My Oral Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the criminal justice system treats deaths and injuries caused by motorists equally to those not caused by motorists.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice replied for HMG:
My Lords, where there is evidence of an intention to kill or cause serious injury, offences committed by motorists will be prosecuted in the same way as other homicides or assaults. However, in the context of driving it is often difficult to ascertain the driver’s state of mind or intentions. That is why the law contains additional road traffic offences that consider an objective test of the standard of driving, rather than the driver’s subjective intent.
I went on to say:
In 2014, a man travelling at 80 to 88 miles per hour in his car drove straight at the traffic officer who tried to flag him down to stop him. The killer made no attempt to swerve or to slow and he threw PC Duncan into the air like a ragdoll, leaving him with fatal injuries. The starting point for murdering a police officer with a knife or an iron bar is 30 years; this driver got an eight and a half year sentence. Is that justice?
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar replied for HMG:
My Lords, first, I acknowledge the gravity of that incident and we should pay our respects to the police officer’s family, remembering the work that police officers do, day in and day out. However, one has to distinguish the road traffic offence from the consequences. In that case, if there were sufficient evidence to prosecute for murder or manslaughter, that prosecution should have been brought. I know that the CPS does bring those charges when there is evidence to support them and sufficient likelihood of a guilty verdict.