James Thacker persuades court to dismiss charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving



On 15th September 2018 the defendant, who was in the area of Hawkhurst, Kent, approached a junction intending to turn right onto the A268. During his manoeuvre he collided with a motorcyclist, who tragically died. The stretch of road was straight and unlit. The defendant was consistent in his account that he had only seen the headlights of a motor vehicle which was actually following the motorcycle and he judged he had a safe amount of time to perform his manoeuvre.

Analysis of expert evidence obtained in the case revealed that there was a real possibility of ‘masking’ in that the motor vehicle’s headlamps had masked the single headlamp of the motorcyclist giving the impression that only the motor vehicle was there to be seen. Despite this evidence, the Prosecution pursued a case against the defendant, a man of positive good character in his 70s.

Following a number of hearings, written and oral submissions, the learned judge at the Crown Court sitting at Maidstone, in a handed down judgment given on 5th June 2020, accepted James Thacker’s submissions; that the key issue was the ‘masking’ and whether the defendant ‘could have seen’ the motorcyclist. Therefore there was insufficient evidence for the defendant to be properly convicted and the charge was dismissed.

His Honour Judge Statman stated ‘I am satisfied in my own mind that what we are dealing with here is a tragic accident. The elements of the offence are simply not made out. It cannot be shown that the line has been crossed from accident to criminal culpability’.

James Thacker was instructed by John Dance, Associate at DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd., specialists in representing defendants in criminal proceedings concerning fatal or serious injury road traffic collisions.

Featured Counsel

James Thacker KC

Call 2001 | Silk 2024

Latest News & Events

Consultation Paper Seeks Reform of Limitation Law in Child Sexual Abuse Cases

The Ministry of Justice has released a consultation paper seeking views on potential reforms to the law of limitation in child sexual abuse cases in England and Wales. Under the current law, child sexual abuse cases in civil courts are subject to the same three-year…

The Dekagram: 20th May 2024

We trust that our readers have been enjoying the Spring sunshine; the team have spent their time in the sun wisely, reading cases so you don’t have to. First we noted a decision which considers the interplay between English and Scottish guardianship; secondly we read…

The Dekagram: 13th May 2024

Last week brought the news that the Australian airline Qantas and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have agreed to resolve their dispute over cancelled flights by asking the court to impose a $100 million fine, together with an undertaking by the airline to pay…

Subscribe to our mailing list

Deka Chambers: 5 Norwich Street, London EC4A 1DR

© Deka Chambers 2024


Portfolio Builder

Select the expertise that you would like to download or add to the portfolio

Download    Add to portfolio   
Title Type CV Email

Remove All


Click here to share this shortlist.
(It will expire after 30 days.)