Monday 22 October 2012

What's the difference between a footballer and a cyclist?

Knock a footballer over in a vicious unprovoked attack and you get 16 weeks in jail.  Knock a cyclist over in a vicious and unprovoked attack and get a police caution and the sympathies of a civil court that will bend over backwards to help you avoid bankruptcy or the seizure of your assets.
One consistent theme of the justice system is that if the victim is a cyclist the kid gloves go on.


  1. I think that you have this slightly wrong. I believe that a pedestrian assaulting a cyclist like that would feel the full weight of the law. It is only when that pedestrian steps into their magic metal transportation device that they somehow become less in control of their actions, and therefore the courts impose lower sanctions.

  2. And if you swim in front of a boat race you get 6 months in prison for 'prejudice'. Most drivers who kill people get far less than that!

  3. Is this CPS consultation to deal with just the wording of the info sheets, or will it be looking at the actual guidance as well?

    I really don't see why there is a lesser charge of 'death by dangerous driving'. Anyone who steps into a car knows that they are in control of a powerful machine and that they have a duty to be extremely careful with it. I think anyone who kills someone by driving carelessly or dangerously should be tried for manslaughter or murder.

    If they went into the street and carelessly waved a sword or a chainsaw around and stabbed someone they'd be up for manslaughter. How is a car different from a knife or a gun or any other dangerous instrument?

    1. I am not sure if we are referring to the Judge Tonkin/ Mr Kenny case or the John Fields case but I would have thought the difference between waving a sword or a chainsaw around in a crowded place and driving a car on the public highway, however negligently, was fairly self evident. Likewise the difference between a car, gun and knife. (If you are in any doubt try shooting a pigeon with a Ford Focus or peeling an apple with a 12 bore).

      I just hope you feel the same way when following a momentary lapse of concentration you are involved in a fatality and find yourself being held to account for your actions. The punishment should fit the crime seems axiomatic to me.

      Far be it from me to supply some balance to the debate but it might be worth looking at the argument from the other side of the windshield as it were. These views are not my own and I offer them up as an antidote to some of the one sided comments offered here.

  4. Well said " Anonymous at 16.42 " but why not back up your convictions by revealing yourself ?
    The Judge or jury would not take you to task for your commonsense !

  5. Though if you are an uninsured driver, the boot is now on the other foot. The fairly new offence of "causing death while uninsured" is a strict liability offence. As an appeal court judgment made clear, the fact that a pedestrian stepped out in front of a car and the driver had no reasonable possibility of avoiding hitting the pedestrian, and the driver was driving with due care and attention, is no defence against it. Of course driving without insurance is a serious offence, but that is no reason to randomise the punishments for it. This new offence does nothing that a reconsideration of the sentencing guidelines for driving while uninsured would not have done better and more consistently.

  6. Ref why not manslaughter or murder? Death by dangerous is such because it is deemed that 'driving in itself is not an inherently dangerous activity' (or words to that effect). Sure if the vehicle is used as a weapon or the contact is made as an assault then one of those charges could be approriate. I would argue that carelessly using a chainsaw in the street is a dangerous affair as is stabbing someone, however driving can be a safe activity. It's the penalties for the death by driving offences that need to be reassessed in my opinion.

  7. Check out the laughable comments by Matt Butler of Dorset Police at the end of this article...