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R v Kimsey [1996] Crim LR 35

Causation - Death by dangerous driving.

Facts 

Kimsey (K) and Osbourne (O) were driving at high speeds in extremely close convoy. Whilst doing so, there was an accident in which O’s car clipped a verge and span out of control, collided with the side of K’s car and went into the path of oncoming traffic. K admitted engaging in a chase with O but not to trying to overtake just before the accident. Expert evidence that victim had lost control of the car before the collision. K applied for an extension of time to appeal against conviction and the sentence given.

Issues

In short, the legal issue here was deciding the cause of the accident which led to O’s death. The prosecution’s case was that the aggressive and dangerous driving had caused the accident by either trying to overtake her and cutting in early or, failing that, how closely K drove to O’s car throughout the chase. The defence submitted that the victim had made an unexpected swerve to the left which had inevitably caused the subsequent accident. The judge directed the jury that the dangerous driving did not have to be considered a ‘substantial’ cause of death but rather a cause of death, then this was sufficient to convict K.

Held 

The court applied the case of R v Hennigan and found that the direction of the use of the word substantial was sufficient. Application for leave to appeal was dismissed and K was sentenced to two years in prison and a four-year ban from driving. It was also argued that the penalty was too harsh in the circumstances. It was held on this point that an analysis of the aggravating and mitigating factors meant that the punishment was reasonable.


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