Taxi driver who killed Tom Ridgway found guilty of 'driving without due care and attention' - Tom's mum asks for privacy and understanding (16/01/13)
Driver, Ichhpal Bhamra, was found guilty of ‘driving without due care and attention’ by Solihull Magistrate’s Court and received a £35 fine and 3 points on his licence.
20-year-old Tom was killed cycling in a collision in Solihull on 27 June 2012.The 54-year old driver of the taxi carried on driving a further 90 metres after hitting Tom, smashing into signposts along the way until finally colliding with a tree.
The investigation failed to identify the exact cause of Tom’s death and for that reason the Crown Prosecution Service could not prosecute Mr Bhamra for the more serious offence of ‘death by careless driving’.
Bhamra has since relinquished his taxi licence. Defence barrister Ian Bridge said Bhamra, a taxi driver for 26 years, had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the accident and felt unable to drive.
Despite the claims of some newspaper reports, Tom’s mother, Liz Ridgway, has commented on Martin Porter QC’s blog ‘The Cycling Silk’ that she and Tom’s family do feel justice has been done. She said she was ‘misrepresented and misquoted’ by newspapers who wrote that she had called the sentence ‘insulting’. What she actually said was that ‘the most important thing is that the taxi driver was affected by it and cares, and he handed back his taxi licence early on’ and ‘the fact that the driver has not been able to drive since and has issued a statement of remorse to the family is all the justice we need’.
A memorial ride is being organised to take place in Birmingham. The purpose of the ride is to (a) remember Tom (b) support his family and friends and © to quietly draw attention to the failings of the judicial system on Tom’s case. It is not a protest ride.
- UPDATE (29/01/13)
In response to the ordeal Tom’s family has suffered at the hands of the press last week Tom’s mum wrote a piece in the Birmingham Mail about forgiveness. She expressed the family’s wish to not be contacted again by reporters and that any cycle safety issue be analysed without referring to the family’s loss.
Below is an excerpt from the piece:
‘When I was interviewed for the original piece, I declined to comment about the sentence, thinking it was to be about Tom’s life as a local boy. But I wish to express my own views on it now as a final answer to those who believe I am outraged at the law and society for letting us down.
I don’t think the law could have imposed a higher penalty than for the driver to live with the consequences of the tragedy.
The fact that it wasn’t imposed, but rather felt, means we can let go of the anger and honour Tom far better. If remorse had had to be won from a stiff punishment, I’d have kept my anger never knowing if it had been achieved in the years to come’.
This case is representative of many failings of the judicial system: weak investigations; poor prosecution decisions; and lenient sentencing. CTC respects the views of Tom’s family and is glad that Mr Bhamra decided to relinquish his licence, however, we would like to emphasise that prosecution and sentencing decisions like these do not encourage safer driving.