Saturday 18 June 2011

Helmet Camera secures a conviction

Michael Stewart at Court yesterday.  Picture from Manchester Evening News

Michael Stewart was convicted and sentenced yesterday at Manchester Magistrates' Court of driving without due care and attention and for common assault.  He had pleaded guilty to both offences.  He was acquitted of the charge of dangerous driving.  After driving close to a cyclist, Neil Chatterjee, Stewart got out of his BMW car and grabbed Mr Chatterjee by the throat.  The Magistrate accepted as beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Chatterjee's account of the assault was correct and that Mr Stewart's (that he had only grabbed his clothing) was false.
Sentencing Stewart, the Court described the attack as reprehensible, serious and road rage.  The Manchester Evening News reports that Stewart was ordered to pay a £200 fine and £200 court costs. His licence was endorsed with five penalty points.  He was also given a six-week community order with a four-week evening curfew.
Stewart admitted the assault and there is no report of any previous convictions.   Accordingly had these events occurred in the Thames Valley Police area he would have been given a caution as a matter of course.  Fortunately the Manchester Police and CPS are made of sterner stuff and deserve full credit for bringing this before a Court.  Equally it is incredibly rare for a prosecution to arise from passing close to a cyclist without actually knocking him off.  Police forces everywhere will hopefully note this result.  The Manchester CPS were not afraid of erring on the side of the victim; the fact that Stewert was acquitted of dangerous driving does not mean that the decision to puruse the charge was incorrect.


  1. Since I learned of the futility of points on a driving licence, I am increasingly cynical about their use. I write as a person who has been driving for twenty-nine years with a clean licence throughout that time.

    The question that comes to mind is: What's the point? These are serial offenders, who have obviously learned they can ignore the Law with impunity. Dickens' Mr. Bumble was right: "The Law is a Ass!"[sic]
    My FOI request
    How many drivers are currently on the roads in the UK, legally driving with 12 points or more on their licence? Please break down the numbers of drivers by the numbers of points acquired.

    "Information about the number of drivers on DVLA records with current driving entitlement is provided in the table below. These figures reflect the position as at 24 May 2011, and are for Great Britain and not for the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland maintains a separate drivers record.

    Current No. of
    Points Drivers
    12 - 6,983
    13 - 809
    14 - 870
    15 - 1,075
    16 - 297
    17 - 144
    18 - 233
    19 - 37
    20 - 46
    21 - 39
    22 - 10
    23 - 15
    24 - 24
    25 - 3
    27 - 3
    28 - 1
    30 - 4
    33 - 1
    36 - 2

    While DVLA maintains a record of all GB Fixed Penalties and Court ordered
    endorsements, the Agency has no responsibility or influence on Court imposed sentences.

    Magistrates Courts use Sentencing Guidelines published b the Magistrates Association that provide a framework setting out how to establish the seriousness of each case and the most appropriate way of dealing with it. This helps ensure that any penalty reflects the
    seriousness of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender.

    In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, the Agency understands that a Court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify the
    driver. In the majority of these cases, Magistrates may have decided to allow drivers to retain their entitlement to drive where it is considered that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.

    DVLA’s database changes constantly as the Agency receives driving licence applications and other information that updates the records of individual drivers. Therefore, it is possible only to provide a snapshot of the state of the record at the time of any request. It should be noted that there can be a delay between the notification of penalty points and disqualification...."

  2. @Amoeba has shown the weakness in the legal system concerning "points" !

    How a person can be allowed to drive with more than 18 points defies imagination !Assuming a person reaches 8 or 10 points wouldn't they modify their driving behaviour to avoid losing more ?

    The table shows about 430 people beyond 18 points that have continued to ignore the safety of others ! What message does this send to those charged with upholding the law

  3. OK a link to the post in "Crap cycling and walking in Waltham Forest" would have been easier. Either way before we sit here and bemoan points - remember his insurance costs will double because of the points - he is not a hardened criminal - just an ass.

  4. Bugger, I live in the TVP area so to hear that they'd have only have issued a caution in similar circumstances is not only worrying as a cyclist but as a member of the general public knowing that TVP would act in this manner!!

    This will give me even less incentive to be helpful or even respectful to them in the future!!

  5. Those figures listed make interesting reading. However, the points issued to a driver assume that the driver has a valid licence in the first place. You do not accumulate points on a non-existent licence.