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Court told driver failed to stop and drove on for a further 90 metres with injured cyclist on his bonnet until he hit a tree

Magistrates in Solihull have fined a taxi driver £35 and given him three penally points for an incident last year which he collided with a cyclist and then carried him for a further 90 metres on the bonnet of his car colliding with traffic signs and eventually hitting a tree. 20 year old animation student Tom Ridgway died of his injuries shortly afterwards.

At the conclusion of the case Mr Ridgway's family called for tougher punishments for drivers who kill. The incident will be seen as further evidence of the need for change by those calling on the Government to undertake a review of the lenient sentences given to drivers who kill or injure cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

In this case 54-year-old taxi driver Ichhapal Bhamra was charged with the much lesser offence of driving without due care and attention rather than facing the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving - which usually carries a custodial sentence, or causing death by careless driving which results in a long ban, heavy fine and community service.

The Crown Prosecution Service opted for the lesser charge because it could not determine the cause of the initial collision nor whether Mr Ridgeway had been killed as a result of that impact or from being carried on the bonnet of the car until it collided with the tree.

In mitigation the court was told that Mr Bhamra has since voluntarily given up his taxi licence and that he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and no longer felt able to drive.

Given that the CPS determined that Bhamra's was driving without due care and attention some will undoubtedly question why they then did not pursue a charge of causing death by careless driving given that the CPS guidelines say it is merited for:

"A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, is guilty of an offence".

While the level of charge brought was a disappointment to Mr Ridgway's family it is also worth noting that Solihull magistrates did not impose the maximum sentence available to them for the offence. According to the sentencing guidelines those found guilty of careless drive can be given 9 penalty points on their licence and a fine usually amounting to 150 per cent of the defendant's weekly income.

The magistrates based their sentence on all the evidence presented to them - while our impressions of the case come from the report in The Solihull News, but even so both the charge and the sentence handed down will be seen as troubling by cycle safety campaigners and many in the wider cycling community..

Commenting on the charge, the sentence and the effect Tom's death had had on his family his mother, Liz Ridgway told the Solihull New that:

“Neither the charge not the sentence reflect the enormous tragedy of a young man’s death when he was simply cycling along next to the pavement,” she said.

“It’s devastated our lives and there will be no going back.”

Mrs Ridgway went on to pay tribute to her son saying:

“Tom was a generous and exceptionally warm-hearted young man, making friends wherever he went and sharing his sunny, optimistic love of life with everyone he met.

“Everyone who knew him, misses his beautiful smile and genuine warmth. It is impossible to express how much Tom is loved by his family and friends and how special he was.”

Solihull MP Lorely Burt said she was “shocked and disgusted” by the sentence and pledged to look into the case. Last month representatives of CTC, British Cycling, and RoadPeace met with Justice Minister, Helen Grant to call for a review of sentencing guidelines, in cases where drivers kill or injure more vulnerable road users. At the meeting Department for Transport official agreed to back "a cross-stakeholder meeting with the different agencies involved to discuss a review of the system and how it might be improved."

As yet no date has been announced for a follow up meeting,

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.

53 comments

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Dizzy [68 posts] 3 years ago
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Speechless  2

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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For once i am lost for words.

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Gkam84 [9088 posts] 3 years ago
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I give up on the prosecution service.

If a member of my family was killed by a driver and the court did this, I'd strap the driver to a bike and do that same back.....

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cidermart [489 posts] 3 years ago
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 47 WTF!!!! That has left a very sour taste.

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cidermart [489 posts] 3 years ago
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You would get away with it too 'Gkam84' as it would only be a cyclist.

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mintimperial [18 posts] 3 years ago
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Utterly disgusting. I can't believe how cheaply our legal system values human life. This has to set some sort of record low in terms of punishment for a proven killing.

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Jonathing [73 posts] 3 years ago
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There are no words.

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thegibdog [103 posts] 3 years ago
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I was about to say "unbelievable" but then I realised this really doesn't surprise me at all, we've seen this kind of leniency time and time again.

When are the authorities going to start taking people being killed on our roads seriously?

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antonio [1126 posts] 3 years ago
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It's time all cases resulting in the deaths of cyclists were automatically taken to the Crown Courts.

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matttheaudit [73 posts] 3 years ago
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CPS - grow some.
Defence lawyers - too extreme for a public forum.

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Simon E [2775 posts] 3 years ago
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This is insane! What a truly horrendous insult to this young man's grieving relatives.

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mfarrington [10 posts] 3 years ago
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In mitigation the court was told that Mr Bhamra has since voluntarily given up his taxi licence and that he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and no longer felt able to drive.

 7 How the hell is that mitigation?

 14 And I guess now the B****** is claiming benefit as he can't drive!

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velophilia [39 posts] 3 years ago
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If this continues 'taking the law into his own hands' will become a compliment. They're certainly not responsibly in the hands of lawyers, judges and judiciary.

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Roastie [27 posts] 3 years ago
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They've gotta be kidding!

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koko56 [330 posts] 3 years ago
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these stories are terrible and nothing will being those people back etc, i just wonder if somebody is genuinely suffering things like PTSD/flashbacks and the like from it then how much value can be given to custodial sentences or any other such enforced things?

while i have not had anything like that happen to me, if i did - would i be okay by knowing that somebody is sitting in prison for a few years? ideally i would want to do what i felt like doing to them, not what the judicial system hands out because really they are a 3rd party going through the motions while for you it is real. even killing them won't change things. just a tragedy.

trying to intimidate people with custodial sentences may work, but only if it is widely recognised and in the public perception all the time. to give something relatable would also take a long time, but in the end may prevent things more than fear of being banged up.

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workhard [397 posts] 3 years ago
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Even by uk standards that's lame. Fucking lame.

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thx1138 [49 posts] 3 years ago
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"The Crown Prosecution Service opted for the lesser charge because it could not determine the cause of the initial collision nor whether Mr Ridgeway had been killed as a result of that impact or from being carried on the bonnet of the car until it collided with the tree."

What difference does it make!! He was still killed by a car driven by a dangerous driver...

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OldRidgeback [2632 posts] 3 years ago
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It is a disgrace. That the driver surrendered his licence is of little comfort to the victim's family I expect.

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Shanghaied [50 posts] 3 years ago
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koko56 wrote:

these stories are terrible and nothing will being those people back etc, i just wonder if somebody is genuinely suffering things like PTSD/flashbacks and the like from it then how much value can be given to custodial sentences or any other such enforced things?

while i have not had anything like that happen to me, if i did - would i be okay by knowing that somebody is sitting in prison for a few years? ideally i would want to do what i felt like doing to them, not what the judicial system hands out because really they are a 3rd party going through the motions while for you it is real. even killing them won't change things. just a tragedy.

trying to intimidate people with custodial sentences may work, but only if it is widely recognised and in the public perception all the time. to give something relatable would also take a long time, but in the end may prevent things more than fear of being banged up.

You are speaking of the purely utilitarian aspect of justice, where punishments serve to deter and rehabilitate. From that perspective it can be reasonably argued that locking the driver up would serve no practical purpose - the victim can't be brought back, and it most likely wouldn't change the behaviour of the driver or the public.

However, there is another aspect of justice that is often ignored - retributivism. It is the theory that when a person has done something wrong he ought to be punished for his wrongdoing, according to the severity of the action, and regardless of whether it benefits anyone in an utilitarian sense. Just deserts and all that.

I think the reason it is so seldom mentioned nowadays is because it is often conflated with mere revenge. Yet as a legal and moral concept it is still very much alive - it is the reason why war criminals from the former Yugoslavia are prosecuted, and why Holocaust perpetrators are still being hunted worldwide even today. An utilitarian argument can be made that these people are old (or very, very old, in the case of Nazi war criminals) and obviously won't be able to commit crimes again. And prosecution doesn't seem to have any effect as deterrence, judging by the amount of genocide since WWII, or since the Yugoslavian Civil War for that matter. Yet most people would agree that these people must be brought to justice, that we can't just say "well, trying them won't change anything now so let's just call it a day."

Now, is the taxi driver even remotely comparable to war criminals? No, not in the least. But the principle still stands - wrongdoings ought to have appropriate consequences. So, are £35 and three points even remotely appropriate for taking the life of a young person through sheer carelessness? I don't think so.

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giff77 [1256 posts] 3 years ago
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 102 this is appalling. I am totally beyond words.

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techsmechs [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't think I can stand reading these anymore. Can we come up with a standard letter that we start pestering our MP's with. Every week with a link to these stories, eventually they're gonna take notice?

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Thecambridgerocket [7 posts] 3 years ago
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So what this case tells me is that I needn't be so cautious overtaking those pesky idiots on bikes who keep getting in my way. Whats the worse that will happen? A 35 quid and 3 points? Pff, s'nothing.

Unbefuckingleivable

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rliu [43 posts] 3 years ago
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Jail the magistrates, public menaces

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Mostyn [396 posts] 3 years ago
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rliu wrote:

Jail the magistrates, public menaces

Oh what a judgement call, Why does this kind of attitude in the courts not surprise me.

If it was an old age pesioner that failed to pay a bill in error; they would have received a far more severe penalty or punishment.

Judge and Taxi Driver should be named and shamed!

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AdeG [7 posts] 3 years ago
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Un***king believable!
Really makes me feel safe on the roads when they are actively encouraging dangerous drivers.

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merckxman [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Another example of the namby pamby UK Court system, if this was in France, Belgium or Spain they would of locked him up...the countries going to the dogs..

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NeilXDavis [122 posts] 3 years ago
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Keep sharing this information....post to facebook, twitter and tell people...it simply cannot continue like this...

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Carl [138 posts] 3 years ago
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@techsmechs I'm with you.

The words 'fucking disgrace' seem woefully inadequate in this pathetic example of how rubbish our road laws are.

We need to put heat on MPs AND the APPCG...protest, tweet, letters to MPs.

And can't this sentence be appealed for being pathetic?

And as to that excuse about not knowing what actually killed the guy, it reminds of me that line in Collateral where Tom Cruise's assassin says "I didn't kill him, the bullet and the fall did".

My blood is actually boiling at this.

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jollygoodvelo [1472 posts] 3 years ago
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"No longer felt able to drive"? I should damn well think so.

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TheOldCog [113 posts] 3 years ago
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again! really, we need lots more cyclists friendly magistrates!

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