Fault by driver required for offence to be committed

Partner Hannah Jones comments on a recent Supreme Court decision that a defendant who, whilst driving a vehicle without the consent of the owner, was involved in an accident which caused injury to another person was not guilty of the offence of “aggravated vehicle taking” unless his driving could be shown to have been at fault.

In essence, a person can be found guilty of aggravated vehicle taking if they commit a further offence - in addition to taking the car without permission in the first place – whilst driving the vehicle.

In the case in question, the defendant, took a Ford Transit truck from a friend in order to collect another friend from Exeter. The truck belonged to the first friend’s employer and the Crown alleged that it was taken without the owner’s consent. Having picked up the second friend, the defendant was driving back to Exmouth when he collided on a bend in a narrow country lane with a scooter. The scooter slid under the wheels of the truck and the rider was killed. The Crown, after a careful investigation of the accident, accepted that there was no evidence on which a jury could be sure that the manner of the defendant’s driving was at fault or open to criticism.

There were a number of offences of varying degrees of gravity which might be committed by drivers whose manner of driving caused death, injury or damage. The defendant was not charged with any of them and, in the light of the agreed facts about the manner of his driving, he could not have been convicted of any of them. Instead, he was charged with aggravated vehicle taking.

The Court ruled that, as the defendant’s driving had not been shown to be a fault or in any way the cause of the accident, he was not guilty of aggravated vehicle taking.

If you would like assistance in

relation to a driving offence, call Hannah on 02392 820 747 for further information.


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