Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Private prosecution results in acquittal

At about 1855 on 12th February 2015 Mr Aslan Kayardi who is, or was, a qualified driving instructor overtook me in his Audi R8 sports car on the A315 between Feltham and Staines.  I alleged against him that he drove dangerously and supported that allegation with evidence from an experienced collision investigator, Mr Paul Croft.  I thank him for the careful balanced and conspicuously fair way that he presented his evidence which to my mind was highly compelling.
I respect the rule of law and entirely accept that some of the material that I had hoped may go before a jury could not do so for legal reasons.  I also have to accept the verdict of the jury that Mr Kayardi’s driving has not been proved to fall far below the standard of a competent and careful driver.  Every Defendant is entitled to the benefit of any doubt and my assessment of his driving has to bow to that of the jury.
Aside from this case, I am a total stranger to the criminal courts.  What is clear to me is that a somewhat creaking in places criminal justice system is held together by the professionalism, dedication and skill of the criminal bar.  The prosecution was most ably and persuasively conducted by Mr Ellis Sareen and Ms Emily Albou.  Equally Mr Kayardi had the good fortune to have his Defence conducted successively by   Ms Abigail Bright and Mr Jake Taylor who quite properly worked hard and effectively to secure what was the right result for their client.  I am grateful to all four and appreciate more than ever how important it is to a fair and just society that we continue properly to value their work.
An acquittal does not imply that a prosecution was not properly brought, although there are of course a number of lessons which I shall endeavour to draw from this experience and which I hope may also benefit others.
I have been asked for my video but am hesitant to put it into the public domain.  There is clearly a risk that it will be held up as driving that has been found to be perfectly acceptable.

I am extremely grateful to the CTC and Roadpeace for their considerable moral support and to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund for both moral and financial support.  It is more than ever important that the Cyclists’ Defence Fund has the resources to continue to fight for justice for cyclists.  I will continue to do what I can to support those efforts.

53 comments:

  1. Having previously been informed by the Police that they wouldn't even bother reviewing footage unless there had been contact or my avoiding action had resulted in me falling off, I admire your attempt and am thankful for it, even though it proved unsuccessful.

    Keep up the good work.

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  2. Martin, thank you for the statement, well considered and balanced as ever. There is a long way to go before road users are properly held to account for their actions. As a cyclist who has had a number of dealings with Surrey Police on reporting bad driving, it's clear that laws are already in place for dealing with bad driving, they just need to be enforced.

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    Replies
    1. And for the bad cyclist? what laws do we need to enact for the cyclist on the pavement .. for the cyclist who ignores traffic signals.. for the cyclist who teams up with another three and ride fifteen abreast?

      Delete
    2. I have every sympathy for cyclists but not in this case. Martin regales himself as 'The cycling Lawyer'
      No self respecting barrister or solicitor would champion themselves in this way. Smacks of big headedness and aan ego so large Dunlop could not inflate the inner tube-self

      Delete
    3. Existing legislation is fine.
      cyclist on the pavement ?
      RTA 1988 s34 "Prohibition of driving mechanically propelled vehicles elsewhere than on roads" - not relevant to bikes, (just cars+vans that park there)
      Highway Code 64
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_Act_1835#Section_72
      "don't ride on a footpath"

      cyclist who ignores traffic signals ?
      https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82#rule69

      cyclist fifteen abreast
      https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82#rule66
      Not law - says 'should'
      2-abreast OK

      Delete
  3. Hugely important that we use and respect the process. Valid use of the criminal justice system to clarify standards and hold drivers to account. Many thanks for your efforts.

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  4. Almost all cycle cam videos show bad driving which has not been prosecuted. Those that are invariably result in derisory verdicts. It is essential that in these cases justice is seen not to have been done as evidence in order to initiate a process of change towards a civilised traffic culture for everyone. Juries consisting of drivers are plainly inimical to justice for traffic offences. Please make the video public. Despite the negative implications for cycling we cannot pretend things are otherwise.

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  5. So what do we do? Would strict liability help? Political campaign?

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    Replies
    1. No strict liability is purely for civil law and not criminal law.

      Delete
    2. No... Sweet v Parsley?

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    3. Re "Sweet v Parsley" - "liable without fault"
      This conviction was later quashed by the House of Lords
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_v_Parsley
      IANAL, but I don't find it a convincing precedent !
      What about the old presumption for a 'rear-end shunt' that the car behind is liable ?
      http://www.rac.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?14704-Recent-case-in-the-Court-of-Appeal-Rear-end-collisions
      Not always.
      Nowadays people cry 'Crash for Cash', although some of the YT videos look more like road-rage: both parties voluntarily crash!

      Delete
  6. Would you reconsider making the video public, I like far too many people have had similar experiences with horrible passes and the police being totally disinterested. Maybe it could be useful for use to challenge this not through the courts but as something to take up with our MPs. I for one would like someone in power to explain why this type of behaviour is acceptable.

    many thanks

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  7. "driving that has been found to be perfectly acceptable"
    or
    "driving that has not been proved to be unacceptable"

    Can't win them all - keep trying!

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  8. Martin, thanks for taking this on.

    The result highlights the difficulty in getting a jury with no cycling experience to understand what constitutes dangerous driving around a cyclist. It seems to be the case in many minds that if there was no contact, then there was no danger.

    What we need, I think, is a specific law relating to passing distance, possibly speed-related. Perhaps the publication of your video might stimulate some debate in this area.

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  9. "I also have to accept the verdict of the jury that Mr Kayardi’s driving has not been proved to fall below the standard of a competent and careful driver."

    I was involved (as a witness) in a criminal case, following an incident in which my bike ended up supporting the front axle of a white van in the middle of a street in Shoreditch (my photo evidence of the van's balancing act was the only hard evidence presented at the jury trial). Say what you like about the justice system, but I personally have little faith in a jury that cannot see how ending up on top of a bike is something even remotely resembling "competent" or "careful". The defendant was acquitted.

    My faith in the juries of our justice system does not match yours, good sir.

    Nonetheless, keep up the good work.

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  10. Martin, as with other commenters, the Road Danger Reduction Forum supports your efforts in this area. Well done for trying - it must have been very stressful.

    The issue now is: how do we go forward? Do you think, on the basis of this case, that we should not pursue private prosecutions? What kind of evidence does this case indicate would, or would not, be likely to result in a guilty verdict for dangerous or careless driving?

    Should we just try and work with the police to get them to pursue prosecutions in the first place.

    I would be pleased to hear your views on what the implications of this case have for us. Of course, there may have been particular difficulties involved (e.g. what evidence was admissible) , but we could do with views on how to move forward.

    Dr R Davis, Chair RDRF

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  11. That was a depressing result, but thanks for the efforts of all involved.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The experiences and comments of those who have so far contributed here seem to me (an independent commentator) that today's traffic levels are not conducive to safe cycling. The sooner cyclists recognise and accept this, the safer they will be. It is up to the cyclists to adapt their road behaviours.

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    Replies
    1. Who brings the danger to the situation? With more people recognising the benefits of cycling it is time that drivers adapted their behaviours.

      Delete
    2. Nice bit of victim-blaming there matey.

      Delete
    3. So, the problem is today's (motor?) traffic levels and the solution is for those not in a car to adapt their behaviour accordingly?

      Does it not occur to you that the 'dangerous'/illegal cyclist behaviours you listed above ARE adaptations to the current road conditions?

      Perhaps there are other solutions, such as working to reduce motor traffic levels..?

      Kind regards

      Ijon

      Delete
  13. " The sooner cyclists recognise and accept this, the safer they will be. "

    So as an " Independent?anonymous Commentator" you CHOOSE to interpret the Highway Code ( like so many Vehicle Drivers ) in the manner that serves YOU best ?

    Highway Code is needed to obtain the Driver Licence/permit and People sweat blood , to ensure they get it right ( so expensive to sit the test ? ) , not knowing which questions will be posed , then with a sense of relief , complying with those requirements are set aside as the " newbie " emulates the PATHETIC Behaviours exhibited by those that consider " Distracted Driving " , COOL !

    What is needed NOW , is :
    1/ Tougher Licencing/Training regime .

    2/ Presumed Liability Laws as in E.U. .

    3/ Stipulated Safe Pass of Cyclist Laws .

    4/ EXPERT Judiciary to hear Cycling Matters.

    5/ PUBLIC education .

    6/ Driver Permits to be 10 yr, NOT LIFE.

    At VisionZeroWorldWide ( facebook ) there are many " Placards " that can be downloaded and USED to help educate the unwashed , about THEIR responsibilities to Vulnerable Road Users .

    Martin continues to assist Cyclists' Issues , even though being in the Judicial System , he must be very aware of how it is STACKED against the Cyclist ?

    When a Cyclist takes to the road , very few , would ignore the suspicion that they are AT RISK regardless of how careful or prepared they are for the journey !

    When a Cyclist is the Victim , how often do they get ALL their Property and Injuries , properly recompensed ? With the Insurance Industry intent on limiting their losses , the individual SUFFERS ?

    ONLY when more are prepared to follow Martin's example , will we see a seachange in " attitudes " to those People on Bikes !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're correct - the HC and the ability to recall its contents form part of the tests that motorists have to go through to drive lawfully on our roads. In contrast, anyone can buy a cycle and take straight to the roads. They do not have to demonstrate any level of competence, or knowledge of the HC, prior to taking a machine onto the roads.

      More control of cyclists is needed.

      Delete
  14. In short - cyclists bring the danger. They are affected by the weather, environment, personal fitness, wobbles and the drive to prove motorists to be the road user most at fault.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Police statistics clearly show that motorists are the road user most at fault and the fact is that motorists kill cyclists but not vice versa.So stop your victim-blaming and take some responsibility.

      Delete
    2. So, regardless of cyclist behaviour on a road, if a cyclist is killed in a collision involving a motorist the latter is at fault. Is that really what you are saying?

      Delete
    3. And please leave the url or other address from where I can obtain or view these police stats.

      Delete
    4. Oh-hahaha-ho
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      Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
      La-la-laaaah!
      La la laaaah!
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      Delete
    5. Are only cyclists affected by the factors you mention? Or is it actually the case that all road users are affected by these (except, possibly, the last one)?

      Kind regards

      Ijon

      Delete
  15. Well tried, Someone had to test the system and I hope that many lessons may be learned for the next time such an action might be necessary.

    However it strikes me that there is a vast raft of clearly recorded events which show that the driver of a vehicle - which the registered keeper SHOULD have control over the use of - through intent or incompetence presents a raised risk of a civil claim for harm to other road users (and damage to the the vehicle).

    Risk scoring is used by the DVSA to target enforcement and prompt action to rein in those operators who pose the greatest threat with HGV and PSV. What is there to stop insurers promoting a similar scheme based on the driving standards for vehicles managed by the keepers who (generally) have to insure the vehicles they operate.

    Vehicles repeatedly recorded as being driven in a bad way, would be scored as high risk and the keepers would then face raised insurance costs based on this data - offering an incentive to remedy which keeps the volume of prosecutions going to court down.

    However if this risk scoring is shared with the Police, the intelligence can provide a basis got targetted enforcement to address the drivers who make no effort to improve.
    a driver

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once again, a commentator who sees the driver as being the main cause of the problems on our roads. I have yet to meet a cyclist who can explain to me why cyclists ride two (sometimes more) abreast on our roads in locations and circumstances where the highway code advises otherwise.

      Delete
    2. How remiss of me, I forgot to ask also for someone to tell me what training cyclists receive in passing queuing vehicles on the nearside, and crossing the white Stop lines at traffic lights when a red light is showing.

      Delete
    3. @Fifth Gear

      If you dissagree with the opinions expressed by others you need to explain your views with reasoning and where possible evidence.

      IF instead of doing this you are going to project negative character traits (such as being a Troll) on others you would be better off not saying anything at all.

      Doing this discredits YOU not the person you are talking about because it highlights the fact that you dont have any grounds on which to challenge their views.

      Delete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. For a few hours I really believed this was a blog for serious issues to be aired in a serious manner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is just your posts at fault. Everyone else seems to be eminently serious.

      Delete
  18. The exchange of views and comments here have largely been interesting. However, I would like to hear someone explain the reason for the hilarity when I asked for the information that would back up general comments.

    I also note that because I am able to ask serious questions relating to the HC advice that is all too often ignored by cyclists, and that I have raised other pertinent points, I am now labelled as a Troll.

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  19. You have chosen to use this blog entry about the acquittal of a particular driver charged with driving dangerously to trot out all of your prejudices concerning cyclists in general. Whatever your pet peeves about riding two abreast or passing on the inside etc. etc., they are irrelevant to what happened to Martin Porter.

    Additionally, your relationship to people who ride bicycles is one of alterity. If you can think of situations in life when this happens to you, it may help you understand why it is offensive to lump every bicyle-rider together as if they are a homogeneous mass.

    Summary: your comments are off-topic and offensive. Some people call that trolling.

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  20. I disagree with your comments and dismiss them accordingly. I do this based on previous comments on this blog.

    We are looking here at road user behaviour. The behaviour of road users cannot be summarily dismissed purely because of the outcome of one case. Careless or dangerous driving cannot be ignored, nor can careless or dangerous cycling be ignored.

    There is without doubt a bias in favour of cyclists on this blog (the clue being on the title). It is an open blog and therefore will attract comments from a range of road users.

    It seems that your definition of 'offensive' differs to mine. I am asking questions and raising points (none of which have been reasonably answered). To deem those points I have brought to this discussion as offensive speaks volumes about the cyclist-bias that exists here. It's probably an unconscious bias, as most biases are. It is when a bias is challenged that people become defensive, make unhelpful accusations, discriminate against those who hold different views, and attempt to isolate the individual.

    Classic behaviour - it's always the fault of the other, and a failure to accept personal responsibility.

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  21. Did the jury accept the estimates from
    Paul Croft of the speed and distance which you were passed?

    Or did the jury simply find that the speed and distance at which you were passed was "acceptable"?

    I do a lot of work in this area (Computer Vision, currently for "Driver Assist" algorithms) so it's something I'd find interesting to know. We a do a lot of work on intrinsic (lens parameters) and extrinsic (camera position) calibration in order to be able to calculate the relative position of objects in 3D space with good accuracy at close range.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juries give no reasons. You cannot question them, if you did they cannot answer. They may all have had different reasons. Paul Croft's evidence was powerful and not really challenged. Jury do not have to accept unchallenged expert evidence.

      Delete
  22. The courts require accuracy and proven methods for reconstruction purposes. For instance, the police can only produce certain pieces of evidence if the sources (machine, chemical procedures, etc.) have been researched, tried, tested and approved by the Home Office.

    The estimates submitted as evidence are just that - estimates. The legality of estimates is questionable as evidence. The person producing such evidence has to prove it's accuracy and integrity to the satisfaction of the court, otherwise it is of no value - not evidence.

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  23. From where does the need for the pro-cyclists on this blog to apportion fault have its roots? I get the impression that most are looking for a win-lose outcome in favour of cyclists. What happened to the search for a win-win?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "up to the cyclists to adapt their road behaviours" - meaning ?
      "search for a win-win" - meaning ?
      We feel drivers should stop driving dangerously - they kill themselves, as well as others - that is a "win-win", surely ?
      Most experienced drivers would fail a re-test
      https://goo.gl/81XJYJ

      Police STATS19
      https://data.gov.uk/dataset/road-accidents-safety-data
      http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study
      "With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25%"

      Most EU countries put the onus on the driver in terms of civil/compensation law - this is criminal.
      https://goo.gl/iw6QW8

      2-abreast ?
      http://ukcyclelaws.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-laws-according-to-highway-code.html
      https://youtu.be/OTGRQgw6PDA

      Do you recognise that, as a driver, you are as much biassed as we are as cyclists ?
      Same goes for many juries !

      Rules of photo perspective are more than just 'estimates'. At least a range of values was given, with presumably a 99.9% confidence interval ? Science !

      We're trying to use the law, and appeals to humanity and decency, to level the playing-field against tonnes of metal and hundreds of horsepower.
      Are we living in a brutal 'Might is right' society, or a civilised, respectful one where we value human life over heavy machinery ?

      Delete
    2. You have assumed that I am a driver. Upon what do you base that assumption?

      I tend not to engage with those who make assumptions about me.

      Delete
    3. I'll further assume you're a troll, then !

      Delete
  24. what absolute bumptious drivel! unfortunately you lost! the jury decided you were wrong!
    I am a cyclist aswell

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  25. Assumptions are the mothers of all cock-ups.

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  26. In Spain there is a new law requiring drivers to give 1.5 metres clearance when overtaking a cyclist. Such a law in this country would have brought a conviction.
    There is a lot other countries can teach us if we would stop thinking of the UK as "exceptional". Another example from Spain is the huge number of pedestrian crossings, and it's incumbent upon drivers to stop when they see a pedestrian about to cross. In the UK pedestrians are treated like detritus.

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  27. From the evidence, as I read it, the former driving instructor was utterly INCOMPETENT. Giving ONLY about 24 inches of space to pass the cyclist was at best, plain stupid, and at worst, dangerous. It begs the question as to the competence of the jurists.

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  28. Martin, thank you for trying.

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