Updated: Driver who killed cyclist Brian Dorling at Bow roundabout gets suspended sentence

Tipper truck driver guilty of death by careless driving

by John Stevenson   July 23, 2013  

Bow Roundabout lorry and flowers (credit- London Cycling Campaign under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

David Cox, the driver whose tipper truck crushed to death cyclist Brian Dorling at Bow Roundabout in 2011 has been sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, according to The Docklands and East London Advertiser.

The 49-year-old pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving after he drove his lorry into Brian Dorling, 58, on the morning of October 24 2011. [Editor's note: the case was originally misreported as causing death by dangerous driving.]

Mr Dorling was on his way to work at the Olympic Park at the time, using the blue cycle lane by which Cycle Superhighway 2 traverses Bow Roundabout. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the Inner London Court on Monday, Cox was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for one year; disqualified from driving for two years; and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

Det Supt Helen Lambert, from the Metropolitan Police’s road death investigation unit, said: “Brian Dorling’s family have been left devastated by his untimely and sudden death.

“This was a tragic incident involving two different road users and it highlights the vulnerability of cyclists who ride alongside large vehicles.”

Many commenters on Twitter expressed surprise and outrage that Cox was not jailed and did not recieve a lifetime driving ban.

However, Tom Edwards, Transport and Environment Correspondent for BBC London pointed out that Cox has not driven since the accident and that Brian Dorling’s widow Debbie did not want him jailed.

“You can see he’s remorseful and see that he’s haunted. He is a broken man, said Debbie Dorling. “Putting him in prison is not going to achieve anything.”

Sara Dowling of campaign group Road Peace drew our attention to the error in the the original reporting of this case, and commented: "Causing death by careless driving is a charge that rarely results in a custodial sentence, in fact less than 30% of drivers charged with causing death by careless driving get a  custodial sentence. And RoadPeace would argue that increased use of longer driving bans is a much more appropriate response to careless driving than prison.

"The real issue here  is the misuse of the careless driving charge – time and time again we see it being used for cases that should be considered dangerous. In this case the driver went through a red light, surely falling far below the standard of a careful and competent driver. But yet again the CPS shifts towards the more lenient charge. A guilty plea means no trial and fewer costs.

"But even with a causing death by dangerous driving charge a longer driving ban would be unlikely as the courts are very reluctant to ‘punish’ drivers in this way – nearly half of drivers who kill receive no disqualification (12.7% endorsed, 33.6% need to retake test so can drive with a qualified driver)."

Bow's deadly roundabout

Dorling was the first of two people on bikes to be killed by trucks on Bow roundabout in 2011. Less than three weeks later 34-year-old Svitlana Tereschenko was killed by a tipper truck at approximately 4.45pm on the evening of Friday, November 11.

The inquest into Ms Tereschenko’s death returned a narrative verdict.  Deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe ruled that Ms Tereschenko died "as a result of traumatic road death". Although the driver, Gurpreet Shergill failed to indicate and was talking on a mobile phone at the time, Dr Radcliffe went on to conclude "that nobody is to blame".

The two deaths led to improvements to Bow roundabout, including the fitting of advance traffic lights to allow cyclists to move off ahead of dangerous motor vehicles.

London Cycling Campaign had warned before Cycle Superhighway 2 was built that routing cyclists through Bow roundabout was extremely dangerous, and that the rest of the route, largely an intermittent blue stripe on the road was totally unfit for purpose.

After the deaths of Mr Dorling and Ms Tereschenko it emerged that in the planning of Cycle Superhighway 2, Transport for London had ignored recommendations from the civil engineering firm, Jacobs Consultancy to install traffic signals specifically for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as separate cycle tracks.

55 user comments

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I would like to point out a couple of anomalies about this string of communication. The photograph of the roundabout is not where Brian died it is where Ms Treschenko died, also Ms Dorling did not die; my 2 daughters and I are very much still alive. Mr Dorling died. I am appalled by the vitriolic tone to many of these comments I cannot believe that so many opinionated people who are not aware of the facts can be quite so nasty. We met Mr Cox yesterday, my 16 year old daughter told him she didn't hate him because he didn't mean to kill her dad, my son made his peace and I do not hate. We are human we have the ability to rise above and see the bigger picture, well some of us do. My family and I have been through hell and back; Mr Cox is living a constant hell and I would like to hold out my hand and ask him to help RoadPeace along with me promote the "See me Save Me" campaign.............Mr Cox? (I don't know where the "talking on his mobile" came from; because there was no evidence of that in court. Regards Debbie Dorling.

posted by Brians Wife [3 posts]
24th July 2013 - 0:02

8 Likes

Thank you mrs dorling and family for your kindness towards dave, after speaking to him on monday, i spoke to him after and i am very worried that some of these comments on here could do more damage than good. Hopefully people will read your post and think before they type?

posted by Larryyosh [4 posts]
24th July 2013 - 0:28

13 Likes

Think you are confusing this case with the later one that week? @Meursault

posted by Larryyosh [4 posts]
24th July 2013 - 1:11

14 Likes

“You can see he’s remorseful and see that he’s haunted. He is a broken man, said Debbie Dorling.

In my opinion, this is preferable to slapping someone in prison who isn't remorseful.

posted by RPK [35 posts]
24th July 2013 - 1:39

15 Likes

Larryyosh wrote:
Think you are confusing this case with the later one that week? @Meursault

Apologies, may have got confused with both cases. Point still stands though, about the red light, but I accept I wasn't in court and didn't hear the evidence.

meursault's picture

posted by meursault [20 posts]
24th July 2013 - 2:06

14 Likes

How many of you have never made a mistake when riding or cycling?

The difference between a fatal accident or non injury accident may be a fraction of a second. We don't have a verdict of a driving accident, but we do have careless driving. The punishment now seems to be dependent on the outcome not the act. There is a big difference between an accident through a moment of in attention and deliberately driving in a dangerous or reckless fashion.

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [65 posts]
24th July 2013 - 7:02

10 Likes

i dont know what the answer is but surely something must be done here!
if a cyclist sped through a green light and hit a pedestrian who shouldnt have been crossing, and killed them what would the punishment be then?

i just dont understand why so much weight is given to drivers.

is it because without roads our economy would come to a stop, so without vehicles we are nothing? is this the only incentive the people at the top have to keep us driving and not give out meaningful punishments?

the fact that the hgv driver is remorseful means nothing.
if i commit murder but regret it after does it get me let off? no! i still go to prison!
he went thru a red light and through his bad driving he ended a life. who cares if he regrets it, he broke the law, killed someone and ruined a family.
bang him up and let it be a message to other people who drive motor vehicles!
until there is a meaningful deterrent why would people bother to take care?!!!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [117 posts]
24th July 2013 - 9:36

18 Likes

meursault wrote:
Larryyosh wrote:
i have been friends with dave cox for over 30 years,and reading what some of you people on here are saying is making my blood boil! dave was a professional and competent driver and to say he ran a red light and murdered the poor man is incredible! it was a tragic accident, read the police report and what was said by the victims widow before you spout anymore venom at a man whose life is finished as well! Try blaming the real villains the TFL and boris bloody johnson!

Not stopping at a red and talking on his mobile, does not appear proffessional and competent to me.

David Cox is in no way a competent driver Meursault you are spot on. In my opinion however the murdering Mr Cox took away a life a husband a farther Cox ought to be in prison until he finds a way to replace these.

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
24th July 2013 - 10:19

10 Likes

Debbie, his widow, says;

“Putting him in prison is not going to achieve anything.”

Although she has my sympathy she is absolutely wrong about this. A stiff sentence acts as a deterrance to others.

Imagine if, over the years, every tipper driver who killed a cyclist was jailed for 5 years (we're not talking about 1 or 2 drivers here, its dozens). That would send a pretty clear message to other tipper drivers and they'd be a lot more careful.

Had this happened over the years, there's a good chance Brian would still be alive today.

Debbie, you say you have been able to step back and see the bigger picture, but I'm not sure you have. The bigger picture is that cyclists are killed by tipper/skip lorries on a worryingly regular basis. Every loss is tragic, but the bigger picture is that its been happening for years, and unless something changes it will continue to happen in the future.

This bigger picture is that next week it could be me, or someone else on this forum. That's why people on here get emotional about it. They are worried for their own safety.

I have a family too, and I don't want them to go through what you're going through. The driver may well feel guilty and may well never drive again, but that's not a big factor in affecting other people's behaviour.

There are probably hundreds of tipper/skip drivers on the roads of London today. The thoughts going through their minds are probably;

- It was probably the cyclists fault
- It will never happen to me, I'm a good driver
- I'd better get a move on as I need to deliver three loads today or I'm out of pocket

What everyone on a bike (and their families, and their friends) wants to be going through their minds is;

- I'd better be really careful around that cyclist because if I'm not I'm going to jail for five years.

posted by qwerky [138 posts]
24th July 2013 - 11:30

17 Likes

Debbie, his widow is right in that locking up David Cox, achieves nothing in this case. It does not bring Brian back, it does not undo the error the driver made.

But this is not about this case, it is about making drivers aware of their responsibilities. By letting a driver walk away from court what does it say about the value of life? what does it say about the responsibilty that drivers have to those around them? Allowing him the option to have a licence at a future date (whether he actually wants to drive again is largely irrelevant) again gives a signal. Should the signal be slap on the wrist, or should it be you are not fit to drive as you can not be trusted?

In this case no one wins, but the discussion is not about this case, it is about a system that fails cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. A system that seems only to care about cars and lorries, that regards deaths as acceptable.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1178 posts]
24th July 2013 - 11:50

9 Likes

I disagree entirely with the suggestion that "a stiff sentence acts as a deterrance (sic) to others."

People who cause death on the road do not believe it is something that they will cause. Such people do not set out to kill. You can't have a deterrent against an act which someone believes they will not commit.

The idea that the thought of "I'd better be really careful around that cyclist because if I'm not I'm going to jail for five years" would help is utterly ludicrous. If you haven't seen the cyclist, how could you possibly even have that thought?

The problem is that driving standards are low, they slip lower, and we do nothing about that. We do not retest drivers except in the most extreme circumstances, when they probably should have received a lifetime ban. We fine people a paltry and forgettable £100 for using the phone, an act we know is dangerous. We allow people to use hands-free phones, an act we know is equally dangerous. We allow people to operate satnavs (see http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3823515.ece). We allow car manufacturers to produce cars with satnavs that can be reprogrammed whilst the car is in motion and the driver is alone in the vehicle.

Lengthy imprisonment after a death would be revenge. It would not be a deterrent. It would not be rehabilitation (it would be quite the opposite). It would arguably send a message that we take road death seriously, but I would vehemently argue that this is better done with lifetime bans and community service, not to mention some firm words from judges and coroners rather than the appallingly dismissive "there but for the grace of God go I" and victim-blaming rhetoric we so often hear.

Responding to these events by calling for killers to be imprisoned is futile and wildly misses the point.

Respond by demanding measures that prevent people becoming killers.

More: http://www.stewartpratt.com/?p=556

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
24th July 2013 - 11:50

11 Likes

Larryyosh wrote:
i have been friends with dave cox for over 30 years,and reading what some of you people on here are saying is making my blood boil! dave was a professional and competent driver and to say he ran a red light and murdered the poor man is incredible! it was a tragic accident, read the police report and what was said by the victims widow before you spout anymore venom at a man whose life is finished as well! Try blaming the real villains the TFL and boris bloody johnson!

I admire your courage Larryyosh for coming onto a cycling forum to defend your friend, very admirable, but we are becoming an ever more reactionary and intolerant lot, especially where our lives are concerned, and if you kill one of use expect our ire and an 'unreasonable' level of vitriol and abuse. No driver has the right to use their vehicle to kill another road user.

And please don't try shifting the blame. It must have been an awfully big cab for the whole of TfL and Boris to have been in charge of the vehicle.

The word 'accident' has been removed from the police lexicon as it implies no fault. Your friend Dave Cox was at fault here, not TfL nor Boris or Mr Dorling.

He killed him by his incompetence and other cyclists, pedestrians and motorists need to be protected from him doing the same thing in the future. I'm sure he's remorseful and I'm happy to hear that Mrs Dorling has come to terms with her husband's needless death but, as others have commented, there is a wider problem to be addressed; that of the ongoing manslaughter of other cyclists.

We have no protection from bad drivers and 20 tonne trucks apart from preventing them from coming together ever again. If your friend is so remorseful perhaps you can suggest to him that he surrenders his driving licence for good.

In terms of the sentence, it is clearly not enough of a deterrent and I have already written to my MP requesting that she speak on this matter in the upcoming debate. If I were to go into the street with a lawfully held shot gun and discharge in the general direction of the population and 'accidentally' killed someone it would be manslaughter. Please explain how your friends actions are any different.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [627 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:03

8 Likes

Yes, it is a system problem. But the problem is not that it fails vulnerable road users in handing out insufficient punishments to those who kill. The problem is that it fails us in allowing ordinary people to become killers, and for people to die at their hands.

We need to be clear about cause and effect and the way in which death occurs. It is usually because people's bad habits - negligent practices, if you like - just happen to be going on when someone was in the way. Driving a bit fast, cleaning a window while driving, jumping a red light, poking a satnav, overtaking on a bend, having a drink, passing a cyclist with only inches to spare... all potentially fatal.

But we don't punish those unless death or injury occurs.

We need the system to recognise that those are dangerous - not careless, dangerous - acts even if no-one dies.

Calls for imprisonment of killers will do nothing to prevent death.

And surely that must be what we need to achieve.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:10

11 Likes

How regrettable that opinion is expressed in such hateful terms, and massive respect is due to the family for their truly forgiving approach to a personal tragedy. To vilify people as some posters have done really achieves very little except possibly causing a divide between perceived "tribes". One of which has very forcefully expressed their views. But wait, could they be included with some traffic I observed last evening?
At the junction of Tottenham Court Road and New Oxford Street, buses, coaches, all struggling to cross junctions, plenty of hooters going, a large tipper going steadily through but looking very menacing to any vulnerable pedestrian or two wheel road users.
In the midst of all this, I watched cyclists. Probably saw 50 or more in 10 minutes, which was good to see. The issue, all but one simply rode through red lights, ignored give ways, swung from a side road (against red) into streams of traffic on Oxford Street. The massive majority of drivers must think these people are mad, and take avoiding action to not hurt another person.
Before the rabting brigade start, we need our own house in order. I don't ind it necessary to rant, don't cross reds on either two whels or four, and those that do should think very carefully before condemning anyone else. It's not "safer" to jump reds. It's utter arrogance and stupidity, and tars all cyclists with the same bruch. The loony lot do us no favours.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:14

10 Likes

You're arguing against "perceived tribes" in the same post as you suggest we should have collective responsibilty for people on bikes who jump red lights. Um...

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:19

8 Likes

"...I did received a reply the same day which seemed as if it had already been composed in anticipation of the emails he would receive via the campaign. I'm perfectly sure he did not even read my message as it was full of platitudes and did not mention any of the specific points I made."

I did the same and received a similar vague response from my local Councillor. The letter did have a nice picture of her on it, so that made it okay.

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [205 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:38

11 Likes

It is demonstrably safer to cross on a red. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but it is a lot safer.

Just because some cyclists go through red lights doesn't mean it's OK for lorries to run people over. Your logic is very very odd.

posted by Bikebikebike [78 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:56

9 Likes

"It is demonstrably safer to cross on a red"

[citation needed]

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
24th July 2013 - 13:12

6 Likes

Home page headline "No jail for killer driver" is highly inaccurate.

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
24th July 2013 - 13:32

8 Likes

Jonathing wrote:
"After the deaths of Ms Dorling and Ms Tereschenko it emerged that in the planning of Cycle Superhighway 2, Transport for London had ignored recommendations from the civil engineering firm, Jacobs Consultancy to install traffic signals specifically for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as separate cycle tracks."

Could this be considered sufficient grounds for someone to sue TfL?

There is very good grounds to pursue TfL with corporate manslaughter charges over their (mis)handling of work carried out at Kings Cross, yet the Met Police have done nothing about it so far.

We have seen time and again that when the police screw up, no-one is held accountable. WHen TfL screw up, no-one is held accountable. When drivers kill cyclists and someone is held accountable, the punishment is so lenient that its an insult.

I have lost complete faith in TfL, the police and the judiciary to do anything about the public sanctioned mass murder occurring on our streets. I never had any faith in Boris to do fuck all except spout bluster and bullshit.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [559 posts]
24th July 2013 - 13:32

15 Likes

Please go too the evening standard and read!

posted by Larryyosh [4 posts]
24th July 2013 - 13:41

11 Likes

I'm with Doc on this one. I've been off the bike for 5 months with a knee injury so I get to see a lot more cyclists from the pavement now. The ratio of law-abiding cyclists is anecdotally a lot lower than car drivers from my individual point of view and its very disappointing. But my real concern is the amount of crazy, reckless cycling I see... Quite a few people act like pedestrians rather than full road users and are just asking to be splatted.

On the other hand, I caught myself opening a door to get out at the lights from the passenger seat yesterday and I would have doored any cyclist in the cycle lane. We all just need to think a bit more and drive / ride confidently but defensively. Those who have convinced themselves that not wearing a helmet, or going through red lights is actually defensive, I find ridiculous in my humble opinion.

My thoughts above do not relate to the article. I live about 300m from Bow flyover and it seems perfectly possible to ride defensively on the roundabout underneath and still get killed there, it's no place for a bike because of the unusual turning patterns, and the motor vehicles aren't expecting cyclists to come off or join the a12, where bikes are banned. I only ever go on the flyover, and I ride to the tesco off the on-ramp via a different route. Sorry to all involved in the article.

posted by Whirlio [13 posts]
24th July 2013 - 14:04

12 Likes

The perpetrator was not done for 'Dangerous driving' but 'Careless (or inconsiderate) driving'.

The problem lies with the Police & CPS charging the perp with the lesser offence. They usually say they have insufficient evidence to make the higher, Dangerous driving charge successful.

It's easier for the CPS to get someone to plead guilty to the lesser charge than to go for the higher one and lose the case.

The law needs changing in my view so there is a smaller gap between the two offences. This means that the higher charge would need a lower degree of evidence than at present.

posted by BigBear63 [70 posts]
24th July 2013 - 14:06

8 Likes

"The law needs changing in my view so there is a smaller gap between the two offences. This means that the higher charge would need a lower degree of evidence than at present."

The law at least need changing so that the distinction between the two offences is well defined. At the moment it is an incredibly flimsy distinction that is wide open to interpretation.

The other common complaint is that the "careless" charges are badly named. "Negligent" is often suggested. This isn't something which would affect sentencing of course, but might conceivably play differently in the minds of jurors and might at least diminsh the extent to which bad driving is normalised.

Of course, we could do away with "careless driving" altogether. If careless driving can cause injury and death, it's dangerous. Why not roll the two into a single charge that is at least equivalent in severity to the current dangerous driving charge? At the very least this seems fair where death or injury occurs. You don't get suddenly killed by stuff that isn't dangerous, right?

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
24th July 2013 - 14:43

13 Likes

Bez wrote:
"You don't get suddenly killed by stuff that isn't dangerous, right?

Tyre blow out? Having seen a lorry tyre go, the debris could kill someone?

But basically the system doesn't work, and to an extent i do agree that locking up isn't the solution.

Risk pyramid thing, anyone caught doing something that COULD be dangerous, ie transgressing ANYTHING in the highway code should be prosecuted for it. If the highway code is best practice then surely anything that is not by the book is dangerous?

But to get the system to change? how many politicians see nothing wrong in speeding, or getting there wives to take points....

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1178 posts]
24th July 2013 - 15:28

6 Likes

mrmo wrote:
Tyre blow out? Having seen a lorry tyre go, the debris could kill someone?

Sure, but that's nothing to do with the driver's actions per se and therefore not a driving offence (setting aside an illegally-worn tyre, of course). There's no culpability of the driver there. I'm saying that where someone does something on the road that does cause death or injury, that is dangerous - not that everything that is potentially dangerous should cause someone to be prosecuted.

mrmo wrote:
But to get the system to change? how many politicians see nothing wrong in speeding, or getting there wives to take points....

Quite. Everyone's got their fat fingers in a normalised-crappy-driving pie.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
24th July 2013 - 15:45

5 Likes

We all need to look out for each other and actually care. The only thing in the world I take seriously is driving, it requires 100% concentration 100% of the time. If all other road users took the same attitude then I believe we'd all be safer on the road.

posted by Beaufort [179 posts]
24th July 2013 - 17:14

11 Likes

Beaufort wrote:
We all need to look out for each other and actually care. The only thing in the world I take seriously is driving, it requires 100% concentration 100% of the time. If all other road users took the same attitude then I believe we'd all be safer on the road.

+ Plenty. Spot on. Hope you take your safety seriously on the bike, too.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
25th July 2013 - 14:52

9 Likes

boo hoo, the hgv driver is upset. who cares! someone is DEAD!

whethere he is remoreseful or not is NOT the point!
he broke the law and someone died, he should server a stronger punishment. it will deter other people killing more cyclists on a regular basis!

maybe others wont care so much!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [117 posts]
26th July 2013 - 13:44

11 Likes

"If you haven't seen the cyclist, how could you possibly even have that thought?"

because the person driving the vehicle would be MORE careful and look about - noticing the cyclist and not running them over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [117 posts]
26th July 2013 - 13:47

11 Likes