Today is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The theme this year is “Vital post-crash actions: Medical Care, Investigation, Justice. To commemorate it, WHO has just published a new guide on Post-Crash Response: Supporting those affected by road traffic crashes. This guide focuses on the emergency care and rehabilitation of road crash victims.
As the national charity for road crash victims, our members –both bereaved and injured know the importance of justice to their souls and sanity. Read Viv’s story below for an example of the lasting effects of injustice.
‘Justice for victims – A contradiction in reality ‘
My beloved brother was a kind, compassionate, gentle, honest man of integrity, and with my younger brother simply the best brothers and friends any sister could hope to have. He was simply driving home along a normal ‘A’ road when just after 5pm on the 18th January 2010 his car was crushed and his life was horrifically taken from him, and us. He had driven thousands of miles in this country and abroad as part of his job. He was always mindful of other car users and safety was always uppermost in his thoughts.
He was killed six years ago in a head on collision when the driver of the other car having crossed onto the nearside verge, then changed direction and crossed over onto the opposite side of the road and into the path of my brother. His defence was one of ‘insanity’. He was found not guilty and given an absolute discharge with no driving restrictions. I have campaigned ever since for the right to be heard and for the case to be re-examined. I have written scores of letters and emails and despite being told by ‘experts’ in legal, academic and medical fields that they agree with me, we have no rights. I quote from a small selection; “I agree with you that this case was handled disastrously –
You have come up with strong confirmatory evidence that the outcome was wrong “.
“As a lawyer, I do not see what more you could possibly have done, or where you can go (other than by forming a political pressure group) You have no right of appeal, and you have no standing to compel the prosecution. The reason you have no appeal is that you were not a party to the proceedings. Only a party can appeal”.
My story is one of the human right to representation, to be heard and the right of appeal. No different, no more no less than the rights of those who are prosecuted. Bereaved relatives of those horrifically killed on the roads have no representation as does the defendant when it comes to the justice system that is there we are told to represent justice.
We are told that the prosecuting barrister is there not to represent us but the CPS, and therefore we have no say when it comes to the rights or wrongs of prosecution decisions irrespective of whether guidelines in place do not support those decisions, which are based on the likelihood of a successful prosecution.
We are told that despite having credible evidence based information that disputes the claims of the defence we have no right to be heard, but are at the mercy of a system where the CPS chooses whether or not to fund expert witnesses to challenge or discredit ‘expert’ evidence presented. This in turn in the absence of a robust prosecution using expert evidence offers the jury a biased representation of the facts, and people would say as they have that it would not be difficult to surmise the resulting verdict.
If as the dictionary describes ‘jury’, as a ” a number of men/women selected according to law and sworn to declare the truth on the evidence”, how is this possible if the prosecution chooses not to fund expert evidence?
Does this represent a fair and just society, is this justice?
What is justice? The dictionary describes it as;”quality of being just”, “impartiality”, “fairness” and which of those words describes the rights of the victims. If in turn the defendant is found not guilty the victims are allowed nothing with regards appeal irrespective of the facts.
Is this Justice?
Road Peace as a charity has kindly supported me by giving the forum under ‘member’s campaigns’ to represent our story and campaign – see ‘Justice for Stephen’.
But where do we go from here? Apart from kind words and sympathies from lawyers and many other people that I have contacted no one is prepared to help us further by bringing the case to the attention of the masses. Only perhaps with the support of others, that allows not only for the instigation of an independent review of the facts but in time the right of representation, the right to be heard and the right of appeal for every victim. At present we are as May Hamilton so rightly said, the forgotten victims of road crashes.Why else would we have no rights? They say without justice there is no peace. Let this end now.