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Driver who avoided jail for collision which seriously injured cyclist denied responsibility before saying she has no memory of incident

The judge concluded the case was a "mystery" and sentenced Angela Cass — who fled the scene only to return, telling onlookers "it wasn't me", and who now believes she suffered a blackout — to a six-month suspended sentence...

A driver who believes she suffered a blackout behind the wheel and says she has no memory of a crash which seriously injured a cyclist has avoided an immediate custodial sentence, the judge calling the case a "mystery" and handing out a suspended sentence instead.

Angela Cass admitted causing serious injury by careless driving, two counts of failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident and driving without due care and attention, in relation to the Southport collision which left a neighbour with lifelong "physical and mental scars" and a severe list of injuries.

The 44-year-old fled the scene after hitting Shaun Knight, throwing him onto the bonnet before the vehicle was driven over his legs, but returned to the scene five minutes later having crashed into a fence outside a nearby house, causing "fairly significant damage", the Liverpool Echo reports.

On her return an eyewitness challenged the driver, asking her if she was not going to stop, only to be told "it wasn't me" by Cass who drove away again and reversed onto her driveway on nearby Cypress Crescent.

Mr Knight suffered a broken ankle and two fractures to his pelvis and has been left with lifelong "physical and mental scars", arthritis due to his injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was treated at Southport Hospital and recalled hearing a "car revving behind him" before the crash just before 9am on 22 September 2022. Having been thrown in the air he "got the impression the car was speeding up" and hit the ground before the driver "revved again" and drove over his legs.

In court, Mr Knight's statement said he had "never screamed like that in my entire life". "In my nightmares, I experience the feeling of being crushed. It doesn't help that the driver lives over the road from me. Every time I go out of the house is a reminder of what happened. I feel extremely frustrated and angry. She didn't get out to apologise or show any concern," the court heard.

Cass told the police she could not recall the incidents, but admitted being the driver of the car and surrendered her driving licence.

Defending, Kate Morley said her client had no previous convictions, is "a stranger to these courts" and is "remorseful".

"She has lost her good name and her reputation. Ms Cass' medical notes demonstrate that, even prior to this offence, she has suffered with poor memory, anxiety and depression," the court heard.

"She is devastated that she behaved in the way that she did. She is never ordinarily a cruel or callous lady. Ordinarily, she is a conscientious driver. It is not the case that she is cruel in not wanting to apologise. She did not want to go knocking on his door in case that caused added distress. She is devastated about what she has done.

"It is a rather odd case. She appears to lack a motive to flee the scene. In my submission, this was a blackout or something of that nature. Ms Cass has had her share of trauma, which she believes is at the root of her neurological issues. This includes the breakup of her 25-year marriage and an acrimonious fallout. This was an isolated incident and totally out of character."

The judge, John McGarva, called the incident a "mystery" and "very unusual", sentencing Cass to six months imprisonment suspended for a year, a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 30 days and a 12-month driving ban.

"This is a very unusual case. It is hard to understand what has really happened here," he said. "It is kind of hard to imagine a much worse case of this offence. Not being satisfied with you having him on your bonnet for a short distance, he is deposited onto the road and you drive over him.

"It is absolutely horrific. It must have been terrifying for him and exceptionally painful. I would not say you left him for dead, but that is the kind of implication. You had no reason at all to flee the scene. The reason you left appears to be a bit of a mystery. There is no explanation for you driving into a clearly visible cyclist then driving over him.

"This man will be left with the physical and mental scars for the rest of his life. I must impose a custodial sentence. There is an argument here that a deterrent is required, because members of the public need to know that they must stop after accidents like this. I have got a balance to strike.

"My view is that the balance in this case is in favour of suspending the sentence, and that is what I am going to do. That in no way diminishes the seriousness of the offence."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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41 comments

Avatar
The goat | 9 months ago
1 like

A similar accident/penalty to the one that resulted in the death of my brother in law. Prison is pointless in these cases - unlike aggresive behaviour.  However I still do not understand why if the driver cannot recollect what happened that they will be unable to drive again until they have a re-test and an extensive psychological evaluation.

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Braindead | 10 months ago
1 like

A 12 month driving ban? Surely your license ought to be revoked completely if you suffer from blackouts... Perhaps I could walk out of pc world with a shiny new laptop, and If I get caught of course I had a black out, I had no intention of stealing. The 'justice' system in this country is a joke

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polainm | 10 months ago
4 likes

Judge John McGarva, Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, Nick Freeman....all of the same toxic culture that knows nothing about cycling culture and the horrendous bias against people using this form of transport. If I took a hammer to someone leaving them with broken arms, shattered skull and severe mental trauma, could I claim 'I blacked out, don't remember anything, I've never done this before' and obtain same sympathy from the judge? No, because the judge also drives a lethal weapon, not wandering the streets with a hammer. 

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NOtotheEU | 10 months ago
2 likes

Seems it's impossible to jail dangerous drivers ever.

Driver avoids jail after mum 'propelled' into air and rescue dog killed while racing his friend

https://www.itv.com/news/central/2023-09-13/man-avoids-jail-after-racing...

Karma punished him instead as he was later knocked off his bike in a hit-and-run which shattered the side of his skull.

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Shades | 10 months ago
6 likes

Love the way these miscreants are all 'full Rambo' when they're behind the wheel and are simpering, poor-me puppies when they're in court.  Nicely coached by their defence team.

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Rome73 | 10 months ago
7 likes

Marriage breakup, anxiety, depression, 'blackout'; all mitigating circumstances if you break someone's legs and pelvis by driving over them. 

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NOtotheEU | 10 months ago
10 likes

I re-wrote the first sentence for you.

"A driver who believes claiming she suffered a blackout behind the wheel will get her a lighter sentence is proved right"

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Sriracha | 10 months ago
11 likes
Quote:

"My view is that the balance in this case is in favour of suspending the sentence, and that is what I am going to do. That in no way diminishes the seriousness of the offence."

The judge is all but saying that whilst the seriousness of the offence is not reduced, nevertheless the sentence is.

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hutchdaddy | 10 months ago
11 likes

Surely she commited perjury. How you can have no memory and yet return to the scene of the incident and said "it wasn't me"?

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chrisonabike replied to hutchdaddy | 10 months ago
5 likes

Incompetence paradox!  "The fact that my client was behaving like such a berk and in a self-contradictory manner shows that she wasn't in her right mind at the time".  Ergo it "wasn't her" (but it was) ergo "she will never do it again" and it would be both pointless and unfair to impose a heavy sentance.

TBH I'm starting to wonder whether it wouldn't be pragmatic to allow "the devil made me do it" as mitigation for drivers.  At least that way they'd probably be expected to do penance, or something...

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HoldingOn replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
3 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

TBH I'm starting to wonder whether it wouldn't be pragmatic to allow "the devil made me do it" as mitigation for drivers.  At least that way they'd probably be expected to do penance, or something...

Atheists would still be allowed the "I sneezed so it wasn't my fault" excuse though?

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chrisonabike replied to HoldingOn | 10 months ago
2 likes

HoldingOn wrote:

Atheists would still be allowed the "I sneezed so it wasn't my fault" excuse though?

Oh, if we're going back to the good ol' days we won't have any trouble with them, apart from occasional additions to our carbon footprint.

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mitsky | 10 months ago
12 likes

May I make a suggestion.

 

For any case where we get such a result (a slap on the wrist for a motoring infringement against a cyclist), a complaint is referred to the judge for the lenient decision.

The judge is then required to get on their bike and travel around on a daily basis in a built up area/the area the incident took place, for say a month.

If the judge refuses on the basis that they are too scared to do so, ask why.
If they say it is too dangerous... maybe then they will realise that they actually need to apply a sentence that is a usefull deterent?

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Kfitzat replied to mitsky | 10 months ago
0 likes

Nah, the Law of The Talion would be better. Run the guy over.

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Surreyrider | 10 months ago
11 likes

How can a judge say "it is hard to understand what has really happened here" and then go on to describe exactly what happened?

"This was an isolated incident and totally out of character" - except it rarely is. Behaviour and attitudes behind the wheel tend to have been repeated a number of times previously without such terrible consequences.

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
12 likes

There's more than a whiff of bullshit around her statements.

If she has some undiagnosed neurological condition, then banning her from driving for at least 3 years would be appropriate in case it's going to happen again and injure someone else. I believe that's the usual time that people with epilepsy have to go without having a fit before being allowed to drive.

If she was truly remorseful, she'd hand in her license permanently and never drive again.

Personally, I think that leaving the scene, whether due to some medical condition or not, should mean that they're never allowed to drive again.

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sheridan replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
4 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

If she has some undiagnosed neurological condition, then banning her from driving for at least 3 years would be appropriate in case it's going to happen again and injure someone else. I believe that's the usual time that people with epilepsy have to go without having a fit before being allowed to drive.

Yes, three years seizure-free.

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Rendel Harris replied to sheridan | 10 months ago
3 likes

sheridan wrote:

hawkinspeter wrote:

If she has some undiagnosed neurological condition, then banning her from driving for at least 3 years would be appropriate in case it's going to happen again and injure someone else. I believe that's the usual time that people with epilepsy have to go without having a fit before being allowed to drive.

Yes, three years seizure-free.

That used to be the case, the limit has for some time been reduced to 12 months (just happen to know as I have two friends who are sufferers). There are even a few instances in which the limit can be as low as six months, if the seizure was caused by a doctor changing or stopping your medication or it was your first ever seizure, there has been no recurrence and doctors agree there is unlikely to be one. The limits for commercial drivers are far stricter, with coach/HGV drivers having to be seizure free without medication for 10 years.

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brooksby | 10 months ago
15 likes

Quote:

a 12-month driving ban

Is that all?  She's claiming that she wasn't responsible for this because she blacked out - surely that warrants a lifetime ban until and unless she can prove that she's not going to black out again? (which she can't) (and, of course, she can't admit that she was making up the whole 'blacking out' excuse).

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OnYerBike replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
1 like

The reporting is a bit ambiguous, but there is a slightly more sympathetic explanation to the Judge's comments.

The argument might be that the initial crash was caused by "normal" carelessness. But the crash was a traumatic event for the driver and triggered the subsequent "blackout"/erratic behaviour and loss of memory.

The sentence would then be within the normal (albeit still pathetically low) range for causing serious injury by careless driving, with the subsequent behaviour/offences largely disregarded. 

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brooksby replied to OnYerBike | 10 months ago
1 like

Hmm... 

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HoarseMann | 10 months ago
11 likes

I'm sure this unexplained medical issue that causes blackouts without warning will have fully resolved after a 12 month driving ban  7

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IanMK replied to HoarseMann | 10 months ago
1 like

HoarseMann wrote:

I'm sure this unexplained medical issue that causes blackouts without warning will have fully resolved after a 12 month driving ban  7

That wasn't my interpretation. The article suggests that she'd surrendered her license so it will be up to the DVLA if she can have it back after 12 months:

https://www.gov.uk/giving-up-your-driving-licence

 

 

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HoarseMann replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
8 likes

IanMK wrote:

The article suggests that she'd surrendered her license so it will be up to the DVLA if she can have it back after 12 months.

That's actually a canny move on her part. Had the licence been revoked on medical grounds, then she would not be able to drive until the DVLA had approved a new licence. However, because she surrendered it voluntarily, she could start to drive again under section 88 after the driving ban, whilst her licence application is being considered...

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to HoarseMann | 10 months ago
1 like

HoarseMann wrote:

I'm sure this unexplained medical issue that causes blackouts without warning will have fully resolved after a 12 month driving ban  7

Why is no-one getting all narky here about Hooydoncks accident and laying into him saying he should never drive again. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 10 months ago
6 likes

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Why is no-one getting all narky here about Hooydoncks accident and laying into him saying he should never drive again. 

Because he didn't drive away from the scene of the incident.

Because he didn't then go to crash elsewhere.

Because he didn't drive back to the scene and then claim it was nothing to do with him.

Because we don't have any information as to what caused his incident.

Because most people on here aren't total shits.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
0 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

Because he didn't drive away from the scene of the incident.

Because he didn't then go to crash elsewhere.

Because he didn't drive back to the scene and then claim it was nothing to do with him.

Because we don't have any information as to what caused his incident.

Because most people on here aren't total shits.

Ah dear, here we go again. The boy who claims I am obsessed with me commenting on my posts again. 

Lots of good excuses, just like this driver had. 

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marmotte27 replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 10 months ago
6 likes

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

I am obsessed with me

It does look like it.

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mitsky | 10 months ago
16 likes

Judge; "My view is that the balance in this case is in favour of suspending the sentence, and that is what I am going to do. That in no way diminishes the seriousness of the offence."

 

Er... Yes it f-ing well does diminish it.

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Clem Fandango | 10 months ago
18 likes

This war on motorists is going really badly isn't it?

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