The jailing of Terence Fowler, the car thief who drove across a level crossing moments before a train passed, as well as hitting speeds of 80 to 90 mph on suburban streets, has hit the headlines today, I suspect largely because of the extraordinary recklessness of his driving. The video below speaks for itself.
While all the stories report that Fowler has been jailed for three-and-a-half years, none of them – as far as I can tell – mention any kind of driving ban.
This surely can’t be because one was not imposed?
According the CPS, a dangerous driving conviction carries a minimum 12-month ban. It will be interesting to see what length of ban Fowler actually received. Needless to say, a 12-month ban would be an entirely meaningless punishment for someone who is in jail while that ‘ban’ is being served.
Surely he was jailed for stealing a car? Stealing cars is terrible crime. Driving down village streets into the path of a passenger train at 90mph is surely not worth prosecuting when the perpetrator has already committed the far more heinous crime of car theft?
The quaintly Victorian crime of “obstructing engines on a railway” – of which Fowler was found guilty – carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.
Both dangerous driving, and aggravated vehicle taking (without injury or death, however fortuitously) each have a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment.
So on all these counts, Fowler could – at most – have been imprisoned for three years, which seems faintly ridiculous.
It is impossible to know how leniently he has been sentenced, because he was also charged with criminal damage, which I would guess carried a good deal of weight in his sentencing.
Part of the logic of that thinking is reflected in the way that “car crime” is defined, in common usage, as the crime of stealing a car – yet it would be absurd to define “knife crime” as the crime of stealing a knife.