Cyclist jailed for causing pavement death

Weymouth cyclist gets 7 months in jail and is banned from driving for a year

by Kevin Emery   August 12, 2009  

road.cc news

A cyclist who knocked down an 84-year-old pedestrian who later died has been jailed for seven months and banned from driving for a year.

Darren Hall, 20, rode down a hill in Weymouth too fast he then went up on to the pavement on a blind bend to avoid a red traffic light, Dorchester Crown Court heard. Hall hit Ronald Turner in August last year. He died 13 days later.

 

Hall, of Weymouth, pleaded guilty to the 19th Century offence of wanton and furious driving causing bodily harm.

In a statement after the verdict, Mr Hall's daughter Gillian Muhl said: "The cyclist was described as riding like a bat out of hell. Mr Turner's family are relieved that the whole episode has been brought to a close and urge all cyclists to stay off the pavement. If they choose to break the law then they must expect to face the consequences of their actions."

Speaking after the hearing, Sgt Tony Burden said: "There is no such thing as causing death by dangerous or careless cycling. There is only careless or dangerous driving which the Crown Prosecution Service thought because of the seriousness of the offence was too minor.

"The wanton and furious driving charge goes back to 1861 under the Offences Against the Person Act and reflects the gravity of the incident. This case clearly highlights the dangers of riding a cycle on a pavement."

While anybody being killed on the roads is a tragic event, and even more so when that death occurs on what should be the relative safety of the pavement - being killed by a cyclist is a rare event. According to Dft figures 2007 was a particularly bad year resulting in a total of 3 deaths being caused by cyclists – the annual average in the UK is usually less than one – none of those who died were killed on the pavement. In the same year of over 600 pedestrians killed 54 were killed on the pavement by motor vehicles.

Cycling in Weymouth was also in the news recently after council chiefs and the police cracked down on cycling on Weymouth seafront and tried to impose a speed limit on cyclists riding on the promenade.

 

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

He deserves the punishment, I dont think there is any need for any cyclist to avoid red lights by going onto pavements. If you have to do it then get off and push, waiting at lights is no hardship. Its a tragedy that these events occurred.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
12th August 2009 - 16:32

3 Likes

I have to say i'm a bit confused by this. i'm with jon: he deserved the time, and more. but the article seems to suggest that his crime was singled out for the furious and wanton charge because it was rare, and more serious than the same incident involving a car.

I'm not sure this is the case: the CPS guidelines at http://www.cps.gov.uk/Publications/prosecution/pbd_policy.html state that because the wanton and furious driving charge predates the combustion engine and isn't restricted to the roads, it has a much wider remit. I don't think they could have charged him with the other driving charges because he wasn't driving a powered vehicle. the more serious death by careless and dangerous driving offences carry maximum penalties of 5 and 14 years; the max for wanton and furious driving is 2 years.

but i might be wrong Smile

Barry Fry-up's picture

posted by Barry Fry-up [187 posts]
12th August 2009 - 19:59

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Hmm… well the way I read the article Barry is not that he was singled out by the law for unusual punishment because he was a cyclist it's more that they had to find an appropriate charge to bring against him that reflected the seriousness of the crime.

And the reason they had to charge him with such an obscure crime is a reflection of the rareness of the event - whereas the reason there are lots of laws relating to driving, is because motor vehicles kill and maim a lot more people.

The rarity of somebody being killed by a cyclist (and it's even rarer to be killed on the pavement by a cyclist) is what makes this news… that and a touch of anti-bike prejudice in the mainstream media. So many people are killed and injured by cars that beyond the locality in which it happens it isn't news. Think about it the majority of those traffic flashes you hear every day on the radio telling you about delays and accidents are people being killed, injured and maimed on Britain's roads an aspect that's barely mentioned by the journalists bringing you the traffic information.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
12th August 2009 - 20:19

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yeah - it's strange that there isn't a more modern charge they can use. like tony says, it's unusual for a cyclist to kill a pedestrian by riding recklessly on the pavement - most of the serious accidents between cyclists and pedestrians occur on the road.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7437 posts]
12th August 2009 - 20:38

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The reason there isn't a more modern charge is that anyone being killed by a bike is so vanishingly rare in this country - so there's not much point in passing laws about it, particularly if, with a bit of rooting about you can find an old one that will more or less do.

If more people started being killed and injured by cyclists I'm pretty sure there'd be a new law soon enough.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
12th August 2009 - 21:11

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I found the comment by the elderly gentlemans family interesting
"In a statement after the verdict, Mr Hall's daughter Gillian Muhl said: "The cyclist was described as riding like a bat out of hell. Mr Turner's family are relieved that the whole episode has been brought to a close and urge all cyclists to stay off the pavement. If they choose to break the law then they must expect to face the consequences of their actions."
This I agree with but then again there are thousands of drivers who dont believe we should be on the roads either.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
12th August 2009 - 21:58

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Just three people/year are killed by cyclists. Compare that with how many people are killed by car drivers. The numbers speak for themselves.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2242 posts]
13th August 2009 - 8:23

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And the year, that three died was a particularly bad one - the annual average up to then had been about 0.5.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
13th August 2009 - 8:27

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I have a friend who lives in an European country. He was riding his bike on the street when an old lady popped in front of him from between two parked cars. Unfortunately he ran over her and the old lady broke her hip. She needed hospitalization but died after three days. Her family tried to sew my cousin for killing their mother/grandmother. He was lucky enough to avoid jail time as the old lady was on the street where there wasn't a crossing. But to this day he still feels guilty for taking a life although it was just a stupid accident.

posted by mfarney [1 posts]
15th February 2010 - 14:00

4 Likes

i stainless steel? whats all that about then eh?

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1082 posts]
16th February 2010 - 13:52

3 Likes

that was spam… here's some stainless steel though - it's after the rather interesting belt drive Moulton

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
16th February 2010 - 14:15

3 Likes

Smile Smile Smile mmmm i love a bit of stainless me.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1082 posts]
16th February 2010 - 14:20

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Wanton and furious driving was designed for drivers of horse drawn vehicles. I believe that test cases decided that a bicycle is a "carriage". There's a short section on this offence on the useful cycling and the law page on BikeForAll.net

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1358 posts]
16th February 2010 - 16:24

3 Likes