On a sentence

I haven’t blogged for ages. My excuse is computer problems (i.e. my old one stopped working…) And this blog post is out of date, but I want do it anyway, for completeness.

So, Robert Palmer, who pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of Andrew McMenigall and Toby Wallace, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. That is two lots of seven and a half years for two counts of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, to be served concurrently, and one year for another charge of Dangerous Driving, which happened after he’d killed two people. After he’d killed two people. Do you not make any changes, have any thoughts about your driving style or practice, after you’ve been involved in an accident in which two people have died?

From the BBC report: “Prosecutors said Palmer had not had enough rest periods between shifts at work and had falsified rest records. As a result, the cyclists were “mown down” “. My speculation is that the falsification of records was one of the reasons that Palmer was given what is a big sentence compared with what others have received. There’s some interesting discussion under the road.cc report; someone who at least appears to know what they are talking about said some useful things. There was another case that was in the news recently of a man who killed a cyclist while looking at photos on his mobile phone. He pleaded not guilty, was found guilty and was given a 5 year sentence with a 10 year ban. So Palmer, who pleaded guilty, and was given 7.5 years per death plus a 10 year ban, appears to have been sentenced as harshly as the judge is allowed to, if I’m understanding the person on the road.cc thread correctly (and they are correct in what they are saying).

I feel a bit less angry now. Given some sentences that have been handed out, that actually is not too bad, especially as he pleaded guilty and is entitled to a reduction to his sentence for that (I don’t make the rules, and I may or may not agree with them, but that is the rule). Here‘s “The Cycling Silk” on the subject.

There is one other point and that is, what about his employers? They must have known what he was doing if I have understood the press reports correctly – he was doing day shifts in the yard and then driving overnight. But there have been no reports of any punishment for them. The CTC report says:

The company Palmer worked for – Frys Logistics – had its operating licence revoked in December 2013, six months after the fatal collision on the A30. CTC suspects the decision to withdraw the licence was in large part based on the involvement of the company in the incident in which Andrew McMenigall and Toby Wallace were killed. In order to continue after the operating licence had been rescinded, the company’s owners set up a new company with a tenuously different name – Frys Transport. It seems all a company has to do to carry on business as usual when it loses its operating licence is to set itself up again under a different name…”

This isn’t the first time that it has taken a death to throw the spotlight on dubious practices within certain parts of the haulage industry – some of the deaths of cyclists in London did, too. But I don’t suppose it will be the last.