I have been following a case in the media for some time now.
On 24 June 2016, Lance Robinson aged 28, was driving along a road up near Hamilton in the North Island. He was driving a high performance Nissan Skyline and he is suspected of driving at well over the speed limit (suggestions are about 150kmh). He lost control of his car and went over the centre-line, subsequently crashing head-on with a van travelling the other way.
The van driver did survive the crash but was badly injured and his van one assumes was totally wrecked. The media reports have not detailed whether his financial losses were covered by insurance, nor has it been reported to what extent he has recovered from his injuries. (It is possible that news media in the North Island has covered this story in more depth).
Unfortunately Lance Robinson while driving, had three passengers in his car, and in his care, and they all died. So that was him as the driver and all three passengers, dead. Tests later showed he had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system and slight traces of methamphetamine and other drugs. (would you call that “well pissed”, or just “as-drunk-as-a-skunk” ?)
Now obviously this is a tragedy indeed, especially for the families, friends and greater whanau of all of those involved.
But it seems to me that a grave injustice has been done by our legal system.
Perhaps the coppers and their mates at the Crown Prosecuter’s Office were just having a bad hair day, and feeling all sour-faced that they couldn’t bust Lance Robinson for speeding, drugged and dangerous driving leading to the injury and death of his passengers (because Lance being dead, effectively, legally, he “got-away-with-it”).
Anyway, in their infinite wisdom they have charged another younger man, who was in the general vicinity at the time. They even charged his front seat passenger with several alleged offences !
Dylan Cossey, aged 20, was driving his Honda Integra and Stephen Jones, 20, was his passenger.
Now just to be clear, there has not, certainly going by media reports, been even the slightest hint or suggestion that Dylan’s car actually bumped into the Nissan car which crashed. It is not even suggested that Dylan’s car even came close to bumping into the Nissan, requiring the Nissan driver to make a dangerous swerve, leading to a loss of control.
No, Dylan was simply driving along the same stretch of road at the same time. (I do not know that stretch of road, but assume it was dual lane, and that Dylan was in the left lane and Lance in the right lane).
Police allege Dylan Cossey was also speeding and engaging in a “race” with the Nissan that was being driven by Lance Robinson which later crashed into the van.
Yeah well it takes two to tango boyo, if the guy, Dylan was speeding and police have evidence, charge him with that.
Now as far as we know, the cars had no particular mechanical defects and were NOT fitted with experimental remote control devices.
LET US BE CLEAR. THE SPEED OF THE NISSAN WAS CONTROLLED BY LANCE ROBINSON’S FOOT ON HIS CAR’S ACCELERATOR PEDAL. If he went too fast and crashed and killed himself and 3 others and injured the van driver, that is 100% Lance Robinson’s fault. One, Hundred, Percent, Lance, Robinson’s, Fault !
Was Dylan Cossey unwise to enter into an un-official illegal race (if that is what he did). Yes certainly. Could he, should he, be charged with relevent offences, like exceeding the speed limit and racing. Certainly.
But charging someone else driving down the same road, with four counts of Manslaughter is at the very least “heavy handed” and to my, untrained legal eye, seems like a GROSS ABUSE OF LEGAL PROCESS !
Initially they even charged Dylan’s passenger, Stephen Jones, with failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
What drugs are these people on ? (The coppers and crown persecutors I mean !). He was the passenger for frack sake.
Much has been made lately of how Dylan ‘got off easy’, as being ultimately convicted by a jury of four counts of Manslaughter, he has been given the soft option of home detention for a year and community work.. He has been forbidden to drive for 7 years. The Crown Prosecutor wanted him jailed for a minimum of eight years. (I wouldn’t call that “heavy-handed” i’d call that absolutely obscene !).
To me that seems a terrribly harsh penalty for just driving down the road and NOT having a crash !
I am un-clear of the exact law regarding stopping at the scene of SOMEONE ELSE’s crash, to render assistance (where you were NOT a party to the crash itself). It’s my understanding that if you are INVOLVED in the crash you must stop and render assistance. “Render assistance” can mean to remain in your locked vehicle and phone or radio for help, this is what armoured security cash vans do. NZ Case law, from the 1980’s allows you to leave a crash scene without stopping, but ONLY if you have fears for your safety. The case involved back then was a street riot was going on, but one could be endangered by spilled fuel for example. If it was a large petrol tanker truck, perhaps driving on, about half a kilometre down the road and then calling in the crash from there !). In the 1980’s case, the authorities tried to get the driver for “hit-and-run”, but failed in court, as he had indeed called for assistance and made himself known to traffic authorities, ‘as soon as practicable’ afterwards, when he was a safe distance from the accident site.
Obviously we would expect most people to be civic minded and human enough as to stop and render what assistance they could at the scene of a crash. However without just stopping to rubber-neck and become a traffic hazard in themself.
Especially if a person DID NOT have proper first aid or rescue training, a person’s best way of helping at the scene of a crash, might be to drive on carefully past it, keeping well out of the way, to a place further along where one can get a good cell-phone signal or use of a landline phone at a house or petrol station etc and phone the emergency services from there.
There is no doubt about the tragic loss of life that the crash caused. Four youngish men are dead, one man was badly injured and his van buggered up, (and goodness knows if he’s had any joy from insurance and ACC). But, in my opinion, to charge the even younger Dylan Cossey with such serious offences seems like massive, well, “over-kill” on the part of our legal system.
One article re-prints the “question trail” which the jury in the trial had to consider.
Now a “question trail” is a common way, agreed to by all, the judge, the prosecution and the defence lawyers, as a way of helping a team of non-legal trained jurors to reach a safe and legal verdict, one way or the other.
Here is the question trail as printed in the Stuff online Fairfax newspaper site of 20 February 2018.
“…The jurors were asked:
Are you sure that Dylan Cossey was operating a motor vehicle on a road?
Are you sure that he was operating the motor vehicle in a race?
Are you sure that he intended to operate the motor vehicle in a race?
Are you sure that the race was not authorised by law?
Are you sure that Dylan Cossey caused the death of Lance Robinson by operating a motor vehicle in a race?
The jurors had to consider each of the other charges the pair are facing with the assistance of similar question trails. …”
Well I have concerns that the jury may have made an error in this case, as I think that they have erred with respect to that last question.
Being… “Are you sure that Dylan Cossey caused the death of Lance Robinson by operating a motor vehicle in a race?”
Listen get this through your heads, Dylan didn’t “cause the death”. Lance Robinson CAUSED HIS OWN DEATH by having his foot down hard on the accelerator pedal and keeping it there.
Dylan did NOT have a remote control making the accelerator of Lance’s car go faster. Dylan wasn’t reaching in through Lance’s car with a long piece of bent tree-branch pushing down on Lance’s accelerator for him.
Lance was pushing down on his own accelerator, he chose to do it, and he did it willingly and continuously until he died, because, he was either a full time idiot, or at the very least, was a wee bit of an idiot, having a bit of a silly moment at that particular point in time. (Mate, even the best of us, we’re only human. Sometimes we make mistakes).
Even *if* Dylan wanted to drive his car at a speed that was faster than the legal speed limit, Lance did not have to also drive at a fast speed.
(As I drive down the road at the legal speed limit myself, and other cars blast past me doing 30 km/h+ over. I hope none of them are as pissed as chooks, because if they later crash into a van further down the road, *I* might be charged with manslaughter too !) That really is how stupid, this recent court case has been.
Lance, AND LANCE ALONE decided on the speed his car would travel at. If he made bad decisions and went too fast for the conditions, that is Lance’s fault, NOT Dylan’s, (and that goes whether it is too fast because it’s wet, icy, or a gravel road etc).
I realise that Dylan Cossey and his passenger were both represented by fully qualified and competent lawyers in their court appearances. However I wonder if a different legal strategy could have been taken during their defence at trial, and if a different outcome, a better outcome for Dylan Cossey, might have been obtained ?
Here are links to the stories about the trial verdict and later, the subsequent sentencing. I will mention again that there might be more to this story that I haven’t heard, as Hamilton is in the North of the North Island, a long way from here in Christchurch.
My condolences go out to all of those that died in this tragic accident and to the van driver who suffered substantial injuries.
ADDITIONAL… after writing this blog article I came across another item in the media, dating from February 2018. It mentions several other cases where drivers of “other cars” were charged with offences related to the crash of a car that they were NOT driving.
UPDATED 25 May 2018… those plonkers up in Hamilton-land have appealed ! Yep that’s right, like Inquisitors grinning at a witch-burning ritual, the Crown Persecutor’s department are appealing the sentence handed out to the young man for simply driving fast along a road and NOT crashing into anyone ! The article linked to below contains mostly a re-hash of the story so far, apart from a few updated lines detailing that an appeal has been lodged against the sentence already handed down. What part of the facts don’t these highly paid public servants understand ? The other guy, Lance Robinson, was as drunk as a skunk, and on drugs. He and he alone pushed his accelerator to the floor, and kept it there until he was dead. He’s the phukk-wit, stop trying to make other people pay the price, because Lance chose to throw his own life away !