Should charges be laid?Consider this scenario:
A man is driving his car and parks it on a hill and stretches his legs. But he didn’t put the handbrake on and the car rolls back and kills your toddler as he was crossing the road. As a parent of this toddler, do you think this man should be charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death?
The reason I ask this is because a similar event recently occurred. I`ll call it scenario two.
Mr Macwan, who was driving got out of the Toyota Hiace van to stretch his legs when the vehicle suddenly rolled backwards and plunged into Lake Dunstan. The adults and an 11-year-old escaped but 3-year-old Aarush did not.That three-year-old was the driver’s son. It’s tragic, and killing your own son in this way must be a life sentence in itself. The story goes on.
The same day police charged him with careless driving causing death. He is due to appear in the Alexandra District Court on Wednesday.Having to appear in court, charged with accidentally killing your son, on the same week as dealing with your son’s death and arranging and attending that son’s funeral must be tragic.
Some have called for police to show compassion on a man who already has a “life sentence” and not charge this man. Essentially, what they are calling for is for police to decide whether this man should get a criminal conviction for breaking the law – but base that decision solely on matters outside the law.
But convictions are for the courts to decide, considering matters within the law. Others have said charge, but wait until the funeral is over before setting a court date. That illustrates compassion, while rightly giving the decision to the courts, not the police, as to whether this man should be convicted and sentenced.
To put the above two scenarios another way – if someone is likely to have broken the law, should the police decide whether he is a criminal by not prosecuting, or should the police let the courts decide if he should get a criminal conviction or not, by prosecuting?
And if they decide to prosecute, fair enough – but couldn’t they wait until after the funeral before setting a court date?
Based on the experiences of people I know personally, many of the "careless driving" charges are a consequence of a moment's inattention by a driver that resulted in a traffic accident. There wasn't really anything they could have done to prevent it in so far as they were distracted in some way by life, the universe and everything....and things went pear-shaped. Or they didn't get enough sleep and were driving when tired. At such times judgement is degraded and poor decisions are made. It's already too late.
One thing drivers could do when stopping the car is put the handbrake on, perhaps?
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