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Speeding red-light jumping driver who almost hit schoolchild fined – but not banned

Footage released by Wiltshire Police shows young cyclist braking to avoid being hit

A driver in Wiltshire who sped through a red traffic light outside a school, almost hitting a child who was crossing the road on their bike, has been fined after pleading guilty to careless driving, but social media users have expressed shock that he escaped a driving ban and was not charged with dangerous driving.

In a post on Facebook, Swindon Police said that the motorist, Jody New, was fined £307 at Swindon Magistrates’ Court last Friday and had his driving licence endorsed with six penalty points.

The 45 year old from Harbour Close in Swindon was also ordered to pay a £34 victim surcharge and £110 in costs as a result of the incident, which happened on Peglars Way outside The Deanery CE Academy school at 3.37pm on 28 April this year.

Dashcam footage captured by a driver who stopped at the traffic lights show that the lights turned from green to amber for three seconds, and just before they turned red, two students from the school began crossing the road on their bikes.

While the video has no sound, three other pupils from the school who were walking on the footway appear to have become aware of New approaching the lights – by now red – at speed in a convertible car with the hood down, all three turning to look in the direction he was coming from, and one pointing towards the road.

Deanery CE Academy 02 via Wiltshire Police

Just before New reached the junction, the second of the cyclists riding through the crossing braked, the momentum throwing him forward slightly, the driver barely missing him as he sped through the traffic lights and, in the words of Wiltshire Police, “ then screeched round the corner,” a full three seconds after the lights had turned red.

Deanery CE Academy 03 via Wiltshire Police

“We’d like to thank the member of the public who came forward to report the incident and for the dashcam footage,” officers added.

The video has received more than 100 comments on Swindon Police’s Facebook page, many wondering why New did not receive a ban from driving, with one saying: “Awful driving. Should've lost his licence for that.”

Others asked why he was not charged with the more serious offence of dangerous driving, which is committed “when the defendant’s driving falls far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious that driving in that way would be dangerous.”

One said: “Bearing in mind he made a conscious decision to jump the red light and endanger a child’s life why wasn't this dangerous driving?”

It’s a point that is supported by the Crown Prosecution Service’s own website, which gives “some typical examples from court cases of dangerous driving,” one of which is “ignoring traffic lights.”

Examples of the lesser offence of careless driving, committed when “the defendant's driving falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver,” include “driving through a red light by mistake” – which is clearly not the case here.

Another comment read: “I don’t understand how these sentences are given! Surely the fact this could have been a major accident with a child involved should make this a much more serious motor offence than a fine? Even running a red light without the fact that people were in danger should be more than a fine.”

And one woman pointed out that had it not been for the young cyclist’s awareness and quick thinking, the consequences of New’s driving could have been fatal, writing: “It's a good job the child realised he wasn't going to stop and paused. The speed he was going, could have been a death otherwise.”

Located on the Wichelstowe development that has been built in recent years on the edge of Swindon between the town’s existing southern suburbs and the M4 motorway, The Deanery CE Academy opened in September 2019 with a Year 7 intake (ages 11-12), with successive year groups being added each year.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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20 comments

Avatar
Safety | 1 year ago
7 likes

I'm really pleased to see this prosecution came from a car dash cam. I'm fed up rebutting gripes and comments about cyclist vigilantes with helmet cams. All decent road users should abhor this type of driving.

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mattw | 1 year ago
0 likes

If they are going for cotton-batting charges, then why not reckless driving, here?

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alansmurphy | 1 year ago
2 likes

If you are cleared of dangerous driving you should then be charged with careless. Surely that weould stop the "we might not get a conviction" excuse.

 

As an aside, there's that BBC drama that suggests you can fake any video, it's probably less accurate but certainly do-able... I'd love the prosecution team to jump on Facebook and get pictures of jurors children...

 

"This is a video of the scene from a live feed now and look at this little girl crossing... and there's the little silver car flying through the red light"

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Tom_77 replied to alansmurphy | 1 year ago
1 like
alansmurphy wrote:

If you are cleared of dangerous driving you should then be charged with careless. Surely that weould stop the "we might not get a conviction" excuse.

There's an "Alternative Verdicts" clause where you can be charged with one offence and be convicted of a lesser charge instead. I think the main issue is that Dangerous Driving and Careless Driving are defined in a very ambiguous way.

 

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M444TTB | 1 year ago
5 likes

This is on the route I cycle to work, albeit I'd be coming from the opposite direction, and that's a 20mph zone too. Glad I only go to the office once a month rather than four times per week now with clowns like this guy! Looks like he doesn't live very from me though. At least the kids had some decent road sense and seem to know already it's full of psychos and idiots.

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iandusud | 1 year ago
13 likes

I understand, but don't agree, with the argument that a moment's inatention is "careless" (even if the outcome is dangerous). However when you take into account the speed at which he was driving how can that be considered as anything but dangerous driving? Beyond belief! 

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Sriracha replied to iandusud | 1 year ago
18 likes

He went through the light fully three seconds after it turned red. That is not "a moment's inattention", it's a choice.

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
10 likes

Is three seconds enough for it to be "established" though?  And the car seems to be going quite fast - don't forget that by the "incompetence paradox" this is actually a valid defense e.g. "my client was doing 50 (in the 30 zone) so there's no way he could have stopped safely..."

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
9 likes

Amber _also_ means Stop, so that's an instruction to stop established for 6 seconds.

TheHighwayCode wrote:

AMBER means ‘Stop’ at the stop line. You may go on only if the AMBER appears after you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to pull up might cause an accident

 

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chrisonabike replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 1 year ago
7 likes

Ah, you're looking at the "paper" version there rather than the unspoken rules - which is what applies in real life.  Amber means "go", red and amber means "Go go go!  The food delivery scooters have already detected the light is about to change by clairvoyance and left!"

Alternatively the "by the time I noticed I couldn't have stopped safely" rule applies.

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kil0ran | 1 year ago
0 likes

Last time I drove through Wichelstowe much of it was a 20mph limit too. Give it ten years and it will be a nice place to live (by Swindon standards). Currently it's a bit like a bunch of houses have been dropped in a field between a railway and the M4.

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sapperadam | 1 year ago
12 likes

A view supported by the CPS except the charging decision will no doubt have been backed by the CPS. The problem is that the CPS will give examples of dangerous driving on one hand but only prosecute them as careless driving on the other. Part of that is because too many Dangerous Driving charges are acquitted at court because barristers always make the jury think it could be them, and juries all don't think they could be capable of dangerous driving so it can't be dangerous if they could do it.

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IanMSpencer replied to sapperadam | 1 year ago
9 likes

I don't think many jurors or magistrates would identify with this driving. The filming car shows just how late the sports car was to the lights, and the twitching of the car shows that the car was driving at speed to make the lights before traffic appeared. That was obvious boy racer driving and not a simple mistake.

The other surprise is that traffic had not progressed from the junction in the few seconds. If our racey driver has met himself, it would be no surprise if he had anticipated the green light and set off at speed.

It always intrigues me that it doesn't occur to such drivers that there are others like themselves on the roads and they heavily rely on the compliance of the majority to evade serious consequences.

I have witnessed worse, including overtaking cars to turn left through red lights. This driving is not uncommon, but again, I would suggest most people would not identify with it.

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hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
19 likes

What's the point of the dangerous driving charge if it's not going to be used where it directly applies?

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
7 likes

And is why I'm concerned there only seems to be a Death by Dangerous Cycling charge incoming.

Drivers can break the law by being over the limit, speeding, blowing through red lights and only be charged with Careless.

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eburtthebike replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
0 likes
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

And is why I'm concerned there only seems to be a Death by Dangerous Cycling charge incoming.

It's here isn't it?

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IanMSpencer replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like

It is the old problem of words not meaning what they say. We can see that doing something that could easily kill someone, and is clearly a deliberate choice is dangerous by any reasonable dictionary definition, but some law writing moron decided they needed to clarify what dangerous meant by adding the weasel words "far below the standard of" and that was all it needed for the Mr Loopholes to say, "Yes, it was a bit dangerous, but it wasn't FAR below normal driving, it was just a bit below" and unfortunately some High Court accepted that argument and with that precedent destroyed a decade or more of dangerous driving prosecutions.

The appalling thing is that the problem has occurred in full view of the Government and over that time no effort has been made to amend the wording to close the loophole. They recognised the problem with mobile phones, where the issue has been around for less time. All it needs, as far as I can see, is to delete the clarification and simply leave the wording as dangerous driving and if needs be clarify it as any action that could reasonably be seen to endanger people, including the occupants of the vehicle, or property (because the law seems to value property more than people). As an alternative, forget dangerous and simply define it as any action on the road that would be reasonably considered a failure of the driving test at the time of the offence. Aggrevating factors would be the apparent deliberateness of the act (but accidentally doing something, due to, for example, the accursed momentary lapse, should still be considered dangerous).

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wtjs | 1 year ago
8 likes

This penalty is still better than in many force areas where the policy is 'Nobody KSI'd = No Offence'

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joe9090 | 1 year ago
13 likes

Should be a year's outright driving ban + 100 hours community service. Time to really punish shitty driving. 

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andystow replied to joe9090 | 1 year ago
10 likes
joe9090 wrote:

Should be a year's outright driving ban + 100 hours community service. Time to really punish shitty driving. 

100 hours working as a crossing guard at that junction.

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