85-year-old driver who drove on for three miles after killing cyclist escapes jail

Court hears how motorist needed to be told by wife that he had driven through group of five riders

by Simon_MacMichael   November 24, 2011  

Gavel

An 85-year-old motorist who continued to drive for three miles, unaware that he had ploughed through a group of five cyclists, killing one and seriously injuring another, has escaped jail after being given a six-month sentence suspended for six months.

Llandudno Magistrates' Court heard that Huw Edwards of Bryngwran, Anglesey, whose health had deteriorated in the months preceding the incident on 13 April this year, only became aware of what had happened when his wife Mabel, a passenger in the vehicle, told him about it.

Edwards had pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention.

As reported on road.cc at the time of the accident two of the five cyclists one of whom was the deceased had been undertaking a challenge that involved riding from Belfast to London via Dublin and Bristol and running a marathon in each city to raise money for a leukeamia charity and in memory of a friend who had died of the disease.

At around 10.15am Edwards, who was taking his wife, a cancer patient, to a hospital appointment, struck the group from behind on the A55 near Rhostrehwfa, Llangefni.

According to the Daily Post prosecutor Nia Lloyd told the court that there had been “no braking and no skid marks.”

Gareth Crockett, aged 27, was killed in the incident while another of the cyclists suffered a compound fracture among other injuries. In a statement read out to the court, the sister of Mr Crockett, who was originally from County Antrim, said: “Our lives have been devastated by one moment of bad driving.”

According to Edwards’ solicitor, Gareth Parry, his client, who has also been banned from driving for ten years, was “genuinely remorseful.”

He explained that between February and June this year, Edwards’ health had taken a downturn, affecting his concentration and his eyesight, while he also had trouble controlling his diabetes. His wife also died during the summer.

According to District Judge Andrew Shaw, “It was a very serious act of carelessness.”  He added that he was “mystified” as to why Edwards continued to drive after the incident, and pointed out that due to the cyclists’ clothing they should have been visible from some distance.

“This is a terribly tragic case. Gareth Crockett was a young man from a close family,” he added.

Last month, we reported how there had been a sharp rise in the number of motorists losing their licences due to deteriorating vision, and how a report from the RAC Foundation regarding older drivers had stated that “many drivers will retire from driving at too early a stage while others will go on beyond the point where it is safe to do so.”

 

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An 85-year-old motorist who continued to drive for three miles...only became aware of what had happened when his wife Mabel, a passenger in the vehicle, told him about it.

That begs the question of what on earth was said for the previous 2.9 miles?! Silence before she turned to him and said "oh by the way you've just run over 5 cyclists"? Surprise

Sad

posted by crazy-legs [488 posts]
24th November 2011 - 13:14

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there is something seriously not right with our legal system... Sad

posted by estiel [13 posts]
24th November 2011 - 14:02

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So why should the Polish lorry driver have gone to jail ?

http://road.cc/content/news/47708-lorry-drivers-good-character-sees-him-...

But nobody seems to think an 85 year old man whose wife has just died of cancer should rot in prison ?

Just noticin...

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
24th November 2011 - 14:08

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He should definitely be required to re-take the driving test (which, I assume, he would fail) before being allowed to drive again. Would this be part of the procedure?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1333 posts]
24th November 2011 - 14:38

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Isn't it time the Judiciary held the DVLA accountable for incidences such as this where it is clear that the person responsible shouldn't be driving anymore. That way, they would not be able to issue a licence and then 'forget' about who they've issued it to. They would have to monitor them throughout and make sure they are testing people again once they got to certain ages. I'm sure it would then see a drastic overhaul in how the whole licencing system is run as they wouldn't want to incur huge fines each time something like this happens!

posted by manxfelipe [57 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:03

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I am struck more by just how sad this whole sorry story is. Any decent person, in the position of the person responsible, would hit rock bottom at the thought of this. I totally understand the calls for harsher sentencing, but I suspect he's punishing himself quite enough as it is.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2957 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:12

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If the guy is a diabetic then he is issued with a 'restricted' licecnce for either 1 or 3 years, this not withstanding extra requirements once you're over 65. Any deteriation in his diabetis, ie lack of control, then he should have notified the DVLA.
Damn fool magistrates- this guy is at the end of his life and he kills someone who is still starting out on his. He should have been sent down.

sloop

posted by sloop [22 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:17

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And just how 'decent' do you think this person is? He admitted his health any eyesight had deteriated and his diabetis wasn't under control, but he still took the decision to drive a lethal weapon.

sloop

posted by sloop [22 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:21

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This is precisely the reason anyone over the age of 75 should NOT be allowed to drive, you hear of this kind of thing and driving the wrong way on a motorway etc, a lot these days. Shouldn't be on the road.

The driving laws in this country are waaaaay overdue for a massive overhaul imo.

posted by Karbon Kev [667 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:22

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One important point the case does raise is whether GPs (or other medical professionals) should have the power and/or duty to order people to stop driving?

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7932 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:25

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I've said this before but thankfully, the one saving grace is that in the event he lives to 95 and tries to drive again, who would insure him? "Hello, I'm 95 years old. I'd like to buy some insurance." "any endorsements on your licence?" "er......"

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:49

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>This is precisely the reason anyone over the age of 75 should NOT be allowed to drive,

That's an idiotic generalisation.

My notional inlaws are both over 75 and decent drivers.

Over 70 you have to renew your license ever 3years, the onus is on you to relinquish your license or not renew, just as you're responsible to meet the eyesight requirements at any age.

Even an annual retest wouldn't be enough - for example, my (87 yr old) mother's eyesight in one eye has degraded very quickly within a year due to cataracts (and no, she's not a driver).

posted by JonD [177 posts]
24th November 2011 - 15:50

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londonplayer wrote:
I've said this before but thankfully, the one saving grace is that in the event he lives to 95 and tries to drive again, who would insure him? "Hello, I'm 95 years old. I'd like to buy some insurance." "any endorsements on your licence?" "er......"

I think many drivers consider insurance an optional extra. If it's too expensive it doesn't deter them from driving.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
24th November 2011 - 16:11

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
One important point the case does raise is whether GPs (or other medical professionals) should have the power and/or duty to order people to stop driving?

I know in Scotland they can report to the DVLA on anything they deem you unfit to drive for, BUT not your eyesight, you have to go to the optician who reports back to the doctor, but its not mandatory to go, i know of at least two people close to me and one who is a family member, who should not be driving because of his eyesight, but refuses to go for eye tests because he knows he'll have his license revoked

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posted by Gkam84 [8698 posts]
24th November 2011 - 16:26

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I'm not familiar with Bryngrwan but I don't think it's on the tube line... I can imagine that if my wife was dying of cancer and needed regular medical attention that might affect my judgement about whether I should give up my licence.

It must be lovely to be perfect in every way and able to pass judgement with such ease.

Why am I being so provocative... glad you asked.

Road.cc guys I know it's the off season but you're becoming a bit like the Daily Mail for cyclists.

As a regular, usually daily, reader of the site for several years the tone and balance seems to have changed to be much more about commuting and campaigning.

I'm not suggesting these things don't have a place, I just think the weight has shifted too far.

And a little claque is developing which seems to revel in being fed a regular diet of stories about evil motorists and demanding they be strung up by their gearsticks. If we had letters to the editor I'm pretty sure the green ink would run dry.

If it's ever discovered that Henri Paul crashed because Diana was urging him to run over every cyclist he saw we'll know exactly what happens when matter and anti-matter coexist.

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
24th November 2011 - 17:21

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JonD wrote:
>This is precisely the reason anyone over the age of 75 should NOT be allowed to drive,

That's an idiotic generalisation.

My notional inlaws are both over 75 and decent drivers.

Over 70 you have to renew your license ever 3years, the onus is on you to relinquish your license or not renew, just as you're responsible to meet the eyesight requirements at any age.

Even an annual retest wouldn't be enough - for example, my (87 yr old) mother's eyesight in one eye has degraded very quickly within a year due to cataracts (and no, she's not a driver).


No it's not, there are far too many older drivers on the roads. They are a liability and some of them are dangerous, but that's ok with you is it? At least an 'older driver's driving test should be introduced, something to monitor.

My own mother has been hit by an 80 year old driver, who "wasn't able to turn his head whilst driving the car anymore". Well what the fluff are you driving for? would be my 1st question. Like i said before, unsafe and dangerous. Your reactions are slower and eyesight can be failing as you get older, failure to see danger and basic failure to keep up with today's traffic conditions, which is very different to when older people passed their driving tests, if they had to or not, all contribute to some bad driving.

There's nothing idiotic about it fella. Its common sense.

posted by Karbon Kev [667 posts]
24th November 2011 - 17:36

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abudhabiChris wrote:
I'm not familiar with Bryngrwan but I don't think it's on the tube line... I can imagine that if my wife was dying of cancer and needed regular medical attention that might affect my judgement about whether I should give up my licence.

It must be lovely to be perfect in every way and able to pass judgement with such ease.

Why am I being so provocative... glad you asked.

Road.cc guys I know it's the off season but you're becoming a bit like the Daily Mail for cyclists.

As a regular, usually daily, reader of the site for several years the tone and balance seems to have changed to be much more about commuting and campaigning.

I'm not suggesting these things don't have a place, I just think the weight has shifted too far.

And a little claque is developing which seems to revel in being fed a regular diet of stories about evil motorists and demanding they be strung up by their gearsticks. If we had letters to the editor I'm pretty sure the green ink would run dry.

If it's ever discovered that Henri Paul crashed because Diana was urging him to run over every cyclist he saw we'll know exactly what happens when matter and anti-matter coexist.

Agree a few of recent cases where there were fatalities for cyclists seemed to have a lot of hate for the drivers but not much being questioned or provided it seems for the circumstances of those events. I'm not trying to aggravate but just pointing this out.

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posted by koko56 [313 posts]
24th November 2011 - 17:50

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The only thing that this sad case highlights is that the UK has nothing in place to protect other road users and elderly drivers. Until doctors have the power to remove an individuals licence on medical grounds, or a medical certificate is required on application for a licence the better. I was reading a story recently of an individual who was jailed for 6 years for killing a cyclist when he took an epileptic fit while at the wheel. It turned out that he had not declared this to the DVLA that he was unfit to drive.

Everything round driving seems to revolve around honesty to the DVLA (health wise) and insurance companies health and endorsements). Sadly this is abused, and until caught there seems to be an attitude that the car/van/lorry whatever can continue to be driven. How many times in this forum have we read about drivers causing accidents and there has been underlying medical issues that only come to light afterwards, yet have been known to the driver.

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posted by giff77 [1040 posts]
24th November 2011 - 18:31

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abudhabiChris wrote:
Road.cc guys I know it's the off season but you're becoming a bit like the Daily Mail for cyclists.

As a regular, usually daily, reader of the site for several years the tone and balance seems to have changed to be much more about commuting and campaigning.

I'm not suggesting these things don't have a place, I just think the weight has shifted too far.

And a little claque is developing which seems to revel in being fed a regular diet of stories about evil motorists and demanding they be strung up by their gearsticks. If we had letters to the editor I'm pretty sure the green ink would run dry.

Sorry to say, but I do agree with AbudhabiChris on this one - it sometimes seems like the balance has been lost (not just on this site, actually, but on lots of cycling sites), which can mean a lack of credibility when the real burning issues come up.

In relation to this case in particular, nothing is going to bring back the man who was killed, but the guy driving was clearly in the wrong and admitted it. Sending an 85 year old man to prison isn't going to do much good (apart from being expensive). The calls for a better system to identify when people are no longer fit to drive is spot on, and the GP idea seems the most sensible - after all, it's common that people simply become unfit to drive because of generally deteriorating health, and that usually coincides with more regular trips to the GP.

posted by step-hent [652 posts]
24th November 2011 - 18:50

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Not surprisingly, I'm going to have to disagree with you abudhabiChris and steph-hent.

First off Chris we've always covered stories like this and the campaigning side of cycling, as far as we are concerned these things are likely to be important to all cyclists. You might notice them more at this time of the year because there is less race news about but they are always on the site.

It is also worth saying that a news site can only report the news there is not the news we'd like there to be and of course given the limits on our time sometime we have to make judgements. Today it was this, or a short piece on Victoria Pendleton thinking about a career in fashion once she stops cycling… well, she's been offered some work experience by Sir Paul Smith. If it was just the traffic we were after we would have run the Vicky P story, but in my opinion this is a stronger news piece. Maybe we'll run it tomorrow…

When it comes to court cases involving drivers accused of killing cyclists we don't cover all of them by any means today we could but haven't reported on the cases of the Portsmouth bus driver accused of killing a woman cyclist on a roundabout because he forget to check the blind spot in his mirror and the van driver acquitted of causing the death by careless driving of a 74-year old cyclist. The latter case is almost a reverse of this one the cyclist was killed after he'd stopped driving due to deteriorating sight and hearing both of which were probably major contributing factors in the incident that caused his death. We only report on those cases that are either following up on coverage we may have given to the original incident as in this case (I've added in a link to our original piece) or when we think the outcome or aspects of the case such as the sentence or verdict are of interest - you could make the argument for that being so here also.

As to questions of balance I would say that our coverage of the court proceedings is a straight recital of the facts - there is no comment either way in the piece above as to the justness or otherwise of the sentence.

In my opinion this was a tragedy from whatever angle you view it from - let's not forget that that Gareth Crockett was undertaking his charity challenge in memory of a close friend who had died of leukaemia the year before. Would sending a frail old man to jail have achieved anything - not in my opinion, but others obviously think differently and as long as they keep to the rules of the site they have the right to say so. One observation I would make in this case is that although Mr Edwards didn't have the option of taking his wife to her hospital appointment by tube - most hospitals do operate some form of dial-a-ride service to get people to their appointments and from personal experience I know that cancer patients are a priority.

To come back to balance again, one of the other reasons we cover stories like this is because so often the reporting of them is so skewed by the mainstream media - though I wouldn't say that was the case here.

As for "a little claque developing" well I'm not so sure about that, perceived injustice makes people angry.

Here at road.cc we are not of the view that cyclists can do no wrong, and that all motorists are evil, but we would point out that the facts suggest that right or wrong they don't to much harm either, and that they are the usually innocent victims in incidents involving motor vehicles… we'd also be the first to say that is not always the case in incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians.

The bottom line of my long ramble is, if it's a newsworthy cycling story we will continue to cover it as best we can and with due regard to balance and a proper recounting of the facts.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
24th November 2011 - 21:07

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Nearly became a victim of this problem last week, Subaru Imprezzo Sport near missed me overtaking on clear wide road, no oncoming traffic, the flat cap and silver hair just did not seem to fit the vehicle type, one expects boy racer, he was not fast, just too close, to my suprise there he was parked outside village shop some 3 mls down the road. He did not think he had been too close to me, he looked somewhat puzzled by my assertion. I think he just did not see me, eyesight/medication? who knows?

onward ever onward

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posted by bikecellar [224 posts]
24th November 2011 - 21:15

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notfastenough wrote:
I am struck more by just how sad this whole sorry story is. Any decent person, in the position of the person responsible, would hit rock bottom at the thought of this. I totally understand the calls for harsher sentencing, but I suspect he's punishing himself quite enough as it is.

A comment that's short, to the point and with which I agree. From the sound of this old chap, he does indeed care what he has done and did not perhaps perceive the risks he was taking when he got behind the wheel. What happened is extremely regrettable, both for his victim and for the man himself.

But there are far more dangerous people out there though who drive aggressively and dangerously while under the influence of alcohol and drugs and often in defective vehicles with no insurance, MOT or license. I think as road users (cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers) we should be looking to prioritise tackling the risks these people pose to us all first.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
25th November 2011 - 10:33

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Thanks oldridgeback, and for those that disagree, I think the point that I'm trying to make is this:

1. man grieves for wife (as she is now deceased, IIRC from the article) taken by a disease. There's no-one to blame as such (lifestyle factors notwithstanding), it's just really sad.

2. Same man then reflects that another family somewhere are going through the same grief, with the significant difference that in this case, he was directly responsible for that death. In his shoes, I would be absolutely distraught.

I have poor eyesight, nicely corrected by good specs, but deterioration is a gradual process that creeps up on you, not some overnight blindness that is obvious. We really aren't in a position to rain hate on this guy.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2957 posts]
25th November 2011 - 11:01

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OldRidgeback wrote:
But there are far more dangerous people out there though who drive aggressively and dangerously while under the influence of alcohol and drugs and often in defective vehicles with no insurance, MOT or license. I think as road users (cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers) we should be looking to prioritise tackling the risks these people pose to us all first.

He killed a guy. How dangerous do you want?! He may not be malicious, but as a road user you don't get much more dangerous than killing people.

Personally, although I loathe aggressive and risky driving and know that were I ever to be hit by such a driver the outcome would not be good, I perceive the risk *of being hit* by an incapacitated driver to be greater - it does not matter in the slightest whether that incapacity is cause by age, disability, drink, drugs or distraction.

An aggressive driver may scare the wits out of you and give you a near miss, but a miss is a miss. A driver who does not see a cyclist will not attempt to avoid what he does not see.

Anyone whose faculties are so deteriorated that they are not only unable to see cyclists but also unable to realise they've run them down and killed them is arguably far more dangerous than a drink driver, because at least a drink driver will at some point sober up.

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posted by Bez [370 posts]
25th November 2011 - 15:05

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Going off at a slight tangent, wasn't this charity ride being personally supported by Alastair Campbell? I seem to recall a link.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
25th November 2011 - 15:31

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As Bez observes this old man killed someone.

Nevertheless, I can't help agreeing that locking up an old man of 85 is going to achieve nothing of any value. He's been banned from driving, and really the lesson (from what I've read here) is that he shouldn't have been driving in the first place.

Never mind the recent plan to take away from GPs the ability to sign people off as long term sick, what we should really take away from them is the ability to accredit people to drive. There needs to be a far more robust approach to taking away the keys from people who simply shouldn't be driving.

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posted by timlennon [226 posts]
25th November 2011 - 16:21

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timlennon wrote:
As Bez observes this old man killed someone.

Nevertheless, I can't help agreeing that locking up an old man of 85 is going to achieve nothing of any value. He's been banned from driving, and really the lesson (from what I've read here) is that he shouldn't have been driving in the first place.

Never mind the recent plan to take away from GPs the ability to sign people off as long term sick, what we should really take away from them is the ability to accredit people to drive. There needs to be a far more robust approach to taking away the keys from people who simply shouldn't be driving.

+1

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posted by giff77 [1040 posts]
25th November 2011 - 16:58

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Tony, I'm not saying that you never covered those stories before or shouldn't cover them now.

In fact if you read my comment it wasn't just about court cases, although that's part of it, it was about a general shift towards commuting and campaigning. That was where I used the word balance, not in terms of the actual reporting. I know it is the off-season but this is not just a recent development.

In terms of that overall balance, the general tone and your point about just reporting the news that is there, I would refer you to the recent Confused.com story.

That's the cycling equivalent of swan-eating immigrants, and there've been others, if not quite so blatant.

I've worked in journalism and media for 25 years and run the TV newsroom of one of the world's major press agencies. I know how the silly-season works and I know a beat-up when I see one.

Story selection is done to reflect an agenda - not everyone will like it. I just don't see that you can say it is the same as always - there have definitely been changes IMHO.

At the end of the day if it works for the site as a business then it's your choice to make, I'm just giving my opinion.

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
26th November 2011 - 11:14

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If only we were organised enough to have an "agenda" Smile
I do appreciate what you're saying and getting both the balance and tone of our news right is very important to us.

that reflect the remit we set for road.cc from the start to be a site that covers all aspects of riding on the road in Britain – 'from competing to commuting and all points in between'. Oh, yes, and it has always been a part of what we are about never to come across in what we are saying as sanctimonious cyclists - if we our editorial tone was going that way I'd be worried, we'd much rather take the piss out of stuff than get on a moral high horse. Taking the piss on incidents where people have died though is not an option - so there we'd rather go for a straight recital of the facts.

Of course we prioritise our stories but only on the basis of what the strongest stories on the day are… and that can change as more news happens. We are though always mindful of the mix of stories we're running.

If you look at the balance of news on the site I'd say sport related stories makes up about a third, our view has always been that the race scene is already comprehensively covered by a whole plethora of sites - commuting and campaigning and general stories about being a cyclist in the UK aren't.

The other thing I'd point out is that the web isn't print or TV - there is no silly season in cyberspace, especially on a special interest site like this. Even the race oriented sites don't struggle to fill their pages when there is no racing. The struggle for most websites isn't finding stories it's fitting all the ones they find in – even on a quiet day.

At different times of the year the balance swings more towards different parts of our competing to commuting remit simply because that's where the strongest stories are, but we are always looking for what's going on in other areas of cycling to try and balance that up.

During late autumn and winter there may be slightly more stories about court cases (as at other times there are more race ones). I think that reflects the fact that contrary to what people might believe there are more incidents involving cyclists being killed on the roads in the spring and summer which in turn tend to come to court in autumn and winter.

As for the Confused.com story - IMO that was the PR equivalent of the swan-eating immigrant story - our response was simply pushing back at that. Given the way that cycling is generally portrayed in the mainstream media that would seem to be the responsible thing for a cycling website to do rather than let a multi-million pound company and its PR machine get away with peddling a load of tosh to the media unchallenged. That's how attitudes are changed. We would have posted that story at whatever time of year we'd gotten the press release.

I'd also say our response was a pretty considered one compared to most - we were the only people to read the release and accompanying stats closely enough to see that Confused hadn't even presented the stats from its own research correctly. That's got to be news?

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
26th November 2011 - 13:34

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tony_farrelly wrote:

Even the race oriented sites don't struggle to fill their pages when there is no racing. The struggle for most websites isn't finding stories it's fitting all the ones they find in – even on a quiet day.

Heh! I say that and then today was about the quietest day we've had in months if not years… mind you we still found some good stories Wink

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
28th November 2011 - 22:33

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