Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nothing to laugh about

From the Daily Mail:

The parents of a teenager killed by a speeding cyclist called for a change in the law after he walked away from court with just a £2,200 fine.
Jason Howard was convicted of dangerous cycling for killing Rhiannon Bennett as she walked to a shop with friends.
The two-day trial at Aylesbury Crown Court heard that as Howard, a line painter from Buckingham, sped towards Rhiannon on a quiet road near his home in April last year he shouted: 'Move, because I'm not stopping.'
Howard admitted he could have avoided Rhiannon if he had slowed right down.
Howard, who has a previous conviction and is well-known in his home town as a 'thrill-seeker', was also ordered to pay £750 in costs.
The parents of poor Rhiannon Bennett say the punishment handed down to her daughter’s killer was ‘laughable’.

I think the word I would have used was ‘obscene’.

How about you?


Anonymous said...

Agreed. He needs a serious opportunity to be confronted with the evil that he has done, and a fine simply does not do that.

Anonymous said...

What if the CYCLIST had been the one who got killed? Would we all now be calling for the pedestrian to be jailed for second degree murder, because she didn't respond quickly enough to the warning shouts to move out of the way!?

Surely we have to be reasonable about these things, don't we?

Of course, it is very sad for the poor girl's family - that goes without saying. But this is a case which has "tragic 50-50 accident" written all over it.

Sadly enough, such accidents do happen sometimes. I don't see that it really helps to insist on having a scapegoat...

Anonymous said...


Your attitude is typical of the new breed of militant cyclist. A sort of Jeremy Clarkson on two wheels.

Let me know when a collision between two pedestrians results in the death of one of them.

Martin Meenagh said...

It's difficult to be detached about this. I used to love cycling, but since moving to London haven't got round to it because I think that, given the way other cyclists and drivers tend to behave, the level of aggression required would be dangerous in itself.

Really, though, what we're talking about, in a much more serious way, is similar to the debate on collective TV versus personal dvds you had the other day, isn't it?

Does a certain sort of highly aggressive, take-no-prisoners liberal individualism, which also feels righteous about itself but which does convey real liberating benefits, trump the rights of groups?

Societies which are breaking down tend to inspire almost totalitarian perspectives which break people into camps. I think England is headed that way rapidly.

That said, though, laws just simply aren't enforced. Cycling on the pavement is illegal. Like manners, which would have stopped that sort of thing once, when enough people escape a law it becomes not so much meaningless as dormant.

If cyclists cared as much about pavement laws as they do about those silly helmets, yellow jackets and leotard things they wear, things would be a lot better.

Yet how can you put people in jail when so few serious perpetrators get jailed, and when criminal justice has been schizophrenically split between the rights of defendants specifically, and, pointless populist assaults on the liberties of society in general?

we need more manners, more jails, less of a culture of narcississm, and safer roads. I feel sorry for this poor pedestrian's family.

Anonymous said...

Except that this is a load of lies. The prosecution allegest the cyclist shouted this, but is not backed up by witnesses. Also the pedestrian was jaywalking.

If someone walks in front of a car which sounds its horn, and then is run over does the car driver get this kind of treatment?

Ooo- but wait - it turns out that the pedestrian was a photogenic, upper middle class white girl. Unlike the five teenagers killed by a lorry yesterday.

Martin Meenagh said...

Hnag on, rhiannon bennett was a human being who died. According to all reports of the trial, Jason Howard admitted to not slowing down but simply shouting in a police interview. The court was aware of that interview, and as far as I can tell Jason Howard did not challenge it. Is that wrong, anonymous?

Jason Howard also admitted to going very fast--which is nowhere near as fast as a car could go, of course, but cyclists often are out of the peripheral vision of pedestrians and need sometimes to pay attention.

You're right about cars. They do kill many. They've killed friends of mine, whom I think about every day. I feel sad about the carnage on the roads, which at one point a few years ago was running to more than a couple of 'twin towers' a year in proportionate terms.

What on earth is the distinction you are making all about though? I apologise if you or a member of your family were a victim on the roads.

Anonymous said...

Jason Howard broke the law by cycling on the pavement and is responsible for someones death, he should have been imprisoned for manslaughter.

Anonymous said...

Why is he not in prison? Are cyclists above the law?