In July of 2016, Brake launched the Roads to Justice campaign. This brought together many friends and families who have lost loved ones to a criminal driver but felt that they never got the justice that was deserved. One woman who blogged about her experience was Vivienne Craske. In the latest Brake blog she provides an insight into continually striving to get justice for the loss of her brother.
Nine months ago I wrote for the Brake blog on the continued struggle to get justice for the death of my brother, Stephen. It’s now seven years since we lost him and we are still yet to see an independent review into the sentencing of the driver who killed him.
Back then, the driver responsible for Stephen’s death was only charged with ‘death by careless driving’ as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was unsure they could get the higher conviction. However, the driver was found not guilty by insanity and given an absolute discharge.
Continuing to pursue justice for Stephen’s death can be draining and disheartening at times but it’s important to know that there are people who are willing to listen to your cause and stand up for you. The person in this case was Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, who set up the all All-Party Parliamentary Group for Justice on our Roads.
Having read my story she said she was taken aback by the fact that someone could be found not guilty of causing the death of someone by using the defence of insanity, citing a medical episode, but then have no driving ban.
Subsequently the Baroness tabled a question to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
"To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to review the law relating to being found not guilty by reason of insanity of the crime of causing death by dangerous driving with a view to implementing an automatic driving ban until the defendant can show through medical evidence that they are a sane and fit person to drive."
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
"Drivers are required to report any medical condition to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). DVLA has a responsibility to investigate the health of a driver on receipt of information that suggests that they may have a medical condition which affects their ability to drive safely. The DVLA will decide whether a driver should be disqualified for medical reasons. The Ministry of Justice has recently announced a consultation: Driving Offences and Penalties relating to Causing Death or Serious injury."
As you can see from the answer, the court has no power to impose any restrictions on someone’s driving if they have been found not guilty due to insanity, even if they have killed someone on the road. The court does not even need to inform the DVLA about what has happened, it is left to the driver to do so and even that is only a suggestion. The reason for this is that the accused has not been convicted.
In the case of the person who killed my brother on the road, the driver is free to start driving on our roads once again without any kind of punishment. For me, this isn’t right and all this leaves me with is questions.
As the law stands, can the courts really address the risk of future harm and in so doing protect the public from the same thing happening again? Does the law of the land not owe a duty of care to the public?
Seven years on and still there are still far too many questions unanswered and I am still pursuing justice for my brother. I’ve spent that time trying to be heard and to make sure that no other family has to go through what our family has. The pain we’ve experienced is only made worse by the fact the law hasn’t changed and those responsible for changing the laws don’t seem to be willing to act. That is an injustice that we will continue to fight.