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Sentences only days apart highlight discrepancies in the justice system

A court in Solihull has, in the same week as it  gave a £35 fine to a driver who killed a cyclist, handed down a £110 fine to a woman who hit a parked vehicle and drove off.

Solihull Magistrates Court gave 54 year old Ichhapal Bhamra a £35 fine and three points on his licence for driving without due care and attention.

He hit 20-year-old Tom Ridgway, then carried on driving a further 90 metres, with the cyclist on his Toyota Previa, hitting traffic signs along the way until finally colliding with a tree.

In  comparison, Donna Lloyd, 27, hit a parked car in a multi-storey car park and drove away. She was fined £110, asked to pay £80  costs and £15 victim surcharge, and give seven points on her licence - four more than Bhamra.

The discrepancy in sentencing in the same courtroom was spotted by Bikebiz's Carlton Reid, in the Solihull News.

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.

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,

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.