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Coach driver who close passed cyclist avoids fine thanks to incorrectly worded police letter

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) admits "procedural error" meant 14-day Notice of Intended Prosecution window passed...

We get sent hundreds of videos of dangerous driving recorded by readers, to the point where Near Miss of the Day was born. Often these videos are reported to the police, with some hearing of successful action taken against the road user involved, but in many cases the reports are unactioned or the driver is sent a warning letter.

However, it is rare we hear a case like the one forwarded to us by road.cc reader Jonathan whose footage of a coach driver close passing him was forwarded to Northumbria Police.

The driver of a Rowell Coaches vehicle was initially slapped with a fixed penalty notice, but decided to challenge the decision in court.

One day before the court date, Jonathan received a call to say the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had dropped the case, because of a "procedural error".

The CPS confirmed the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) did not include the necessary details and "as a result the police have failed to send the NIP within the 14 days and so the complaint is barred".

"I contacted them to ask why the case had been dropped and received the following reply," Jonathan told us, before copying in the CPS' response.

Unfortunately, it was a procedural error relating to a change in the standard correspondence sent to drivers who have been charged with this type of offence which has stopped the case as it was not recognised:

Essentially the letter should be headed request for information to identify a driver and should state Notice of Intended Prosecution. The letter sent out in this case does not include both. As a result the police have failed to send the NIP within the 14 days and so the complaint is barred.

The issue has now been highlighted and rectified so will not happen in future cases of this nature.

"I was, of course disappointed that a procedural error had resulted in the case being dropped, but even more disappointed that a professional driver of a very large vehicle chose to use this loophole to avoid points and a fine, which he clearly deserved," Jonathan continued.

Northumbria Police had issued the driver a fixed penalty notice for driving without due care and attention, having seen Jonathan's footage and heard his testimony:

I was cycling through Ovington in Northumberland on 13th April 2021. I had seen a coach some way behind me when I was cycling up Coal Lane on the way into the village, a road that is not really suitable for such a large vehicle.

I expected the coach to catch me on my way through the village. As I rode through Ovington, two cars overtook me, crossing to the other side of the road to pass me safely.

Then the coach overtook me, passing about half a metre away from me.  There was no oncoming traffic and there were parked cars ahead on my side of the road, so the coach driver needed to pull out much further anyway immediately after passing me. 

I could see no reason for him not to pull out much further to pass me safely.  A few minutes later, after passing through Ovington, I saw the coach coming back towards me and the driver’s face can be seen on my helmet camera footage.

"Think twice before using Rowell of Prudhoe (Rowell Coaches, Hexham, Northumberland). The attitude of at least one of their drivers leaves a lot to be desired," he added. road.cc has contacted Rowell Coaches for comment.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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