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Medical experts uncertain whether motorist fell asleep or if incident due to undiagnosed Parkinson's Disease...

A 73-year-old motorist who killed a cyclist has received a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to causing his death through careless driving, although medical experts are not certain if he fell asleep at the wheel or whether undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease lay behind the incident.

Cyclist James Greenwood, aged 74, died in hospital from multiple injuries sustained when he was struck from behind by a car driven by John Plummer on Darlington Back Lane in Stockton last November, reports the Northern Echo.

Sentencing Plummer at Teeside Crown Court, Judge Peter Bowers said: "This sort of case raises a lot of emotions, and I have to be careful that I reflect in any sentence not only the tragic outcome, but also the culpability you must bear for the death of another human being."

David James, defending Plummer, said in mitigation that he was unaware that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and that he was not feeling tired prior to the incident.

He added that Plummer, who lost his partner when she was killed by a vehicle on a zebra crossing ten years ago, did not plan to drive again.

Shaun Dodds, speaking for the prosecution, said that speeding was not a factor in the case, and that Plummer recalled having seen Mr Greenwood and getting ready to overtake him.

The court heard from neurological experts who revealed that Plummer had been suffering from undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease which could have caused the incident, although they believe it is more likely that it was due to his falling asleep momentarily at the wheel.

Plummer had admitted causing death by careless driving at his trial last month, but denied the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving, according to a report in the Evening Gazzette.

“In light of all the material and evidence that the prosecution now have they are taking the position not to proceed against you the charge on the first count,” said Judge Lee Spittle, who was sitting at the trial.

“They have accepted your plea on the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving,” the judge added.

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

11 comments

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mrmo [2077 posts] 3 years ago
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Is there a case for proper medicals? Nothing is perfect but the current system....

Drivers have to understand driving is a privelege not a right! Which means tests and medicals to insure drivers are fit and safe.

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AWPeleton [3331 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo - your right but it will open a whole can of worms with pressure being put on all road users to follow suit with similar tests and the added prospect of insurance for bike users - albeit that would be impossible to oversee.

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mrmo [2077 posts] 3 years ago
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stumpy not so sure, afterall car drivers are licensed to use the road, bikes, horses and pedestrians aren't? Would anyone call for compulsary medicals for all pedestrians before they are allowed out?

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cookdn [27 posts] 3 years ago
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Car drivers would all be rather alarmed if they thought that those dangerous HGVs were being driven by people that were medically unfit (https://www.gov.uk/become-lorry-bus-driver/licence-validity-and-renewals).  46

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AWPeleton [3331 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo - sorry mate, should have made myself clearer - obviously not peds but all other road going vehicles.  4

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mrmo [2077 posts] 3 years ago
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stumps, I know you meant cyclists, just where do you draw the line? horses and cyclists don't have a licence, are we to say a kid is to have a medical before they go out to play?

Yes there are some who would call for licencing, same as the road tax lot carry on about bikes not being taxed, which if bikes were taxed by the current emmission based rules would cost them more money????

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Fatbagman [21 posts] 3 years ago
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The culpability you must bear! He just let him off with killing someone. I'm sure they are sorry, he doesn't plan to drive again after all, but another motorist gets away with murder.

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Leviathan [1988 posts] 3 years ago
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Judge Lee Spittle, sounds like he is right out of the Wild West, 'Dang it Joharn, I told yerzs to drive careful now. You've only gone and run over one of them there cyclistic fellas. Be more careful next time.' Frontier justice for bikers.

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Speedy1319 [23 posts] 3 years ago
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Did they take the driver's license away from him - just to make sure that he doesn't drive again?

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doc [167 posts] 3 years ago
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It may be that the man may not plan to drive again, to quote his lawyer, removal of licence and an order to pass an extended test should he wish to do so again would help to ensure it. All after a stiff driving ban of course.
The medical idea is OK, after all everyone who drives a car is in charge of at least 750kg of metal moving at significant speeds close to vulnerable humans, peds or riders. This is an awesome responsibility when considered like this and is not to be granted or taken lightly. I would have no problem with a regular check on fitness, reaction times, eyesight before applying for a renewal of licence to drive.

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fatbeggaronabike [815 posts] 3 years ago
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Like Speedy And Doc above I have grave reservations about the fact that the court did not take away this persons licence. I would have thought that it was a given in a case such as this.