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Driving offences involving death

The main types of driving offences involving fatalities are 'dangerous' driving and 'careless or inconsiderate' driving. The driver's behaviour is what is important, not what the driver believes. Someone may be committing a dangerous driving offence even though they believe they are driving safely.

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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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Father guilty of causing deaths of his children in Land Rover accident

17/12/2008

The decision to prosecute Nigel Gresham, the father found guilty of causing the deaths of four of his children through dangerous driving, was not taken lightly, said Lincolnshire Crown Prosecution Service's Chief Crown Prosecutor Jaswant Kaur Narwal.

Miss Narwal, said: "This is a very sad case and we spent a great deal of time reviewing the evidence and considering the public interest before making the decision to prosecute.

"It was not a decision which was taken lightly given the tragic deaths of Mr Gresham's four children and the loss he suffered as their father."

Nigel Gresham was the driver of a Land Rover which went into the River Whitham on 16 September 2007 after an accident on Whitham Bank near Coningsby, Lincolnshire. His children, Willow, aged two, Angel, aged four, Thor, aged six, and Keavy, aged eight, all died.

Miss Narwal said: "We received expert reports on the state of the Land Rover which made clear it was not in a roadworthy condition and that a careful and competent driver would know it was dangerous to drive.

"Once we were satisfied there was sufficient evidence for a case to go to court we then looked at whether it was in the public interest for the case to go ahead.

"In considering the public interest we took into account the changes introduced by the CPS Policy on Prosecuting Cases of Bad Driving and particularly the changes in approach when the driver involved in a fatal accident has a close personal or family relationship to the victim.

"In the past, the approach was that the driver had suffered such a great personal loss that it would be oppressive or insensitive to prosecute the driver for the bad driving offence which led to the death, unless the circumstances were such that a prosecution was necessary.

"The position now is that a prosecution would normally take place in cases of causing death by dangerous driving subject to circumstances that would make it oppressive or insensitive.

"There were arguments both for and against prosecuting Mr Gresham but overall we decided that the factors against were outweighed by those in favour and that a prosecution should follow."

The court was told that Nigel Gresham had carried out a number of modifications to the Land Rover, which were incompetently carried out and he had failed to carry out a number of necessary repairs. The condition of the Land Rover, for which he was responsible, led to the deaths of his children.

The defence argued that this was an accident and did not accept the Land Rover was in a dangerous condition or that it could have caused the deaths of his children. After hearing all the evidence, the jury convicted him of four charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Miss Narwal said: "Members of the public at the scene of the accident acted very bravely and some of them dived into the river to try and rescue the trapped children. We would like to thank them for giving evidence and reliving the tragic events of that day. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the children who died."

Ends

  1. In the Land Rover on the day of the accident were Mr Gresham, his partner Sara Bolland, and their children: Willow (two), Angel (four), Thor (six), Keavy (eight), Amber (10), Liam (12), and Star (13).
  2. The accident happened on the A153 at Tattershall Bridge. The Land Rover was completely submerged in the River Whitham.
  3. The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years.
  4. For further information contact the CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.
  5. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  6. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  7. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. The Protocol is published on our website at: