Selby Rail Crash - Rob C
I have just read the article in the DT about sleeping at the wheel, and was particularly interested in the photo showing the Selby crash.
I had always believed that Mr Hart had been driving a car, towing a Landy on a trailer, but the photo would indicate he was driving the Landy. Does anyone know the full facts?

As the owner of a Landy, I cannot believe that anyone, no matter how late they had stayed up, could fall asleep at the wheel. Although the wheel is ideally positioned to "get ones head down"
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
As far as I can remember, Rob, Gary Hart was driving a Landy towing a trailer with a car on it. I think I'm right in saying that he had not been to bed that night but instead set off on his journey having had no sleep whatsoever. Having said that, though, I find it incredible that Hart seemed to be saddled with all the blame. Especially when you consider that the barriers that may have stopped his Landy from plunging down the embankment actually stopped about 20 yards from the railway bridge. If that isn't negligent, that I don't know what is.
Selby Rail Crash - Cyd
There was a hour long TV prog about this, so typing out the "full facts" could take some time! The long and the short of it is that he was driving a Landy with a trailer, had been up for about 40 hrs without sleep and fell asleep at the wheel.
Selby Rail Crash - Dwight Van Driver
My information, for what it is worth, is that HART is awaiting a slot at the Court of Criminal Appeal against the harsh sentence.

Ten to one it will be reduced.

Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
>>My information, for what it is worth, is that HART is awaiting >>a slot at the Court of Criminal Appeal against the harsh >>sentence.

DVD - I know that I defended Hart to certain degree in my first post but that was before another BackRoomer said that he had been without sleep for 40 hours and then drove.

Surely you, in your line of work, must agree that no sentence can be harsh enough for that kind of stupidity? To my mind, that is equivalent of drink-driving. He must have known when he got behind the wheel that he was not fit to drive, surely? If he carried on with his journey being unfit to drive and then helped to cause ten fatalities, then he should have been given a sentence a damn sight longer than the one he received. That only equates to six months per life. I know that, in law, judges and juries are only allowed to consider that the law has been broken, not the consequences of that. But even so, I find it difficult to conceive how his sentence can be called harsh.

Selby Rail Crash - Dwight Van Driver
Rob the PSV

Personally I agreed with the sentence.

I used the word 'harsh' to indicate the main grounds for the Appeal which I think will be reduced for thats the way of the Court IMHO.

Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
Apologies for misreading your post, DVD. And I agree with you about Courts reducing perfectly reasonable sentences. It must be so frustrating for the police when they've worked hard to secure a conviction and then the Court of Appeal makes a mockery of it.

I don't wish to sound patronising but I really enjoy reading your posts. To the point, relevant, and most importantly, correct!

Cheers ;-)

BTW, it's PCV now that Brussels have had their meddling way!
Selby Rail Crash - Gen
Quite right too if reduced. Just looking for someone to blame. We never have accidents anymore in this country only negligence/blame/victims. Knee jerk reaction to the consequences of his actions not his actual actions. Want to improve our roads? Get some drugs tester to go with the alcohol breathalyser. Makes you think when we have people drive around high as a kite. Give me the tired guy every day against High Harry and Weed Willy.
Selby Rail Crash - Gen
Rob The Bus.

If someone drives dangerously risking killing people surely they should be punished for that action. Whether they kill someone is largely a matter of luck. As such should luck determine how long someone is in prison? Should luck decide if that action is wrong? Should luck decide how wrong that action is?

Obviously the driver shouldn't have been on the road. Punish him for that. Not for the fact extreme chance meant he happened to sleep at that point, happened to end up on a train track, happened to be hit by a train coming along.

If he had ended in a field, not a train track and the police came would they have arrested him for admitting how tired he was? I don't know the answer to that. But I think that should be just a punished because he still endangered life to the same degree by his selfish behaviour.
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
Gen, I posted my next comments before I read this.

By the logic mentioned above, a drunk driver should not be prosecuted unless he causes an accident.

I agree that it is a matter of luck (perhaps chance would be a better word?) but think of it this way. A terrible thing happened at Selby and I would be very surprised to be told that that was the first occasion that Hart had driven whilst so tired. So now that he is in prison and off our roads, then those roads are that tiny bit safer. As far as I am concerned that can only be a good thing.
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
>>Just looking for someone to blame. We never have accidents >>anymore in this country only negligence/blame/victims.

Gen, the weather's far too nice to get into an argument, but I really have to disagree with you.

To my mind, the real problem with this country at the moment is the total lack of responsibility that abounds. People have to be made accountable for their actions. And if Hart is a scapegoat, then who is to blame? The train driver? Hart mistress for keeping him awake? Like I said in my first post, some responsibility has to be borne by the Highways Agency for not providing an adequate crash barrier.

If you do a search, then you will find that the word "accident" has been debated on these august pages before. My driving instructor told me that there is no such thing as accidents.
It has been mentioned that an accident is something that nobody who is involved could have forseen. I think that, as Hart got behind the wheel after going without sleep for 40 hours, he could have easily aniticipated the consequences.

I definitely agree with you about the drugs testing, though. I thought that it was ludicrous on Traffic Cops that the police officer could not test that chap in the white Escort on the spot. Madness.
Selby Rail Crash - Gen
Rob The Bus

Of course too nice a day to argue! We misunderstand each other.

Drunk drivers should go to jail. Whether or not they cause an accident. Ditto drugs (including prescription ones, where the label warns not to drive).

But having laws where the consequences have a great influence on the sentence is madness. Are we punishing for the action or just getting 'revenge' on behalf of the families? Punish him for driving while unfit, and punish others who are unfit to drive whether or not they cause an accident. His conscience will punish him for the consequences of his actions.

I saw in the paper a couple of days ago a 23 year lad who killed an old woman driving 40 through a 30 zone. Just didn't see her. I was satisfied to see the judge was punishing him for the action not the killing. So many people drive at 40 in a 30. It could have been them as easily as him. It should make us all think about our actions.

Carry a gun, 5 years in jail. Now there is a nice clear law.
Why not drink driving 6months to 4 years in prison (depending on how much over)?

I guess the real problem is proving how tired someone is. I suspect the only reason the police knew he was awake for 40 hours was because he was unwise enough to tell them that. Because he was genuinely a decent guy he convicted himself. The taxi drivers driving insane shifts (a couple have told me of similar lacks of sleep) would not be so silly to tell the police so no punishment. Doesn't seem right to me somehow.
Selby Rail Crash - Gen
Also, as a general point I would agree there is too much talk of people's rights and not their responsibilities. But I think some things are just accidents and noone to blame (at least not that much).
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
We misunderstand each other.

After that excellent post, Gen, I think you're right!

>>So many people drive at 40 in a 30. It could have been them as >>easily as him. It should make us all think about our actions.

Hell, yeah! Put like that, I find it hard to argue. But imagine this scenario. Young lad driving at 45 in a 30. Hits a family on a zebra crossing. Kills the father and the two children and seriously injures the mother. Should his sentence take into account the lives destroyed? I'm not being argumentative here, Gen, just attempting to make sense of our archane traffic laws. I find it amazing that the consequences of breaking the law are rarely considered in a court.

Another angle has just occurred to me. Surely if you drive at 40 in a 30, then you know that you stand a very good chance of killing or maiming someone. Of course, driving at any speed you run that risk, but at 40 I would suggest that that risk is multiplied ten fold (at least). So, surely if you broke the law knowing full well what the consequences of your actions could be, then you should be punished as such if you cause a tragedy?

>>The taxi drivers driving insane shifts (a couple have told me >>of similar lacks of sleep)

Tell me about it! In my dim and distant past I've been both a private hire driver and a hackney driver. On a Saturday, I would leave the house at 8 am and not finish until 4 or 5 the following morning. I'm ashamed to admit it now, but I regularly did shifts like that and it has to be marvelled how I didn't even have a minor bump. Mind you, I was probably asleep at the time ;-)

Anyway, Gen, we could debate the moral points of law for ever but as it's such a nice day, I'm going to go and wash the car. Providing some scrote hasn't nicked it while I've been in the BR!
Selby Rail Crash - DavidHM
I know you've gone but you'll probably come back and pick up on this.

Juries aren't allowed to take the consequences of someone's actions into consideration, except to the extent that it defines the offence, e.g., making it murder not GBH or the death by part of dangerous driving. If a little old lady dies two weeks after a burglary of a broken heart, that doesn't affect the guilt or innocence of someone charged with burglary, however. Either (s)he did it or (s)he didn't and feeling sorry for the victim doesn't justify punishing someone when the evidence doesn't indicate guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Judges can, and do, take into account the consequences in sentencing however. Hart would never have had a five year sentence had he simply fallen asleep and crashed into the barrier that started 20 metres further up the road, destroying nothing but his front wing. (I personally don't have a problem with that sentence, and even though I do feel a little sorry for him as the collision was a consequence of amazing bad luck and his overwhelming stupidity and nobody else's.)

As for the Court of Appeal - sometimes they get it wrong, of course, but overwhelmingly, an appeal is successful only where the judge at first instance departed significantly from sentencing guidelines that take into account both mitigating and aggravating factors, of which the consequences will be the most important. Of course, someone you've never heard of having their perfectly reasonable sentence confirmed is a 'dog bites man' story. Someone who is obviously not of good character, but who gets a reduced sentence because they've been lucky enough not to be caught until then, is 'man bites dog.'
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
Thanks for explaining, Dave. It's a good thing that this forum has so many people 'in the know'. It helps the legally ignorant like me no end!
Selby Rail Crash - Nsar
"Juries aren't allowed to take the consequences of someone's actions into consideration, except to the extent that it defines the offence"

David HM- What, in the real world, prevents them from so doing? Judge's summing up surely has little real effect on a lifetime of making snap judgements on people "who look a bit shifty" for example.

As for Mr Hart, don't forget the cops recreated his journey with similar vehicles under similar conditions and couldn't do it in the time he says he did it, so no only did he act recklessly in setting off having had no sleep for 40 hours, he drove like a maniac. Let's hope the Court of Appeal treats him in the appropriate way - the 10 pepole on the train who died won't be getting any sort of release, early or otherwise.
Selby Rail Crash - Altea Ego
Hey lets get one thing in perspective here. This bloke Hart drove a car and trailer, knowing he was *severley* unfit to drive thro lack of sleep. This is worse than drink driving, a person who drinks has lost some of the ability to make a rational choice about driving. That is why he was prosecuted so vigorously - his actions were pre meditated and criminal.

His only defense is that he could not have known his actions would be so spectacular, but he could just have easily cuased a coach to crash and burn killing 60 people............
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus
Hey lets get one thing in perspective here. This bloke Hart drove a car and trailer, knowing he was *severley* unfit to drive thro lack of sleep. This is worse than drink driving, a person who drinks has lost some of the ability to make a rational choice about driving. That is why he was prosecuted so vigorously - his actions were pre meditated and criminal.

His only defense is that he could not have known his actions would be so spectacular, but he could just have easily cuased a coach to crash and burn killing 60 people............

Blimey RF!! That is exactly what I was trying to say before, except that you've put it better than I could ever have hoped to have done.

Fancy a job as my official 'post consultant'?!? :-)
Selby Rail Crash - Gen
Renault Family/Rob the Bus

In fact, I suspect that on sleep deprivation of 40 hours Hart didn't realise that he was sleep deprived and unfit to drive.

We should distinguish drowsiness and deprivation of sleep since they lead to different symptoms.

The driver is often aware of drowsiness, but less likely of sleep deprivation.

Drowsiness is often caused not so much by lack of sleep as monotony, especially at night. Driving 5 hours on the motorway is not advisable because of drowsiness. The fact you had 12 hours sleep, woke up at 8am as usual and set off at midday (thus still many hours before due to go to bed) means you are not sleep deprived. I lived in Australia once, and this was a big killer there because of the distances, it is similar in America.

Drowsiness is easily felt, often our focus on objects takes time, and a coffee and a walk/window down can sometimes eliminate it. That's why the motorways have 'Take a break' signs.

Sleep deprivation is a very different thing. Any tiredness often passed a long time ago. In fact you could feel more alert than usual. When you really fall asleep (and not just attention slip as with drowsiness) you are in full sleep. You will have no warning of this. It is like your computer overheating- no warning, just switches off due to thermo switch. Sleep deprivation often manifests in the daytime after a night up (when you may feel tired) and you may feel very fresh just before. This is why people are warned to not drive after a long flight; their tiredness is often long past, they feel alert, excited at being home- and their body will stay alert until it is relatively inactive (driving).

From personal experience I have felt both drowsy and sleep deprived at different times. I feel drowsy often and can easily deal with this.BUT I remember particularly being sleep deprived years ago now, when I had an exam. I had probably being up for 35+ hours, just finished my exam, had an hour drive home. Middle lane of motorway, feeling great, 100% alert. I woke up driving half on the grass verge and half on the hard shoulder. Only because of a lot of horns I woke I am sure.

Was I in the wrong? Sure. Should I have been punished? Sure. But 5 years? Lady luck just shined on me more that day than Hart's fateful day.

But I can't accept that Hart's actions were premeditated and criminal. I suggest he was prosecuted because of the terrible consequences. In that sense I sympathise with him.

Equally, I can't agree with "This is worse than drink driving, a person who drinks has lost some of the ability to make a rational choice about driving". The rational choice of the drinker is made in drinking in the knowledge he must drive later. That is why minimal punishment or none is given for spiked drinks etc. The unfitness will be readily apparent to the driver in a way that sleep deprivation unfitness will never be.

Also where you say "His only defense is that he could not have known his actions would be so spectacular, but he could just have easily caused a coach to crash and burn killing 60 people............".

If he had known his actions would lead to deaths that would be murder due to his state of mind and intentional acts.

If we are punishing for consequences we must equally punish drivers who have done no wrong. I know a woman who knocked someone over and killed them doing 25 in a 30, stepped out from behind a lorry. No fault, no problem ( I mean legal not emotional).

And look at the benefits of punishing actions not consequences. We can punish Novaboy for endangering life rather than wait until he actually kills someone and get our revenge.

For these reasons Hart gets my sympathy. Yes he is punished with a long sentence. Politicians are happy, people believe in the legal system...and more people die needlessly on our roads.

Want to stop it happening? Explain the effects of drowsiness and sleep deprivation to drivers. Make it an issue noone can say they are unaware of like drink driving.

Why make another family victims (Hart's family)?
Selby Rail Crash - Rob the Bus

Excellent post! I agree entirely with the most of the sentiment now that you've put across well-balanced, rational arguments but on a few points, I am still going to disagree. Still, life would be terribly boring if we all held the same views and opinions woudn't it?

Selby Rail Crash - Obsolete
Gen: From your post I read that your key point is that due to sleep deprivation a person can fall asleep without warning despite feeling alert. Hence to prosecute them for dangerous driving would be wrong. I don't know if this is true, having not been in that position, but I suspect the Hart court case was teeming with expert witnesses. I would have thought that that had been discussed and taken into account.

I see lots of dangerous manouevres on the roads. Most do not cause an accident. If seen by a plod the person would be stopped and cautioned or prosecuted, which might act as a deterrent/warning. Some do cause an accident, and the driver is prosecuted for damage to property and/or loss of life. I don't see any problem with that. The reason that Hart killed someone was not bad luck. It was dangerous driving on his part combined with the circumstances at the time i.e. no barrier. I suppose I do have some sympathy for him in that luck played a part in deciding the severity of the accident, but I don't disagree with the sentence. That is how the law (and insurers) work and it is not unreasonble.

I seem to recall that part of the problem with Hart was an image one in that he was seen by the police and others as rather arrogant and lacking in remourse. And as we know the image presented does matter. Perhaps if he was a bit more sympathetic a character he would have got 3 years rather than 5.
Selby Rail Crash - SteveH42
Quite aside from the tiredness aspect, wasn't there some evidence that the trailer wasn't suitable for carrying a car? I recall something about an unsafe vehicle contributing.
Selby Rail Crash - Dwight Van Driver
From the interest shown in this case a further update.

Following his unsuccessful attempt to challenge his appeal before a single Judge which was turned down, Garry Hart the driver, is before Lord Justice Rose, Mr Justice Mitchell and Mr Justice Eady at The Criminal Court of Appeal in London today seeking permission to appeal against the conviction at leeds Crown Court.

Selby Rail Crash - Obsolete
And the latest news is that the appeal was rejected.
Selby Rail Crash - Sheepy-by-the-Sea
I only discovered this forum a few days ago, so I've had a flurry of posts in the past few days. I might as well add to this one.

The trouble with drowsiness/sleep deprivation is that for car drivers there are no clear standards on how much sleep is required, how often a break should be taken, etc.

Drink-driving and speeding are absolute offences.

If a truck or coach driver has gone over his/her hours and is caught, never mind causes an accident, prosecution should follow. But they have tachographs and strict rules to follow.

With non-commercial drivers, we're always restricted by the 'freedom' principle, but I am sure that eventually car drivers' hours will be regulated in some way.

I have never seen any guidelines for car drivers, apart from being advised to stop for a break at least every two hours. But without reliable proof (i.e tachographs or black boxes) there is no hope of conviction unless the driver admits his guilt or it can be proven that he has not slept (e.g. phone records).

Value my car