Practice and Procedure

R v JA (2003)

PUBLISHED October 14, 2003

In all the circumstances of the case, taking into account the guidelines in R v Cooksley (2003), a sentence of three years in a Young Offenders Institution for causing death by dangerous driving was not manifestly excessive.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a sentence of three years in a Young Offender's Institution for causing death by dangerous driving. On 19 December 2002 the defendant ('D') pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced on 20 June 2003 at Bradford Crown Court. On 11 June 2002 a group of young men were taking turns driving a car in a park. When D took his turn he drove onto the road, skidded on a bend and collided with the 71 year old victim killing him. D and the passengers left the car and ran off passing the victim lying by the road. When arrested D initially gave two no comment interviews before finally admitting the offence saying he pressed the accelerator by mistake and didn't see the victim. Experts for the Crown estimated the speed of the car to be around 47 mph in a 30 mph zone. However, the basis of plea was that no precise figure for the speed was ascertained. D was aged 16 at the time of the offence, came from a good Muslim family and was of impeccable character. He had no experience of driving. D appealed sentence on the ground that it was manifestly excessive. According to the guidelines set out in R v Cooksley (2003) EWCA Crim 996 D fell within the "intermediate culpability" bracket.HELD: (1) The sentencing task for judges in these circumstances was never easy. On one hand there was a defendant of good character who, in a period of foolishness, had driven dangerously, on the other hand was the death of the victim. The sentencing remarks show the great care of the judge. (2) Whilst there was mitigation in D's good character, youth, his plea and the remorse shown, against that were a number of aggravating features. He had driven with no experience, he was showing off, he killed someone and then ran off. It could not be accepted that he fell within "intermediate culpability" as set out in R v Cooksley (supra). This was a boy with no experience getting into a car and driving at substantial speed. The case fell within "higher culpability" and indeed verged on the most serious category. In all the circumstances the judge was right to impose a sentence of three years.Appeal dismissed.