Death on the streets

On Wednesday, Beyond the Kerb wrote

Much of the time, it feels like the view that it’s simply not acceptable to kill people in completely avoidable collisions and then say “Well, it happens” is some form of extremism, and that the rest of society stands around blankly and says, “What are you on about? Of course it’s acceptable. You expect me to actually not drive into people?”

This was provoked by the case of a man who had been killed cycling in Southampton, David Irving, killed despite doing everything he could to keep himself alive, beyond not even cycling in the first place, and yet ended up being blamed, by implication, for his own death. Nobody else was at fault.

A very different case was reported by the Evening Standard yesterday – that of a nine-year-old boy, killed outside his own home. But it betrays the same extraordinary willingness to exonerate and excuse the person who crashed into him, and to blame the victim.

The family of a nine-year-old boy who was killed by a speeding driver today branded British justice a “joke” after  the man’s 21-month jail sentence was cut almost in half.

Redwan Uddin was riding on the handlebars of his brother’s bike as they played near their east London home  when Ibrahim Waseem, 23, crashed into them at 39mph in a 20mph zone.

He was jailed for 21 months at Snaresbrook crown court in November but on Tuesday had his sentence cut to 12 months by appeal judges. It means he could be released after serving six months following his conviction for causing death by careless driving.

The boy’s tearful uncle, Abu Ahmed, 25, an accountant from Whitechapel, today told of the family’s “devastation” at the new sentence, which he branded “a holiday”. He added: “We have lost faith in the British justice system. It’s a joke. We applied to have the 21-month sentence lengthened but we didn’t even get a reply. He appeals and he has his sentence halved.

“We have to live with this for the rest of our lives and he could be out after six months. The justice system favours the criminals and not the victims.”

Marks & Spencer worker Waseem had been driving in Woodhouse Grove, East Ham, near the brothers’ home, when he lost control of his Mazda on a speed hump and ploughed into the boys in June 2012.

Waseem, who was convicted of driving without insurance in 2008, fled the scene and dumped his car but later turned himself in to police. Lady Justice Rafferty, sitting with Mr Justice Collins and Judge Nicholas Hilliard, said the appeal court’s “heart goes out to Redwan’s family”. But Waseem was “extremely remorseful”, she said, and pointed out the crash occurred as Redwan was perched on the handlebars of a bike, without a helmet, travelling the wrong way down a one-way street.

Lady Justice Rafferty concluded: “We are confident that 21 months was manifestly excessive.”

Waseem was also disqualified from driving for at least 12 months.

‘At least twelve months’. Great news.

In the David Irving trial, the jury was directed, by the judge,

to ignore Highway Code [rules 93 and 237, advising drivers to] slow down or stop if dazzled [because the] Highway Code is not law.

That’s fine if you are driving a car. If you are driving a car, the Highway Code isn’t relevant, because it isn’t law.

But in the case of Redwan Uddin – who, let’s remember, was a nine-year-old boy, someone we should hardly expect to be fully conversant with road rules – the Highway Code suddenly becomes relevant in mitigation.

(Let’s not even stop to think here about the absurdity of a situation in which young children can’t even play on a bicycle, travelling in any direction, on the tiny street in front of their own house, and have to wear helmets in case a car comes flying out of nowhere at 40mph).

Was he wearing a helmet? No – well, that’s relevant.

Was he on the handlebars? Yes – well, that’s relevant.

Was he cycling the wrong way on a one-way street? Yes – well, that’s relevant.

But in any sane assessment of what happened here, all these details are completely irrelevant. Redwan Uddin could have been crossing the road, on foot, without a helmet, without being perched on handlebars, and would have been killed in precisely the same way.

He could have been cycling the correct way, with a full face crash helmet, on a saddle and not the handlebars, and would have been killed in precisely the same way.

What killed Uddin was a very heavy metal object flying off a speed hump at 40 mph, on a residential street, piloted by a deeply irresponsible man.

Yet once again the judicial system scrabbles around to find minor details, to lessen his responsibility.

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19 Responses to Death on the streets

  1. kraut says:

    He’s a repeat offender. That should be an immediate life ban.

    Obviously dangerous driving. Blatant disregard for anyone else’s safety. Needs a custodial sentence.

    Don’t you get 3 years for carrying a knife these days? Not using it to stab someone – just having it. So how can 21 months for killing a young boy be manifestly excessive?

  2. So sad. How did we come to this?

  3. brencud says:

    How on earth is doing 39 in a 20 zone careless rather than dangerous?!?
    I find this attitude in the justice system very depressing.

  4. Angela Wallace says:

    “Waseem was “extremely remorseful”…”
    Just not enough to serve his full sentence apparently.

    • MJ says:

      Exactly how can you be that remorseful yet still appeal your sentance? We need to reclaim our roads one at a time so that our children can play in relative safety in front of their homes once more.

    • D. says:

      Seconded.

      Hardly tearing your clothes and beating your breast, if you decide to appeal because you think your sentencing was too harsh.

      Bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what the children were doing – the driver was a repeat offender, doing TWICE the local legal speed limit.

    • To be honest, I’m less bothered about the short prison term (he probably didn’t expect to lose control and kill someone) and most bothered about the fact that he’ll be legally allowed to drive again (he should have expected that driving as he did would lead to him losing control and possibly killing people).

      If you killed someone during your driving test (the thing you have to pass to be given a licence to drive) I don’t think you’d pass!

      Why do we even bother with the whole driving licence thing, when once you’ve passed the test you can continue to drive, whether or not you continue to drive to the standards required by the test?

  5. smsm1986 says:

    Anyone want to join me in laying down on parliament square in protest?

    • I really feel like doing that. This makes me so mad, that a child can’t even play outside their house without being blamed for their own death, for which a grown man is responsible.

      Fancy calling for Lady Justice Rafferty’s resignation?

  6. D C K says:

    It is this sort of confusion and the response that followed the recent death of a cyclist in Auckland in NZ that inspired me to write this: http://elhombredelsur.com/2014/01/22/the-safety-of-separation-why-auckland-needs-dedicated-cycle-lanes/
    Solidarity with cyclists everywhere; it’s time we the living ensure deaths like these were not in vain.

  7. My Comment to ” https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopKillingCyclists ” , perhaps this is a way to STOP the DEATH of ANY Vulnerable Road User , being treated as ” Irrelevant “?

    ” Lady Justice Rafferty concluded: “We are confident that 21 months was manifestly excessive.” LADY Justice R. is plainly past her ” GET RID OF DATE “! HOW SOON can we expect HER Resignation ? WE Can’t because SHE is of the ” ESTABLISHMENT “! NO longer will people in the ” Higher Echelons of Government take RESPONSIBILITY ! They just queue at the trough , for their next HANDOUT ! Has it reached such a point in the UK , that the Judiciary will not JAIL REPEAT Offenders , because they do not wish to upset the BUDGET Constraints that Osborne has set in 3rd World UK ? ANOTHER ” COWARD PASS ” , rewarded because of crocodile tears , orchestrated by a GRUBBY Lowlife Lawyer! CAN we open a ” Change.org Petition ” for the removal of Judicial ” Misfits ” such as her ?

    ” LIKE ” also https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vision-ZERO-Worldwide/540123632761709 perhaps it is time to HOLD the Government to ACCOUNT for EACH & EVERY Road Death !

    My blogs Parrabuddy.blogspot etc , are full of cases such as this !

  8. Si says:

    How do we complain about this? The judge needs to know that [s]he is not representing civilised society.

  9. Neil says:

    I feel so sorry for this family. A motorist kills someone, flees the scene and dumps the car. He also has previous convictions. But the court partly blames the victim!

    There’s a reason for 20mph in residential street. Think the speed bumps are another reminder to motorists to slow down.

    Hang your heads in shame!

  10. This shows the same biased views on motoring as the recent appalling ASA decision that tried to outlaw a Scottish road safety video!

    Sadly the UK is institutionally motorist. Time and time again the authorities take the side of the “poor motorist” and blame the “careless victim”, whether they happen to be walking, standing at a bus stop, or riding a bicycle when the motorist runs them over.

  11. rdrf says:

    Sara asks “how did we come to this?”. If by “we” you mean “this society” – it has been like this for over 120 years since Bridget Driscoll was killed.

    I think Anthony Cartmell is right – the issue is not the prison sentence, butt he length of driving ban.

    And:
    1. “Road safety” for motorists is predicated on the supposed tendency of motorists to crash around a lot, hence the roll bars, seat belts, crumple zones etc. in cars and the crash barriers, anti-skid etc. on roads. If that forgiving environment can be put in for motorists, it can be put in for pedestrians and cyclists.
    2. If you want to protest:
    (a) Try going to the court where such cases are heard. RoadPeace may be involved with the victim family – but do ask their permission first. if they don’t want a fuss, respect them first of all.
    (b) Police stations if there has been a failure to charge?
    (c) Crown Prosecution Service (known by road crash victim families as the “Criminal Protection Service”
    (d) AA and RAC.
    (e) The various parts of the “road safety” lobby.
    (f) Check out what Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Service are doing http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/11/29/is-there-a-police-blitz-on-unsafe-driving-in-london/ and http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/11/29/what-traffic-policing-could-be-like/

    3. I have to say that after 30 years of hammering away here I do say a ray of light with you people writing in to comment and support pieces like this.

  12. Kitty says:

    Tragic… I don’t really know what to say except that enforcement, enforcement and enforcement is the only way to go.

    Forget about segregated lanes, if we had proper enforcement things could be changed in months rather than mediocre changes in 25 years!

    I reckon if someone even menaces a cyclist or pedestrian (driving too close, left-turning at peril, etc) three points on their licence. If someone does it again nine points on their licence. If someone injures or kills a cyclist or pedestrian then it is permanent disqualification. Full stop.

    Heaven knows there are enough drivers on the road to fill the space that all these crap drivers leave. And maybe with the lesson from the disqualified, they may be safer drivers.

    I feel so bitter when I hear about all these people lost to the stupid priority we give to drivers. How are we going to reach a state where every child who wants to can cycle to school, when all this horror exists?

    • michael says:

      My feeling is that enforcement won’t happen until we get better infrastructure.

      My reasoning is that the reason for the lack of such enforcement is that at every level the system is full of people who view the world through the eyes of a driver (and very often a bad driver at that). The police, the CPS, judges like Justice Rafferty (whose bias is clearly so deep she probably doesn’t even notice that she is engaging in a quite repulsive form of victim blaming), and of course juries, are all stuffed full of people who identify with the perpetrators rather than the victims.

      For many of those in charge of ‘enforcement’ of law on the roads their thought processes involve the ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ trope, and their underlying assumption is that the roads belong to motorists.

      If we had better cycling infrastructure, we’d have more cyclists, and their influence would be felt at every level in the enforcement system. It could prove a ‘virtuous circle’.

      This is the sense in which I think the ‘critical mass’ argument does in fact have merit – at a political, legal and social level, rather than in terms of road behaviour (where I think its effect is massively over-stated)

  13. Pingback: Hand me my gun, I’m cycling to the shops | The Alternative Department for Transport

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