On 5th April 2017, in the case of R v Tracey Riddell, the Court of Appeal decided that self – defence was capable of amounting to a defence to a charge of dangerous driving.
The Circumstances | Kangs Motoring Offence Advisory Team
A taxi driver, Mehrdad Tayebi, had taken Miss Riddell from Romford to her home in Dagenham. Upon arriving she said that she had to enter her house in order get the fare of £13 and would return with it, but she failed to do so.
After a while, Mr Tayebi, saw Miss Riddell leave her home and drive off in her car.
Mr Tayebi pursued her, flashing his lights, sounding his horn and he overtook her.
At one point their cars collided and then she overtook him.
After a while, Mr Tayebi stopped his car in front of Miss Riddell and then stood in front of her car, forcing her car to stop.
Witnesses reported shouting between the two of them with Miss Riddell shouting at him to go away and leave her alone.
The evidence given was that Miss Riddell continually edged her car forward into Mr Tayebi’s legs, forcing him backwards and, eventually, he ended up on her bonnet. She accelerated away and slammed on her brakes, causing him to fall off and she drove away.
He sustained a cut finger and bruising.
In interview, Miss Riddell said that she was in fear of an unknown driver, did not recognise Mr Tayebi, had tried to avoid him but he had jumped on her bonnet and simply rolled off.
Miss Riddell was charged with making off without payment, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and dangerous driving. Miss Riddell claimed that she did not recognise the taxi driver, that she had paid and that she acted in self defence.
Miss Riddell was convicted at Snaresbrook Crown Court of making off without payment and dangerous driving and sentenced to ten months immediate imprisonment, disqualified from driving for three years with the requirement that she should take an extended re-test.
At trial, several technical issues arose, including the possibility of raising a defence of self -defence, as opposed to duress of circumstances, but not dealt with and the case was brought before the Court of Appeal.
The Court Of Appeal Judgement | Kangs Criminal Law Advisory Team
It should be emphasized that in this instance the Court concluded that Miss Riddell’s trial was fair and the conviction was safe but the sentence of ten months imprisonment was quashed and replaced with one of six months imprisonment suspended for eighteen months. The three year disqualification was reduced to eighteen months.
However, as the result of its deliberations, the Court concluded that self-defence was a defence to a charge of dangerous driving, albeit rarely.
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