“Used vehicle as a weapon”
This is how the judge described the actions of Mr. Choonka at his sentencing yesterday. Instead of apologising to Craig Perrott who had got off his bike to remonstrate with Choonka for not giving way at the junction, Choonka accelerated and drove over Craig’s bike before almost crushing Craig to death in June 2018. His life was saved that day and on repeated times over the following weeks by specialist emergency care.
If the CPS barrister had also highlighted how the driver had intentionally ran over Craig, it would have been much more likely that the jury would have convicted Choonka (now 70) of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm with intent, although Craig’s family thought Attempted murder was the appropriate charge. Instead the jury convicted the driver to 30 months in prison for Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving, reduced from 36 months for good character. Apparently choosing to run someone over in anger /using your vehicle as a weapon is not considered a character flaw. He was also given a three month sentence for Criminal damage which was to run concurrent with the other sentence.
Please note that this was not a case of “looked but did not see”. It was a case of “looked, saw and deliberately drive into a person”.
Sentencing was problematic. Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving carries a five year maximum custodial sentence. Although this charge was introduced at the end of 2012, almost seven years on, sentencing guidelines have not yet been produced explaining how this offence is to be sentenced. The judge discussed the guidelines for Causing Death by dangerous driving as well as that for Section 20 Grievous Bodily Harm which also has a five year maximum custodial sentence. The judge agreed the highest level of harm and that of culpability had been involved.
A driving ban of only 39 months was given (two year minimum plus 15 months to cover time expected in prison). Yet again another example of the justice system not responding appropriately to reduce road danger. Someone who is able to use their car as a weapon should never be allowed to drive again. And again, no guidelines were available for the court to use.
There was no confiscation of the “weapon”. Just as those convicted of knife crimes do not have knives returned to them, the driver should have had his 4X4 Lexus confiscated and crushed, or at least sold to help with compensation and rehabilitation for Craig as civil claims take years to settle.
And no sentence could compare or compensate for the lifetime of pain and disability that has been imposed on Craig and his long term partner and now carer, Joyce. The judge allowed both to read out their victim personal statements at court, saying it was right for the public to hear. With Craig and Joyce’s permission, RoadPeace is sharing their statements here – their testimonies need to be heard.
Craig spoke at the sentencing:
What happened to me on the 14th of June last year nearly killed me.
It has totally changed my life.
It feels like it’s ruined my life.
More than once it’s made me want to end my life.
I haven’t got the body I had.
I haven’t got the mind I had.
Or the memory.
Or the intimacy.
Or my job as a care-worker.
Or the confidence I had as a fit man of 60.
It’s almost 15 months since I was forced across a road by that car and crushed against another car. It was an act of needless aggression.
Read Craig’s full victim personal statement
And hear from Joyce, Craig’s partner, of the impact this crash had on her
On the 14th of June last year just before eleven thirty pm I received a phone call from the police.
I couldn’t comprehend what I was being told.
Craig is such a competent cyclist, able to anticipate the likelihood of car drivers actions and had been cycling in London for 33 years plus.
I began to shake uncontrollably, feel sick and started to cry ….is Craig going to die?
Read Joyce’s full victim personal statement.
Please share and help remind others of the permanent devastation dangerous drivers have on people.