Judge explains to victim's family why he can't hand down custodial sentence...

A Birmingham bus driver has escaped a custodial sentence after pleading guilty to causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving last December when he was momentarily distracted by a passenger pushing the bell to request the vehicle to stop, which made him look into the rear view mirror.

Mark Decalmer, aged 41, from Aston claimed that his attention was distracted from the road for long enough that he failed to see cyclist John Arris, aged 63, a postal worker cycling home after his shift, who was dragged under the bus, dying from his injuries five hours later in hospital, according to the Birmingham Mail.

The bus driver was sentenced to a 12-month community order and an 18-month driving ban, with Judge Patrick Thomas explaining to the court, where members of Mr Arris’s family were present, that he could not be imprisoned since the maximum sentence he was allowed to apply was a non-custodial one.

“I’m sorry the nature of this sentence will be a disappointment to some people,” the judge continued, “but I hope they understand the basis of it.”

Although the offence of causing death by careless driving carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, current sentencing guidelines do not provide for a custodial sentence where the incident arose from "momentary in attention" and there were no aggravating factors.

Earlier, the court had heard details of the accident, which took place at Lancaster Circus, from Shenaz Muzaffer, prosecuting, who said: “Mr Arris” – a father of five and grandfather of six – “was on the roundabout but the defendant failed to stop at the junction and continued on, colliding with Mr Arris as he cycled past.”
She continued: “He knocked him to the ground and the bus carried on forward and Mr Arris was dragged under the bus.”

According to Richard Bond, defending, “This was a case of momentary inattention,” he said. “Not a day goes by when he doesn’t think about Mr Arris and he will think about Mr Arris every day for the rest of his life.”

Mr Bond added that following the accident, Decalmer had lost his job and had also become the target of a hate campaign on the social networking website Facebook, as well as in his local area.


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.