Success Stories

Sonn Macmillan Walker client avoids immediate imprisonment in fatal driving case

By David Sonn  |  15.12.2023

Sonn Macmillan Walker’s client pleaded guilty at an Essex Magistrates’ Court to causing death by careless driving in relation to a collision with a pedestrian, caused by our client reversing the wrong way down a one-way street for approximately 6 seconds. The pedestrian died from the injuries he sustained.

In addition to being prosecuted for causing death by careless driving, our client (who was voluntarily driving a 16 seater school minibus) also faced tachograph offences and an allegation that he had driven otherwise than in accordance with his licence.

The tachograph offences were withdrawn following representations to the CPS that the tachograph regulations did not apply in the circumstances of the case.

The licence allegation concerned the ability of a holder a category B (car) licence voluntarily to drive a 16 seater minibus for a non profit organisation – such as a school. The driver was technically guilty because a category B licence holder cannot drive a 16 seater minibus, if the maximum authorised mass (the weight fully laden) of the minibus exceeds 3.5 tonnes. The MAM did exceed 3.5 tonnes, however, the prosecution accepted that the guidance on the website was wrong as it stated that the relevant weight was the actual weight (which it was agreed was less than 3.5 tonnes) rather than the MAM.

The District Judge found that “special reasons” existed for not endorsing the driver’s licence in relation to the licence offence, as it was accepted that the driver had been assured by the school that he was entitled to drive the vehicle and that had he checked for himself on the website, he would have been reassured by the incorrect guidance he would have found.

The District Judge accepted that the case fell within category B of the relevant guideline which meant that the starting point was a sentence of imprisonment of 12 months. The District Judge imposed a sentence of 6 months (having regard to credit for a guilty plea and mitigation) and was also persuaded to suspend the sentence of imprisonment. The driver was ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from driving for a period of 3 years.

David Sonn was the conducting solicitor and advocate.

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