School caretaker receives £350 fine for deliberately running down cyclist

Driver convicted of 'careless driving' and given nine points on his licence

by Sarah Barth   September 18, 2012  

road.cc news

A school caretaker who deliberately ran down a cyclist in a fit of rage walked away from court with a £350 fine yesterday.

Cal Groves, 45, shouted abuse at Gerard Lumb before knocking him over and driving off, Hull Crown Court heard.

Both the cyclist and the driver were attempting to turn right at the same junction in Anlaby, East Riding.

They nearly collided, causing Groves to shout at Mr Lumb before swerving and hitting him on purpose. Mr Lumb had cuts and bruises to hs legs and ankles and is awaiting physiotherapy to help with his injuries.

He has not ridden a bike since, according to This Is Hull.

Groves, a caretaker at Hull Collegiate School was found guilty of careless driving and was fined £350, ordered to pay £500 costs and given nine points on his licence.

We've highlighted a number of cases recently that appear surprisingly lenient, along with pleas for a comprehensive sentencing review to make sentences fairer. We also reported the finding that sentences for drunk, drugged and dangerous driving have become more lenient in recent years.

And just last month we highlighted a consultation aimed at giving police powers to clamp down on 'low level' careless driving.

Do you think drivers who kill or injure are getting the sentences they deserve? Let us know in the comments below.

37 user comments

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Gashead wrote:
The driver did not 'aim his car' at the cyclist or 'mow him down' as the article says, but drove away from an argument and accidentally hit the cyclist. The article doesn't mention that although he did not stop, the driver drove straight to a police station which under the highway code you can do. There is more to this story than is reported.

that simply doesn't add up. if there were independent witnesses to testify to the fact that the collision was accidental, and the cyclist was at fault, then the case would never have come to court. it's hard enough to get a conviction in the case of a motorist being demonstrably at fault, with independent witnesses.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7543 posts]
18th September 2012 - 16:30

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Hmm, if that was true it would have come out in the trial, and the driver would have been acquitted.

posted by benb [60 posts]
18th September 2012 - 16:31

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It's all a bit odd. The witness says a roundabout, the story a junction, admittedly there could be some overlap in the term. We also learn the driver is a churchgoer, quite what relevance that has to the story is beyond me. Thinking

posted by Gashead [31 posts]
18th September 2012 - 16:48

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Quote:
Though you have to wonder if some cases like this don't warrant a charge of common assault

Think you've got a point there - part of the problem is that these are treated as motoring offences rather than one person attacking another, and it's much harder to make dangerous driving stick so the CPS tend to go for a charge they think they will get a conviction with. We could do with more specific charges when someone uses their vehicle to attack or intimidate a more vulnerable road user.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
18th September 2012 - 16:49

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I agree with therverent on this. The drivng licence seems more sacrosanct than a custodial sentence and any deliberate attack using a motor vehicle should result in a minimum ban of a year and sitting the test again.

Although this mollusc is a caretaker all those hard luck stories about 'I drive for a living...' piss me off. If you risk losing your job along with your licence then you shouldn't lose your temper. If you don't like speed cameras - don't speed.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1099 posts]
18th September 2012 - 17:23

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Joke of a charge. I hope the cyclist is ready to sue for the cost of the physiotherapy and the eefect on his mental well-being.

posted by paulfg42 [381 posts]
18th September 2012 - 18:31

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I'm not overly comfortable with the tone of this article - summarising an entire court case in a few hundred words is always going to be tricky but then to finish with a sweeping statement about "a number of cases recently that appear surprisingly lenient" and asking "Let us know in the comments below" if killer drivers get the sentences they deserve feels a bit Jeremy Kyle/Daily Mail.

Road.cc is usually a great place with intelligent, balanced articles and I hope this doesn't signal a change in direction.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
18th September 2012 - 18:48

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bazzargh wrote:
I guess its worth pointing out that for someone on a caretakers wage, that fine and those points are /right at the top end/ for this charge. The judge threw the book at him - working with the charges the CPS brought.

The most severe sentence available is a Band C fine (125%-175% of weekly income, starting point 150%) + Consider disqualification OR 7 – 9 points.

Though you have to wonder if some cases like this don't warrant a charge of common assault (for which the sentences are much more severe).

Trust me when i say common assault does not bring anywhere near this sort of fine at court. You would be lucky to get a £50 fine for common assault, its the lowest level assault you can get.

As for careless driving - the wording is "a momentary loss of concentration" not aiming your car at someone and knocking them over. .

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2889 posts]
18th September 2012 - 19:48

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We've got some idiot drivers round here that would happily pay £350 to knock someone off!

Ridiculously lenient ... where is our protection?!

posted by veseunr [282 posts]
18th September 2012 - 20:33

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Stumpy - its the lowest level of the assault charges, but he could equally have ended up with a £50 fine on the careless driving charge. However, as an assault with a 'weapon equivalent', the high end available to the judge would have been 26 weeks imprisonment - and the guidelines would make the minumum 150 hours community service. That's the difference - the top end is much harsher.

posted by bazzargh [145 posts]
18th September 2012 - 21:08

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'Road.cc is usually a great place with intelligent, balanced articles and I hope this doesn't signal a change in direction.'
I do.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1038 posts]
18th September 2012 - 21:24

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Hi TheHatter, there hasn't been any change in the way we treat stories here and hopefully not to the tone either.

We always try to be as objective as possible, certainly not out to bash drivers… we're not keen on bad driving though. Sarah's statement may be sweeping but it's backed up with links to other stories that illustrate the points she mentions.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4167 posts]
18th September 2012 - 22:03

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Sentences given to drivers for breaking the rules do not reflect the seriousness of their offences. If home owners can be fined for very minor issues such as putting out wheelie bins on the wrong days for example, then fines for injuring or killing other road users should be proprtionately higher.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2338 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:07

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I wonder if the sentencing would be any different if the victim had been a pedestrian rather than another road-user? When we're on bikes people seem to forget that we're as vulnerable as pedestrians, rather than car drivers in their metal box.

Anyway, I think anyone guilty of any driving offence (speeding, etc) should automatically have their license revoked for 2 weeks - it would help teach people how to survive without their car for a short period of time, boost public transport and encourage people to try healthier forms of transport. Also I think it would be a better deterrent than a few points and a small fine.

posted by gforce [34 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:18

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> Do you think drivers who kill or injure are getting the sentences they deserve? Let us know in the comments below.

Talk about showing a red flag to a bull !!!

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:30

4 Likes

gforce wrote:
I wonder if the sentencing would be any different if the victim had been a pedestrian rather than another road-user? When we're on bikes people seem to forget that we're as vulnerable as pedestrians, rather than car drivers in their metal box.

Anyway, I think anyone guilty of any driving offence (speeding, etc) should automatically have their license revoked for 2 weeks - it would help teach people how to survive without their car for a short period of time, boost public transport and encourage people to try healthier forms of transport. Also I think it would be a better deterrent than a few points and a small fine.

I like your thinking, we could almost half the amount of traffic on the roads if todays standards are anything to go by. Big Grin

In relation to the level of fines etc for offences, i agree with the previous comment about the top end being much higher however if you look at theft - the wording states a sentence of 7 years imprisonment if tried on indictment (ie crown court)- never in a month of sundays would that ever happen so we have to get things into perspective and hitting someone with a hefty fine for one offence doesnt always equate to a hefty sentence for the same offence if its taken down another route.

Apologies i know i've gone down a slightly off beat route, just wanted to get the point across about sentencing. Big Grin

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2889 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:39

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I agree with the general sentiment. From the report, the driving did not seem careless at all but very purposeful and as such seems much more akin to an assault. Angry

posted by Arno du Galibier [29 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:49

3 Likes

Gashead
Always treat anonymous comments on news sites with caution.

When Catriona Patel was killed by an HGV by Oval Station in London someone calling themselves 'Julie' on various sites (claiming to be the drivers partner) posted missleading information (about the driver not being drunk or on his mobile) which was later proved all to be incorrect at the trial of Dennis Putz.

posted by thereverent [326 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:56

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thereverent wrote:
Gashead
Always treat anonymous comments on news sites with caution.

True, I should have sprinkled that with a pinch of salt. As described it sounds like pure assault, dangerous driving at the very least. If the person I quoted is correct then why did this "accident" merit nine points? Too many inconsistencies all round.

posted by Gashead [31 posts]
19th September 2012 - 9:13

3 Likes

People frequently come back from Holland asking why are drivers so nice to bikes compared to UK drivers. OK so most of them cycle as well but believe me, like anywhere Holland does have it's fair share of numpties (putting it nicely).
Anyway, why? because according the law over there if a driver hits a cyclist they are always at fault. They are the ones in charge of a deadly weapon. Simple.
Short of personality tests, lifetime bans for aggressive drivers, we need proper legislation changes in the UK.
Judging by what we've seen in the last 40 years if we don't get 1970's on this government and take to the streets in our thousands with our bikes and take our case to government, this will carry on.
Cyclists in the UK put up with hell but they are as much to blame, out of the hundreds where I live who commute to the station, we have about a dozen members of our cycle campaign. Talk about divide and conquer, cyclists have so many different opinions on what's best, so we have this mess. We are as much to blame for not getting our case heard.

posted by Belaroo [44 posts]
19th September 2012 - 9:20

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Unfortunately the politicians won't do anything until one of them has a close friend/family member get injured, or worse, and then there will be a huge outcry...similar to The Times only doing something about cycling once one of theirs became a victim.

Shame on all of them for not protecting vulnerable road users.

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [121 posts]
19th September 2012 - 9:22

4 Likes

If he had got out of his car and beat the cyclists up he would have received a prison sentence. This is telling drivers it is better to use a car to hit someone than your fists!!!! Angry Angry Angry Angry Angry

Angelfishsolo's picture

posted by Angelfishsolo [116 posts]
19th September 2012 - 10:55

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Some of the reports I've read on the Dutch strict liability system (David Hembrews blog for example) state that in itself it doesn't actually make better drivers. IMHO it just makes sense that those who are bigger/more capable of inflicting harm should be held accountable so we end up with a hierarchy along the lines of peds

As you do say I think the safer environment for riders is in part down to the higher majority of drivers being cyclists but also down to the much safer environment they have there, they design conflict OUT of their roads instead of actively encouraging it or just not giving a sh!t as we seem to get here. Their sustainable safety principles of separating modes of transport by speed and mass is something I can only hope and dream they is implemented here. Unfortunately, in London at least, a certain blonde cretin seems intent on trying to re-invent the wheel instead of copying the best practices that the Dutch have perfected over the last 4 decades.

posted by bassjunkieuk [31 posts]
19th September 2012 - 11:42

4 Likes

tony_farrelly wrote:
Hi TheHatter, there hasn't been any change in the way we treat stories here and hopefully not to the tone either.

We always try to be as objective as possible, certainly not out to bash drivers… we're not keen on bad driving though. Sarah's statement may be sweeping but it's backed up with links to other stories that illustrate the points she mentions.


Hi Tony
Thanks for the response. I'm with you that you should point out instances of bad driving and highlight campaigns such as the one referenced by the CTC (and maybe even start your own campaigns?).
I just thought this article went a little towards a them-and-us style particularly when there is so little to go on from the Hull Daily Mail article that doubt their journalist was actually in the courtroom. Maybe it was just the first comment from London Calling that made me uneasy that we were being invited to grab our pitchforks Smile

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
19th September 2012 - 12:07

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This article sums up my feelings:
Detective Chief Inspector John Oldham said that the relatives of car-crash victims resented the “very small” sentences when motorists had been reckless. He added that many cases were wrongly considered “accidents” when they were the result of human decisions.
Causing death by dangerous or careless driving carries a maximum punishment of 14 years in prison, compared with up to life for manslaughter and an automatic life sentence for murder. “The sentences are very small, and the families hate that,” Mr Oldham told The Times. “In my particular world we get very upset by the word ‘accident’. For families there is no accident about it. An accident on the road is the result of the decisions people make.”
....Mr Oldham added that motorists who were reckless or negligent should be given penalties more in line with homicide offences. “We should amalgamate the two acts,” he said, explaining that he was referring to drivers who could be proved to be at fault. “When you have a proper case — eg, a cup of tea in their hand, [or] they’ve been driving for 24 hours.”
.... Mr Oldham also warned that there would be “more and more” cycle fatalities unless there was a radical rethink of the way London and other big cities are structured....

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3317831.ece

posted by Recumbenteer [155 posts]
19th September 2012 - 18:03

3 Likes

I'm not sure people have read this article properly. The offender has to pay £850 and has nine points on his license (which means he came very close to losing it). That's not a light punishment at all.

Of course, cases like this depend on witnesses having the nerve to stand up against this behaviour. Sadly too many people don't want to get involved.

I'm wondering also why it says he was a churchgoer. I am as well and I wouldn't want it to be used as an excuse to get more lenient treatment. That would be very bad if it's true.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
19th September 2012 - 18:13

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This is an area where at least some places in the USA have got it right. When Dr Christopher Thompson overtook and then brake tested two cyclists in LA leading to serious injuries he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and five other offences. He was jailed for five years.

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/la-doctor-jailed-for-road-rage-att...

posted by Tony [88 posts]
19th September 2012 - 18:55

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Not a lawyer but I don't think you can prosecute someone on what might have happened. The intentions of the person committing the offence are more important I feel. In this case he certainly should have had a greater sentence. Agree with your comparison. I was amazed when I heard that woman had been given 8 years. At the very least this person should have had a 12 month ban. Vehicles are for transport not weapons.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [174 posts]
19th September 2012 - 19:22

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If this had been America he would have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

posted by check [7 posts]
19th September 2012 - 19:54

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hairyairey wrote:
I'm not sure people have read this article properly. The offender has to pay £850 and has nine points on his license (which means he came very close to losing it). That's not a light punishment at all.

It depends, I suppose, upon how seriously you view driving a motor vehicle at an unprotected fellow human.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [425 posts]
20th September 2012 - 10:54

4 Likes