Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving
by Helen Newman
At Forrest Williams we like to do a little case study after each file is closed, we know that potential clients like to know about real life cases that we have dealt with before. We are often asked to provide references, which, unfortunately we cannot do (confidentiality reasons) so this is the closest we can come, along with the anonymous references and feedback we receive.
This is a case study I’ve been putting off writing, it was a hard case and one I got very close to. I have been working as a paralegal for just over 4 years during which time I have come to appreciate how very true the comment “no two cases are alike” is, but this one was new to me.
You see in this case the client knew he was going to prison, for several years. His family knew he was going to prison. He was accepting of this fact, and my job was not to try and keep him out of prison, it was to prepare him and his family for prison and to try and ensure that his sentence was as short as possible.
James was charged with 3 counts of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving.
He had gone to the pub, drank too much and left in his car. He was driving too fast. He hit another car. The injuries to those in the other car were life altering – all 3 were in hospital for many weeks, all 3 required numerous surgeries, all 3 will never fully recover and be as they were before the crash.
James knew this. From the start he knew what he had done, he was distraught, he wanted to visit the injured family in hospital to beg their forgiveness. He knew he couldn’t so instead he started a Drink Drive Campaign to try and make sure that others didn’t make the mistake he had made, that others didn’t feel as he did. He made posters, he toured around pubs and restaurants in his area asking them to sign up to the scheme to discourage Drinking and Driving. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous to help him come to terms with his use of alcohol as an emotional crutch.
James was never in any doubt as to the seriousness of his situation, he was very pragmatic about it. He wanted to work for as long as he could so he could put as much away to help care for his daughter and elderly parents. He wasn’t interested in reducing the penalty – in his eyes he had committed the offence so he would take the punishment – it was his sister who told us about the Campaign he had launched.
I worked with James for a year, as we first waited for him to be charged, then through the numerous hearings as it went from the Magistrates to the Crown Court, and then off to the Probation Service before finally the day came for sentencing. I honestly believe that James was, in some ways, relieved when that day arrived – finally he could truly take responsibility for his actions. James was, is, a lovely sweet guy, a devoted father and a caring son. He just made some bad choices.
James was convicted of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving and sentenced to 32 months in prison, a brilliant outcome as with good behaviour he could be released on licence after 16 months.
James was the first client I ever had to prepare for a certain significant custodial sentence. He knew it was coming and so did I. That didn’t make it any easier. James’s sister commented after the hearing that it was obvious to the whole family how invested we all were in his case – and how much of a support knowing that we were there was for them.
At Forrest Williams we know that clients don’t just appoint Solicitors for the legal knowledge they hold. We know that our job is to support you, and those around you, through this difficult time. If you are charged with an offence, and you want a team behind you who care, then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645.