Dangerous drivers who cause crashes that kill friends or relatives could avoid prosecution, one of the UK’s top jurists has said.
Keir Starmer, QC, who is the director of public prosecutions, told prosecutors they must consider the “greater emotional impact” felt by a driver that has killed a relative of close friend. A prosecution and jail time would be of little benefit, he suggests, as the emotional grief they suffer would be punishment enough.
Motorists that cause accidents by speeding to hospital with a sick relative onboard would also avoid prosecution under the new Crown Prosecution Service guide, as would 999 crews responding to legitimate emergencies.
Mr Starmer said: “A driver who makes a genuine mistake that ends the life of a close friend or family member will bear a particularly heavy responsibility.”
AA President Edmund King concurred, saying: “If a genuine mistake has been made by a driver which leads to the death of a family member, they will have to live with that guilt and remorse for the rest of their lives.
“If the guidance is managed with sensitivity it will result in a common-sense approach to crime and punishment.
“The consequences of close family loss can be much more traumatic and longer-lasting than a prison sentence.”
The revised CPS guidance suggests: “Whilst there may be sufficient evidence to prosecute, we recognise that in some instances such prosecutions would be inappropriate and it would not be in the public interest to proceed because of the likely lifelong consequences of losing a loved one and being responsible for that loss.”