A tale from the Court...apposite maybe? by raistlin

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I chaired a trial today where the defendant, a young man of 24, pleaded not guilty to Dangerous Driving.

The circumstances of the offence are not particularly of interest, in my opinion, but the path to prosecution is, I think.

It all started with a YouTube video taken from the interior of a VW Golf in the early hours of the morning on the Wolverhampton Ring-Road and the A449 Northbound. I have to say that the video was of excellent quality and clarity and might well have been sufficient to convince me of the worth of having forward and rearward facing onboard cameras.

In evidence, the YouTube link was shown to us and included the usual bravado, banter etc.

At one point, the video demonstrated the VW deliberately ramming one of the Police cars, which does seem to be the norm recently.

Beyond that, the YouTube link was published in a thread on one of the VW online fora as a demonstration of the driver's apparent consummate skill in comparison to the lame (sic) standards of driving demonstrated by the pursuing Police officers.

In evidence we heard that one of the officers was in a single crewed panda driver who attempted to maintain contact with the VW and whose responsibility was taken over once a pursuit trained class 1 driver took over the management of the incident in a more suitably equipped, double crewed vehicle.

The comments in the forum, as you might expect, ranged from encouragement and congratulation to total condemnation of the incident, complete with a sprinkling of warnings about admitting to such driving on a publicly accessible internet forum.

The alleged driver and his passenger made light of the possibility of prosecution, suggesting that the video "wouldn't stand up in Court".

The Police were given the go ahead by the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate and liaise with the forum concerned in an attempt to identify the driver.

We were told in evidence that the Police visited a suspect based upon information supplied and discovered a the individual to be the owner of a VW Golf GTi on the type and model year seen on the video. Upon authorisation from the CPS, they were about to charge the owner when he admitted that he hadn't been driving the car but had, in fact, been the front seat passenger, whose voice was heard on the YouTube video. He was subsequently charged with aiding and abetting the use of a vehicle without insurance.

The driver's details were obtained and the Police then charged him with the offence of Dangerous Driving. There were further motoring offences charged as well, including driving without a licence or insurance and driving whilst disqualified.

The alleged driver's defence was that there was no proof that he had, in fact, been the driver on that occasion. He even provided alibi evidence to that effect, as a result of which, two other people are likely to be charged with Perjury in due course.

Without going into the confidential discussions that took place between the members of my Bench in the retiring room, we found all offences proved beyond reasonable doubt by the CPS.

We were of the view that the indicated sentence was considerably in excess of that which we had the power to impose and therefore committed the individual to the Crown Court for sentence.

Owing to the fact that he seems incapable of keeping out of the driving seat, even whilst disqualified, and is a danger to road users, we remanded him to the Crown Court in custody.

We recommended that the VW Golf, having been used in the commission of a crime, should be the subject of a deprivation order and have no doubt that this ancillary order will be part of the eventual sentence. The vehicle is at present in the secure Police pound and so there is no concern that it might "disappear" before the deprivation order is handed down in due course.

Cogito ergo sum... maybe?

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Posted 21 Jan 2016, 15:49 #1