James Thacker persuades court to dismiss charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving

News | Fri 5th Jun, 2020

On 15th September 2018 the defendant, who was in the area of Hawkhurst, Kent, approached a junction intending to turn right onto the A268. During his manoeuvre he collided with a motorcyclist, who tragically died. The stretch of road was straight and unlit. The defendant was consistent in his account that he had only seen the headlights of a motor vehicle which was actually following the motorcycle and he judged he had a safe amount of time to perform his manoeuvre.

Analysis of expert evidence obtained in the case revealed that there was a real possibility of ‘masking’ in that the motor vehicle’s headlamps had masked the single headlamp of the motorcyclist giving the impression that only the motor vehicle was there to be seen. Despite this evidence, the Prosecution pursued a case against the defendant, a man of positive good character in his 70s.

Following a number of hearings, written and oral submissions, the learned judge at the Crown Court sitting at Maidstone, in a handed down judgment given on 5th June 2020, accepted James Thacker’s submissions; that the key issue was the ‘masking’ and whether the defendant ‘could have seen’ the motorcyclist. Therefore there was insufficient evidence for the defendant to be properly convicted and the charge was dismissed.

His Honour Judge Statman stated ‘I am satisfied in my own mind that what we are dealing with here is a tragic accident. The elements of the offence are simply not made out. It cannot be shown that the line has been crossed from accident to criminal culpability’.

James Thacker was instructed by John Dance, Associate at DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd., specialists in representing defendants in criminal proceedings concerning fatal or serious injury road traffic collisions.

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