A landmark case recently heard before the Crown Court shows that you can be convicted for aiding and abetting causing serious injury and death by dangerous driving – even if you were not the driver.
Solicitors – England and Wales
The facts of the case
Henry Reynolds took his car for an MOT and was told that the two rear tyres were close to the legal limit. He drove a further 7,000 miles without changing them. The car was then involved in a fatal accident. The fact that Reynolds knew the car was unroadworthy played a pivotal role in the case.
Reynolds was a passenger in his car at the time of the accident, which was being driven by his friend TJ Sam Quirke. Quirke was over the drink drive limit and accelerated up to 72mph in a 30mph zone. The car fishtailed due to the wet weather and crashed into another car. The other driver was killed and the passenger seriously injured.
Quirke pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. He was sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment. The court then had to decide what to do about Reynolds. He was charged with aiding and abetting causing serious injury and death by dangerous driving. This was based on the fact that Reynolds knew the car was in a dangerous condition.
Aiding and abetting
Aiding and abetting is common law offence. Section 8 of the Aiders and Abettors Act 1861 says that any person facing the offence should be ‘tried, indicted, and punished as a principal offender’. Using this interpretation of the law, it could be argued that Reynolds should receive the same sentence as Quirke.
was charged with aiding and abetting causing serious injury and death by dangerous driving – for which there was no legal precedent. The judge dealing with Reynolds said it was an unusual case. No similar cases had previously come before the courts, and there are no sentencing guidelines.
In the end, Reynolds was sentenced to two years and six months’ imprisonment. Not all the facts have been reported, so it is not known whether there were any mitigating factors. For example, Reynolds may have played no role in the speeds driven by Quirke.
Nevertheless, this is a stark warning that you can receive a prison sentence for a motoring offence, even if you were not the one behind the wheel.
Motoring defence solicitors – England and Wales
If you have been accused of a driving offence and you would like expert legal advice, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We have a specialist team of motoring offence solicitors.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.