Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If You Aren't Sure - Ask!

Aggravated Vehicle Taking is a common enough offence. The aggravated bit is when damage is caused to the vehicle or to something else. The case in front of us looked straightforward, and we had a guilty plea from a nervous-looking man in his early twenties. The prosecutor opened with the brief facts that our man had taken a Volvo motor vehicle and... I stopped him. "What sort of Volvo?" "Er - excuse me sir, I shall just look at the file....yes, here it is. A Volvo commercial vehicle". He went to carry on. "Does your file give the gross weight of this vehicle?" Another lengthy pause with scrabbling in the depths of the file. Triumph. "15,750 kilos, sir." "That's more than fifteen tons, isn't it?" Panic while he recalls his GCSE maths. "Yes, sir, that's right". Now that we know it's a proper truck, the taking and the subsequent collision all drop into context. Prosecutors are often overworked and under-supported, but in this case we could easily have sentenced on the basis of the defendant nicking a car and bending it rather than the real one of a potentially lethal scenario.

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