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No prison sentence for drink driver who fled scene after hitting cyclist and then kicked two police officers

The driver, who was found with a bottle of alcohol in the car and slurring her words, has been disqualified from driving for three years

A drink driver who hit a cyclist in a head-on collision, fled the scene, then struggled with and swore at emergency officers when they stopped her, and later kicked at two police officers, has avoided going to jail, but has been handed a three-year driving ban.

Louise Baker was driving her Nissan Micra on the A472 in Ystrad Mynach, just a few miles north of Caerphilly in August last year when she steered the vehicle into the path of the oncoming cyclist Hugh Daniels, and then proceeded to flee the scene.

The cyclist received burns to his right thigh, right forearm and knee going down to the shin, she also swore at him.

Shortly after the incident, Baker was stopped by emergency workers where she "struggled with them, was slurring her words and shouting abuse at them". A bottle of alcohol was also found in her car.

Upon arriving at the police station Baker argued with officers and assaulted an officer by kicking out at them. South Wales Argus reported that Newport Crown Court was shown a video of the incident and during the checking-in process at the police station, she once again assaulted another officer by kicking them in the thigh.

It was also revealed that Baker was a recovering alcoholic, and the judge heard that she was highly intoxicated at the time of the collision. The judge said: "You steered into the cyclist’s path, left him on the floor and for all you known he could have been dead."

> “Arrogant” speeding driver with drugs and alcohol in his system avoids jail for killing cyclist, as prosecutor says incident was “just below” dangerous driving threshold

The 47-year-old from Bristol was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm for hitting the cyclist, assault by beating an emergency worker and driving dangerously. She pleaded guilty to all the charges.

Baker was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. She was also required to abstain from alcohol for 90 days and was fitted with an electronic tag which will monitor her adherence to this. She must also complete an 18-month community order, and attend a 20-day rehabilitation programme.

She was also asked to pay £2,000 compensation to the cyclist and banned from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle for three years. The judge added that if Baker was "foolish enough to come before him again she will be put into custody."

In August this year, a drink driver who ploughed through a cyclist from behind at 60mph while at least 75 per cent over the legal drink drive limit, and then went on to give the police a "cock and bull story" by telling them that she had no knowledge of the collision, was jailed for 14 months and banned from driving for 37 months.

In the past, however, there have been some instances that drivers have managed to escape imprisonment despite being under the influence of alcohol and even drugs.

Last month, we reported that an "arrogant" motorist who killed a cyclist while speeding at up to 51mph in a 30mph zone, and who was found to have traces of ketamine, cocaine, and alcohol in his system at the time of the fatal collision, got away with a suspended prison sentence and a three-year driving ban, after a prosecutor described his standard of driving as "just below" the threshold for dangerous driving.

> Motorist avoids jail for deliberately ramming cyclist who questioned close pass

And just a few days before that, a driver who deliberately rammed a cyclist following an argument about a close pass was once again given a suspended sentence for dangerous driving and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The driver rammed into the cyclist, launching him into the air and causing a heavy impact to his spine as he landed on the kerb and hit his head on the road. The driver, who it is reported has a previous conviction for dangerous driving from 2007, admitted ramming the cyclist when she phoned Leicestershire Police from the scene.

The victim thought he had broken his spine, such was the collision force, and described the incident as "like a hate attack" against cyclists, explaining that his bike worth £8,000 is unusable due to the damage and he "almost had a panic attack" when he tried to ride again post-recovery.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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31 comments

Avatar
bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago
6 likes

In 3 years and 1 day we will see a new headline about a drunk woman murdering a cyclist with her car.

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brooksby | 7 months ago
14 likes

A driving ban will make no difference to the behaviour of this person, only bring down the "wrath" of the local police when she gets caught again.

I suspect that her not getting sent to jail is a consequence of the jails being all full up so that 'low level' offenders don't get sent to prison.  Perhaps they could have popped her on a flight to Rwanda instead? 

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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
8 likes

brooksby wrote:

A driving ban will make no difference to the behaviour of this person, only bring down the "wrath" of the local police when she gets caught again.

I suspect that her not getting sent to jail is a consequence of the jails being all full up so that 'low level' offenders don't get sent to prison.  Perhaps they could have popped her on a flight to Rwanda instead? 

I don't think flights to Rwanda are cheap though - haven't we given Rwanda £240m for nothing so far?

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
18 likes

Not quite - we sent them 3 Home Secretaries.

Perhaps unfortunately - they came back though.

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
9 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Not quite - we sent them 3 Home Secretaries.

Perhaps unfortunately - they came back though.

Were their flights included in that money though? I bet not as otherwise they wouldn't get to cash in their air-miles.

Anyhow, it's only a couple of Home Secretaries left until Xmas…

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
2 likes

Well I though we were paying Rwanda to host people we sent there and stop them coming back here initially.  And particularly not to do unto them what apparently they do to Rwandans (both abroad and within the country*).  Or at least to pass inspections.

We got the Home Secretaries back, so that's one out of two...

* Rights in Rwanda have apparently improved slightly over the last decade or so but it is still considered as "not free".  TBH I thought that was the whole point.  Those who proposed this scheme said they wanted a deterrent - essentially a penalty for doing so.  Since people are VERY keen to come here they clearly decided a pretty nasty one was required.

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
3 likes

What happens if someone comes from Rwanda to try and claim asylum?

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
15 likes

Under the bill (s25 ? Or was it point 25), they are allowed to come here and not face repatriation.

You could not make this up.

* 25/ an important point in clause 7.2: the bill does NOT apply to *Rwandans* who apply for asylum in the UK. The general irrefutable presumption of safety only applies to NON Rwandans.

What's cruella's favourite carol?
O come let us deport him

Avatar
brooksby replied to Hirsute | 7 months ago
0 likes

Hirsute wrote:

Under the bill (s25 ? Or was it point 25), they are allowed to come here and not face repatriation. You could not make this up. * 25/ an important point in clause 7.2: the bill does NOT apply to *Rwandans* who apply for asylum in the UK. The general irrefutable presumption of safety only applies to NON Rwandans. What's cruella's favourite carol? O come let us deport him

no

surprise

Avatar
Hirsute replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
1 like

A number of options here for the remaining choruses

There is no habeas corpus

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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
5 likes

brooksby wrote:

What happens if someone comes from Rwanda to try and claim asylum?

Ship them to Australia

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Surreyrider replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
0 likes

They get a free flight home and a cheap holiday?

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hawkinspeter replied to Surreyrider | 7 months ago
5 likes
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Surreyrider replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
0 likes

And your point is what exactly?

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hawkinspeter replied to Surreyrider | 7 months ago
1 like

Surreyrider wrote:

And your point is what exactly?

You mentioned a cheap holiday, which brought to mind the newsthump skit about the govt. planning on using Center Parcs for refugees. Hence the link.

No real point apart from the govt. being useless.

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ktache replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
4 likes

As the excellent John Crace calls him, Jimmy Dimly, was telling us all not to be obsessed with the whole Rwanda thing a couple of weeks back.

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Rome73 replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
3 likes

Ironically, all three of them are children of immigrants. 

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ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
16 likes

I know we are (mostly, trolls notwithstanding) sensitive to incidents where drivers willfully inflict harm on vulnerable road users, and people have differing views on the purpose of the justice system (is it for punishment, rehabilitation, or a combination of both?), but I question the long term effectiveness of 3 weeks enforced rehab, 3 months enforced sobriety, £2k victim compensation, and a year and a half of community service, during which there is the threat of an additional year in custody in case of further wrongdoing.

Alcoholism isn't something that goes away in 18 months. It is a life-long battle against addiction. They have proven that whilst under the influence they are capable of manslaughter, and potentially murder, therefore even the most optimistic thinkers who want to avoid immediate custodial sentences can't ignore the fact that 12 months suspended for 18 is a pitifully weak dissuasion from fucking up their 2nd chance

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
19 likes

ROOTminus1 wrote:

I know we are (mostly, trolls notwithstanding) sensitive to incidents where drivers willfully inflict harm on vulnerable road users, and people have differing views on the purpose of the justice system (is it for punishment, rehabilitation, or a combination of both?), but I question the long term effectiveness of 3 weeks enforced rehab, 3 months enforced sobriety, £2k victim compensation, and a year and a half of community service, during which there is the threat of an additional year in custody in case of further wrongdoing. Alcoholism isn't something that goes away in 18 months. It is a life-long battle against addiction. They have proven that whilst under the influence they are capable of manslaughter, and potentially murder, therefore even the most optimistic thinkers who want to avoid immediate custodial sentences can't ignore the fact that 12 months suspended for 18 is a pitifully weak dissuasion from fucking up their 2nd chance

Maybe it would be better if the courts treated alcholism as a medical issue that is incompatible with driving (c.f. poor eyesight). It should mean that after an alcohol fuelled driving collision, the person has their license removed until they can demonstrate e.g. 12 months of abstinence. Of course custodial sentences would still be appropriate as the person is responsible for their actions in deciding to drive under the influence, knowing that it can cause significant danger to other people.

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ROOTminus1 replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
10 likes

Did we ever get that Road Traffic Act review that was promised in 2014? That would be a great place for considerations like yours.

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mattw replied to ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
1 like

No.

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NOtotheEU replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
4 likes

High risk offenders do have to provide negative blood tests from their doctor before getting their licence back as standard procedure.

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Surreyrider replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
4 likes

According to Road CC's report she wasn't charged with drink driving which is odd as her punishment included abstaining from alcohol for 90 days.

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SimoninSpalding replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
10 likes

I went to school with a lad whose father was an alcoholic, and repeatedly got stopped driving whilst disqualified, under the influence, he was known to every police officer in the area. There was nothing that seemed to stop him. Even a collision with his kids in the car in which his daughter lost her leg did not change his behaviour.

As you say it is a medical issue, and I am no expert on how to treat it, but I think overcrowded, understaffed prisons are unlikely to be the best environment to help addicts.

On the other hand other road users need to be protected, and until there is joined up policy around health, education, inequality, road safety and criminal justice we will continue to see lives ruined.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to SimoninSpalding | 7 months ago
7 likes

SimoninSpalding wrote:

I went to school with a lad whose father was an alcoholic, and repeatedly got stopped driving whilst disqualified, under the influence, he was known to every police officer in the area. There was nothing that seemed to stop him. Even a collision with his kids in the car in which his daughter lost her leg did not change his behaviour.

As you say it is a medical issue, and I am no expert on how to treat it, but I think overcrowded, understaffed prisons are unlikely to be the best environment to help addicts.

On the other hand other road users need to be protected, and until there is joined up policy around health, education, inequality, road safety and criminal justice we will continue to see lives ruined.

Yes, prisons may not be the best way of treating them, but the most important point is to protect the public by ensuring that alcoholics can't continue to drive. I wouldn't mind if alcoholic drivers were forcibly kept in treatment centres instead of prison - I just don't want them out on the roads and killing people.

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mattw replied to ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
0 likes

In the UK I think suspended prison sentences can only be for 2 years.

In Ireland a crim recently received a sentence suspended for *seven* years iirc. That ran after a period of imprisonment, and the last bit of the sentence was suspended.

That seems a far better motivator to me.

 

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Brauchsel replied to ROOTminus1 | 7 months ago
6 likes

Can confirm that there is absolutely nothing about being an alcoholic that compels you to drive a car while under the influence. It shouldn't be a mitigating factor in sentencing motoring offences. 

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Reiver2768 | 7 months ago
12 likes

What do you have to do with a car these days to end up in jail?

 

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hawkinspeter replied to Reiver2768 | 7 months ago
12 likes

Reiver2768 wrote:

What do you have to do with a car these days to end up in jail?

Hit a member of the police?

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NotNigel replied to Reiver2768 | 7 months ago
25 likes

Use it as part of a peaceful protest against the government.

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