Just days before the second anniversary of a tragic collision, a pick-up driver from Bishops Itchington has finally been cleared of being responsible for the death of a motorcyclist.
And a judge at Warwick Crown Court apologised ‘on behalf of the whole system’ to blameless driver Scott Cox for the ordeal he has been through with the case hanging over him.
His vehicle had been impounded by the police for all that time, and he had faced increased insurance premiums as a result of the charge he was facing, the court had heard.
Mr Cox (31) of Poplar Road, Bishops Itchington, had pleaded not guilty to causing the death of 58-year-old Christopher Gooderham in June 2017 by careless driving.
His worrying ordeal finally ended when, in his absence, prosecutor Stuart Lody told the court that it was intended to offer no evidence against him.
Mr Lody explained that the charge arose out of a fatal road traffic collision on a particularly winding stretch of the B4451 between Southam and Deppers Bridge.
Prior to the collision Mr Gooderham, from Napton, had been riding his BMW motorbike ‘at considerably in excess of the speed limit.’
“He took a bend within the limit, but close to the white line, and appeared to be leaning over the line,” said Mr Lody.
Travelling in the opposite direction was Mr Cox, who was driving his Mitsubishi pick-up truck within the speed limit.
“Mr Cox steered onto the other side of the road to avoid a collision, just as the deceased also pulled back onto his side of the road, and a collision took place.”
And Mr Lody pointed out that the entire case against Mr Cox was founded on the evidence of a now-discredited police road traffic collision examiner.
“It came to my attention that he had been heavily criticised for the quality of his evidence by His Honour Judge Jackson, and a decision was taken by the CPS that he should never be instructed [as an expert witness] again.
“That expert had chosen to ignore the evidence of two witnesses driving behind Mr Cox of him being faced with a motorbike coming straight towards him. In fact, they say the crash was Mr Gooderham’s fault.
“The Crown decided it would be quite wrong to put a young man of good character to trial when it seems he was driving quite properly,” added Mr Lody.
Entering a not guilty verdict, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano observed: “This has been hanging over him for two years.”
And she told Mr Lody: “What I would like is the CPS to write him a letter saying what you have said to me, that it appears from all the evidence that he was driving quite properly.
“I want him to have the letter so he has documentary evidence to show this decision was not because of some technicality, but because he was innocent.”
Lucy Tapper, defending, pointed out that Mr Cox’s pick-up has been impounded by the police since the collision – on top of which his insurance premiums had ‘rocketed’ because of the charge he was facing, even though he had not been convicted.
Judge de Bertodano commented: “That seems very, very unfair indeed.”
And she added: “On behalf of the whole system, we apologise for the ordeal he has been through for the last two years.”