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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Decisions >> Lambert, R v [2008] EWCA Crim 2109 (27 August 2008)
Cite as: [2009] 1 Cr App Rep (S) 92, [2009] 1 Cr App R (S) 92, [2008] EWCA Crim 2109

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Neutral Citation Number: [2008] EWCA Crim 2109
No: 200804236/A6


Royal Courts of Justice
London, WC2A 2LL
27th August 2008

B e f o r e :





Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
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Mr B Stork appeared on behalf of the Applicant


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  1. Mr Justice Mitting: The applicant was 17 and a half at the date of his offence. He was 18 and a half when sentenced. He had no previous convictions, but he did have cautions for unrelated matters. He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to an offence contrary to section 35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, causing bodily harm by wilful misconduct, for which the maximum sentence is two years' imprisonment. He was sentenced to 12 months' detention in a young offender institution.
  2. The facts were as follows. At 11.45 in the morning of 30th August 2007 he was riding his mountain bike down The Chase, Guildford towards a bus stop on his nearside. As he approached the bus stop he was overtaken by a bus. Three people, including a 82-year old grandmother, Dora Thompson, were waiting at the bus shelter for the bus. As it arrived, they stood up and moved towards the bus. Instead of stopping behind the bus or overtaking it on its offside in the road, the applicant mounted the pavement without slowing down. Even if he had attempted to apply his brakes they would have availed him little because the rear brake was wholly ineffective and the front brake could only be applied at all with great effort. It is estimated that he was travelling at 12 to 13 miles per hour. He rode straight into Mrs Thompson, knocking her into the air and onto the ground on which she struck her head. She died of her injuries later that day.
  3. If the vehicle ridden by him had been motorised he would have had no defence to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment. There is no statutory offence specific to the facts other than causing harm by wanton or furious driving, also contrary to section 35 and subject to the same maximum. If, as is widely believed, the risk of death or serious injury to pedestrians caused by dangerous riding of cycles on pavements has become a significant problem, Parliament may wish to consider legislating for an appropriate specific offence and maximum penalty.
  4. The death of Mrs Thompson in this matter and at this time was a tragedy for her family, her surviving son and her deceased daughter's two adult children. Moving victim impact statements have been provided.
  5. In passing sentence the judge observed that:
  6. "You showed no regard whatsoever for any pedestrians by riding on the bicycle as you did. It was totally without regard for them and their safety."
    "Cyclists owe a duty to other road users and not to ride in such a way as to cause accidents, whether this like or otherwise. They must not be a danger to others and especially not to pedestrians. This was a serious example of irresponsible riding of a bicycle."

    We agree with those observations.

  7. Mr Stork submits that a custodial sentence was not justified, or, if it was, that 12 months was too long. He submits that inadequate credit was given for his plea, having regard to his age and his lack of previous convictions, and having regard to the maximum sentence permitted by the statute.
  8. We do not agree. This was a bad case of wilful misconduct in riding a bicycle with the gravest consequence. The applicant deliberately mounted the pavement to overtake the bus on the inside as it pulled into a bus stop to pick up passengers. The risk that there would be one or more persons in his path attempting to board was obvious, yet he did not, and perhaps could not, slow down. A collision with such a person was at least highly likely and injury, perhaps serious, likely to result. Death was not wholly unforeseeable even to a 17 year old. The fact that it occurred is an aggravating feature which the judge was entitled to take into account as he did. A sentence at or near the statutory maximum would have been appropriate after a trial. 12 months' detention in a young offender institution upon a prompt plea was not in our view in the least excessive.
  9. Mr Stork tells us, and we accept, that a course available to the applicant will be held open for him until 11th September, a course which he cannot start if the sentence stands. That is a consequence of a proper sentence and not a reason for reducing it. This application, properly referred by the registrar because of the shortness of the sentence and the unusual facts, for permission to appeal, is refused.

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