Recent Judicial Decisions

Date01 September 2003
Published date01 September 2003
Subject MatterRecent Judicial Decisions
Legal Correspondent
Death by Dangerous Driving
R v Marchant and Muntz Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Death by dangerous driving; dangerous condition of
agricultural vehicle; vehicle authorised by Secretary of
State for use on road; driver operating vehicle on road in
accordance with recommended practice; prosecution of
driver or employer
The statutes
Section 1 of the Road Traff‌ic Act 1988 as substituted by s. 1 of
the Road Traff‌ic Act 1991 states:
A person who causes the death of another by driving a
mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road . . . is
guilty of an offence.
‘Dangerous driving’ is def‌ined in s. 2A as:
(1) For the purposes of Section 1 . . . above a person is to be
regarded as driving dangerously if (and subject to subsection
(2) below), only if:
(a) the way he drives falls far below what would be expected
of a competent and careful driver, and
(b) it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that
driving in that way would be dangerous.
(2) A person is also to be regarded as driving dangerously
. . . if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver
that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dang-
(3) In subsections (1) and (2) above dangerous refers to
danger either of injury to any person or of serious damage to
property; and in determining for the purposes of those
subsections what would be expected of or obvious to a
competent and careful driver in a particular case, regard shall
be had not only to the circumstances which he could be
328 The Police Journal, Volume 76 (2003)
expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to
have been within the knowledge of the accused.
(4) In determining for the purposes of subsection (2) above
the state of a vehicle regard may be had to anything attached
to or carried on or in it and to the manner in which it is
attached or carried.
Section 40A of the Road Traff‌ic Act 1988 as amended by the
1991 Act states:
A person is guilty of an offence if he used, or causes or
permits another to use, a motor vehicle on a road when –
(a) the condition of the motor vehicle . . . of its accessories or
(d) . . . is such that the motor vehicle or trailer involves a
danger of injury to any person.
The facts
The charges of causing death by dangerous driving and procur-
ing such offence arose from an incident which took place on 15
August 2000 on a road between two areas of a farm on which Mr
Marchant worked. The owner of the farm, Mr Muntz, employed
Mr Marchant as a tractor driver. On the relevant day Mr
Marchant was driving a loading machine along a lane, a public
road, towards the farm at Hockley Heath in Warwickshire. The
loading machine had a boom and grab attached to its front which
consisted of a row of six tynes on the lower element of the grab
pointing forwards, and a row of three tynes on the upper element
pointing downwards. The tynes are one metre long and are
designed to transport bales of straw or hay. The farm entrance
was on the left of the road and at the relevant time Mr Marchant
could not turn the machine into the farm because a van was
waiting to emerge from the farm onto the lane. Mr Marchant
stopped the machine and waited for an opportunity to turn into
the farm entrance.
In the opposite direction along the lane a motorcycle was
being driven by Mr Fletcher. Mr Fletcher had just overtaken a
line of traff‌ic but had returned to the correct side of the road. As
Mr Fletcher rounded a left-hand bend he crossed from the correct
side of the road and collided with the nearside tyne of the lower
element of the machine driven by Mr Marchant. It seems that Mr
Fletcher was attempting to avoid a collision by steering the
motorcycle along the nearside of the loading machine. Trag-
ically, as a result of the collision Mr Fletcher died from his
The Police Journal, Volume 76 (2003) 329

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