Families of victims killed by lorry driver call for him to be banned from HGVs for life

The families of Eilidh Cairns and Nora Gutman have called for HGV driver Joao Lopes to be banned from driving for life.

For causing death while driving without his prescription glasses Lopes received only a six-year driving ban and four years in prison.

For falsifying his tachograph he received a one-year jail term to be served concurrently (ie, only four years in total).

The court heard that in the period between Lopes' two fatal crashes, he was also involved in numerous minor collisions, damaging property and narrowly avoiding causing serious injury to other road users.

Martin Porter QC details these crashes on his blog:

  1. In July 2009 [Lopes] drove into the rear of another vehicle causing £3,000 worth of damage.
  2. In August 2010 he was involved in a collision though he disputes this was his fault and the Judge therefore rightly disregarded it.
  3. In March 2011 he collided with a parked motor vehicle and failed to stop, as a consequence of which he was dismissed by his then employer. 
  4. In June 2011, shortly before he killed Ms Gutmann, he attempted to overtake a minicab so closely that he removed the wing mirror.

In a joint press release, the families of Eilidh Cairns (above right) and Nora Gutmann (above left) said:

"The failure on the part of authorities to properly protect cyclists and pedestrians on our streets, or to treat these deaths as real crime, is a cause for shame not pride.

"We're calling for the judge at Isleworth Crown Court to permanently revoke the license of Joao Lopes, who has killed not one but two Londoners."

The London Cycling Campaign is calling for hauliers and drivers to be made more responsible in the courts as part our of long-running No More Lethal Lorries campaign.

Replies

  • By Dave H at 11:28pm 3 August 2012

The Judge is not the person who revokes a vocational licence - it is the Traffic Commissioner, and this may make a second line to take.  Without a vocational; licence he cannot drive HGV's (legally at least - remember Denis Putz had a string of convictions for driving without an HGV licence).

I'd also want to know which 2 operators - also licenced to maintain suitable standards for the operation of their trucks, and be of good repute - were so inefficient or lax as to offer Joao Lopes work, driving their trucks.  It is a very basic detail but without a company providing the truck and letting a dangerous driver loose at the wheel we might have avoided some of these deaths

The Commissioners can revoke or curtail operators licences where they believe those operators are not performing with a due diligence to employ qualified and safe drivers.  I gather that the employers of Denis Putz have made some substantial changes in the way they manage their drivers, and suspect that the Traffic Commissioner may have called them in to discuss matters.  

We have a new Comissioner for SE & Metropolitan Area, and a note in the latest Commissioners Annual Report that they are concerned to see that the required driver training (35 hours over 5 years) is not being delivered at the necessary rate.  Let's engage with the regulator. 

 

This post was edited by Dave H at 11:32pm 3 August 2012.

 

I think it's a scandal that in the UK you can kill with a vehicle with impunity, effectively not being treated in the same way as someone who kills through other forms of negligence.

If you kill someone due to your bad driving (and it is proven to be your fault in a court of law) then you are a murderer. If there are mitigating circumstances, any death should and must be treated, at the very least, as manslaughter.

 

If you're drunk in charge of a vehicle and you kill someone then you are a murderer.

If you drive a vehicle that is not safe and you kill someone then you are a murderer.

If you drive badly because you're stressed or upset and you kill someone then you are a murderer.

If you drive when you are medically unfit to do so (eg: by driving without prescription glasses) then you are a murderer.

Idiot motorists should always be held accountable for their actions and should not be able to escape time and time again with a proverbial slap on the wrist, a fine of some sort or a brief period of incarceration.

 

It's high time that we all (including the LCC) started using the right language and naming the crime for what it is rather than using phrases like 'causing death while driving' which minimise the result of the driver's actions. In my opinion the word we should be using consistently is murderer.

If this is a bit offensive or difficult to deal with for people like Joao Lopes then so be it. Due to his actions Eilidh Cairns and Nora Gutman are dead.

 

 

 

This post was edited by cloudwalker_3 at 3:14am 6 August 2012.

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