
18th November 2010 - 17:23

2 Likes

My comment on the 10th November:

But what should really happen is that he should lose his licence for the rest of his life. Instead he will no doubt lose his licence for a period probably less than his jail term.

Result - I'm proved wrong!

I think 7 years is a decent stint. Other killers (ie, not in vehicles) have got less. It's the lifetime ban that is so good.

No doubt he will appeal.

posted by pickles [28 posts]
18th November 2010 - 17:29

4 Likes

Got to agree - lifetime ban is the best piece of news here

If only there weren't so many banned, uninsured drivers already on the roads anyway *sigh*

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [555 posts]
18th November 2010 - 19:42

2 Likes

Over the limit and on the phone. Scum.

> I hope this gets put in some red tab papers tomorrow so other drivers take note.

Good point.

posted by zoxed [62 posts]
18th November 2010 - 21:18

2 Likes

I thought that, at last, someone was getting an appropriate sentence for taking a life with a vehicle, just as would for killing using any other means... until I read the bit about him having been disqualified many times previously. How many times would you be allowed run around with a loaded shotgun - drunk or sober - before they locked you up and told you you'll never get a gun licence again? I suspect his lifetime driving ban is more about his recidivism, and contempt for the rule of law, than anything else.

posted by handlebarcam [529 posts]
18th November 2010 - 21:53

2 Likes

If the accident was with a tipper truck, why is there an image of a mixer truck at the top of this story?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2239 posts]
18th November 2010 - 22:04

4 Likes

reports said it was a concrete truck, in fact it was a tipper truck carrying concrete

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
18th November 2010 - 22:37

3 Likes

The police investigate. The CPS only prosecute. You need a reasonable prospect of conviction to prosecute and to win, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. It needs a bit more than vague supsicion that it's a bit iffy.

posted by Jerm [39 posts]
19th November 2010 - 0:01

2 Likes

Seven years is a long sentence and well done to the Met and the CPS for pursuing this one. At last, us London cyclists have a verdict which acts as a deterrent.

One surely has to ask, if he didn't receive the maximum sentence for his crime, what would you actually have to do to get 14 years? do it deliberately?

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
19th November 2010 - 1:26

2 Likes

This is interesting - worth a thread of its own Tony:

According to analysis of police road casualty data for 1992 to 2006 by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were responsible for 103, or 43%, of the 242 cycling deaths in London during that period, despite only accounting for 4% of traffic. The research found that 53% of the deaths were caused by lorry drivers turning left across cyclists, due to the poor visibility from the driver's cab, which is often too high up to see cyclists next to the vehicle. The research team said that high-cab trucks were designed for motorways and should not be permitted to drive within city limits.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2239 posts]
19th November 2010 - 12:25

4 Likes

7 lousy years is not a long enough sentence (no it isn't londonplayer) for basically murder, lifetime driving ban will probably be lifted when it's seen that he can't do his driving job without a licence.

When the judicial system in this country realise that vehicles should be treated as murder weapons will things change. Until then, innocent cyclists will carry on getting killed on our roads.

Pathetic!

posted by Karbon Kev [680 posts]
19th November 2010 - 12:55

2 Likes

Old Ridgeback - thanks for flagging that, we spotted it too and will have something up about it later on.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8259 posts]
19th November 2010 - 13:31

2 Likes

No problem Simon - I like to be on the ball and beat you to it!

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2239 posts]
19th November 2010 - 15:03

3 Likes

We learn from the trial reports that Putz had been arrested at least 16 times for driving while disqualified, which of course means driving without insurance. He had three convictions for drink driving and three for careless driving, and served two previous prison sentences for driving offences.

Someone masquerading as "Julie", his "Partner", posted some misinformation in a comment on a journalist's blog around the time of the incident, presumably with the intention of attempting to pervert the course of justice - any partner of Putz would surely know that the claims that he really hadn't been drunk, or talking on his mobile, and that Mrs Patel had been out of sight too close in front of his cab were implausible to say the least. Will the police now hunt her (or perhaps it is him) down and prosecute this offence?

Can we expect a charge of corporate manslaughter against Putz' employer, Thames Materials Ltd? Can they possibly not have known of his appalling record? Did they do any due diligence before they hired him? Might they have committed a fraud on their insurers who I would imagine woudl be unwilling to cover a driver with a record like this? How were they able to wriggle out of a revocation of their licence some years ago on what appears, from a skim read of the appeal judgement to have been a technicality relating to documentation of the first-instance judgement or the defence against the appeal? Certainly the appelate court didn't seem to find their decision any too palatable.

posted by Paul M [315 posts]
19th November 2010 - 17:57

2 Likes

LCC website has more of the litany of concerning the operator Thames Materials of Hanwell (SW London). The options for bringing them to book include HSAW Act Section 3 - the employer's duty of care to non employees. Penalties include heavy fines and imprisonment of directors and managers. Currently a Section 3 action is being pursued against Railtrack and Jarvis for their managerial failings at Potters Bar.

Much is being made of fitting detectors to sense cyclists and pedestrians, but from this and the death of Eilidh Cairns, it would seem far more important to detect the drivers who are unfit to take the trucks out in the first instance. Large operators well cosncious of their corporate responsibilities have routine drug testing, and other monitoring of their drivers. Sadly the construction industry buys in haulage from small sub contractors, and pricing is seriously competitive. That said the £300,000 helicopter listed as an asset of Thames Materials (G-DIGG) suggests that they make a moderate amount of money from their activities, despite having these curtailed by the Traffic Commissioner for various offences.

I recall that one of the hauliers working at St Pancras, had their contract terminated on the spot for an atrocious piece of driving along Goodsway, witnessed by a site manager. But that firm appears to still be getting work on other contracts.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [494 posts]
19th November 2010 - 19:57

3 Likes

Excellent post. I think charges should be brought against the operator as well as the driver. Possibly a ban of their HGV's in London? Still can't understand how he could still work as a driver?!!

posted by londonbrick [25 posts]
19th November 2010 - 20:53

3 Likes

Jerm wrote:
The police investigate. The CPS only prosecute. You need a reasonable prospect of conviction to prosecute and to win, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. It needs a bit more than vague supsicion that it's a bit iffy.

You missed one bit out: the willingness of the Police to actually present evidence to the CPS which will result in likelihood of prosecution. Therein lies a can of worms. Thinking

TiNuts's picture

posted by TiNuts [93 posts]
20th November 2010 - 14:30

4 Likes

I'm glad about the result, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place. I do agree that his employers should also be prosecuted, and I really do hope this man never gets his licence back. But it doesn't bring back the lady that was killed in such an awful way.

posted by RuthF28 [92 posts]
20th November 2010 - 15:01

3 Likes

Karbon Kev wrote:
7 lousy years is not a long enough sentence (no it isn't londonplayer) for basically murder, lifetime driving ban will probably be lifted when it's seen that he can't do his driving job without a licence.

When the judicial system in this country realise that vehicles should be treated as murder weapons will things change. Until then, innocent cyclists will carry on getting killed on our roads.

Pathetic!

+1 Drunk and using a mobile phone? he may as well gone stabbing people.

I feel sorry for her family. Her Husband must be devastated. (I wouldn't wait for law personally if I found if my wife was killed by a drunk driver using a mobile phone-sorry mod)

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
20th November 2010 - 21:15

3 Likes

And what about Putz's employers,Thames Materials? Shortly after Putz killed Catriona Patel, in December 2010, another of their drivers ploughed his loaded truck across the central reservation on the A4 in Chiswick and killed a Japanese businessman travelling in a taxi. Should they be allowed to trade at all? http://bit.ly/i4qMO2

posted by westfour [39 posts]
25th January 2011 - 20:50

3 Likes

Wow that's really good justice that lorry driver has got.
He must be sentence for 10 years & good that he had been banned to drive...
trailers for sale

Melynda Poppe

posted by melyndapoppe [3 posts]
12th March 2011 - 7:40

3 Likes

THames Materials sound like "scum" ! THat they had another vehicle involved in a RTA death smacks of them "paying off" some officials so as to stay in business !
Police need encouragement to investigate cycle accidents instead of treating them as a nuisance factor in the daily routine !
Parliament and Boris need to stop worrying about pollution and concentrate on saving lives !

Boris remember your problem in the east end a few years back ? Time you had a good look at the rights of Vunerable Road Users !

THE LIFE YOU SAVE COULD BE YOURS !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [385 posts]
29th March 2011 - 21:27

2 Likes

skippy wrote:
Boris need to stop worrying about pollution and concentrate on saving lives !

Don't underestimate the impact of pollution.

"Poor air quality is now considered one of the biggest public health issues now facing the UK"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/25/london-air-pollution-europe

Both goals - reducing pollution and saving lives - could be met with the same ped- and cyclist-friendly measures.

Reducing pollution improves life expectancy.
Reducing (traffic) noise improves quality of life and reduces stress, itself a huge factor in both physical and mental wellbeing.
Reducing vehicular traffic saves lives, helps fight obesity and improves health.

All three would reduce demand on NHS services.

Additionally less traffic means:
- Fewer expensive road-building projects.
- Less frequent resurfacing and patching.
- Lower demand on emergency services.
- Fewer accidents and shorter queues mean fewer wasted hours for businesses and lower stress levels for individuals.
- More people cycling should result in more considerate behaviour by drivers who understand what it feels like to cycle on the road.

What are the downsides? Being forced to reconsider car use would make us more creative in our use of time, resources and materials. A large proportion of journeys are short trips that don't require a car anyway.

The country shouldn't grind to a halt because we drive less, especially in these internet-enabled times. The fuel protests in 2000 caused disruption and the media hysteria lots still got done.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2000 posts]
30th March 2011 - 12:12

2 Likes

It would seem that lorry drivers have moved away from murdering prostitutes and are branching out into murdering cyclists too. Stven years is that all her life was worth, what an insult. Do they not reilise that the vehicle they are in charge of is a lethal weapon, it is high time a psycological assessment is taken of anyone who wants to drive ANY motorised vehicle let alone something that big.
Profetional driver my ass. The drunk should never be allowed out.

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
1st July 2011 - 12:48

3 Likes