Accidents and crimes

I do not pretend to have an answer to this issue but it is interesting to note the two year sentence passed on Ciaran Brendan Laverty for the manslaughter of Aaron Montgomery. It must be stressed that Mr. Laverty immediately admitted his guilt and it seems completely clear that he did not intend to kill Mr. Montgomery. The contrast which might be worth noting is with Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva who was sentenced to three years after being convicted of causing the death by careless driving of a family of six in England. Mr. da Salvia had denied the charge and clearly had killed six people. However, in his case there was absolutely no deliberate intent, he was simply driving a lorry (though he may have been using a laptop sat nav system at the time of the accident). Had Mr. da Salvia been driving a family car the Statham family might well have survived?

I know I am comparing two different cases but I do feel that Mr. da Salvia’s crime was less serious: yet his sentence was longer. Clearly such is the size of an HGV that if it hits a family car there is a high chance of the car’s occupants dying; it seems now that some feel that there is no such thing as an accident and that if someone dies there is a high chance that there will be a prosecution. I have mentioned this issue in a previous blog but I do wonder whether some people are more likely to end up having their collusion accepted as simply an accident. I also find it a little difficult to accept that a careless mistake (as Mr. da Salvia) was convicted of is more serious than the deliberate punching of another individual. Clearly there was greater loss of life in Mr. da Salvia’s case and he did not plead guilty. However, as I mentioned above the loss of life was largely due to the size of his vehicle and he had some possibility of being found innocent. In both cases unsurprisingly the families are dissatisfied with the length of sentences handed out.

  • niall

    Turgon,

    Makes me nervous to comment on specific cases without actually being party to all the info.

    Unfortunately journalism rarely does conveys an accurate consideration of the facts or the law that is applied to them.

    However, the death by dangerous driving charge would appear to afford the defence of just a careless accident as the standard of driving the prosecution must have proven must be so far below the reasonable driver as to have been “dangerous”.

    Clearly the fact that it was his driving that caused the deaths is burden of proof that the jury in his case must have 1st considered, or it may have been accepted by the defence.

    In any event it appears that when we get behind a wheel we are accepting a burden to drive within the law, and indeed ownership of a vehicle puts a positive burden on the owner that the vehicle is driven within the law?

    So the Jury decided that they were sure about the cause of death and the standard of driving. It’s difficult to say they were wrong from where i’m sitting?

    As for the sentence, is it punishment or a deterrent/warning to other drivers as public policy?

    The fight one is more interesting in an Irish social perspective. I’ve seen tens of fights in my time and twice been on the end of “a beating” by groups of drunks who honestly didn’t know who I was and had as much genuine motivation as the guy who got convicted of manslaughter.

    There seems to be an attitude of “he is a decent guy, he just lost the head when he was drunk and hit someone completely out of character. He comes from good people.”

    Unfortunately he may be a decent guy but if you attack someone in drunkenness there is clearly an intent (albeit drunken intent) to do really serious harm and that would make it murder.

    But Ireland having a crap attitude to both drunks and fighting he gets a years sentence which will not act as a deterrent and is hardly punishment.

  • Turgon

    niall,
    A very fair point. Thanks for that. On the lorry driver he was acquited of dangerous but convicted of careless driving. I agree, however, that we do not know all the specifics. I guess on the topic of cares I always think there but for the Garce of God go I.