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Gearbox
Hi All, I have received a summons from the Chief Constable South Wales Police stating that I am to appear in court charged with knocking down someone's garden wall and failing to stop, I am also charged with failing to report the "accident" and "Driving Without Due care and attention" The first I knew of this was an enquiry at my place of work (I have changed jobs and left this workplace now) as to who was driving the lorry at that time. The summons I have just states that I was driving "A delivery truck/van index not known"
The delivery I was making is to a difficult area and requires me to back out of a side street, I have a Drivers Assistant who watched me reverse and is prepared to go to court as my witness that he watched me back all the way.
The company I was working for supplied my details and I was visited by the police to make find out what had happened, I explained that I hadn't reported an accident because I hadn't had one, the police left after telling me that I would probably not hear any more about this........
That is until the summons arrived, from what the police said one of the neighbours has stated that he saw the lorry knock the corner off the garden wall. We have the feeling this is a story cooked up for insurance purposes etc.
I am trying to get the rear bumper height for the lorry as the wall was only 15" high and I think the bumper would have cleared this, I cannot get access to the lorry myself as it is out all day every day. My drivers assistant still works there and is going to photograph the rear of the lorry for me.

Where do I stand, is it just one persons word against another?
Is there anything I can do, do I just turn up on the day and plead not guilty and state my reasons, do I need a solicitor?
I have only held my lorry license for 6 months and would lose it (along with my job) if given points etc

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Gearbox
Logician
It is not one person's word against another as you have a witness who is prepared to give evidence for you in court. A photograph of the rear of the lorry you were driving will certainly assist, especially if the heights do not match. While a solicitor will certainly be very useful in knowing all the procedures in court and have experiencve in cross-examination, there is no reason you should not do this yourself. You will get the evidence the prosecution intend to present a few days prior to the trial and you need to go through this in detail, ready to ask the right questions on the day. If it is just a try-on for insurance it should become obvious at the trial.
johnjo42
QUOTE (Logician @ Thu, 13 Jun 2013 - 18:02) *
You will get the evidence the prosecution intend to present a few days prior to the trial and you need to go through this in detail, ready to ask the right questions on the day.

It's not often that I disagree with Logician but this is not correct. There's no point in getting the papers a few days before the trial. You want them much earlier than that.

You should contact the CPS and ask for copies of the prosecution statements immediately. At one time they were supplied in advance but the tendency now is for them to produce them at the initial Court hearing (not just before the trial). If they don't produce them you should refuse to enter a plea at the first hearing despite any pressure put on you. The Court will order the CPS to produce them (called primary disclosure).

Once you have seen the papers you will see how strong or otherwise the case is and can decide on plea.
In a way your assistant is your weakest link because if you were reversing a truck unaided it is possible that you could have hit the wall and been unaware of it.
But unless the houseowner has deliberately made up the case against you, the presence of someone watching and helping you to reverse doesn't make much sense
JJ
Ms Demeanor
Don't go with the conspiracy theory.. You will struggle if someone without a vested interested is willing to come to court and give evidence to suggest this did happen. You have a defence to fail to stop and report if you can get the court to accept that you did not appreciate there had been a bump. I think your driver's mate is helpful if he says he was not aware of any bump either. So I agree with Logician re your witness being helpful. I don't agree with his suggestion that you should be unrepresented. You get 5-10 points if convicted and it sounds like you have a lot to lose. You would have to cross examine witnesses at court and explain the law and the burden of proof to the magistrates to stand a chance of winning at trial. The prosecution will be represented by a lawyer.

But I'm bound to say that ....
Gearbox
Hi All and thanks for the advice so far.
I am 100% certain that this accident didn't happen, I was guided out all the way by my assistant and completed the manouvre in one go, if I had hit the wall in question I would have had to pull forwards and straighten up and this did not happen.
I am pursuing the technical side as the wall was only 15" high (5 courses of brick) and I am sure the bumper is 18" high (at its lowest point), this and the fact that I would have had to reverse up the kerb would have made the bumper even higher and contact could not have occurred.
I can draw this all to scale to show this.
I will employ a solicitor to represent me in court, can I claim costs if proved not guilty?
The Rookie
5 courses plus mortar is 16", if you're rear overhang is longer than the pavement is wide, then add the kerb height (more than 2" for sure, usually nearer 4") then you could have hit it.
Fleagle
From my reading of the two posts by Gearbox, the Driver's Assistant acted as Banksman?

Some posters seem to have missed this sad.gif .
StuartBu
QUOTE (Fleagle @ Sat, 15 Jun 2013 - 00:12) *
From my reading of the two posts by Gearbox, the Driver's Assistant acted as Banksman?

Some posters seem to have missed this sad.gif .


That's how I read it as well so he is hardly likely to have missed the lorry hitting the wall and perhaps mounting the pavement in order to do so...assuming he was in the usual position of being at the rear of the lorry to one side or the other .
The Rookie
I thought it was flaming obvious what the 'assistant' was doing!
johnjo42
If you win your case you are entitled to a Defendant's costs order normally from central funds. Unfortunately the government changed the rules last year and whereas you could previously recover most of your actual costs (the amount depended on how expensive a lawyer you chose) now the amount is limited to legal aid rates. So unless you use a solicitor who will charge you legal aid rates, you will be out of pocket come what may.
This rule is very unfair but part of the government's thinking was that people don't have to be legally represented. Given that the CPS ALWAYS have a lawyer this is somewhat rich.

As for your "banksman" there only seem to be 3 possibilities:

1. The accident didn't happen at all and the householder is blaming you for damage caused either earlier or later (assuming that there was damage in the first place) This "conspiracy theory" seems unlikely.

2. You did damage the wall and your mate wasn't doing his job properly (if at all) so he didn't see what happened.

3. You did damage the wall, your mate saw it happen and is lying about it now.

All will come clear when you see the witness statements.

And yes, I also do recommend that you are legally represented (but he would say that wouldn't he!)

JJ
StuartBu
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Sat, 15 Jun 2013 - 08:09) *
I thought it was flaming obvious what the 'assistant' was doing!


I'm not so sure it was "flaming obvious" What I can see ( read) are these comments by the OP but I suppose it depends on what can be added on by the readers imagination of what happened .

QUOTE
The delivery I was making is to a difficult area and requires me to back out of a side street, I have a Drivers Assistant who watched me reverse and is prepared to go to court as my witness that he watched me back all the way.


QUOTE
I was guided out all the way by my assistant and completed the manouvre in one go, if I had hit the wall in question I would have had to pull forwards and straighten up and this did not happen.
Gearbox
I have contacted the CPS this afternoon and will hopefully have there prosecution statements by the beginning of next week, the lorry is being measured tomorrow for the height of the rear bumper, calculations from the photographs are showing it as being 21.5 inches. You are correct, my drivers assistant is operating as a banksman, and was initially at the front of the lorry to ensure I cleared parked cars, he then moved to the rear of the lorry as I reversed out into the road where the wall is. tomorrow I will measure the road and pavement etc.

When I rang the CPS they were talking about a pre court meeting, and had I had it yet, I take it this happens before going in front of the magistrates, are they likely to drop this if presented with cast iron facts?

many thanks
Gearbox
Gearbox
Well I finally have the package from the CPS, there are 3 prosecution witnesses one simply states that the wall was knocked down whilst he was at work. the other 2 firmly name the Company by the badgeing on the side of the lorry, however, the colour names doesnt match and one states that the wall was knocked down whilst reversing in to the lane and the other says it was pulling in forwards! Also one states that the lorry is articulated when it is a rigid curtain sider, both witnesses were at opposite side of the lorry and I believe from their position they would have been unable to see if the lorry made contact or not. It seems I have plenty of discrepancies to work with. I also visited the site and have viewed the damage etc, I'm just waiting for the lorry dimensions now and I can put something together to go and see the solicitor.

there is no doubt that this is a difficult junction and the residents have taken to parking awkwardly to cause problems, they are also videoing lorries coming and going.
desde
Just a suggestion: Presumably the owner of the wall has made a claim for the damage to the employer, who will have passed it on to the vehicle insurers. Interesting to find out if the insurers have accepted liability for the damage without reference to the driver (he hasn't mentioned it).
Most policies, even commercial vehicle insurance, will have legal expenses cover for the defence of a criminal prosecution for motoring offences. This will be limited. I would suggest an urgent enquiry is made to the insurance company, as there is often a time limit for making this sort of claim.
desde
QUOTE (johnjo42 @ Sat, 15 Jun 2013 - 08:57) *
1. The accident didn't happen at all and the householder is blaming you for damage caused either earlier or later (assuming that there was damage in the first place) This "conspiracy theory" seems unlikely.


This scenario is not so unlikely.
What sort of wall? presumably single brick laid stretcher bond with or without piers
How old? could the mortar be deteriorating causing the wall to be unstable
If newish how competent was the builder, or was it DIY, (how good was the mortar?)
As the wall appears to be in a vulnerable spot has it been hit on previous occasions?
Do HGVs often get close to the wall causing it to vibrate?

If you can show the wall might have been unstable, your defence would be that whilst not hitting the wall the vibration from your lorry might have caused it to fall as you drove away. Neither you nor your banksman would have known, and witnesses (notoriously unreliable) would have the impression you had caused the fall, and therefore "saw" you hit it.
Gan
My parents' wall was forever getting knocked down by reversing drivers that hit the gatepost and afterward drove away
The problem had been made worse after resurfacing that had raised the road surface almost level with the pavement

My father solved the problem by moving the wall back a foot and erecting a crash barrier on the original building line
He constructed it from old RSJs and concreted it into the ground.

He deliberately didn't paint it so it looked ugly

Most drivers took considerably more care afterward
Those that didn't suffered more than a scuffed bumper and he left their debris as an effective warning to others
Gearbox
Many thanks all, I have now studied the statements and have found the following, the accusation is that we knocked the wall down entering, not leaving as first thought. This means that one of the witness statements cannot be my vehicle as we have photographic evidence that we entered by driving in forwards (the photograph is timed and dated and shows the vehicle parked in the car park and you cannot turn round in the car park, hence the reverse out) Incidentally there is another lorry parked behind me who did reverse in!
The other statement say we were an articulated lorry when we clearly arn't!

Do you think this will be enough doubt?
johnjo42
I'm afraid that this is likely to be one of those difficult cases which turns on how the various witnesses, including you and your colleague give evidence as the Magistrates will have to find the facts. Discrepancies like the type of lorry are unlikely to be crucial. Even if they find that you did knock down the wall they may accept that you didn't know so you could be found guilty of careless driving but not guilty of failing to stop and report.

It is possible that the CPS might agree to withdraw the failure to stop and report charges if you pleaded guilty to the careless driving charge.

There are several cases on this area of law and your solicitor should know them all.
JJ
StuartBu
I'm surprised the neighbours havent turned up a video !!
Gearbox
Hi all, well I took your advice and got myself a solicitor, he believes we can beat this however, it will be expensive! (I some how guessed it would be).
We went to the pre court hearing and advised them we were pleasing not guilty and requested a trial date (1/2 day duration).
Today I received notification of a court date in September but suprise suprise there is now only one charge on the sheet, that is driving without due care and attention. It would appear that they have dropped the failing to stop and failing to report.
We believe that this is more defendable as we have our witness now who demonstrates we showed care and attention when entering and leaving the lane.
Do you think this is more defendable?

I am also appalled that these fabricated charges are going to cost me a great deal of money to defend, and should I be succesful I am told I can claim nothing back at all! There is something seriously wrong with this system when false accusations that could cost me my job, income and home can be made with no penalty! I thank god that I have parents that are willing to assist me financially, otherwise I would be up s**t creek without a paddle mad.gif
crashdetective
Have you taken that same vehicle back to the locus to see if its even possible?
RoamingRomeo
QUOTE (johnjo42 @ Sat, 15 Jun 2013 - 08:57) *
If you win your case you are entitled to a Defendant's costs order normally from central funds. Unfortunately the government changed the rules last year and whereas you could previously recover most of your actual costs (the amount depended on how expensive a lawyer you chose) now the amount is limited to legal aid rates. So unless you use a solicitor who will charge you legal aid rates, you will be out of pocket come what may.


QUOTE (Gearbox @ Wed, 24 Jul 2013 - 21:11) *
I am also appalled that these fabricated charges are going to cost me a great deal of money to defend, and should I be succesful I am told I can claim nothing back at all!

Who is it who told you this, Gearbox? They've misled you - the quote from johnjo42 above represents the real position.
Gearbox
Hi RoamingRomeo, it was the solicitor representing me who told me this at our first meeting..... I will raise this issue again.
He did say that it changed last october and that we could only claim defence costs back if there was a procedural error, but he couldn't see one!
crashdetective
I think this is something misconstrued from the Jackson reforms... Civil law issues in personal injury, not criminal matters.
Gearbox
Hi Crash Detective, yes we have and it is possible to just catch the very tip of the wall, however, it is not feasible as you would have to have a 10 metre long lorry sideways on in a 5.4 metre wide road, and completely out of alignment with the road you are trying to pull into, so possible, but highly unlikely!
johnjo42
I can assure you that a successful Defendant who is privately funded can still obtain a Defendant's costs order. I got one today after a trial on a drink/driving matter. But we can only recover Legal Aid rates.
JJ
Gearbox
Thanks Johnjo42 and others, I will be raising this issue at my next meeting, your advice is much appreciated.
martinbiz
In your shoes I think I'd be worried that my solicitor has not even started with the meat yet and he is already spurting incorrect information
sgtdixie
QUOTE
there is now only one charge on the sheet, that is driving without due care and attention. It would appear that they have dropped the failing to stop and failing to report.


Where minor collisions involve goods vehicles, certainly larger ones, this happens quite a lot. They appear to have accepted that even if it was you, given your vehicle and minor nature of the impact it is likely you may not have known. Hence dropping these 2 offences. Don't read too much into it.
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