Monday, 13 April 2015

A Life Sentence

This was my mother two years ago:



This was the newspaper where she had been features editor for 40 years:




This was the zebra she crossed on her way home from work on the night of November 26th 2013:




This was the consultant from the adjacent hospital who failed to stop in time:




This is the hospital where my mother spent five months recovering from her injuries:




This is how many times the court hearing was delayed to accommodate the driver's defence team:




This is the magistrates court where the trial took place 18 months later:



This was the sentence, along with costs and a £15 victim surcharge, when the driver was found guilty of driving without due care and attention:




This is the sentence my mother, brain-damaged, disabled and dependent, is serving:




A stiffer sentence would not change anything. The driver was not speeding or phoning or drunken. He made a fleeting mistake. A mistake anyone of us could make when we drive a familiar route home. A mistake that cost my mother her job, her dignity and her independence and which he relives every time he gets in a car.

But the fact that someone flashed by a speed camera will automatically receive a harsher punishment - penalty points and a £100 fine - shows that there's something wrong with the law. Speeding counts as dangerous driving whether or not there's a victim. Running someone over on a zebra because you were not looking properly is driving without due care and attention and only if they die does the law, as it stands, recognise the consequences.

My mother nearly died from her injuries. The magistrates were unable to take this into account because the offence of causing serious injury by careless driving does not exist. It should do. Not so that weary doctors who don't look where they're going are obliged to face jail, but so that the charges acknowledge the difference between damaging a bollard through inattention and damaging a woman on her way home from the office. So that families don't have to wait 18 months for what counts as a minor matter to reach the front of the queue in court. So that the lawmakers and anyone who gets behind a wheel appreciates that it doesn't require death for a life to be destroyed.

11 comments:

  1. That is so wrong. I'm lost for words, but still felt I wanted to say something. The law doesn't make any sense, yet your mum is left with her own life sentence.

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    1. Thank you for commenting. I suppose the law has to make allowances for the fact that unwitting carelessness can happen and that people can't be punished for that in the same was as for deliberate negligence, even if the consequences happen to be devastating. But if the law, even if in name only, recognised those human consequences it would show the victims that they are acknowledged.

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  2. SarahMummy, I share your sentiments exactly.

    Anna, I'm so sorry.

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  3. Anna you are right. It's the lack of acknowledgement and respect that is so hurtful. This was a tragic accident with devastating consequences and that should be recognised. This law is flawed and needs to be changed. There's so much more I want to say but I just can't get the words in the right order. I really am so sorry x

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    1. I always appreciate your comments and you've made the point perfectly. It's not so much about the punishment, but the acknowledgment in the wording of the charge that there was a human cost to the carelessness.

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  4. Tragic! Your mother's loss of quality of life should be recognized

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    1. Apparently the £15 victim surcharge is a discretionary acknowledgment that there was a victim in this case. Not that we get to have it. It ends up in court coffers.

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  5. Hello. Never has a blog post moved me more. 2 years ago my mum died and I miss her everyday. A few months ago I was fined for entering a bus lane too early it was a lot more than that surcharge. Your mother , you, your family deserved more than that. I cannot find the words to say what I feel but I am so so sorry for this happening and the photo of your lovely smiling mum will stay with me. x

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    1. What a lovely comment. I'm so sorry you lost your mother. You've reminded me I must make the most of mine and celebrate that she is still with is instead of mourning what she was.

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  6. No words can help but I wanted you to know that I read this and my heart goes out to your mother and ll the family. It's not fair.

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