The Evening Standard reports that a British Transport Police officer has been handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence after he hit and almost killed an up-and-coming young musician in London.
PC David Lynch was handed a suspended sentence by the Southwark Crown Court in addition to a number of other punishments, including his being banned from driving for 15 months, being ordered to retake his driving test, ordered to pay £1,000, subjected to a 7pm – 6am curfew for 3 months and instructed to undertake 240 hours’ community service. PC Lynch did not comment on the incident or the sentence.
The Southwark Crown Court handed this sentence to PC Lynch after he was convicted of dangerous driving as a result of hitting and almost killing a budding musician, Mr Joseph (“Pepe”) Belmonte, in Hackney. Mr Belmonte, 31, suffered horrific injuries in the crash, including injuries to his neck, spine and face. He also suffered a broken right arm and broken right fingers after being hit by PC Lynch’s police van. Mr Belmonte has to be placed in an induced coma for 9 days after the accident as his injuries were so severe.
PC Lynch was responding to an emergency call in March 2011 when the accident happened. He was driving at over 60 miles per hour through a 30 miles per hour zone in Hackney and lost control of his vehicle. He hit Mr Belmonte’s bicycle and the force of the accident threw Mr Belmonte across the police van’s bonnet and into an adjacent tree. Witnesses likened the incident to the tossing of a “ragdoll”.
The effect of the road traffic accident
Mr Belmonte stated through his personal injury solicitor that “I can’t really explain the effect it has had on my life. I am very depressed at the reality that I will never be the same person again.
“If the threat of a custodial sentence is what it takes to remind trained police officers on emergency calls that they take personal responsibility for their actions then it is a positive law that needs to stay in place.
“My primary concern now is to continue with my recovery and to continue with my music and film career.”
The accident has clearly had a significant effect upon Mr Belmonte’s life – a fact borne out by his mother’s statement yesterday that: “Physically, he will never be the same. Pepe was just a week away from launching his first album when he was hit. He has since spent 15 months recovering. It has had a huge impact on every area of his life.”
Mr Belmonte’s civil case for personal injury
As well as PC Lynch being convicted of a criminal offence, Mr Belmonte’s parents have also pursued a civil case for negligence against the British Transport Police. The case advanced would have been that PC Lynch had fallen below the standard of the reasonably careful driver in driving his police van and that this negligence had caused the accident and Mr Belmonte’s injuries. The British Transport Police admitted liability in this case last year.
Redmans Solicitors are road accident solicitors