The Tragic Verdict of Anthony Hilson and Victoria McClure

I have been following the case of Victoria McClure with interest, and I was dismayed by the CTC’s article in response to it (by Rhia Weston, here). It seems to me that the article shows a lack of joined-up thinking, and also a lack of empathy unbecoming of a campaigning organisation.

I sympathise with Rhia’s statement that ‘Fortunately, the jury did not agree with the defence barrister’s assertion that Mr Hilson was partially to blame for the collision. The defence claimed that Mr Hilson’s black, red and white cycling gear made him difficult to spot.’ Poor Mrs. McClure may have been driving dangerously* but only in so far as most people seem to drive dangerously these days, fiddling with Sat Navs, mobile phones and other gadgets. That these accidents don’t happen more frequently can be attributed to luck rather than judgment.

My principal objection is Rhia’s small minded statement that ‘McClure** will now almost certainly face a custodial sentence and we hope a long driving ban. Only then can we be confident that drivers like her won’t kill again.’*** Nothing will be served by a custodial sentence, except to destroy another family.

Consider the facts. Victoria McClure presents no risk to the public except when she’s driving a car whilst using Sat Nav. Logically therefore, is there any point in imprisoning her? Do you not think that she has already suffered enough? She has killed someone, and that will be on her conscience forever – the pain must be unimaginable and I hope that I never have to suffer it. Of course, the family of Mr. Hilson have my sympathies; but, unfortunately, neither sympathy nor a prison sentence will bring him back. Nothing will be served by tearing another family apart in this manner. In fact, if another family is torn apart then the guilt for this additional tragedy rests solely in the hands of those who called for the custodial sentence in the first place.

Victoria McClure will be banned from driving for two years. If you seriously believe she is such a risk that she should be consigned to prison then surely it would be more proportionate and sane to ban her from driving for an extended period (possibly permanently), but to hand down no prison sentence.

If the CTC really wants to make a difference then it shouldn’t be celebrating another family being broken up. It should be campaigning for safer Sat Nav, safer phones and safer car entertainment systems. The technology exists to lock these devices as soon as the vehicle starts moving, disabling the screen, and ensuring that a less than entirely attentive driver is spared these distractions. Anything else is putting the cart before the horse and demonstrating an abdication of rational thought.

*I was not in court, I am not in possession of all the facts, and therefore I am not going venture an opinion on whether the verdict was just or not.

**Rhia Weston is not the only writer to demonstrate her bias by using a title for those that she deems innocent and no title for those that she deems guilty.  To my mind, this is just bad manners – it is entirely possible to report the facts and give an opinion without being rude.

***Rhia Weston appears to have amended her position – she now has this to say “McClure will now almost certainly face a custodial sentence.  However, we think it much more important that she faces a long driving ban. Only then can we be confident that drivers like her won’t kill again.”  Changing ones mind, especially publicly, is always hard – and so I applaud her for her bravery in doing so.  Especially on so contentious a subject.

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