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Causing death by dangerous driving: not just one driver responsible?

  • 18-05-2021 9:54pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,290 ✭✭✭


    When a car driven by a suspect is pursued by police and third party is killed by the impact of the suspect's car, the suspect would, obviously, be facing a charge of manslaughter or of causing death by dangerous driving (and this scenario concerns any common-law jurisdiction).

    I'm aware that such cases are investigated by the police ombudsman's office or whatever equivalent organisation is applicable in the relevant jurisdiction.

    If the victim's death was caused by the impact of the suspect's car, why could the police officers who were pursuing that car also be charged with causing the death?


Comments

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Very very unlikely that responding officers, in any jurisdiction, would be charged. Obviously lit could & would lead to moral hazard. Technically & legally pursuing officers 'could' face charges but as Kavanagh QC used to say...." such an impregnable chasm lay between the letter of the law & the spirit of the law"


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,290 ✭✭✭political analyst


    Very very unlikely that responding officers, in any jurisdiction, would be charged. Obviously lit could & would lead to moral hazard. Technically & legally pursuing officers 'could' face charges but as Kavanagh QC used to say...." such an impregnable chasm lay between the letter of the law & the spirit of the law"

    Actually .....

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-57155718


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,396 ✭✭✭✭28064212


    When a car driven by a suspect is pursued by police and third party is killed by the impact of the suspect's car, the suspect would, obviously, be facing a charge of manslaughter or of causing death by dangerous driving (and this scenario concerns any common-law jurisdiction).

    I'm aware that such cases are investigated by the police ombudsman's office or whatever equivalent organisation is applicable in the relevant jurisdiction.

    If the victim's death was caused by the impact of the suspect's car, why could the police officers who were pursuing that car also be charged with causing the death?
    Impact isn't a requirement for a charge of dangerous driving causing death. If I dangerously swerve onto the footpath and you dive out of the way, smash your head off the ground and die from your injuries, I have almost certainly caused your death by my dangerous driving, even though I never actually hit you.

    If the CPS are bringing this case forward, it seems likely that the PC is considered to have acted in a manner that contributed to the deaths of the victims (or at least there's a strong suspicion of that), e.g. didn't follow procedure, or followed procedure in a reckless manner

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,290 ✭✭✭political analyst


    28064212 wrote: »
    Impact isn't a requirement for a charge of dangerous driving causing death. If I dangerously swerve onto the footpath and you dive out of the way, smash your head off the ground and die from your injuries, I have almost certainly caused your death by my dangerous driving, even though I never actually hit you.

    If the CPS are bringing this case forward, it seems likely that the PC is considered to have acted in a manner that contributed to the deaths of the victims (or at least there's a strong suspicion of that), e.g. didn't follow procedure, or followed procedure in a reckless manner

    Although I mentioned impact, it wasn't my point. My point is about which driver is responsible. In your scenario, your death from smashing your head off the ground would, obviously, mean that I'm guilty, just like the death of a person who dies because of hitting the ground after being punched makes the assailant guilty of manslaughter.

    The charge of causing death by dangerous driving usually refers to the driver whose car the victim had the misfortune to be either in front of or be a passenger in.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,152 ✭✭✭✭Witcher


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  • Registered Users Posts: 25,705 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    There are principles of causation that are applied in cases like this.

    In general, if A does something dangerous and foolish, and B reacts to that by himself doing something dangerous and foolish that he didn't need to do, and B's action results in death or injury to C, B has caused the death or injury but A hasn't. What A did was dangerous and foolish but it didn't cause the death or injury, because the "chain of causation" is interrupted by B's choice to act in the way he did. A would only be responsible if B's reaction was inevitable or, at the very least, overwhelmingly likely.

    Different if A and B are doing a stupid and dangerous thing together - drag racing in the public street, playing chicken, that kind of thing. Then they are both responsible for any injury or death to C which results, regardless of which of them actually hits C.


  • Registered Users Posts: 65 ✭✭Eire392


    Possibly was told to stand down during the pursuit or was not trained in pursuit driving to engage in the first place are the only two things I could logically think of.

    There should be policemen handing back the keys of their patrol cars after that


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,991 ✭✭✭ambro25


    Eire392 wrote: »
    Possibly was told to stand down during the pursuit or was not trained in pursuit driving to engage in the first place are the only two things I could logically think of.
    What about ramming the suspect’s vehicle (e.g. TPAC/PIT “tactical contact”) to end the pursuit, with the suspect’s out-of-control vehicle causing injury to a third party?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,127 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge


    ambro25 wrote: »
    What about ramming the suspect’s vehicle (e.g. TPAC/PIT “tactical contact”) to end the pursuit, with the suspect’s out-of-control vehicle causing injury to a third party?

    A TPAC would not e carried out in close proximity to another vehicle and is very controlled. TPAC is not ramming.


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,176 ✭✭✭✭Victor


    Police are meant to chase criminals in vehicles for serious crime only (follow is another matter). It may have been a minor crime initially and the police involvement escalated things.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 25,705 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Look, we don't know.

    It's very unusual for police officers to be charged in connection with car pursuits, so the likelihood is that there are some very unusual facts in this case which account for the very unusual decision to charge the officer. But we have no idea what those very unusual facts might be.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,290 ✭✭✭political analyst


    I know it's not the done thing to bump-up old threads but, this is just to conclude this thread .....

    PC Welch is still facing disciplinary proceedings.


    Post edited by political analyst on


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