Jump to content


Photo

Something to consider for all drivers


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 10:45 AM

Guys, after being linked a particular thread on the PistonHeads forum I thought it might be a good idea to put a summary of what I read here, from a particular poster (10 Pence Short) - these posts are quite heavy, and are proof that in an instant your life can be totally turned upside down. Be careful on the roads. This is quite a lengthy read, but take the time and have a read. It's hearing stories like this that really make you think about somethings that you do on the roads, and see other people doing.

I caused an accident after losing control of my car. It was sideways straddling both sides of a B road, a motorcyclist coming the other way came around a blind bend to be confronted with a car blocking the road. The impact launched him over my (destroyed) car and dumped him on the middle of the road, unconcious. His bike had been thrown some 14 metres back the way it came. My car dangled precariously over the edge of a drop past the verge.

After about a minute or so of getting my breath back following the airbag deploying, I realised I'd caused a very serious accident. I'd seen the motorcyclist only for a split second before the impact imploded against the B piller behind my head and shattered every window on the car. My sunglasses had disappeared from my face, glass from the door window was mingled with blood dripping from my face.

There was no way of opening the drivers door, I clambered over the passenger seat and observed one of the worst sights of my life.

For about 50 metres down the direction I'd come from, were the tell tale black lines of a skidding car. These were only interrupted by gouge marks on the road surface where car had met bike. In the middle of this lay the biker, motionless, unconscious, a mess. Onlookers, other motorists, were out of their cars but nothing more than background fuzz.

By the time I got out of the car, some other bikers had begun trying to help the badly injured guy laying on the centreline of the road. For a long minute, he didn't move, he didn't seem to breath. I'd just killed a man. Then some movement, some spluttering. Blind panic from someone who's just woken up to wish that he hadn't. His girlfriend, who had been a few minutes further behind on her own bike, arrived. Screaming and wailing, wondering how this has come to happen. No doubt a million thoughts all arriving at once. Most of them fearing the worst.

First aiders helped on the scene, I didn't know how to help medically. I was guilty, impotent and wondering how I'd gone from an enthusiastic drive to a potential killer in the space of 50 metres. It only took 3 or 4 minutes for the Police to arrive, I volunteered myself immediately as the guilty party. I was breath tested and questioned on-scene, sat in a Volvo, bleeding on the back seats whilst in full view of the prone motorcyclist, by this time being worked on by the paramedics who'd arrived, hoping the patient could last long enough for the air ambulance to arrive.

I'll never forget that poor man, lying there screaming for his helmet to be taken off, his girlfriend in tears and despair and me, not badly injured, no reason to have caused this, other than wanting to enjoy the road.

The motorcyclist spent days in intensive care, being treated for most of his right arm being smashed to pieces, his collarbone wrecked, serious head injuries, damaged eye socket, chipped bones on his ankle and a massive nerve injury. A year later and even after a number of operations, he still has many to go to correct his broken body and his impaired eyesight. The nerve damage to his dominant right arm means he'll never regain full use of it. He can no longer support his children by working on the rigs as he did beforehand.



My car was impounded by the Police and kept from the day of the accident, 30th April 2006 until the July. I was first formally interviewed in June 2006, then again in September. I was charged via postal summons in November last year. Magistrates passed the case to Crown Court on 13/12/06, as their sentencing powers were not sufficient and at that point I knew I was going to prison.

10 days short of a year after my accident, I pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and banned from driving for 3 years, for dangerous driving. Aside from the odd speeding conviction (I was driving 65,000 miles a year for the previous 10 years), I had never been in trouble with the Police before.

There was no feeling, no shock, no crying or anger when I was sent down from that court room. Just numbness. As the judge finished his sentencing, I had just one opportunity of shouting to my other half how much I loved her, before being lead into the downstairs of the court. The guard, a nice guy in his late 50s, explained that he had to handcuff me to himself, and down I went. Immediately down, through a number of locked, barred gates, to a booking in counter. All my possessions, and my belt, taken. My height measured. All my details recorded. Then 4 hours in a windowless cell with nothing but a wooden bench and contemplation for company.

4.30pm on a sunny Friday afternoon, leaving a happy looking Carlisle, but for me, in the back of a paddywagon. Watching people leaving school and work with a smile on their faces, looking forward to a weekend of choices. I was heading to HMP Durham.

You can say what you like about prison, and how easy it is, how great you think the facilities are, how prison is like a holiday camp. It's none of those things. It's a demeaning, soul-less place full of sad and sometimes evil people who have lives none of us would ever want or even imagine. All the freedoms you take for granted are removed in the name of control and security to the point that you're constantly reminded how little value society as a whole places on your miserable little existence.

I could write reams and reams about the prison system and the feelings being in it evoke, but I fear to do so would be heavy reading for the casual PHer. I would be happy to answer any questions people have about prison or my ordeal, though.


In reply to one of the posts above about my current situation: I was released on a scheme called Home Detention Curfew at the quarter point of my sentence, on 23rd of July. During this period I'm under curfew and wear an electronic tag until the halfway point, the 19th October.

For the 16 weeks following my release I have to attend a weekly meeting with my probation officer which, a few weeks in, is not much more than a hello and goodbye!

I've been very lucky in that work has managed to arrange transportation for me when it's needed and I've been able to keep my job after my release. I get paid on a commission basis, though, and I've had to keep all my outgoing financial commitments whilst not being able to earn for a few months. I've just about scraped through.

The pushbike has been fettled and, as daft as it sounds, I'm not yet really missing driving. After 10 years of 65,000 miles a year, I suppose that's not a huge surprise.


For the first 10 days or so in both the closed and then open prisons, I kept a brief diary, as much for something to do for my own benefit as much as anything else. I've not had chance to edit it at all, so it's rough and ready, but the following is the day I got sent down. I'll happily type up the other days with more prison info if people are interested. Just don't expect a masterpiece!


Day 1, April 20th 2007

When I left that courtroom, my friends, family, normal life and worst of all, Jilly [my OH] I felt nothing but numb. Only a few steps behind the courtroom and youíre in a whole new underground world. The guard handcuffs his arm to mine, heís a decent guy in a sh*tty job, my chirpy small talk is probably a pleasant change for him. Iím only hiding the shock, though.

We arrive at the holding cells area of the court to a reception desk, where itís goodbye to my belt and tie- you know why, too. Lots of form filling follows, whilst my now worldly possessions are removed, inspected and logged from the bag Iíd brought with me. Never has a pair of grey briefs looked so f*cking pathetic. Iím told I canít take most of the toiletries Iíve brought with me, such as toothpaste, shower gel (no soap on a rope) and shampoo. Theyíre bagged up separately and given back to my barrister upstairs. HMP Durham is the usual first port of call for custodial sentences from Carlisle, but as the prisons are so full, the guards downstairs canít confirm where Iíll be going tonight.

Four hours in a bare cell with just a wooden bench. A million thoughts are still gliding aimlessly through my mind. I canít complain, this is all about punishment and no better time to start than now. ďgez scouse on tourĒ, ďkellez kendal krewĒ and hundreds of other works of art list the previous tennents whoíve enjoyed my surroundings. At least reading those takes my mind off the stench of p*ss.

Itís about 4.30pm, another short walk, handcuffed again, and weíre on the wagon. At least itís movement, at least somethingís happening. Itís confirmed Durham have space, and with that, weíre off. The cells in the prison wagon are about half the size of a plane toilet, you sit on a hard moulded plastic seat, and the cell wall in front of you has a cut-out for your knees. At 6í I just manage to fit in without struggling, god knows what itís like if youíre pretty tall? Thereís a window to look out of, youíre on the other side of those blacked out windows that press photographers try to snap through when someone (in)famous gets a ride from Her Majesty. Itís a warm, sunny late spring Friday afternoon and as we head out through the Carlisle traffic, the everyday people are leaving their everyday schools and jobs, planning their everyday, legal Friday nights. In freedom. Itís hard not to begrudge all those happy looking people, very hard. I wonít be planning my Friday nights, or any other night for a while. For now my nights, and my days, will be planned for me.

Around 6pm we arrive at HMP Durham. Itís moments like this you realise how much your freedom is a gift, as four of us are unloaded and herded into the prison, up the stairs and into the reception area. Five or six prison guards are behind a large desk, scurrying around, creating the paperwork to put us into the system. Weíre told to wait in a large, perspex walled waiting rooms until our names are bellowed and you begin answering what become standard prison questions; ďBeen in Durham before?Ē, ďBeen in prison before?Ē, ďDrug problems?Ē. Somehow I feel unique in answering no to all three. Iím asked if I know what to do if I discover a prisoner whoís overdosed. Iíve never really thought about it, to be honest.

Back to the perspex room and wait for another shout, where Iím given my prison number, VT4352, and handed some of the clothes Iíve brought into prison with me. Iím allowed 12 items of clothing, a couple of writing pads and my nearly empty toiletry bag. Every item is logged, signed for by both the guard and me and the items I canít have are put into storage.

Next up is another room to be fingerprinted. No high tech, just an ink pad and sheet of card. I stand against the wall as my photo is taken and ID card is produced. Mustang Sally is playing on the radio and the guards donít waste an opportunity to take the p*ss. Thank god these guys are human.

At the back of the same room is a hatch manned by inmates, where Iím handed my prison issue clothes; two T-shirts, tracksuit bottoms, sweatshirt, prison jeans and a short sleeved shirt. Then itís into a cubicle where Iíd stripped and searched, my suit put into storage, I wonít be wearing it for a while. Luckily Iím allowed to put my own clothes on. As sad as it sounds, familiar clothes have a strange comfort to them, like theyíre braving a strange journey with me.

A quick interview with a nurse, weighed, then another guy in another office. The three question repetition; ďBeen in Durham beforeĒ, ďBeen in prison before?Ē, ďAny drink or drug problems?Ē, no, no and no. Still.

E Wing is an induction wing, I arrive clutching a clear plastic bag full of my clothes, bed sheets and paperwork. Like all the staff so far, the officer greeting me was very polite and very concise although a little flustered by having so little time due to staff shortages. He runs through some of the basics, hands me my pack of plastic plates and cutlery then explains some of the routines, but by now itís passed 9 oíclock, Iím emotionally and physically wrecked, thereís too much to take in. ďYouíll pick it upĒ he assures me. Not like Iíve got much else to do, is it?

Iím given some emergency phone credit and use the phone by the wing office to ring Jilly. Iím too headf*cked to crack up over the phone, but itís so amazing to hear Jilly on the other end. Only 9 hours ago I was holding her in the waiting area of court. It feels like that happened in a previous life. Iíve found out youíre allowed a special reception visit when you first come into prison where loved ones or friends can come for one visit in the first few days. Jilly, Mum and Dad have already phoned the prison and booked themselves in for tomorrow. I wish it was tomorrow, now. As much as I try to reassure her Iím OK, sheís cracking up. Itís harder for her than for me.

Mark, my new cell mate, is a star. I arrive at cell 3-15 like a lost puppy, a bag of clothes in one hand, linen in the other and more cloth in my head than both put together. Without a prompt Markís got me organised. It takes him a minute to do what would have taken me hours, sorting the bedclothes, putting stuff in cupboards for me. Finding someone decent for a cell mate has been the first good thing of the day. The only good thing.

Having a portable TV in the room was a godsend I wasnít expecting. More useful as background noise, helping me doze during the evening, proper sleep wasnít going to happen, so I grab a few minutes here, a few minutes there. Iím not exactly a conversational masterpiece.



#2 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 10:47 AM

Day two, Saturday 21st April.

Iím getting a visit today. Itís the first thought in my head and it stays with me until breakfast, 8.40am.

Breakfast? As much as I hate the cheeky c**kney tw*tter, prison needs Jamie Oliver. It was supposed to be sausage, a plum tomato and scrambled egg. I would have been better off having shat on my plate. And thatís another thing, plates. You get one plastic plate, bowl, spoon, knife and fork. Theyíre yours, for the duration of your visit. I head down from the 3rd floor of a large Victorian prison wing, to the ground floor, where meals are handed out. Then itís back up to your cell, with your meal, where youíre locked back in to eat. If you eat all of your food, itís probably a miracle, or youíre a sadist. Anything left on your plate (likely), you canít take it back or put it in the tiny bin in the cell. You cut it up into small pieces and flush it down the cell toilet. I bypass most of breakfast and put it straight down the toilet. A bit like being bulimic but without having to taste the food twice. How do you wash your now greasy plate and utensils? In the small cell sink, used also for washing yourself. No washing up liquid, just grease.

The ordeal of my first meal depresses me. Eating is one of my main pleasures, and the food Iíve just tried is borderline inedible. Apparently we donít get breakfast on the weekdays, maybe thatís a blessing?

Breakfast out of the way and itís back to remembering I have a visit soon. Itíll be very nearly 24 hours since I last saw Jilly, and in the circumstances, itís been the hardest 24 hours of my life. 30 minutes feels like 30 hours, but eventually thereís a knock from an officer on the cell door, Iíve got a visit. A handful of us are led to the ground floor, where an officer walks us across the prison through numerous barred gates and locked doors, towards the visiting centre. It reminds me of sheep being moved through pens when theyíre being dipped, but not enough that it allows me a smile about it. Itís strange, Iím about to see someone Iíve never been nervous of seeing in my entire life, but I feel apprehensive. When I see her am I going to laugh or burst into tears? Either could happen.

Prisoners from different wings are brought together in a waiting room just by the visiting centre, weíre all wearing the same dark blue jeans and blue striped short sleeved shirts. Some of them obviously know each other and take the opportunity to catch up about their cases and appeals and so on. Listening to them reminds me of Shawshank- no oneís guilty! After 30 minutes or so weíre led to a desk where we have to hand in anything in our pockets, where itís noted in a book and signed for. Weíre pat-down searched and then into the visiting room itself and sent to a numbered table already designated to you. None of the visitors are in yet. I walk over to table 25. Itís one of those tables on a metal frame, seats attached. 3 on one side, one on the other. Like a penal version of a Happy Eater kids table.

Last night I was given a small photocopied booklet by one of the officers, explaining the prison routine and how to organise visits. I brought it with me to the visit, hoping I could take it in to explain to Jilly how sheís going to be able to visit me in future. I had to ask one of the officers if it was OK to take it in with me. Luckily, after it was thoroughly inspected, they brought it over to the table for me. So much has happened I donít think I could have remembered enough to have been clear, otherwise.

The room itself has about 40 low tables. At one end is our entrance/ exit, at the opposite end a high desk with a couple of officers behind it, viewing footage from the many CCTV cameras dotted throughout the room. Directly in front of me is a small tuck shop, manned by an old woman who looks like an escapee from lollipop lady school. More importantly right now, is the visitors entrance opposite me.

All the prisoners sat for about 10 minutes at their tables before the first visitors were allowed in. Each prisonerís visitors come in one group at a time, report to a desk to confirm ID, then are allowed to go and sit with their loved one. Every time another group comes through the door I glance up in a kind of ĎIím not lookingí way, waiting to see some faces I recognise.

As the room begins to fill, mainly with visitors who seem more than experienced with the routine, another idiosyncrasy of the prison system dawns on me. Half the tables and chairs in the room are moulded grey plastic, dour affairs and half are wooden and padded with nicely coloured cushioning. Then it dawns on me, the nice chairs and tables are being used by the remand prisoners, unconvicted, whereas the convicted ones are provided with the harsh ones. Having listened to some of them talking before the visit, I suspect quite a few of the inmates enjoying padded bottoms will soon enough get to sample the plastic seats.

The roomís almost full now, cons and remanders chatting away to their two or three guests like theyíve never been away. There seems to be a worrying amount of bottle blond perma-tanners in here. Like a lot of the prisoners theyíre visiting, they also look like they should be locked up for robbing a branch of JJB Sports.

At last I see Jilly, Mum and Dad walk in. While they present their paperwork at the desk and look around I try not to make immediate eye contact. I still donít know how Iíll react. They look just like I feel, nervous yet relieved to see each other at the same time. It might have only been 24 hours, but months of emotion have flown through us all, itís written on our faces. We all get chance to briefly hug, then itís me on one side of the table looking across at three shocked people. For the first time we all get to talk about the past 24 hours. I was well supported with friends and family at the sentencing, but despite constantly telling them I was going to go to prison, they were knocked for 6 when it was confirmed by Judge Batty. It really wells up inside as Jilly tells me how she was looked after by all our friends, and how many people have offered their help. Apparently the landlady at the local pub had got the champagne on ice, only for the potential party to turn into a wake. Well, Iím not dead yet. In the finest tradition everyone had got absolutely slaughtered, if only I could have joined them. Plenty of time for that in a few months, I suppose.

I do my best to explain the processes Iíve been through and still to go through, but until my induction begins proper on Monday, Iíve got more of my own questions than answers, thereís not a lot I can tell them about whatís going to happen in the next few weeks. How long will I spend in Durham? When will I find out my release date? Will I qualify for early release? I just donít know. As we talk the feeling of stress lessens and lifts from our shoulders, but thereís something about being emotionally exposed that makes me feel uncomfortable. I canít pretend all is well, on the other hand I canít show them how upset I am, either. If I did weíd all end up in a teary mess.

Apparently before they were allowed into the visiting centre, they had to show ID, then they are walked to another room, where they can put their belongings into a locker. Before being allowed into the actual room, they had to stand on a line along the floor and be checked by a sniffer dog for drugs. Only then were they allowed to come into the room. Security is tight, and so it should be.

Dad manages about 4 minutes in the visit room before a b*llocking from one of the roaming officers. All drinks are served in lidded paper cups, with a straw sized opening on the top to drink through, to prevent visitors from passing drugs to inmates via their drinks. Dad removes his and within 30 seconds heís reminded to put it back on or he can leave!

Jilly and I get a few minutes alone before the end of the visit. She is, of course, still very upset. I think the friends around us, being so good, have cushioned her heavy landing the day before. Like me, she likes to show a brave face, but I doubt either of us can or need to today. In what seems like an instant, the visiting time is over. In a reverse of the process this morning, weíre searched, led back to our wings and back to a day in the cell.

Uneventful describes the rest of the day. Two meals came and went, luckily they werenít as bad as breakfast. Maybe I wonít starve to death. I would only have slight reservations about feeding someone elseís dog my lunch and dinner. When I went to collect dinner, a white board listed tomorrowís meals with a number beside each. We have to choose tomorrows food the day before. Seems bizarre.

Thank the lord for snooker, the championship at the crucible has begun. Like watching Golf, snooker can remove vast chunks of time without you realising it, like a kind of baize time machine. With no books and only my writing pad for company, the TV is essential. Ironically, this evening ĎPorridgeí was on. Now I understand the meaning of black humour. It actually seems quite accurate, too.

Ah, while I remember, Saturdays you also get a Ďtea packí. This is a bundle of tea bags, coffee and sugar sachets to last you until the next Saturday. I wonít be using mine, Mark [my padmate] can have it. He reminds me that anything in short supply has a currency value, so if itís available for nowt, get it, and sell it!

My final moments of today are whiled away watching match of the day. Usually Iíd catch matches live on the telly, well thatís how it happens in freedomland, but today I have to make do with watching Man Utd draw with Borough. Bugger. Letís hope Chelsea c**k up against Newcastle tomorrow. Being in Geordieland, Iím probably not alone.



#3 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 10:49 AM

And some Q&A from the poster:

Simpo Two said:
10p - I'll add my sentiments to your plight and description.

Two questions come to mind:

1) To what degree was the motorcyclist contributory (if any) eg by going round the bend too fast?

The motorcyclist did absolutely nothing wrong. There was a full accident investigation unit at the scene (the road was closed for 5 hours to measure up and photograph). They estimated that his speed was between 30 and 60 mph. He was measured to have had only 36 metres to see my vehicle blocking the road (and still moving slowly towards him), react and brake. Even at the lower end of that scale, he wouldn't have enough time to have braked and avoided my car. From memory they deduced that he had between 1.1 and 2.2 seconds to react. He was not 'on a jolly', he was travelling from his home to a holiday cottage in the lakes.

He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could easily have been a car or even a truck coming the other way. Sadly for him, it was a vulnerable motorbike.


Simpo Two said:
2) Did a year in prison make you a better/safer/more thoughtful driver or did the effect of the accident make the difference? In other words, what did your year inside achieve, either to you or to society?

I was imprisoned in April of this year, and released under Home Detention Curfew at the end of July. Fortunately I didn't have to spend a whole year in prison.

As for driving, I spent a year between the accident and my conviction driving. My job meant I was driving 65,000 a year and that had to continue. From the moment I got out my trashed car I realised I'd never drive a car for fun on the road again. I spent a year driving like Miss Daisy, and if I get my licence back in just under 3 years time, that's how it'll continue. I'll do what I should have done in the past, and keep jollies for trackdays.

My opinion about my sentence is divided. I was guilty of seriously hurting a person through my actions. I'd be lying if I said I agreed with the chrge of dangerous driving, and an awful lot of the evidence used against me. It's natural to want to defend yourself. My driving was more serious than careless driving, but at the time, I didn't feel I was driving in a way that was likely to cause any harm. I was wrong.

It doesn't really matter what punishment was handed down to me in respect of the life sentence I imposed on the innocent party. Everything I write on this subject should always be read with that in mind. I'm not the injured one.

Cumbria, particularly last year, has had a massive problem with rural casualities due to fast driving. My case was a perfect example to use as a warning to other motorists. The catastrophic injuries caused to the motorcyclist were also key in ensuring a custodial sentence was necessary. I understand the reasoning behind that and remain pragmatic about it. The time to have changed things was shortly before 12.15pm on the 30th April 2006. I didn't, so I have to stand by my actions and accept what's come to me.


pikey said:
10p,

A couple of questions:

* Do you have any contact with the motorcyclist and do you know how he is getting on? Is there anything you can do for him or doesn't it work like that?

During the immediate aftermath I was in contact with the Police about his condition. A friend of mine who works for the emergency services also risked his job by finding out how he was on a regular basis for me. I never realised how long the process was going to take from the accident to being prosecuted, it took very nearly a year. It was 6 months before I knew I was even being charged.

During that year I was torn, I didn't know whether to write to the guy or not. I didn't want anyone to feel I was trying to effect the sentence I'd receive by attemtping to get on the 'good side' of the injured guy. I didn't even know if I was allowed to contact him, the Police werne't too helpful in that respect.

In the end, the next time I saw him after the accident was at the sentencing itself. I prepared a letter which tried to explain my thoughts, he understandably didn't want to talk to me himself, in his shoes I'd feel the same. The letter was handed, sealed, to the CPS and it was requested they give it to him. I aven't heard anything back, and I never expected to.

pikey said:
* Your account of having everything removed on entrance and your father being told to put the lid back on his drink sounds like they're extremely thorough in stopping drugs getting in, but you said drugs are readily available / everywhere. How do are they getting in then?

Use your imagination! There's one place the officers don't like searching. More inventive ones are things like oranges thrown over the fence into the exercise yard. Trust me, the inmates aren't actually fighting over an orange. wink


Two pictures of his car following the accident:

Posted Image
Posted Image

#4 SUBARU

SUBARU

    Massive Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,485 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne.

Posted 19 August 2008 - 10:56 AM

Blah....

Not interested in that stooges mistakes and forum sob story... Poor me, look at how I've now reflected on my life... Waaaahhhhh

If I felt like being ****, I'd go and watch The Notebook. :sarcastic:

Got any news about the new generation Liberty?

#5 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:13 AM

http://www.cwherald....70427290890.htm

To clarify a couple of points; the day of the accident I joined a group of cars who were meeting close to my home. It was mainly a group of 30 or so Clio owners from the owners club, but of more interest were a small group of Honda owners who'd arranged to tag along on the back of that meeting.

On the morning of the accident, I met the group in Kendal and we let the Clio owners head off towards Penrith where they were meeting another group. Everyone can probably now appreciate the irony when I say I and the other Honda owners let the Clios go before us so we could avoid getting involved in any p*ssing competitions and causing an accident.

Having witnessed the driving of the main group on the way to Penrith, and considering the size of the group (which was more than 40 cars I would have said at this point) and the route they intended to take into the Lake District, I made the decision when I reached Penrith that I didn't want any further part in the drive.

At this point I made the decision to head up the A686 to Hartside, which I discussed with the other Honda drivers. Four of them decided they'd come and have a look at the road. For anyone who knows the road or the area, it's very well renowned and usually features on any list of top ten driving roads in this country.

Five of us (three Civic Type Rs and two identical white Integras) set off towards Hartside. None of us were 'boy racers', none of us were in any competition, none of us had anything to prove. For 6 or 7 miles until we reached the village of Melmerby, where the road starts to climb up Hartside, we drove very steadily, encountered little traffic and nothing of any note took place.

As we came out of Melmerby village we caught up with a group of four cars travelling slowly, it's a scenic route and the people heading up the queue were not from the area and didn't know the road (which I later found from witness evidence). Unbeknown to me, a local young lad in a Corsa had spotted us and joined the queue at the back.

In the next 2.5 miles I overtook the four cars, one of whom overtook the others in the most dangerous way I've ever seen on that road (as in crawling past a car doing 40mph at 42mph whilst approaching a blind bend). Witness evidence from those four cars suggested that I'd passed them like a 'bat out of hell', 'engine screaming' and so on. The road itself is quite enclosed, full of hairpins and interspersed with short straights. As someone who knew the road extremely well I used those opportunities to pass the cars. To this day, presented with the same overtaking opportunities, I would still have no second thought in repeating them.

The cars behind me in our group did some overtaking, though to be honest the nature of the road means you can't see far back in your mirrors. I would imagine the people we were overtaking felt intimidated and it could be assumed that all those similar performance cars were trying to keep up with each other. Maybe they were, I was perhaps being naive in not thinking about how the others behind me would drive. For example, the Corsa I mentioned was singled out by witness evidence as having passed one car right around a blind blind and was reported individually to the Police.

The final straw in the witness evidence was from a man in a Mondeo, the final car I overtook before losing control, an elderly man and his wife who'd been driving for years and years with an unblemished record. He was the car I described earlier as overtaking insanely, which he did twice. He, and then corroborated by his wife, claimed I had overtaken him around a blind right hand bend and immediately lost control in front of him. It simply wasn't true. I'd overtaken him about 1/4 of a mile beforehand, on the exit of a left hand bend. Nobody actually witnessed me beginning to lose control because no cars were close enough to see me, as the bends behind me obscured vision.

I was given the opportunity under Police interview to watch a run done by a Police car up the same route, so I could point out exactly where I had overtaken the man in his Mondeo. On the first run of the video I did exactly that. It wass noted in the interview that I'd done that and that it matched my description from my first interview, done some 3 months earlier.

The reponse from the investigating officers was to sit on that information for 5 months, until I was comitted to Crown Court, then they took the video of the run to the old mans house and asked him and his wife to point out where I'd overtaken them, 10 months earlier. They did not share my viewpoint.

With regards to internet evidence. I've been a member of the Civic Type-R owners site for a long time. I got a reputation as a bit of a sarcastic git and I made a lot of daft comments which didn't often have a grounding in reality, more they were being daft or making stupid digs at people (I'm sure I'm not surprising some PHers with that).

When the accident happened, 4 of the first few cars on the scene happened to be high performance Hondas. A couple of the Civics had windows stickers with the club URL on them. It didn't take a rocket scientist to find out what my username was, and within a few hours of the accident the Police had downloaded the forum and printed out all of my comments. In the light of the events that day, some of the comments on the Civic forum turned out to be very damning. People who didn't know the context in which they were being said, or the character who was saying them would have to take the comments on face value, and face value said that I was a boy racing tw&t.

So now the Police had evidence from witnesses and they had evidence from an internet forum which proved I treated that road like a plaything and was predisposed to driving quickly.

Add to that the thorough investigation carried out by the Collision Investigation Unit. This concluded that the likely cause of the accident was any or a combination of excessive speed, coarse braking and or steering. In reality it was the former. It couldn't be estimated at any time what speed I was doing, as my wheels had continued to rotate through the entire skid and post impact with the bike. The radious of the corners means it would be very unlikely that I was travelling above the speed limit at the time of my accident. It was what you'd now call innapropriate speed.

As the back of the car began to slide, I'd turned into it and applied as much power as I could get, trying to bring the car back around. Despite the huge, almost 90 degree angle of slide, the car had slowed almost to a halt by the time of the impact. When the impact occured, I was still on the throttle pedal, the front wheels were lifted, spun, gained traction and spat me onto the nearside verge. Believe it or not, the investigation report very briefly mentioned this as evidence I may have been purposely 'power sliding' the car, which was ridiculous in the extreme and didn't feature in court.


Presented with those 3 pieces of strong evidence, I had to make a choice. I knew how I'd driven immediately before the accident, and although it was quickly it didn't match the witnesses versions of events. I knew how I'd written the internet evidence and what I'd meant at the time, could I possibly make a jury understand the comments in their proper context? It was unlikely on both counts.

A Newton Hearing may have been an idea, but my legal advice suggested that the judge had a dislike of Newton hearings and that the outcome wouldn't necessarily be improved just by discounting some smallish parts of the evidence.

So I had a clear choice- fight a full trial in front of a jury and try to argue that it was a moment of careless driving, that I'd gone into the corner too quickly and lost control, knowing that I would receive no discount on a sentence if I was found guilty and that the judge may be inclined to hand down the maximum two year sentence, OR plead guilty to the offences as charged, accept the prosecutions version of events and get the 30% discount as provided by law. It was a hugely difficult decision socially, morally, financially, on every level. I knew that by pleading guilty I would have little right to reply, little opportunity to set anything straight. The newspaper reporters in the court would pick out the juiciest prosecution quotes and print them, as they do all of the time.

In the end the prosecution version of events was the only one heard in court, so it was the only one reported in the paper. It wasn't a true representation of me or of the events, but it's one people would use to judge me. People who I've known for years read those reports in the loal papers, I still have to pass them in the street in this small town wondering if they believe mine or the paper version of what happened. Some people I used to say 'hello' to now try to avoid conversation and even eye contact.


As I've said before, when you're out driving, and particularly if you're making progress, keep thinking about your last 5 minutes of driving and how it would be described by a witness if you were to have an incident further on.



#6 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:14 AM

Blah....

Not interested in that stooges mistakes and forum sob story... Poor me, look at how I've now reflected on my life... Waaaahhhhh

If I felt like being ****, I'd go and watch The Notebook. :sarcastic:

Got any news about the new generation Liberty?


Hardly that at all, mate.

It was hard reading, and has certainly made me think about things I've done in the past. Thought it might be good to share with a few people - obviously not for you, though.

As he posted:

Firstly, I wanted to post on this thread about my experience of prison. To put the obvious questions of why I was there, I had to provide an explanation- which is how I began my input into this thread.

I don't want or expect sympathy. Whilst it's been humbling to receive emails and posts of support, that's not why I've answered the questions asked and posted the posts I have. It's about highlighting how fine the line is between enjoying driving on the road and ruining someone's life. Nothing I can do or go through will ever be even 10% of the damage caused to the injured party.

It is because only one side of the story had been presented, mine, that I posted the victim impact statement. Whilst my story is sobering, it pales into insignificance when you read the comments he had to make. The value of posting these has been to illustrate the human results of driving too quickly on the road.

Someone linked to the story in one of the local newspapers. That story was generated entirely from the prosecution version of events. I thought it was reasonable to offer my explanation of how I viewed my actions that day. Yes, I was driving "like a tw*t", because I drove so quickly around a bend the car skidded and I caused an event which nearly killed someone. As I'm sure anyone would want though, is to have the opportunity to present both sides of a story. People reading this thread have had the opportunity to read a newspaper report, nased solely on the prosecution, now they'd had chance to read the defence version of events. I think people are perfectly entitled to have both sides and make their own minds up.

The reason I got involved in this thread, the reason I'd consider having the story published to a wider audience, is to try and prevent other people ever having to face either side of mine and the biker's experience. It wasn't to defend myself, it wasn't to look for self pity, it was to share what to all involved has been a hell. What to one man will continue to be hell until the day he dies.



#7 Mav

Mav

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 729 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:15 AM

ROFL @ subaru
current - 2006, Gen 4 - 3.0r - spec b, mods - Cusco Strut Brace, Cusco 23mm Rear Swaybar, Cusco BCS, JDM spec b Grille, 6000k HID Xenons, UltraWhite LED Parkers
former - 2000, Gen 3 - 2.5l RX Liberty, mods - Powerchip Gold 98, Borla extractors, Cat-back sports exhaust, Bilstein Suspension w/ Kings low's, Whiteline X\Heavy duty ADJ rear swaybar, Whiteline front Strut Brace, 6000k HID Xenons.

#8 boost

boost

    Trusted Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 273 posts
  • Location:Brizbin
  • Interests:cars with boost, cars that need no boost, etc..

Posted 19 August 2008 - 02:50 PM

Luckily the one time I lost control on a public road all I ended up killing was the mad little corolla fxgt (oh and xmas)

Bit long that post mate.. a 'best of' and a link would've been better.. I know I stopped reading after about 1000 words.. and I'm intelligentle pare niceo

Posted Image
AWD + BOOST = SEXY TIME

#9 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 03:25 PM

Luckily the one time I lost control on a public road all I ended up killing was the mad little corolla fxgt (oh and xmas)

Bit long that post mate.. a 'best of' and a link would've been better.. I know I stopped reading after about 1000 words.. and I'm intelligentle pare niceo

Posted Image


You're a full bred kiwi though A m8,,,

I am only a half kiwi A,,,, so I can read more than you.

#10 Mav

Mav

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 729 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 03:26 PM

what before the sheep distracts you? :wub:
current - 2006, Gen 4 - 3.0r - spec b, mods - Cusco Strut Brace, Cusco 23mm Rear Swaybar, Cusco BCS, JDM spec b Grille, 6000k HID Xenons, UltraWhite LED Parkers
former - 2000, Gen 3 - 2.5l RX Liberty, mods - Powerchip Gold 98, Borla extractors, Cat-back sports exhaust, Bilstein Suspension w/ Kings low's, Whiteline X\Heavy duty ADJ rear swaybar, Whiteline front Strut Brace, 6000k HID Xenons.

#11 CRUISN

CRUISN

    Doin it my way.

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,792 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne
  • Interests:Family, Surfing, Cars.

Posted 19 August 2008 - 05:08 PM

I can sum up all that writing in a few words.....

Dont speed, Dont drive like a d**khead.

OEM+


#12 Dylan

Dylan

    Gen2 loading...

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 05:16 PM

I can sum up all that writing in a few words.....

Dont speed, Dont drive like a d**khead.


It wasn't posted for that purpose only.

It also shows how your life can be changed in an instant because of someone else's actions. I am glad I took the time to read that guys posts today.

#13 Blaeven

Blaeven

    Red Rexxy

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,394 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:36 PM

read every word...

sobering stuff...

2cn8qwz.jpg


#14 Pete S

Pete S

    Trusted Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 231 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney, Carlingford

Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:39 PM

read every word...

sobering stuff...


Especially after completing the Stay Upright course for my motorcycle learners today. Scary stuff

#15 Guest_SubaruJunkie_*

Guest_SubaruJunkie_*
  • Guests

Posted 20 August 2008 - 12:20 AM

Its not SPEED THAT KILLS YOU ITS THE SUDDERN STOP...How many times i got to say it....and i wish that all these politicians learnt that...

Coz you speed on a freeway and slow down you arent dead...

#16 twinturbosubaru

twinturbosubaru

    Trusted Member

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 494 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 20 August 2008 - 12:56 AM

Good post Dylan, I'm sure it's something a lot of people can relate to coming close to, it does make you think twice, hence why I am trying to get a driver training day organised :-)

Paul
GEN4 Black Liberty 3.0R Spec B Wagon
GEN1 Red Mica RS Liberty - Stock factory original

Love is a Legacy, Liberty, etc......

Posted Image

Posted Image


#17 boost

boost

    Trusted Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 273 posts
  • Location:Brizbin
  • Interests:cars with boost, cars that need no boost, etc..

Posted 20 August 2008 - 11:20 AM

Driver training is where it's at.. you gotta get some 'loss of control' going on before you are really ready for the roads.. should be compulsory for learners..
AWD + BOOST = SEXY TIME

#18 boost

boost

    Trusted Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 273 posts
  • Location:Brizbin
  • Interests:cars with boost, cars that need no boost, etc..

Posted 20 August 2008 - 11:20 AM

Driver training is where it's at.. you gotta get some 'loss of control' going on before you are really ready for the roads.. should be compulsory for learners..
AWD + BOOST = SEXY TIME

#19 ams

ams

    Regular Member

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 27,608 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fremantle, WA

Posted 20 August 2008 - 11:25 AM

Driver training (as above above) and more patrol cars, LESS GOD DAMN CAMERA'S...

Dunno about over east but WA has this obsession with more speed cameras, apparently that's going to 'solve' the hoon problem we have over here.

Ugh i could ramble on for forking days about this stuff.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users