Published: 21 January 2013
Report: British Cycling
British Cycling has expressed its dismay after taxi driver Ichhapal Bhamra was charged with ‘driving without due care and attention’ and fined just £35 following the death of 20 year old cyclist Tom Ridgway in June 2012.
Mr Bhamra was fined just £35, plus court costs, and given three penalty points, despite hitting Tom Ridgway on Streetsbrook Road on 27 June 2012, continuing for 90 metres with Ridgway on his bonnet, hitting traffic signs before eventually colliding with a tree. Ridgway died of his injuries in hospital shortly after.
British Cycling Policy and Legal Affairs Director Martin Gibbs said; “Once again the justice system has failed us. Mr Bhamra could provide no explanation of why he didn’t see Tom Ridgway and continued to drive 90m with him on the bonnet before crashing into a tree.
“There is no reasonable conclusion other than that Bhamra’s driving caused Tom’s death and the CPS has failed to bring the appropriate charge. These failures send completely the wrong message about how we expect people to behave on our roads and demonstrate the need for an urgent review of the justice system.”
According to reports from Solihull News, Mr Bhamra was charged with the relatively minor offence of ‘driving without due care and attention’ because the Crown Prosecution Service was unable to establish either the cause of the collision or whether Tom Ridgway’s death was caused by the initial collision or by the final collision with the tree. Because of this, the CPS reasoned that the more serious charges of ‘causing death by careless driving’ and ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ were not available to them.
Speaking the Solihull News, Tom’s mother Liz Ridgway said “Neither the charge not the sentence reflect the enormous tragedy of a young man’s death when he was simply cycling along next to the pavement”.
Local MP Lorely Burt said she was “shocked and disgusted” by the sentence and pledged to look into the case.
British Cycling has been campaigning for a full review of the justice system when people are hurt on the roads.
Our review includes:
1. A full analysis of the way that the police and coroners investigate these cases
2. Review of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charging standards
3. A full examination of the offences available to the CPS.
4. A review of the sentencing guidelines to reflect the very serious harm that bad driving can cause.
We met with Justice Minister Helen Grant in December and she has agreed to support our review. We are now working to bring together the relevant stakeholders including the Crown Prosecution Service, Association of Chief Police Officers, Chief Coroner, Home Office and Magistrates Association to review the justice system and how it might be improved.