Sunday, 19 February 2017

Reckless Driver

Image result for glasgow bin lorry crash

Harry Clarke, the driver of the Glasgow bin lorry that killed six people, has pleaded guilty to taking his private car onto the public highway, despite knowing he was unfit to drive.

Initially, Clarke lied about the incident and claimed that he had only moved his car within a private car park, but witnesses saw him drive the car into Glasgow's Buchanan Street and presumably this evidence led to Clark's guilty plea.  

No one was killed or injured in the latest incident, but if you ask me Clarke deserves s custodial sentence to serve as a warning to drivers who behave in such a reckless fashion.

Bin lorry crash driver Harry Clarke admits reckless driving charge

BBC Glasgow & West Scotland

Image copyright - SPINDRIFT Image caption - Harry Clarke was appearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court

The driver of the bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow killing six people has admitted culpable and reckless driving in a separate incident.

Harry Clarke, 60, had his licence withdrawn for medical reasons in the months following the bin lorry crash on 22 December 2014.

He pleaded guilty to driving a car nine months later, despite knowing he was unfit to drive.

Clarke was not prosecuted over the bin lorry crash.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday, Clarke admitted driving a car on 20 September 2015 in the knowledge that he had suffered a loss of consciousness while at the wheel of a moving refuse collection vehicle the previous December.

The charge stated he also knew he had suffered a loss of consciousness or episode of altered awareness while at the wheel of a stationary bus on 7 April 2010.

He will be sentenced at a later date.
Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Erin McQuade, Jacqueline Morton, Stephenie Tait and Gillian Ewing were killed in the crash

Clarke's licence had been revoked for 12 months on 27 June 2015 and the charge stated that he knew or ought to have known that he was unfit to drive, and that there was a risk he might lose consciousness or suffer an episode of altered awareness while driving.

Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan told Glasgow Sheriff Court that Clarke's neighbours had seen him in the car park outside his house then saw him get into his white Corsa.

He said: "After watching for between 30 seconds and two minutes, both witnesses saw the accused enter into the driver's seat, switch on the exterior lights and drive out of the car park onto Buchanan Street."

He said Clarke returned about two hours later at about 22:15.

'Back and forward'

He added: "He went round to either the passenger door or boot and retrieved some carrier bags from the car before leaving the car and walking to his home address."

Two days later when Clarke was cautioned and charged by police he replied: "I have never been out on a public road. I have just moved the car in the private car park."

The court was also told Clarke later phoned his insurance company and told them his licence was revoked in June "on medical grounds".

He told them about the allegation of driving and said "I do move it but it's private property so I just moved it back and forward just to kind of keep the wheels turning a wee bit, I said, but certainly I wasn't out driving in the road."

In relation to the 2014 bin lorry crash, the Crown Office insisted there was insufficient evidence to raise criminal proceedings against Clarke.

However, in a rare legal move, relatives of three crash victims sought permission from senior judges to bring charges against him in a private prosecution.

Despite that, judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh ruled in November last year that the family could not launch a private prosecution.

Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, 68 and 69, and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, and Gillian Ewing, 52, died in the incident.

The subsequent fatal accident inquiry heard Clarke had a history of health issues but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.

It also emerged that Clarke had previously blacked out while working as a bus driver but failed to disclose it when he became a bin lorry driver with Glasgow City Council.

Bin Lorry Crash (18/03/16)

The latest twist in the Glasgow bin lorry crash that the driver of the vehicle, Harry Clark, has now been charged with 'dangerous driving' after continuing to drive a car, despite knowing that his licence had been revoked in the wake of the accident which claimed six innocent lives.

The story is reported here in The Herald, but as was said at the Fatal Accident Inquiry this was really an accident waiting to happen and the families of those injured and killed must feel even more aggrieved at this latest revelation.

Glasgow bin lorry crash driver accused of motoring offences

Harry Clarke, 59, allegedly drove a car dangerously on September 20, 2015 knowing he had had two previous medical incidents.

THE driver of the bin lorry that careered into and killed six people days before Christmas has appeared in court charged with dangerous driving.

Harry Clarke, 59, allegedly drove a car dangerously on September 20, 2015 knowing he had had two previous medical incidents.

He faces an alternative charge of culpably and recklessly driving the vehicle on that date.

He is also accused of committing fraud between June and September 2015 by pretending to an insurance company that he had a driving licence when it had been revoked.

Bin Lorry Crash (08/12/15)

The Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the Glasgow bin lorry crash concluded, to no one's surprise, that this terrible tragedy could have been avoided if the driver, Harry Clarke, had not repeatedly lied about his medical history.

The BBC reports on the inquiry reports and the recommendations made by Sheriff John Beckett although what I can't understand is why this kind of behaviour, which puts public safety at such obvious risk, does not become a serious criminal offence.

Harry Clarke has been named and shamed, and rightly so, but Glasgow City Council, First Bus and Scotland's Crown Prosecution Service should all take a long hard look at themselves if you ask me.

Glasgow City Council and First Bus for their lax (or non-existent) procedures in checking references and the Crown Prosecution Service for its insistence on applying the law in a very narrow manner - to the detriment of the victims and their families.


Glasgow bin lorry crash: Tragedy avoidable if Harry Clarke told the truth

BBC Glasgow & West Scotland

Image copyright PA

An inquiry into the Glasgow bin lorry crash has found the tragedy could have been avoided if the driver had not lied about his history of blackouts.

Harry Clarke, 58, was unconscious when the lorry veered out of control on 22 December 2014, killing six people.

The inquiry report states that he "repeatedly lied in order to gain and retain jobs and licences".

It found eight reasonable precautions that could have prevented the crash. All relate to his hidden medical past.

The fatal accident inquiry (FAI) at Glasgow Sheriff Court, before Sheriff John Beckett, examined the circumstances of the tragedy.

'Useful outcome'

In his report, Sheriff Becket concluded: "The most effective measure to prevent such an occurrence would be to seek to avoid drivers becoming incapacitated at the wheel.

"Responsibility in that regard lies with drivers themselves and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

"It may well be that the single most useful outcome of this inquiry would be to raise awareness of the dangers involved in driving if subject to a medical condition which could cause the driver to lose control of a vehicle."

David Wilson, of Digby Brown Solicitors, which represents the bereaved Morton family, said it was important that lessons were learned from the tragedy.

Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Erin McQuade, Jacqueline Morton, Stephenie Tait and Gillian Ewing were killed in the crash

He told the BBC: "Harry Clarke isn't evil, he just did stupid things in order to keep his licence.

"But he will not be unique. There have been other accidents we are aware of where people have died in similar circumstances.

"It's really important to the families that this type of accident does not happen again."

During evidence at the inquiry, it emerged that Mr Clarke had suffered an episode of neurocardiogenic syncope.

He passed out at the wheel while the bin lorry was on Queen Street in Glasgow city centre, just days before Christmas.

Just 19 seconds later, the vehicle came to rest against the Millennium Hotel in George Square, leaving six people dead and 17 injured.

Those killed in the crash were Erin McQuade, 18, her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, from Dumbarton, Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh.

After hearing five weeks of evidence earlier this year, Sheriff Beckett issued a determination which identifies eight reasonable precautions which could have prevented the tragedy.

All relate to an earlier blackout Mr Clarke experienced at the wheel of a bus on 7 April 2010 and his subsequent failure to fully disclose his medical history.

What have we learned?

Sheriff Beckett's determination is critical in particular of driver Harry Clarke, stating outright that the crash might have been avoided had he not lied about his medical history.

But there are also implications for Glasgow City Council and potentially all local authorities; for doctors and GPs; and for the DVLA and driver licensing right across the UK. It includes appeals to government ministers and could see changes to the law.

As well as eight "reasonable precautions" which could have prevented the crash - all relating to Mr Clarke's health - the sheriff outlined 19 recommendations which could reduce the chances of such an incident recurring in future.

Read more from BBC Scotland reporter Philip Sim, who covered the inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court

Sheriff Beckett said Mr Clarke could have "told the whole truth" to his doctors about this incident, "refrained from continuing to drive buses" and provided "true and accurate information about his medical history" in later health questionnaires and assessments.

Other precautions relate to doctors advising Mr Clarke to notify the DVLA and clarifying the circumstances of his blackout "before concluding that he had suffered a simple faint".

A final precaution would have been for his then employer, bus firm First Glasgow, to have "provided a full, accurate and fair employment reference to Glasgow City Council".

The inquiry heard that the council was not made aware that Mr Clarke faced disciplinary procedures at First Bus, related to repeated sick leave, when he left First Bus.

Image copyright PAImage caption - Harry Clarke was unconscious at the wheel when the bin lorry went out of control, killing six people

Sheriff Beckett also made 19 recommendations which covered possible legislative changes, disclosure of medical information, the DVLA, Glasgow City Council and local authorities in general.

One of the most significant is for the UK transport secretary to look at whether doctors should be given greater freedom, or an obligation, to report fitness to drive concerns directly to the DVLA.

There is also a call for the transport secretary to consult on how best to ensure that the DVLA has the proper information to make fitness to drive licensing decisions.

Sheriff Beckett said part of this should consider increasing the penalties and altering the method of prosecution for non-disclosure.

DVLA call

His report also calls on the DVLA to provide greater clarity and guidance on how people who suffer losses of consciousness should be treated in respect of fitness to drive.

He also recommends the DVLA should "change its policy" so relevant information on fitness to drive, from third parties such as the police, could be investigated.

Sheriff Beckett also said the agency should "redouble its efforts to raise awareness of the implications of medical conditions for fitness to drive".

A DVLA spokesman said: "We are carefully considering the recommendations in the report."

In the aftermath of the crash, the Crown Office said that no-one would face prosecution - a decision that was criticised by some of the bereaved families.

Following publication of the inquiry report, the Crown Office said: "There are no findings in the determination that undermine the decisions not to prosecute the driver.

"There was no finding that the driver knew or ought to have known that he was unfit to drive."

The statement concluded: "We note the sheriff's findings on the driver's motivation to retain or gain employment.

"It is important to note the sheriff was considering evidence at an FAI where a lesser standard of proof is required and where more relaxed rules of evidence apply.

"A criminal prosecution requires sufficient evidence to the much higher standard beyond reasonable doubt."