Let us imagine the case of a train driver who fell asleep at the controls of his train. Let us further imagine, as a result of being asleep, he fails to stop at a red signal, causing an accident which results in the death of one of his passengers.
This driver would almost certainly be facing charges of manslaughter.
Now let us consider the case of Michael Isherwood, a cyclist who was struck and killed by a driver in November last year. According to Martin Cleaver, Michael’s employer, who attended the trial of that driver,
it was “probable” that the driver as a result of extreme home pressures had momentarily fallen asleep when the accident occurred. He stopped a few hundred yards up the road to sort out the damage and did not realise he had struck and killed a cyclist. It was stated that Michael was projected in the region of 50 meters away from the accident.
Instead of being charged with manslaughter, the driver, Andrew Edwards, was charged with causing death “by driving without due care and attention”, and also with failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
Instead of receiving a sentence commensurate with taking someone else’s life as a result of his own negligence (to say nothing of failing to investigate the consequences of a collision he was fully aware of) he received, yesterday, a suspended 12-month prison sentence, a 12-month driving ban, and 200 hours community service.
UPDATE - road.cc now have more details of the trial. It is far, far worse than I thought. The driver revealed himself – to the police! – to be callous in the extreme, and fully aware of the fact that he had struck and seriously injured a cyclist.
Yesterday the hearing at Burnley Crown Court was told that the driver claimed to have suffered a blackout before the impact and had not seen the cyclist. The prosecution, however, stated that when accounting for the damage to the van he had given different accounts to different people.
When arrested the day after the collision Edwards asked police: “Was it that bump yesterday? I didn’t know he was dead.”
That rather contradicts his claim of suffering a ‘blackout’, does it not? Still, I suppose any old excuse will pass muster, even when the police have evidence that he knowingly left a dying man beside the road.