Incident report

Real meaning of “turning the other cheek”

Is there anything more devastating than losing one’s teenage daughter, killed in a violent act, a totally avoidable death if people had been more observant, if people had responded to safety concerns, if people understood that the sanctity of life (especially that of young people) comes before the convenience of business?

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Lavna Chuttoo was walking to school on Coombe Road, New Malden, with friends in the morning of 17.11.15.

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They were walking from left to right in the picture. A lorry driver had overtaken them 45 metres before and was therefore aware of their presence; however he turned left into Lime Grove, without looking and killed Lavna.

Police investigators however blamed Lavna for running across the junction. British Police is deeply ignorant of rule 170 (as is most of the brainwashed British public) and believe that a vehicle turning left into a side street has priority over a pedestrian going straight across, which obviously is not the case.

Moreover, the junction has raised concerns in the past. Here are two quotes:

David Hoddinott, 63, of Ely Close, said: “The Lime Grove junction with Coombe Road is particularly bad as you have to be aware of traffic entering and leaving Lime Grove and Cambridge Avenue.

Tony Scott is boss of the New Malden branch of builders’ merchant Travis Perkins, which sees heavy goods vehicles drive into its site, near the junction at Lime Grove, where Lavna was hit.

He said: “It was not speed that caused that. I don’t know what they can do about it to be honest. It’s not safe, people just turn into it [Lime Grove] not necessarily looking.

It’s very busy along here at that time of morning. There’s schools around here so there’s a lot of schoolchildren about.”

Having determined that the lorry driver had no case to answer, the Police then always feels compelled to build a story of blame around the victim (who conveniently cannot dispute it). They are quite clever: taking advantage of the frail psychological state of the traumatised family, they offer compassion and understanding, at the same time painting a picture of a tragic error by the victim.

The tactics are invariably successful: the family of the victim are won over by the narrative and start to recite typical comments such as “Oh, if  only he/she had just waited …” or “Oh, if only I had been louder in telling him/her to wear a hi-viz vest”, in other words blaming the victim or themselves

As an outsider, one feels disgust on how the Police misuse their authority to manipulate minds at such frail moments.

In the case of Lavna, the psychological pressure of the Police was even able to convince the father that only a Documentary Inquest was required; in other words, rather than the Police report heard and cross-examined in Court, it was briefly summarised by the Coroner, no questions asked.

Indeed many questions needed to be asked, such as

  1. Why was the driver entering a residential street which has a sign saying “Unsuitable for HGVs”?
  2. Was the driver not aware of the presence of the children on the pavement, which he had passed only few moments before?
  3. What are the recommendations of the Traffic Management Officer?
  4. What has Kingston Council done to make the roads to the two schools in the area (one, a primary school, on Lime Grove itself) safer, in view of its obligations according to S39 of the RTA88 and the petition signed by hundreds of residents?

But the West London Coroner seems as lacking in curiosity and awareness of his duties as the Southwark Coroner.

Chettan Chuttoo, Lavna’s father, knows the answer to Question 4: a resounding NOTHING.

That should have been the headline of the newspapers after the Inquest: “Why is the Council not making the road safe for the hundreds of school children?” This is what Mr Chuttoo was asking at the end of the Inquest, but the journalists chose not to hear. And the media, the third column of this Orwellian conspiracy to keep the British public docile and dumb in the face of unremitting traffic violence, without exception ran with the victim blaming story under the cloak of the “compassion” headline:

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This again is a dishonest attempt to confuse compassion with acceptance of violence by the powerful. Jesus Christ actually said:

I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

“Ye resist not evil”. Mr Chuttoo is indeed compassionate, but he is also wise: he understands that the unbearable tragedy that visited his family has a cause and it is this evil, the evil of acceptance and passive promotion of traffic violence, that needs to be resisted and stamped out.

We wish him the best in forcing Kingston Council to make urgent changes so that the children of New Malden can go to school in safety, without having the need of second-guessing the intentions of people in charge of killing machines. For a start they need to put a zebra crossing at the entrance of Lime Grove.

Unanswered questions about the killing of Alan Neve

Left: The killer, Barry Meyer. Right: The victim: Alan Neve. Picture credit: Daily Mirror

Alan Neve was killed at 9:25 on 15.7.13. A tragedy that should never have happened for two reasons:

1. No-one should be forced to ride a bicycle on what is effectively a death trap. At the time, Camden Council was banning the use of a relatively much safer route, egged on by Transport for London, which was concerned that it would delay bus schedules.Camden Council was warned repeatedly of the inevitable consequences but they waited until someone was killed before opening the Vernon Place bus lane to bicycles.

2. The killer, Barry Meyer, should have never been in charge of a construction lorry, indeed of any motor vehicle, that morning. Not only Meyer did not hold a HGV licence, and therefore was uninsured, but he had shown in the past to have a total disregard of the law and of the safety of other road users; here is a brief summary of his previous convictions (omitting convictions for assault, criminal damage and drugs):

Source: Ross Lydall

How can someone with such a record be allowed to be in charge of a tipper lorry and drive in busy London streets, mingling with people on bicycles? This is a system failure of such enormity that goes well beyond the behaviour of a rogue driver.

Here are some key question

  • Who gave the keys of the lorry to Meyer?
  • What steps are in place to prevent someone without a licence to operate a commercial vehicle?
  • Why is someone with Meyer’s record not banned from the haulage industry? Can you imagine a GP with a similar record allowed to practice?
  • What investigation has HSE undertaken? HSE infamously refuses to investigate corporate misbehaviour on public roads, but Meyer must have operated on corporate sites as well, endangering the lives of other workers.
  • Why is TfL’s CLOCS scheme voluntary in an industry notoriously plagued by rogue traders?
  • Why is Camden Council not addressing the Holborn gyratory with urgency, in spite of five people being killed while riding their bicycles here?

The Judge will be sentencing Meyer next month, and has warned him that he faces a jail term; we all know how inadequate the maximum terms for Causing Death by Careless Driving are and how ludicrous the rules are that stipulate that he can expend his driving ban while sitting in jail. However this is a case of catastrophic regulatory failure, well beyond the inadequacies of the Justice System.

We will probing the authorities with our questions, until we see a wholesale change of attitudes on how to deal with traffic violence.

UPDATE 15.05.15. Meyer has been sentenced to 42 months and banned for ten years. Incredibly, the Police will not be prosecuting AJ Drummond, the company who allowed Meyer to drive the lorry. The judge said: “Heaven knows why the lorry owners let you drive that vehicle without checking and seeing whether you had a proper HGV licence,”

UPDATE: The London Cycling Campaign has written to Nick Denton, Traffic Commissioner, asking him  to revoke AJ Drummond’s licence.