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No charges for drunk driver who killed cyclist in Norfolk crash

Motorist who was twice the drink-driving limit had swerved to avoid van driver overtaking Sze-Ming Cheung on a blind bend

The family of a cyclist killed when he was hit in a head-on crash by a driver who was more than two times over the legal alcohol limit have said it is “beyond belief” that the motorist was not prosecuted following the fatal crash.

Sze-Ming Cheung, aged 44 and from Hellesdon in Norfolk, died after being hit by a Nissan Navara driven by Alan Hall on 7 June 2018, reports the Eastern Daily Press.

Mr Hall had been forced to swerve into the cyclist’s path due to a van driver who was travelling in the opposite direction overtaking Mr Cheung on a blind bend in Swannington.

An inquest yesterday at Norwich Coroner’s Court heard that when tested at the scene, Mr Hall was found to be over the limit and he was arrested for drink driving and causing death by dangerous driving.

However, no charges were ever brought against him, nor against the driver of the van involved in the fatal collision.

Mr Cheung, who ran a chip shop next to his family’s restaurant in Hellesdon, had been in training for an Ironman event in Italy when he was killed.

Following yesterday’s inquest, in which the coroner reached the conclusion that Mr Cheung had died as a result of a road traffic collision, his family issued a statement in which they described the case as a “shambles” and said that Norfolk Constabulary had “handled it very poorly.”

They said: “We are all very angry, disgusted and disappointed with the inquest’s final verdict of Sze-Ming’s death two years on. The injustice of the outcome is still very raw and difficult to comprehend and always will be as we have to live with it.

“How the driver cannot be punished for drink driving when he was clearly over the limit is beyond belief.

“It’s not given us any closure at all and is very distressing every second of every minute of every hour of the day.

“We will fight our way through our own lives everyday with hurtful emotions and it (the investigation) will always be open to us. Sze-Ming will never be forgotten and the pain and heartache will never go away for the rest of our lives.”

Mr Hall attended yesterday’s inquest, but replied “No comment” to questions put to him by the coroner, reportedly explaining that he did not wish to incriminate himself.

According to the Eastern Daily Press, police said last month that they would take no further action in the case.

Following yesterday’s inquest, a spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary said in a statement: “This is a tragic case in which a man lost his life and our thoughts remain with Mr Cheung’s family and friends at what we know continues to be a difficult time.

 

“We acknowledge that elements of this investigation fell below the standards expected and the failure to prosecute a drink driver involved in the crash was unacceptable.

“We take a firm stance on drink drive offences which is why it is all the more disappointing for an opportunity of justice to be missed.

“We have met with Mr Cheung’s family to explain this and offer our apologies. The officers involved have been given management advice.

“We understand this offers limited comfort to the family of Mr Cheung in their pursuit for justice. However, while no action has been taken against people interviewed in this case, it remains open and should further information come to light, we would review this and respond accordingly,” the statement added.

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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30 comments

Avatar
Projectcyclingf... | 3 years ago
2 likes

"(PC Mackay said Mr Hall in his “intoxicated” state was less able to deal with a rapidly changing situation.)"
Despite this, indicating the killer drink driver's guilt, and with all other evidence at their disposal, rather than focusing on simply prosecuting both dangerous drivers, they seem to have reversed their roles, in all efforts, having ACTED AS A DEFENCE TEAM FOR BOTH DANGEROUS DRIVERS - as their guardian angels - and discriminated against the poor victim, a common feature against victim cyclists.
Certainly, willful negligence by the authorises, having a history of it, and should amount to perverting the course of justice.

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Robert Hardy | 3 years ago
3 likes

The answer is to remove these absurd statuary limits for road offences in all cases where the injury of a party is involved. This would be a situation where retrospective legislation would be entirely justified.

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Sriracha replied to Robert Hardy | 3 years ago
0 likes

When the problem is administrative incompetence then accommodation is not the answer. Accommodating such incompetence with limitless amounts of time will do nothing to improve justice.

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Robert Hardy replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago
2 likes

I suspect the reason for not going through the usual processes to prosecute for drinking driving were the additional complications of investigation and attempting to build a case for more serious charges. Hence there should not be a clock for traffic offences which are related to injuries that might warrent more serious charges. The 14 day limit for lesser traffic offences is clearly insufficient when well healed drivers can use delays in contacting them via intermediaries as a tool for avoiding due punishment.

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wtjs | 3 years ago
4 likes

Crikey! Norfolk makes even Lancashire look competent

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bluemoonday | 3 years ago
5 likes

Yet we will try to extradite someone with diplomatic immunity for driving on the wrong side of the road while sober, causing death?
While all of last week the media was full of the incident involving a hit and run by a cyclist, causing the death of a pedestrian, which we all hope will result in a custodial sentence due the cyclist if found.
Can't help wondering if some of this shoddy police work came about due to the victims ethnicity.

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brooksby replied to bluemoonday | 3 years ago
2 likes
bluemoonday wrote:

Yet we will try to extradite someone with diplomatic immunity for driving on the wrong side of the road while sober, causing death?

Maybe, but we won't try very hard (if you and I are thinking about the same case...).

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bluemoonday replied to brooksby | 3 years ago
3 likes

I'm referring to the American lady, who fled the country after causing a fatal accident while driving on the wrong side of the road and into that young lad on his motorbike.

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NPlus1Bikelights | 3 years ago
5 likes

Did they refer themselves to the IPCC? Or does someone need to help them with this?

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racyrich | 3 years ago
5 likes

It definitely seems the cyclist was not doing anything wrong.

Can a cyclist be killed if no one does anything wrong? No. So come on plod. Who did what they shouldn't have? Drunk or not.

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rct | 3 years ago
3 likes

Can the Cyclists Defence Fund not step in with a private prosecution here?

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eburtthebike | 3 years ago
15 likes

Without wishing to insult any members of the Norfolk Constabulary, just who did this driver know in the force?

This wasn't just a cock up or a mistake; with such clear cut irrefutable evidence and a death it is inconceivable that a prosecution did not result, unless someone on the force actively prevented it.  They need to appoint another force to investigate this with a view to criminal proceedings against whoever sabotaged it.

In any case, the chief constable should take responsibility for this utterly appalling failure and resign.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
4 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

Without wishing to insult any members of the Norfolk Constabulary, just who did this driver know in the force?

 

I often have that thought when reading about such cases.

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STiG911 | 3 years ago
16 likes

“We take a firm stance on drink drive offences"

Well. Given that they didn't charge either driver, despite having plenty of evidence to do just that, they apparently, don't take a firm stance on Drink Driving, Careless Driving, Dangerous Driving, causing Death by Careless Driving, Causing Death by Dangerous Driving...

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Hirsute | 3 years ago
6 likes

“We have fought hard for justice, unfortunately we haven’t got it and those responsible will not be brought to the courts and they get to live their lives. Sadly, Sze-Ming won’t, we are absolutely devastated and always will be.”

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abbeybob | 3 years ago
6 likes

Sadly this looks down to the sheer incompetence of the Police Officers who should have dealt with this. Lest hope the management advice they were given was an utter biollocking and removal to some area of policing where they can cause least damage..

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to abbeybob | 3 years ago
3 likes

Is it? 

In this article and the initial one, no explanation has come out on why neither was taken further. The Spokesman (Press person or senior Officer is not mentioned) states it fell below standard but why? They arrested him and charged him for drink driving. Is this like the incident a few months ago where the Accident investigator stated the death would have happened whether the person was drunk or sober so decided not to even ban them for driving under the influence?

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Awavey replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
3 likes

No the explanation on the drink driving charge is out there,they missed the 6month statutory timeline for lodging the paperwork in court, an admin error, but quite a costly one in terms of justice for the victim's family.

In terms of the dangerous driving part,the case has been left open,which means the police do believe that someone is guilty of a crime, the issue appears to be they dont have enough evidence to enable a prosecution of it, because they cant prove certain crucial facts of the case.

Again an unsatisfactory conclusion of justice for the victim's family,but if the police have not got the evidence to form a prosecution,then they cant proceed with it.

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Hirsute replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
4 likes

You have some bloke pissed, driving on the wrong side of the road who hits and kills a cyclist. What more evidence is required ?

It is even accepted he was more than two times the legal alcohol limit without this being proved in court.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
0 likes

Thanks Awavey for the explanations, didn't see that elsewhere on the 6 month thing which is why I was suspicious as it was not the 14 day rule as they had already charged him.  

Hirsute, the drink driving thing is a seperate issue and the guy should have definitely been done with that. However the dangerous driving bit is the one they cannot fully say for I suspect the following reasons. The DD was on the wrong side of the road only because the van was on his. So why was the van overtaking the bike and giving plenty of room but not seeing the oncoming car. I suspect because the van didn't have the visibility of the road ahead due to blind bend . Dangerous driving should have been a charge here in my opinion but can you argue Death by Dangerous Driving being as he didn't actually hit the cyclist even though his actions lead to it initially. I suspect the fact the other driver was drunk would have caused the charges to be doubted though.

The DD comes around the blind bend to see a van literally in front of him. His first instinct is to avoid it and move into the "space" which meant he then went head on into the cyclist he would have probably not even seen when he started to avoid the head on due to said bend. The inebriation might have slowed his reactions though or he might have also been driving dangerously, hard to prove. So can Death By Dangerous Driving be proven for him. Probably not as the argument would have been the van caused his manouvre that took him into the bikes path and would have happened sober or not.

However there should have been charges laid at both drivers and they should have both been taken to court for Dangerous Driving and Driving a vehicle over the legal limit but I don't think Death by Dangerous Driving would have been proven for either of them. 

As an aside, I do wonder why he wouldn't answer questions from the Coroner when he couldn't have been charged for Drunk Driving again though so I think he had more blame then he will ever admit. 

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Hirsute replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
0 likes

I'll simply say if you are not pissed out of your head, other options are available when confronted by a vehicle on your side of the road and before you get to that point.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
0 likes

I'm assuming this is the bend in question. 

Blind bend with heavy vegetation and trees both sides and 60mph limit both directions with (as of 2011 streetview) no warnings to slow down or double lines etc. The choices here are trees either side, van or "empty space". I'm being kind in assuming the pisshead didn't see the cyclist and made a decision based on empty space. However as he would not answer any questions under oath in case it inmcriminated him that might not be the case. 

However taking the drunk driving out of it for the moment, you can argue Dangerous Driving for the van driver to attempt the manouver and maybe Careless driving for the Pisshead in approaching the bend at the designated speed instead of slowing himself as he couldn't see around it. We know he was pissed so definitely Driving under the influence but I can't see them getting a "death by" charge sticking on either of them which I think Plod was hoping to do and then literally screwed it all up. 

Now if other drivers had said pisshead was all over the road ahead of the bend, then maybe different which might be the other evidence they are now waiting for. 

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Awavey replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
0 likes

the van drivers exact role in the crash, would be my assumption, there have been several examples,so its established in case law at least, where the vehicle that runs over the cyclist that results in their death, that driver isnt prosecuted for death by dangerous driving, because they werent the driver in the vehicle that knocked the cyclist off their bike first.

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cidermart | 3 years ago
13 likes

What the actual fucking fuck!!!
Twice the drink driving limit and still no sentence??
Are the police/CPS/UK judicial system baiting cyclists or something?
Utterly disgraceful that the incompetent cunts still have their jobs.

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carlosdsanchez | 3 years ago
12 likes

That is fucking outrageous....

And baffling, I live in Norfolk and at least 65 drivers have been prosecuted based on video evidence I've submitted over the past 2 years, so I wouldn't say the force was institutionally anti cyclist. This being allowed to happen is a mystery to me.

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Awavey replied to carlosdsanchez | 3 years ago
3 likes

I agree, IME the Norfolk/Suffolk road police team have always been very keen to prosecute drivers on video evidence so dont seem the least bit institutionally anti cyclist, you only have to review their twitter feed to see some of the stuff they have to deal with on a daily basis.

I think whats happened here, not that it helps the family of the victim in this case at all, who have my sympathies, is the police admitted they made a mistake on the drink driving charge & missed the statutory 6month time limit to bring a prosecution for it. That cant ever be brought to trial now, its timed out.

And on the death by dangerous driving charge, it doesnt seem like theres enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution currently, the police have said it remains an open case so if new facts came to light they might review, but because the van crucially who becomes not only a major witness but possibly an intervening cause in it, didnt stop, so cant be directly placed at the scene.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
1 like

Reference the dangerous driving charge... surely they do have the evidence. They know who was driving, they know what happens. They also have evidence that the driver, at the time was over the drink drive limit. 

Why do they need to have a conviction of drink driving to be able to submit the evidence of the driver being over the drink driving limit at the time of the accident? Surely the evidence itself is still perfectly valid?  

Someone died due to careless / dangerous driving. The driving is deemed to be careless / dangerous as there is evidence that the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident. 

I'm sure there is sufficent evidence for a jury to consider. 

However I do get it... this is a prime example where a regulation has been created in order to avoid an action that leads to an undesired output (in this case someone being run over by a drunk), but, taken to court, the focus will be whether the output was indeed caused by the action the regulation was designed to prevent in the first place.

'yeah, he was drunk, but his drunkeness wasn't the cause your honour...' 

however, the reality is that it probably was. The drivers decision making will have been imparied / influenced by the alcohol, and accordingly a different course of action may have been taken by the driver if sober. It might not have made a difference, but the driver should surely be denied the benefit of the doubt when he chose to ignore his obligations to not drink and drive.  

 

 

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Hirsute | 3 years ago
8 likes

So he didn't even get prosecuted for being pissed out of his head? Was there a 14 day limit?

How come the other driver didn't face and dangerous driving charges ?

And why can't there be a new investigation as the old one was cocked up ?

 

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the little onion | 3 years ago
6 likes

Institutionally anti-cyclist.

 

Or very, very, very incompetent 

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brooksby | 3 years ago
4 likes

Ridiculous... no

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