21st Jul, 2018

Coventry taxi driver found guilty of death of motorcyclist

Editorial Correspondent 15th May, 2018 Updated: 15th May, 2018

A taxi driver who pulled into the path of a speeding motorcyclist while trying to make a right turn has been found to be responsible for the rider’s death.

Parminder Singh had denied causing the death of 18-year-old Jack Simpson, who died just over a month after the collision in Ansty Road, Coventry, in December.

But a jury at Warwick Crown Court took just an hour and 40 minutes to find Singh (36) of Baseley Way, Longford, Coventry, guilty by a unanimous verdict.

Prosecutor Rebecca Austin said that at around 2.30am on December 4 last year Singh was heading out of the city centre along Ansty Road to pick up a fare at the Coventry Oak pub.

To get to the pub he had to make a right turn from the dual carriageway at traffic lights at the junction with Hipswell Highway.

With the lights on green he pulled forward, and, after another taxi had gone past in the opposite direction, edged into the outside lane on that side of the road.

But Singh, driving a rented taxi because his own was off the road, had failed to notice Jack riding in that lane heading in the direction of the city centre.

The bike, which was travelling at an average speed of 55 on the 40mph road, struck the taxi in the region of the offside corner of its right bumper, and Jack was thrown into the road.

He was rushed to hospital, but despite all attempts to save him, he died of his injuries on January 4, said Miss Austin.

Peter McCartney, defending, had argued in the absence of the jury: “The point is, it is accepted that by a minimal amount, the defendant crossed the line into the westbound carriageway.

“But the reason the defence say the collision occurred was because the motorcycle was travelling at such a speed that, although the defendant stopped, the motorcyclist took no or little action to avoid the collision.”

And Mr McCartney pointed out that, as a provisional rider, Jack was restricted to a 125 cc machine – and although the bike frame was badged as being 125cc, it was actually fitted with a 250cc engine.

“Our submission is that those matters ate highly relevant to the question of whether there was anything he could have done to avoid the collision or not.”

But Judge Peter Cooke responded firmly: “No. The issue is not whether the deceased, Jack Simpson, could have avoided the collision or the manner of his riding.

“What this case is about is whether there was any fault on the part of Parminder Singh in pulling forward, creating an obstruction. I do not intend to allow the deceased’s actions to be over-emphasised or his character blackened.”

Giving evidence through an interpreter, Singh said he had passed his test in Italy in 2001 before coming to the UK in 2007, settling in Coventry, and starting work as a taxi driver in 2014.

Asked whether he had any endorsements, he replied: No, I don’t take risks, I drive according to road safety.”

He said he was on his way to pick up a fare at the Coventry Oak, and had to stop at the lights at the junction of Ansty Road and Hipswell Highway because they were on red.

Of what he did when they changed to green, he said: “I was moving slowly to the right and also looking for people coming. Another taxi was crossing the junction from the other direction. I was stopped, and I was keeping an eye on the oncoming traffic.”

He was asked by Mr McCartney whether he was aware of Jack’s motorcycle, and replied: “Just a second before.

“I had looked, and it was clear up ahead. In the second when I realised and saw Jack’s motorbike I just put on my brakes. It was like a bullet, and in a second it came.”

Asked whether he could have done anything to avoid the collision, Singh said: “I could have braked before. In the second when I saw Jack I braked my vehicle, and I stopped before the accident was happening.

“After, first of all I panicked about whatever happened, and then I moved a little forward and parked the car there, and then I reached to the boy.

“I really feel sorry. He was just an 18-year-old boy,” he added.

Miss Austin suggested he had been looking for the people at the pub, and that when the other taxi had passed, he had just pulled out into the other carriageway.

But Singh said: “I didn’t see them, my eyes were on the road. I looked, when I was about to turn the traffic was clear. I just saw him a second before and then I applied the brake.”

Following the jury’s verdict, Judge Cooke adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Singh, who was granted bail but banned from driving.

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