Taxi driver fined £35 with 3 points on his licence after cyclist killed in collision

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

by Tony Farrelly   January 17, 2013  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

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,

53 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

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!

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
18th January 2013 - 0:39

16 Likes

Un***king believable!
Really makes me feel safe on the roads when they are actively encouraging dangerous drivers.

posted by AdeG [8 posts]
18th January 2013 - 7:35

16 Likes

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..

posted by merckxman [37 posts]
18th January 2013 - 8:42

8 Likes

Keep sharing this information....post to facebook, twitter and tell people...it simply cannot continue like this...

posted by NeilXDavis [113 posts]
18th January 2013 - 8:58

13 Likes

@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.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [136 posts]
18th January 2013 - 9:18

16 Likes

"No longer felt able to drive"? I should damn well think so.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [958 posts]
18th January 2013 - 9:56

14 Likes

again! really, we need lots more cyclists friendly magistrates!

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]
18th January 2013 - 10:18

14 Likes

To compound the sense of injustice I saw this as I logged out of my webmail:

Quote:
As many as 2 million drivers could face £1,000 fines for failing to update the photo on their driving licence, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/two-million-drivers-may-face-141603133....

£1,000 for not updating your photo for Big Brother to keep tabs on you, £35 for killing someone and dragging the body down the road. F**k me!

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2059 posts]
18th January 2013 - 10:42

15 Likes

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.

He may have handed his taxi licence back BUT NOT his driving licence To me this is just a load of BS generated by his legal team to get HIM off.

I hope that the family of the victim appeal the sentence and get some real justice I know this will not bring him back but, maybe this could be used as a campaign vehicle to change the law. In the past such things like Sarah's law etc have come about so that somebodies tragedy can be used to stop these things happening in the future

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [605 posts]
18th January 2013 - 10:56

16 Likes

I feel a little bit sick.
if I'm unfortunate to get taken out by a box dweller and they get a slap on the wrists my life insurance is to be used to hire a team of ninja assassins.

posted by mrchrispy [337 posts]
18th January 2013 - 12:14

13 Likes

I got tagged by a brave policeman hiding behind a wall in a country town doing just over 30 in a 30 mph zone (driving carefully, well-maintained vehicle recently serviced, new tyres, no furry toys hanging from the rear view mirror or a fucking Sat Nav stuck in the middle of the windscreen to obscure eyeline), and I have to pay 100 quid to do a speed awareness course. You kill a cyclist and it's 35 quid fine. Did this man have a valid licence? I see he's only given up his taxi licence.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
18th January 2013 - 12:36

14 Likes

MP written too with a link to this.

Please write to them! if every MP gets an email, and another, and another... Maybe we can start to change the system.

posted by techsmechs [7 posts]
18th January 2013 - 13:17

12 Likes

MP letter send.....its the only way we'll get change.
Nerd

posted by mrchrispy [337 posts]
18th January 2013 - 15:37

15 Likes

Utterly atrocious decision both at the start with the CPS decision and afterwards with the court result.

Going to add this link to my facebook page so more people are aware of how bad these decisions are. Angry

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
18th January 2013 - 18:02

16 Likes

I will be asking my MP to raise this appalling issue.
I have a vague recollection that in Holland, when a motorist hits a cyclist, it is automatically the driver's fault. I imagine that a rule like that would change driver's attitudes and may engender a perception that cyclists are vulnerable.

posted by Laurence [7 posts]
18th January 2013 - 19:49

13 Likes

If you accidentally kill someone with your car, it should be manslaughter. Same as if you accidentally shot them while cleaning your gun. If intent is determined, then it should be murder.

Not so much a six pack as a barrel!

posted by Bigfoz [76 posts]
18th January 2013 - 21:24

11 Likes

dullard wrote:
I got tagged by a brave policeman hiding behind a wall in a country town doing just over 30 in a 30 mph zone

If you don't like getting caught DON'T BREAK THE RULES.

The speed limit is a maximum, not a target.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2059 posts]
19th January 2013 - 12:29

17 Likes

Simon E wrote:
dullard wrote:
I got tagged by a brave policeman hiding behind a wall in a country town doing just over 30 in a 30 mph zone

If you don't like getting caught DON'T BREAK THE RULES.

The speed limit is a maximum, not a target.

Exactly, as the adverts say its 30 for a reason. Big Grin

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
19th January 2013 - 18:51

14 Likes

Martin Porter has written about this in his blog. There's a comment that appears to be from the victim's mum, and one from his aunt.

http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/update-from-court-cps-v-bha...

to quote the comment

The fact that the driver has not been able to drive since and has issued a statement of remorse to the family is all the justice we need to try to put this horrible aspect behind us, and for friends and family to continue in our private grief for our precious Tom. If others wish to continue to push for a change in legal processes, that is for them to do and is fine. But our loss is not helped at all by persuing a higher fine or penalty.

This seems to be a recurring theme, the relatives accepting the courts results, which have provoked outrage in others. To me the problem seems bigger than the family of the victim though. By issuing leniant punishment, the court has failed in its duty to discourage wrong doing (and hitting a cyclist while driving a vehicle *is* wrong, no matter whether you intended it or not).

The court should send a message that hitting vulnerable road users is serious and if drivers don't take the necessary care, then they will be punished severely. In this case the court did not send that message and the relatives are in no moral position to forgive and forget. The mother's loss is tragic and although her son can't be hurt any more, there are thousands of other cyclists who can and will be victims of careless driving in the future.

Finally, I'd like to make it clear now that if anyone kills me while I'm on my bike then I'd like the courts to take them to the fucking cleaners - max sentence and then hounded by the press when they get out, none of this 'prison sentence not in the public interest' bollocks - I'd want the book thrown at them, followed by the printing press and the print works, brick by brick.

posted by qwerky [150 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 16:18

12 Likes

My BLOOD IS BOILING RIGHT NOW Angry !!!! I give up on the police, make sure you have insurance with the CTC guys, where you can get assistance in the event of an accident/injury to claim against the driver

posted by CyclingDan [39 posts]
17th July 2013 - 18:56

12 Likes

I wonder how the CPS and the judge would have charged/sentenced this grossly despicable waste of space, if the victim was related to law a enforcement officer, or a legal system operative. I hope this immigrant dies of shame!

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
17th July 2013 - 20:34

16 Likes

utterly speechless , about time this country got its act together and started giving out proper punishments and giving help to those who need it most in society !! Its not the polices fault they do as much as they can.

posted by Liamb93 [17 posts]
17th July 2013 - 20:37

13 Likes

words fail me

posted by billyman [129 posts]
17th July 2013 - 20:59

13 Likes

"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."

Truly truly shocking.

And the names of the magistrates in question are.....

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

daviddb's picture

posted by daviddb [123 posts]
17th July 2013 - 21:11

10 Likes

Could be interesting to see what happens to Emma Way in court following her particular incident. Then the two can be compared.

Who wants to bet she receives a harsher punishment than 'Ichhapal'?

I've got my own opinions on this one, I don't think I'm going to be wrong either.

Chiggety check yourself before you wreck yourself

posted by therealsmallboy [89 posts]
17th July 2013 - 21:23

14 Likes

One thing that really needs looking at is how on earth a case that involves someone's death is heard in a Magistrates Court.

posted by dp24 [195 posts]
17th July 2013 - 21:36

15 Likes

If this happened to a pedestrian instead of a cyclist there would be a much stiffer penalty handed out.

Unbelievable.

posted by Marauder [246 posts]
18th July 2013 - 7:17

12 Likes

qwerky wrote:
By issuing leniant punishment, the court has failed in its duty to discourage wrong doing (and hitting a cyclist while driving a vehicle *is* wrong, no matter whether you intended it or not).

The court should send a message that hitting vulnerable road users is serious and if drivers don't take the necessary care, then they will be punished severely.

What sort of punishment is appropriate?

Most cases of death on the roads are as a result of an accident, either through a genuinely unavoidable incident or as a result of 'bad driving', I can't imagine anyone for a moment thinks it's ok to cause the death of another road user as the punishment will be low.

posted by thebungle [115 posts]
18th July 2013 - 8:39

16 Likes

CPS? Not fit for purpose - Time to get rid of them

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [62 posts]
18th July 2013 - 19:18

15 Likes

I have no words, other than to express my sympathy to the family of the victim in this case.
The remainder of this box 'would' be filled with as many swear words as I could muster in order to vent my anger at this 'sentence', the UK court system and it's inability to care for such victims.

It is a very sad outcome indeed!

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [500 posts]
19th July 2013 - 14:28

12 Likes