"Careless" driving charge in cyclist's hit and run death

Victim left for dead while riding to work in November

by Mark Appleton   February 22, 2011  

Michael Isherwood.jpg

A 47 year old man has been charged with causing the death by driving without due care and attention of 36-year old Michael Isherwood and also with failing to stop after an accident.

Michael was a boat master for a canal cruising business and had been cycling to work through Salterforth in Lancashire when he was struck by a car which then failed to stop.

Despite being airlifted to hospital, he succumbed to what were described as “catastrophic” injuries.

Andrew Edwards, of Bagshaw Street, Hyde, Cheshire has been bailed to appear at Burnley Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, March 8.

Road.cc has contacted the Lancashire Crown Prosecution Service to ask about the  decision to charge the motorist with causing death by “careless” driving rather than the more serious offence of “dangerous” driving.

The CPS told us: ""The defendant has been charged with the charge which best reflected the evidence. As the case is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

 

18 user comments

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Anyone that flees the scene of an accident leaving someone to die should be locked up with the key thrown away.

I can see a suspended sentence here which will be scandalous.

posted by gazzaputt [183 posts]
22nd February 2011 - 14:25

4 Likes

We can argue about whether "careless" or "dangerous" driving is teh appropriate charge here - none of us actually saw what happened.

However, neither charge seems appropriate to someone who did not stop and give assiatance/call for help at the roadside. If he had, the outcome might have been different. I would say a charge of manslaughter would be more appropriate.

posted by Paul M [315 posts]
22nd February 2011 - 16:01

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Paul M wrote:
We can argue about whether "careless" or "dangerous" driving is teh appropriate charge here - none of us actually saw what happened.

However, neither charge seems appropriate to someone who did not stop and give assiatance/call for help at the roadside. If he had, the outcome might have been different. I would say a charge of manslaughter would be more appropriate.

He is being charged with 'failing to stop' dont forget, however my 2min google suggests the maximum penalty for this is a fine not exceeding £5,000 and/ or 6 months imprisonment. So as you say, why not manslaughter?

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [418 posts]
22nd February 2011 - 16:19

4 Likes

Yet again, the cyclist is let down, the motorist gulity of a lesser charge than the actual truth. Disgusting!

posted by Karbon Kev [680 posts]
22nd February 2011 - 16:42

4 Likes

Leaving aside the specifics of this case - which we should all do until after the trial - the issue that we are raising is a general one that relates to the difference between careless and dangerous driving. Yes, there is a precise legal definition for both types of offence. "Careless" is driving at a standard "below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver"

"Dangerous" is driving that "falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous."

So we are talking about the difference between "below" and "far below" competent and careful driving.

The wider point is that if there is an inherent reluctance by prosecutors to suggest that an offender's driving was "far below" a reasonable standard, we will never see sentences which act as a deterent to motorists whose driving is just that.

Maybe we need a change in the law, maybe not. That's the debate, but many cyclists appear to be of the opinion that something is wrong with the system in its current form.

posted by Mark Appleton [554 posts]
22nd February 2011 - 17:15

3 Likes

Causing death by careless driving is a new offence. It was brought in because the burden of proof for causing death by dangerous driving is often too high. For dangerous driving you need to prove that the driver was driving dangerously before the incident, which requires witnesses etc... Causing death by careless driving can still incur a sentence of five years in prison, and is not the same as the separate offence of "careless driving".

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1356 posts]
22nd February 2011 - 18:27

3 Likes

I feel that if someone is killed by someones elsess driving and they are proved to be at fault, then the sentence should be automatically upgraded to death caused by dangerous driving - after all someone has died!

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

Mountain-Nic's picture

posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 1:09

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MANSLAUGHTER "act of killing a person unlawfully, but not intentionally, or by negligence"

MURDER "intentional unlawful killing"

Anyone can have an accident and if death occurs this is tragic, BUT by driving off and leaving someone to die, it makes this a deliberate criminal offence - please refer to the quote above on Manslaughter and see that surely by leaving the scene he has taken the "not" out of intentionally? Can you see the difference!??

Sheila

posted by Sheila Marshall [1 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 1:14

3 Likes

this is another shocking and tragic situation, and like most here I have no faith whatsoever, that a fair and just sentence will be handed down. Once again I fear cyclists lives will be seen as worthless.
All I can think of while sitting here is that we need a serious national campaign to raise awareness and get justice in these situations. Its done all the time for less important causes, so how do we do it for cyclists?

posted by Bigpikle [66 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 9:37

3 Likes

@Bigpikle maybe CTC and British Cycling could team up and do more to earn the membership fees we pay to them - they are very keen on promotion in other areas (that generate revenue for themselves esp The CTC).

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

Mountain-Nic's picture

posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 11:54

4 Likes

Until the UK changes it's laws on liability this will always happen. As said earlier the legal definition of dangerous driving is very hard to prove as it requires a greater burden on the prosecutor to demonstrate the condition of danger before the accident happened and without witnesses or video evidence it become almost impossible. Hence the 'easier' option of 'careless'.

Should we go down the liability route though, such as on the continent, then respect and care for others on the road flows downwards, so a car hitting a cycle is under a presumption of guilt because they have less chance of damage/injury in this collision, the same is also true for a cycle hitting a pedestrian.

Check out those towns in Holland which have removed all street furniture, no speed signs, no traffic light, no white lines even at junctions, my goodness how do they cope.....actually quite well, people naturally slow down and pay attention to what's going on around them.

This is all being typed after nearly being wiped out last night on my commute home by a driver who decided that he didn't need to give way to the right on a roundabout, whose exit was blocked anyway, causing me to bunny hop over the edge.

Oh well "Keep Calm and Carry on Cycling"

I know the p*nct*r* fairy personally !

posted by ja88a [5 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 12:47

3 Likes

ja88a wrote:
Until the UK changes it's laws on liability this will always happen. As said earlier the legal definition of dangerous driving is very hard to prove as it requires a greater burden on the prosecutor to demonstrate the condition of danger before the accident happened and without witnesses or video evidence it become almost impossible. Hence the 'easier' option of 'careless'.

Should we go down the liability route though, such as on the continent, then respect and care for others on the road flows downwards, so a car hitting a cycle is under a presumption of guilt because they have less chance of damage/injury in this collision, the same is also true for a cycle hitting a pedestrian.


The European 5th Motoring Directive (which gives Strict Liability) is to do with insurance, not criminal, liability.

Conscientious Objector in the War on Vulnerable Road Users

t1mmyb's picture

posted by t1mmyb [87 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 13:53

2 Likes

For all the comments on Dangerous or Careless driving the MUCH greater point of this case is that the driver drove off. There can be no defense. Perhaps now we not only have to deal with the SMIDSY - but also SMIDFMCHAOTWALPOHPP (Sorry Mate I Didn't Feel My Car Hit An Object That Weighed At Least One Hundred Pounds Probably).

Lock the b$%^ard up!

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [392 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 14:45

3 Likes

Mark Appleton wrote:
Leaving aside the specifics of this case - which we should all do until after the trial - the issue that we are raising is a general one that relates to the difference between careless and dangerous driving. Yes, there is a precise legal definition for both types of offence. "Careless" is driving at a standard "below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver"

"Dangerous" is driving that "falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous."

So we are talking about the difference between "below" and "far below" competent and careful driving.

The wider point is that if there is an inherent reluctance by prosecutors to suggest that an offender's driving was "far below" a reasonable standard, we will never see sentences which act as a deterent to motorists whose driving is just that.

Maybe we need a change in the law, maybe not. That's the debate, but many cyclists appear to be of the opinion that something is wrong with the system in its current form.

+1

Yet again, the justice system appears to treat a killer more leniently, simply because they were driving a car.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
24th February 2011 - 11:05

3 Likes

I went to the sentencing of the driver yesterday, it was "probable" that the driver as a result of extreme home presures had momenterely fallen asleep when the accident occured. He stopped a few hundred yards up the road to sort out the damage and did not realise he had struck and killed a cyclist. It was stated that Michael was projected in the region of 50 meters away from the accident.

The sentence was:-
1 year in prison suspended for two years
loss of driving licence for 12 months
200 hours comunity service

The Isherwood family & friends of Michael appreciate and have read all these coments and I am sure this outcome will generate many more in future tragic cases.

It appears that the severity of the sentence is on how the evidence is presented, the personal circumstances of the defendant and the Judge on the day.

Thank you all,

Martin Cleaver
(Michael's Employer and friend of the family)

Martin Cleaver

posted by martin100 [4 posts]
5th July 2011 - 15:32

4 Likes

Thank you for letting us know. I'm in disbelief at the weak punishment. If that's the excuse then I feel that taking control of a motor vehicle when tired enough to actually fall asleep while in motion seems dangerous rather than careless to me, far below competence. Sad

posted by a.jumper [710 posts]
5th July 2011 - 17:09

4 Likes

PATHETIC 1 year in prison suspended for two years, loss of driving licence for 12 months, and 200 hours comunity service.

JUST PATHETIC

Really, though?

posted by workhard [388 posts]
5th July 2011 - 17:24

3 Likes

There is no logical explanation for being able to buy your way out of a manslaughter charge with a trumped up medical condition. You either suffer from a debilitating illness or not. If you do, your medical records will prove it. If so, you are also guilty of driving whilst unfit and having failed to notify DVLA. You can't have it both ways.

I assume Martin Cleaver is reporting on evidence presented at the case. I suspect that the speed required to project a grown male 50 meters would fall under the dangerous driving category.

In either case, this sounds like a Judge unfit to pass judgement.

posted by DL2K [1 posts]
6th July 2011 - 11:11

3 Likes