Case Study

Driver avoids prosecution due to legal blunder

Incident date: 
Sun, 12 Aug 2012

A cyclist who almost died when he was hit by a Range Rover says he feels ‘let down’ after the driver avoided prosecution because of a legal blunder.

Phillip Davies, 62, of St Philips Drive, Evesham, had faced charges of dangerous driving and careless driving after the collision with rider Mark Schofield, 55, from Cheltenham.

But last week Mr Davies walked free from Gloucester Crown Court immune from prosecution because of a lawyer’s error.

Mr Schofield, a re-insurance worker who has had a long battle to return to fitness, issued a joint statement with his wife Rhiannon saying “Over the past two years we have felt continually let down by the judicial system and today is no different.”

It was on 12th August 2012 that Mr Schofield was critically injured when he was in collision with a RangeRover, towing a caravan, which was being driven by Mr Davies on the A46 at Aston Cross, near Tewkesbury.

Mr Schofield, who was out for a bike ride with son Rhys, 24, was dragged under the twin-axled caravan and both his lungs were punctured. He underwent a roadside operation to save his life before being rushed into hospital. He spent two weeks in critical care.

Subsequently Mr Davies was charged with dangerous driving and the case was sent to Gloucester crown court for trial.

But at court barrister Mark Worsley, prosecuting, announced that he had decided not to proceed with that charge and wanted to pursue a less serious charge of careless driving.

He asked for the case to be sent down to Cheltenham Magistrates court for a careless driving trial and Judge William Hart agreed, despite expressing doubts about whether he had the legal power to do such a thing.

When the case got to the magistrates court, however, district judge Joti Boparai ruled there had been a legal error and there was no authority for the case to be remitted to her court.

That left the prosecution unable to proceed in either court because the dangerous driving indictment had been ‘stayed’ in the crown court and the magistrates court would not hear the careless driving case.

In a final bid to have the case tried a different barrister, Kerry Barker, acting for the Crown Prosecution Service, applied to Judge William Hart to lift the ‘stay’ and re-instate the dangerous driving charge for jury trial.

But Judge Hart refused, saying it would not be fair on Mr Davies to take such an unusual step so long after the collision.

He said: “The Crown simply cannot blow hot and cold as to the appropriate charge and they cannot be seen to be using resurrected proceedings as a device to obtain what, through error, they were unable to obtain.”

He added: “Looking at overall fairness and the way in which the process has been applied – or mis-applied by the Crown – I do not intend to lift the stay.”

He described it as a ‘mis-conducted prosecution.’

As he left court, Mr Davies said “I don’t want to comment except to say that everything the judge said was fair enough and there is still a civil case, which will be contested.”

CTC's view: 

It is unbelievable that a court can make an error like this, which has allowed an irresponsible driver to avoid prosecution. There is nothing fair about the way this case has been handled. We hope that Mr Schofield can get some sort of justice via the civil courts.

Article tags

In collaboration with
  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cycling UK is a trading name of Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no: 25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales charity no: 1147607 and in Scotland charity no: sco42541. Registered office: Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 9JX.