Former chairman of the Bradford Bench, Mary Carroll, has urged the Chief Crown Prosecutor to take action over an Appeal Court ruling that reduced the sentence of a danger driver. Here is the full text of her scathing letter.
Having lived in Bradford since 1973 and also having served the City as a magistrate for 32 years, I can attest to the shocking and deteriorating standard of driving in the City. In all my years as a member of the judiciary, I have never questioned the decisions of the higher courts, recognizing the years of experience and wisdom of senior colleagues and also the fact that those who hear and see ALL the evidence, almost invariably, are best placed to make judgements.
However, in the case of Ali Khalid in which the Appeal court criticized HHJ Roger Thomas QC (HHJT) for his sentencing, I feel I cannot stay silent. The Appeal Court held that there was no actual evidence that Bradford had a significant problem with dangerous driving, as had been alluded to by HHJT when sentencing Khan to 6 months’ custody.
The case seems to me to hang on what one means by “evidence”. In law, it has a narrow meaning: that information or data which is presented in court, such as objects, photos, video footage etc. or submitted as written or verbal testimony. But the ordinary meaning of the word relates to that which is plainly obvious, visible or conspicuous. Surely, all members of the judiciary are expected to use their common sense and local knowledge. The clue here lies in HHJT’s title, the Honorary Recorder of Bradford. Apart from the fact that he is a highly experienced and well respected Judge, HHJT is a local man, familiar with the City and, for that reason, was given the job he has done so well for the last 4 years. Surely, he cannot be expected to disregard the evidence of his own eyes and ears; evidence brought daily into the Bradford Courts (Magistrates, Crown and Coroner’s), that the City is plagued with mindless "boy racers" who create havoc and carnage on our roads leaving many families grieving over the senseless loss of innocent loved ones.
These asinine individuals, are supremely confident in their own driving skills, wholly indifferent to the fear and the distress that they cause to other motorists and have absolute blind faith in their own invincibility. They find ever-more creative ways of avoiding paying motor insurance, ignore driving bans and derive their enjoyment from “jumping” red lights, driving counter clockwise on roundabouts, mounting pavements, using the wrong carriageway, ignoring no entry signs and seem to think that engaging the police in a "chase" is a great way to spend an evening. The only way they seem to learn is the “hard way”, when they end up in prison (not too hard really) or if they kill or maim someone, for life, particularly if the victim is a young friend or relative.
The situation is SO bad that the police and press have tried to engage the public in assisting their campaign to put an end to this scourge. In the widely publicised “Operation Steerside.” But, maybe, in the eyes of the Appeal Court, this is not "evidence"; in which case, I say that these particular Appeal Court Judges must be blind and have totally failed to deliver justice to the people of Bradford. I would urge you to take this matter further, in whatever way you feel would be the most productive.
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