Dangerous driving

Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterIn court
Though the judge could not properly have acceded to the daughters wish that her
father should not be sent to prison at all, this was a very untypical case. The only
explanation for W.s conduct was that he was seriously unwell; his actions were
wholly explained by his illness which was undiagnosed and untreated, even
though he had sought treatment. The Court was wholly unpersuadedthat the sen-
tence had been unduly lenient.
R v WILLIAMS (ATTORNEY GENERALs Reference), [2022] 1 Cr App R(S) 11.
Dangerous driving
Repeat offender: Maximum term considerations
When a police off‌icer on mobile patrol sought to stop R.s car in November 2020
because his numberplate was obscured, R. drove off at speed prompting a chase
lasting 15 min through urban streets, at up to 60 mph, failing to give way at a junc-
tion and narrowly avoiding collision with on-coming vehicles. When f‌inally cornered
in a service yard R. twice reversed into the police car in a bid to escape before
running away on foot. When found in a nearby garden he was in possession of a
small quantity of cannabis and tested positive for cannabis in a roadside test. He
appeared to the off‌icer to be under the inf‌luence of drugs. He refused to provide
a blood specimen at the police station.
Aged in his mid-30s R.s prior convictions included an offence of dangerous
driving (also involving a high-speed chase trying to evade the police) for which he
had incurred a suspended sentence order in April 2014 with a ban for three
years and an order to take an extended retest. He had remained disqualif‌ied
because he had not taken the extended test. He had been convicted of driving
whilst disqualif‌ied (DWD) in March 2020. Following his guilty pleas in respect of
the November episode to dangerous driving, DWD, possession of cannabis,
failing to provide a specimen and no insurance R. was sentenced to 18 months
imprisonment for the dangerous driving, with shorter concurrent sentences for the
other offences, being further disqualif‌ied from driving for 33 months. His car
(which he had bought f‌ive years previously) was made subject to a deprivation
order. The judge described the crime as about as serious a piece of dangerous
driving as I can imagineand indicated that he would have imposed the
maximum sentence of two years after a contested trial.
On appeal against sentence it was submitted on R.s behalf that two years was
manifestly excessive, since the maximum permitted term is justif‌ied namely only in
exceptional circumstances. The Court of Appeal disagreed, reiterating that in
instances where a sentencer has limited headroomin light of the relatively low
maximum sentence the proper approach is to identify a broader band of conduct
which will represent the most serious offending within the ambit of the offence.
That principle had been adopted in respect of the offence of causing serious
injury by dangerous driving (maximum sentence: f‌ive years) and must apply to the
offence of dangerous driving too. R.s driving had fallen well within the band of
In court 263

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